It is human nature to indulge oneself. It is human nature to love some things more than other. And it is definitely human nature to love oneself. And to love beauty and most beautiful things are also human nature. The question is : does it matter which beauty skin care brands or skin care products we use? Whether they are natural beauty products, or organic skin care items, or conventional synthetic beauty products?
This is a matter of personal preference. People buy skin care items based on a variety of reasons – brand, price, effectiveness (real or perceived), reviews by others, ingredients, etc. Just like some people like to eat ice cream, while others prefer yogurt. Some love roses, while others love lavender. Variety makes the world more interesting, doesn’t it?
I’m not a health junkie I don’t have the discipline for it. I exercise when I can and I do enjoy eating ice cream, junk food and fatty foods once or twice a month. I also drink coffee, coke and other fizzy drinks once in a while (well, mostly coffee, when I need to be alert when I’m too tired to).
However, like everyone else, I hope to live a healthy life without feeling miserable. Being imperfect is human, and the occasional ‘feasting’ must be accompanied by reason. Fortunately, I love veggies and fruits, and I rarely eat red meat. I aspire to live well and healthy beyond 70 years of age – much like my maternal grandfather (who doesn’t eat meat & love to eat fish) and my paternal uncle (who chain-smoke daily and love veggies and fish). I do want to be able to play with my grandkids. Don’t you?
Beauty is more than just skin deep
Take a look at this infographics:
But not all chemicals are bad. Sometimes, it can’t be helped, especially when we have concerns that can’t be addressed using natural products alone. And there are beauty skin care brands that are loved and trusted by generations of users or millions of women such as Olay (previously Oil of Ulan), Clarins, Clinique, SK-II, etc.
Nonetheless, I believe the theory that our skin absorbs easily – just look at the nicotine patch! Although there are conflicting arguments on the rate of absorption of substances into our skin, I’d recommend being safe than sorry. Especially in the case of babies and kids. I read in an article that:
“According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, 81 percent of babies were found to have high levels of phthalates in their systems after using shampoo, lotion and powder.”
Consider Phthalates, for example. It poses many horrifying health risks and we’re exposing ourselves and our family to it and numerous other potentially hazardous chemicals daily (please read this article). It’s in our food, in almost all plastic materials, in our cosmetics, skincare, etc. Why not try to minimize the risk, especially if we can?
True, it is not possible to :
- know for sure our skin’s absorption rate of chemicals – each person reacts differently ;
- estimate how much of those chemicals will enter our bloodstream;
- ascertain what effects those chemicals have on us once they are in our bloodstream.
Granted, adult skin is stronger.
However, we must also acknowledge the fact that:
- as we age, our body’s defence mechanism weakens and we are prone to illness;
- our recovery process decelerates;
- we are constantly exposed to toxic chemicals that are beyond our control – a microscopic amount absorbed daily will accumulate over time.
Wouldn’t we want to decrease our exposure to chemicals that could potentially be hazardous? Plus, if you think about it, given the option of eating REAL bananas or eating something that tastes like bananas but actually contains synthetic banana flavour – which would you prefer? Wouldn’t you prefer the real thing? Same goes with skincare – if you’re to choose between a homemade hand cream with ingredients such as:
Refined Cocoa Butter, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Beeswax and Essential Oils of Rose Geranium and Lavender
versus another well-known brand with:
Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcrystallina, Glycerin, LanolinAlcohol, Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Alumnium Stearate
– which would you prefer? It’s a matter of preference and confidence. Me? I’d pick the one with ingredients that I know and can pronounce. 😀
So, as much as possible, I strive to use products made from natural and organic ingredients. By natural, I mean derived from plants or contains mostly real things such as aloe vera, honey, sunflower oil, beeswax, pure essential oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, and so forth – not synthetically created in a lab. Like I said before, I know there are skincare products made from mostly synthetic chemicals that work wonders on the skin. Still, whenever I can, my personal preference is to choose skin care brands that promotes natural beauty products.
Of course there are also many arguments regarding natural skin care products vs organic skin care products. But I prefer my own definition, I use the best that I can find (and afford), and I don’t fret over imperfections. I choose moderation and those that I feel comfortable using.
