If you want to have glowing, gorgeous skin, there’s no need to blow your hard-earned money on a ton of expensive, chemical-laden products. Some ingredients like sodium laurel and laureth sulfate strip your skin of vital moisture and can leave you dry, itchy, even more acne-prone. Others, like parabens, may impact your hormones and health.
Fortunately, finding chemical-free alternatives need not be difficult, nor need you mix all your own cosmetics, lotions and toners. Simply knowing what ingredients to pass on and which ones to look for on the label makes you a savvy buyer. Check out this top ten list of ingredients to look for and get started on the path to a more natural beauty routine today.
1. Aloe Vera
The humble aloe has long enjoyed use as a topical skin treatment for sunburn and minor irritation. Aloe possesses both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, making it useful in treating skin infections. Additionally, the juice contains a high water content which aids in skin hydration.
In one study of 30 women over the age of 45, daily use of aloe vera increased collagen production over a three-month period. Researchers believe the gel may have an anti-aging effect, but further studies are needed.
2. Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally by the body and exists in higher concentrations in injured areas of the body. Some scientists are experimenting with oral supplements as well as topical treatments and injections for conditions such as arthritis.
When it comes to the skin, hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse. It binds to water and helps hold moisture in the skin, making it a preferred ingredient in many beauty care lines. When applied topically, it reduces wrinkles, and supplemental internal doses have reduced dry skin among adults.
Charcoal is all the rage of late, and if you have acne-prone skin, this comes as terrific news. Activated charcoal can absorb thousands of times its own weight in toxins, bacteria and gunky stuff clogging your pores. You can make an easy 10-minute mask out of bentonite clay and activated charcoal to clean out your pores before a big night out on the town.
The word “glycerin” sounds vaguely chemical-like in sound, making many stay away from this ingredient. However, glycerin is a natural humectant, meaning it draws water from the second layer of skin to the surface, making it appear fuller and more hydrated. Because of this, manufacturers continue to use glycerin in a host of body wash and lotion products.
One nice aspect of glycerin is it can be sprayed on with rosewater to refresh tired-looking 3 p.m. skin. You can buy such blends commercially, or you can buy glycerin inexpensively and experiment with your own blends.
5. Coconut Oil and Milk
Anything which contains as much saturated fat as coconut oil is sure to moisturize, or, for a lighter touch, coconut milk. Coconut oil makes the perfect massage oil base — just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Try using eucalyptus for muscle soreness or neroli oil to get you in a frisky sort of mood (wink, wink). You’ll nourish your lovers’ skin, and when it comes to massage, turnabout is most definitely fair play.
6. Shea Butter
Shea butter comes from the tree of the same name and has been used widely to keep skin moist and supple. Shea butter contains high amounts of vitamin A, an ingredient often used in skin care products as a natural exfoliant, and the popular anti-aging and anti-acne medicine retin-A derives from a twisted form of the vitamin. The vitamin A in shea butter fights free radicals and helps prevent both aging and zits — talk about a win-win!
We need to save the bees to protect humankind’s food resources, but we also need to help them to protect the supply of beeswax. Beeswax makes an excellent natural lip balm. Unlike mineral oil and white petroleum-based balms, those made with beeswax allow the skin to breathe instead of creating a barrier between it and the outside air. This protects the microbiome, the bacteria and other organisms which inhabit the human body with us. Beeswax also can prevent skin chafing from uncomfortable clothing or other materials rubbing against the skin repeatedly.
8. Witch Hazel
If you’ve got oily or acne-prone skin, no doubt you’ve tried to stop the flow of the geysers erupting on your skin. Witch hazel has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, unlike more drying rubbing alcohol, witch hazel doesn’t upset the natural oil balance of the skin, which ironically can lead to more breakouts.
Witch hazel is used in many hemorrhoid treatments as it eases inflammation. Have puffy eyes prior to a big event? Try using a hemorrhoid pack on them or two cucumbers soaked in a dilute witch hazel solution to bring down the swelling.
9. Vitamin C
Are you guilty of spending one too many days out in the sun without wearing an appropriate sunblock? If so, you may wish to turn to vitamin C, which, when used internally or topically can help repair the damage done by UV rays. The top layer of skin often resists absorbing vitamin C when it is applied topically; however, removing this layer of cells through exfoliation, laser or chemical peels can increase absorption.
Dietary deficiency in vitamin C results in lowered collagen production, so in those who are worried about premature aging, supplementing with the nutrient may help. Taking supplemental C may also help stave off skin cancer.
10. Green Tea
Green tea contains the powerful antioxidant EGCG which can help fight the extent of free radical damage in your skin. Green tea comes from the same plant as black and oolong tea; however, unlike those two, you do not ferment the leaves prior to consumption. This results in a more powerful antioxidant punch which nips oxidative agents in the bud before they can cause skin damage.
Many people comment favorably about the resilience of skin in those of Asian descent and green tea may provide part of the answer. It’s another proven tool in fighting inflammation as well and can help ease the angry redness of acne scars. Whether you drink it or apply it topically (or do both), green tea can help create a smooth appearance.
Achieving Beautiful Skin Through Nature
Many women labor under the false assumption they must use pricey chemical-laden formulas to get glowing skin. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nature provides you with all you need to keep your skin glowing with health at any age.