Natural vs. holistic ingredients; a formulators perspective


The designation of “organic” or “natural” may not be the complete measure of what makes a great skincare product.

Consumer awareness; it’s a wonderful thing!  Joining our interest in food purity is the resurgence of awareness in personal-care product purity.  We need to take charge of own health so this is a great consciousness to have, especially considering how really unhealthy many personal healthcare products can be.  THUMBS UP!!

It’s this very consciousness that got me interested in making my own skin care and cosmetics products some 35 years ago [Yes, I am that old].  I independently studied ingredient toxicity, ingredient purity and the benefits of any natural ingredients that I could personally locate. I started making products myself, I tried out the European “clean” skin care products, I tried multi-level marketed simple products and I tried out & demonstrated the health food store brands.

Despite the healthy natural ingredients of all of these products I tried, my skin did not do well.  You see, like many people reading this, my skin has come deficits in the way it functions so many whole ingredients clogged it or created allergic reaction.  Darn.

It was at this point that I began informally studying cosmetic chemistry.  I was able to consult with chemists and I read everything I could get my hands on including the timely studies of dermatologists.  Turns out that often times what is helpful for our bodies to take internally may not helpful applied to the surface of the skin.  So it seems that the designation of “organic” or “natural” may not be the most complete measure of what makes a great skincare/cosmetic product especially where a needed therapy is concerned.

The designation of “organic” or “natural” may not be the complete measure of what makes a great skincare product.canstockphoto1069623

I prefer a more holistic approach to formulating skincare and cosmetics.  This means that the ingredients and ultimately the finished product is designed to work with the natural functions of the skin and each individual body [at a deficit or not] rather than work against it or causing the skin to fight back with an allergic reaction.  In the same way that sustainable agriculture is even more inclusive than simply a designation of “organic”, holistic formulations incorporate ALL the important elements of skin health; organic/ natural, non-toxic, skin-accessible and change-creating.

Holistic formulations incorporate ALL the important elements of skin health; organic/natural, non-toxic, skin-accessible and change-creating.

Consider these measures to see if a face care or cosmetic product really works to address your skin’s needs and your over all body health.

  1. Are the ingredients hazardous in some way?  The list is endless but here are the top few to avoid.  Paraben preservatives (they mimic estrogen when absorbed into the body so are linked to causing breast cancer), many sunscreen chemicals such oxybenzone (linked to causing cancer), coal-tar (causes cancer), ingredients with “DEA” at the end of the word (reacts with other ingredients to create a carcinogen), hydroquinone (a skin bleaching agent that is banned in other countries because of reproductive toxicity and is a potential carcinogen), formaldehyde or Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin (which convert to formalehyde in the skin – causes cancer)… Click here to link to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website to search cosmetic ingredients.
  2. Are the ingredients potentially irritating to the skin?   Irritants can cause the immune functions of the skin to engage creating allergic reactions OR can cause the skin to reject the product disallowing any benefits it may contain.  Anybody can be sensitive to any ingredient but here are a few of the most unsuspecting irritants; propylene glycol, sulfates, seaweed/kelp extracts, sunscreen chemicals, artificial fragrance, raw forms of vitamin C, TEA preservatives.
  3. Are the ingredients potentially acne-causing/congesting to the skin?  Avoid any ingredient with the spelling “myristate” or “myristyl” or any with the spelling “lanolin/lanolate” or waxes or sticky vegetable oils such as peach kernel, olive, sesame, avocado or coconut or natural vitamin E or dyesClick here to read and/or down load the complete list.  Also click here to read about skin types that are more prone to clogging.
  4. Are the ingredients “active” and “bio-available”?  Will they work with the skin to stimulate it to do what it does when it is most healthy & youthful? These are some of the currently available most active ingredients produced with modern technology; peptides (proteins that link with the skins existing proteins to enable healthy tissue regeneration), plant stem cells (bio-active cells that stimulate the growth of human skin stem cells), vitamin fractions (vitamins refined in the laboratory to be most active, available and non-irritating – L versions when possible), refined organic plant extracts (purified and refined ancient traditional medicines), minerals (the same that are present in our own body are helpful in a formula to maintain the integrity of the skin).
  5. Does the product have a good delivery system to get the ingredients into the skin to be utilized? Are they active just touching the surface of the skin or do they need to be penetrated to lower levels?  These are things that only your aesthetician or formulator can tell you because this is where chemistry and the secrets of the trade come in to play.  Things we consider:
  • Is the pH correct to allow the skin to receive the treatment; higher pH to clean the skin, lower pH to penetrate, lower still to exfoliate?
  • Are the ingredient particles small enough to penetrate the skin to activate the under lying functions?
  • Are the ingredients large enough to coat the skin for protection?
  • Do the base ingredients act as a “solvent” to soften the pathways into the skin to carry the actives deeply?

All of the above is simplistically stated because…. there is another aspect to consider in a product.  The sales of skincare and cosmetic products is a billion dollar industry trying to capture each of our attentions from an aesthetic point of view.  The color, the packaging, the smell, the texture are all part of what makes our senses engage to use a product.  Even more than if it works, to many of us the sensation and the ease of use is of utmost importance.

Next time you considering purchasing a product check yourself; are you buying because you think it will create a lasting change of health in your skin or is it a purchase that fills some need of comfort and promise.  Either way, it is wise to be informed.

Jane  see Euchlora products here