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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Tourles

The High Price of Vanity: How Natural Is Your Natural Skin Care Routine?

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With our skin’s ability to absorb up to 60 percent of the products we use to keep ourselves looking young and radiant, it pays to know what “natural skin care” really means.

Photo © Michael Piazza Photography, excerpted from Pure Skin Care

Many of the synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances in our everyday skin care products have names that might sound like Greek to us. Their pronounceability is only a tiny part of the problem they pose. Because our skin can absorb up to 60 percent of what we put on it, any of these chemicals can be harmful. Once they are in our bodies, they can be stored in our fatty tissue, leading to a host of possible problems down the road. Doesn’t knowing that make you want to read the labels on all the products that reside in your bathroom cabinet? When you do, keep an eye out for some of these commonly found offenders:

Parabens are chemical preservatives still found in many body and skin care products today. They mimic the hormone estrogen. Many people suffer from allergies or sensitivities to parabens and break out in a rash after applying a paraben-containing product. In fact, some topical parabens have even been detected in human breast tumors.

Other preservatives such as dimethylol dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 are very common and can release trace amounts of formaldehyde into the skin, potentially leading to joint pain and contact dermatitis.

The chemical triethanolamine (TEA), often used as an emulsifier and in cosmetics to adjust pH, may cause allergic reactions, skin and hair dryness, and eye irritation.

Artificial fragrances are often manufactured from petrochemicals and can irritate the skin and strip it of its natural protection. They can even lead to difficulties such as headaches and asthmatic complications.

Synthetic colors such as FD&C or D&C (F=food, D=drugs, and C=cosmetics) followed by a number can be carcinogenic; Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 3 are some common examples. Fortunately, many commercial products are now turning to natural coloring agents.

If that peek into some of the deleterious ingredients contained in many personal care products doesn’t make you think twice about what you apply to your skin, maybe knowing how easy it is to protect yourself from toxic formulations will. As a licensed holistic esthetician, I have worked with a wide range of commercial products over the years, including high-end and “natural” products from health food stores and wellness spas. Many of these body care preparations, even the so-called natural ones, contain potentially toxic and irritating ingredients. I’ve heard from both clients and readers of my many books who have endured allergic reactions or other skin sensitivities resulting from their use of these often synthetic-blend (and costly) products.

This Raspberry Refining Mask gently exfoliates, tightens, smooths and brightens skin — and has only four ingredients. Photo © Michael Piazza Photography, excerpted from Pure Skin Care.

On the flip side, just as potentially irritating or harmful chemicals and artificial colorants and fragrances can be absorbed by your skin, so can highly beneficial natural ingredients, which can promote health and beauty. Herbs, essential oils, and other natural ingredients cleanse, protect, and pamper the skin. They smell wonderful and nourish both body and soul. They produce in us a profound sense of authentic beauty, contentment, and well-being.

I believe in pure, clean, safe skin care and cosmetics, free from synthetics and with no animal testing. Consistently caring for your skin using the best products you possibly can will yield healthy, beautiful skin that you’ll want to show off for years to come. Making your own personal care products from natural ingredients is easy and soul-satisfying and can be a lot of fun. All you need for producing wonderfully fresh, body-nurturing creations are basic kitchen equipment and cooking skills. If you can boil water and make homemade salad dressing, mayonnaise, oatmeal, or pudding, then putting together natural skin care treatments will be easy as (or easier than!) pie.

Skin Balancing Steam combines lavender, rosemary, and rose petals with distilled water and apple cider vinegar to restore skin‘s proper pH balance. Photo © Michael Piazza Photography, excerpted from Pure Skin Care.

With the instructions and recipes in Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty, you’ll learn how to create natural, often organic, personal care products for skin, feet, and hands that sing with vitality, vibrance, and inner wellness. The formulas I’ve created will help correct current skin problems and prevent future ones as well as prolong the health, comfort, clarity, luminosity, and youthful appearance and function of your skin well into your advanced years. Isn’t lifelong beauty and radiance what we all desire? I know I do!



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