Natural is Not Necessarily Best for Sensitive Skin

I truly believe that the trend towards more natural foods and cosmetics is a wonderful development. It is a great step and it is a necessary step. I think there are a lot of unknowns in regards to all of the chemicals we consume on a day to day basis. That being said, I do not see why people see the words “natural” and “organic” on cosmetics and believe that they are fundamentally unable to cause irritation.

It is completely bizarre to me that some women will smell a flower, sneeze countless times, and yet believe that their skin will only improve if they rub a concentrated essence of that flower on their face. A few weeks ago, while visiting Portland, Oregon, I had a lady at a department store cosmetic counter doing a makeup application on me. I told her ahead of time my allergies/sensitivities and yet she didn’t look at the back of any products. Luckily I knew the product line fairly well and knew I was mostly safe, but she snuck a serum on my face and the tingling turned to burning. I told her how my face felt and she looked at me like she didn’t even believe me and said, “Well, I don’t know how that could be, everything in this line is completely natural.”

First off, not true, it is a brand I like quite a bit (so I won’t mention the name here) but it does use dyes and it does use fragrance that isn’t denoted as organic, on top if the natural oils it uses. This sort of miseducation bothers me a lot as a cosmetologist because it gives us a bad name. The general public doesn’t believe us when we talk because department store workers who are on commission occasionally lie (or say the “correct” answer without checking) to sell more product. I also don’t like the fact that they feel a need to lie because the public is so obsessed with the elusive “truly natural” product.

One argument in favor of organic products is that the ingredients have been around forever so we would know if they caused significant harm to humans. However, it is not the actual substance that is the problem, it is how it is processed and the concentration. A hundred years ago people may have been using perfumes but not in the quantities we do today. Natural or otherwise, how much do we really know about any kind of fragrance used multiple times a day in virtually everything we use on our skin. Products aside, just the frequency with which we use everything is crazy relative to how much people used to shower.

Even natural substances our occasionally found to be harmful, for example, coumarin, a popular choice in men’s fragrance (for that earthy, fresh cut grass scent), used to be in many food additives before it was banned by the US, and other countries, because it was toxic to lab mice. There is no evidence at this point to necessitate banning it in fragrances, but between an unknown synthetic fragrance and a mildly toxic natural fragrance I would probably prefer the synthetic.

Most of us are not chemists, which makes us extremely vulnerable to marketing. Things can say sulfate free and call something that is basically sodium lauryl sulfate organic coconut oil. If you go back far enough, everything is from nature.

All I am trying to say is: listen to your skin! It will tell you what it likes, and it won’t necessarily be any old thing that says “organic” on the bottle.

Natural Moisturizer for Dry, Sensitive Skin

My skin is extremely sensitive. I am sensitive to many fragrances and very prone to eczema and dryness. I have struggled and struggled to find a moisturizer for me, and just recently found one in a very strange place. I was researching different mixing mediums to use to convert my cream foundations to liquid and stumbled upon a homemade mix. After using it on a client and seeing the dewy glow on her face, I thought I’d try it on my own face.

This mix is simple: vegetable glycerin and water. Start with a 1:3 ratio and add more water if you find it too oily. I keep it in a little squeeze bottle and wipe it over my face immediately after washing. I don’t dry my face after washing, I just wash the mixture right over my wet face and let it soak in, then towel my face off.

Now, for most people I would only recommend using this in the winter time, and even then maybe it isn’t for every day. Personally, I use it twice a day, after each washing. Certain times a month I might switch to only once a day but for the most part, twice a day is all I need. After applying, I notice an immediate softening effect, which is awesome for me because my skin can get a very rough texture and if I exfoliate too often my skin gets very red.

For me and my many skin allergies, it is a great advantage to know exactly what is in my skin care products. Anything that simply says “fragrance” or “parfum” is a gamble for me. I have Eucerin, Cetaphil, Cera Ve and many of the other fragrance free lotions, but many of them are very heavy and eithere don’t soak into the skin, don’t moisturize, or leave a film. This glycerin/water mixture soaks right in and doesn’t leave much behind. I have found that by the end of the day, I do have some shine, but nothing a tiny bit of powder can’t handle. A small amount of shine is nothing compared to what Cetaphil leaves behind and it is infinitely better than my skin flaking up under my foundation.

Glycerin is available at most grocery stores for about $4. It is used as a natural sweetener. I would not recommend putting it on your face without diluting it quite a bit. Water is free and can be found at your local faucet.

The bottom line is, if you don’t have dry skin, this isn’t for you. Even if you do, it might not be the right fit for you. I just wanted to share because it has a made a big difference in my skin and for $4 it is worth a shot if you have fussy skin like me! And don’t forget, never change multiple steps of your beauty routine at once. If you try this, try to keep everything else the same at first.