Skin Care Due Diligence
Basically, my process (I call it ‘skin care due diligence’) when buying skin care items have changed a bit since last year . It’s a bit more time consuming. I would :
- Determine what I need and look for products that are within my budget
- When I’ve identified the one that fits the above, I read the labels and understand the first few ingredients that make the product (if the ingredients sounds too alien, I’ll move to another product)
- If I’m ok with the ingredients, I’ll read reviews about the product
- If reviews are mostly positive, I’ll read some info about the company that makes the product – their philosophy and values
- If I have questions, I’ll contact the company. This is an important factor too – their ability to give me info.
- Once everything is satisfactory, then I’ll make a purchase.
I would love to use certified organic skin care all the time, but frankly speaking, certified organic skin care products are usually very pricey and if they aren’t pricey, then the postage cost to Malaysia surely is. And sometimes they just don’t work on our skin. So I try out different products, not necessarily certified organic, but preferably using active botanical ingredients – if they are effective and gets the job done, then I’ll stick with them. The thing about using organic skin care is, even if they don’t work as well as we hope, at least they wouldn’t make things worse. I have extremely dry hands and using hand creams that are filled with synthetic ingredients make it worse. Sure, at first they seem to work fast, but when I stopped using for a while my hands will appear even worse than before I used the product. It’s like eating cakes – at first you feel happy but if you continue with it, eventually you’ll get diabetes.
To be fair – sometimes even organic doesn’t work. And some of us are allergic to certain natural/botanical ingredients. We learn through experience, through trial and errors. And that’s why I really appreciate samples. They are affordable and we get to test before we buy the actual-sized things.
Organic vs Natural Beauty Products
What are the differences between organic and natural beauty products? It all boils down to the ingredients listed on the label.
Natural products are those that contains ingredients that are plant (botanicals) or mineral-based rather than synthetically created in a laboratory. Natural products do not include chemicals such as parabens, SLS, synthetic fragrance, etc. If they do, then they are not ‘natural’ to me.
One of the ways to determine whether a product is considered natural is through the seal of certification bodies such as Ecocert. To obtain Ecocert’s ‘Natural Cosmetic’ label, a minimum of at least 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.
Some of the natural products that are easily available in Malaysia are:
- Claire Organics – you can read about my experience using Claire Organics products here and here
- Human Nature – a surprisingly affordable natural skincare brand from the Philippines. I recently made a purchase and will write a review soon
- Just Life – this is a store that carries multiple natural and organic products. The price is rather hefty probably because the products are mostly imported from New Zealand, Europe and US.
Meanwhile, organic is a regulated term given to products that are made with mostly certified organic ingredients. Better still, if you want to use organic products, get those that are certified organic by the USDA, Ecocert or other independent, third party certifying bodies. A USDA organic seal means that a product has 95% or more certified organic content. Those labelled as ‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ contain at least 70% organic ingredients. Ecocert’s ‘Organic Cosmetic’ label requires a minimum of 95% of all plantbased ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. Clearly, Ecocert certification is less stringent than USDA. Among the popular certified organic skin care brands are:
- Juice Beauty – read about my experience using Juice Beauty products here and here
- Miessence – I love their products but the price tag is too high for continuous consumption and there are import restrictions here in Malaysia
- Terressentials – an organic line that I am yearning to try one of these days 😀
Yes, I may seem rather biased towards natural and organic skin care products but that’s because conventional synthetic products are already getting mass promotions everywhere. They are also mass produced, they last longer (due to the preservatives used) but not necessarily cheaper especially the high-end cosmetic brands. But they are certainly convenient and easily available everywhere.
On the other hand, not many stores will carry natural and organic skin care items because of the limited shelf life. And so, it is not surprising that they would cost more since the ingredients are not easily obtainable, they are not mass produced and are available in limited quantity.
Still, they are my favourite because the great thing about these natural and organic skin care product are they focus on feeding good stuff to our skin thus stimulating cell growth and rejuvenation of our skin. From cleansing to the night serum, everything is aimed towards nurturing our skin.
Here is an excellent infographics that helps us better understand the labels:
Phew, there’s always something new to learn everyday! 😀
So, which skincare products are you currently using?