It’s not all clear cut when it comes to skin care and there’s a bewildering amount of information to consider when choosing. To try to cut through the confusion and shed some light on the important facts you shouldn’t ignore, Guides spoke to three skin care experts including Aly Rahimtoola - founder of UAE all-natural beauty range Herbline Essentials, Anna Gedman - managing director of Beautiful Brands, distributor of all-natural and organic beauty products in the Middle East and Rene van Willigen - director and co-founder of renowned Irish natural brand, Human+Kind.
1. Your skin absorbs 60% chemicals
We all know that we are what we eat, but have you ever considered the products you use on your skin? Of course everyone knows that it’s harmful to ingest chemicals, but did you know that the products we put on our skin are also absorbed into our body? When we use products that contain harmful artificial ingredients, these place unnecessary burden on the body’s detoxification processes and on the entire immune system, including the skin says Rahimtoola. In fact, up to 60% of what we put on our skin ends up being absorbed by our body. Willigen goes on to further enhance this point explaining that many products contain penetration enhancers for the sole purpose of driving ingredients deeper into the skin, and therefore, in the use of non–natural products, we are effectively just driving harmful chemicals further into our bodies. Now that’s certainly food for thought.
2. Less than 20% of products are tested for safety
We all have our favourite beauty products that we use religiously, but how much have we thought about what these products might be doing to our bodies? According to Willigen, less than 20% of ingredients used in non-natural skin care products have actually been assessed for safety. This fact is only made more shocking when we consider that the average woman uses 12 products every day containing over 168 ingredients. This amounts to a whopping two kilograms of chemicals being absorbed into the body each year. These toxins accumulate and have been linked to skin irritations, damage of vital organs and even cancer as well as disrupting the natural balance of our bodies.
3. Dishwashing detergent in your shampoo
Would you wash your face with your dishwasher detergent? You probably recoil in horror at the thought, yet the chemical ingredient Sodium Laurel Sulphate used to create foam often found in these products is an ingredient also commonly used in shampoos says Gedman. Parabens are thought to be carcinogenic and are also frequently added to cosmetics to extend their shelf life; a helpful tip to spot these is by looking for any ingredient that ends in a ‘ben’. We all know the benefits of eating clean, but isn’t it time we started to take ‘clean’ beauty products more seriously too?
4. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient don’t use it
There is a multitude of products in the market these days that claim to be organic, natural, herbal, vegetarian and so on, but what do these labels all really mean? Even when a product is labelled paraben and SLS free it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to use. “They may just have replaced these chemicals with other lesser known chemicals”, says Willigen, so it is important to take time to read the labels and learn more about the products you use and how they’re made. Cosmetics companies that truly care about the health and wellbeing of their customers and the environment will always be happy to share clear details about their ingredient selection and manufacturing process says Rahimtoola and a good rule of thumb to go by is that if you can’t read or pronounce an ingredient, it is most likely a chemical.
5. 100% natural doesn’t mean 100% organic
Whilst true natural beauty products and skin care usually offer a much safer alternative, Rahimtoola tells us that it is important to bear in mind that plants can also trigger unwanted reactions in some people. Always do a patch test first, or consult a medical professional or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.
And remember, 100% natural does not necessarily mean 100% organic and vice versa. Organic ingredients are grown, manufactured and handled entirely free of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and preservatives. For a product to claim to be 100% natural the product should be free from any chemicals.