A lot of us who want to lead more natural lives may spend a great deal of time and money purchasing organic foods, growing our own fruits and vegetables and cooking natural meals. We may try to filter our air, filter our water and even filter our bathing and shower water.
But how much good does this do if we’re adding toxins to our bodies with our shampoo, soap, and cosmetics instead of using natural skin care at home? Many of the chemicals and ingredients used to improve usability and prevent contamination in these products can pose health risks.
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Why You Should Use Natural Skin Care Ingredients Instead of Commercial Products
For instance, almost all shampoos contain a surfactant called sodium lauryl sulfate. This chemical is added to help create foam and suds to your lather. Studies have shown that it may be linked to increased risk for cancer, neurotoxicity, and even endocrine disruption.
Many of the cosmetics we use can contain artificial preservatives, such as formaldehyde, ureas, and parabens. Using some type of preservative is necessary because the oils and organic compounds found in many cosmetics can provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. Unfortunately, some preservatives have been linked to cancer and shown to mimic estrogen activity in our cells.
The use of artificial fragrances and colors may also pose a health risk. Many skin care products can come heavily scented due to the addition of fragrances and perfumes. These sweet-smelling scents are usually developed by mixing hundreds of different aromatic hydrocarbons which are usually derived from petroleum.
Many of these fragrances and colors haven’t been assessed for safety and can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. And manufacturers are not obligated to tell you what their signature scents and fragrances are made from.
But there is good news!
Most of the cosmetic, hair and skin-care products that we use every day can be purchased or made in more natural, non-toxic or even health-promoting forms.
In fact, Mother Nature can provide you with all the ingredients you need to soften, moisturize and enhance your skin and hair. What’s even better is that many of these ingredients are more compatible with human skin and can help nourish and fortify our natural skin barrier.
Here we’ll take a closer look at some popular and effective plant-based natural skin care ingredients that you can use in your own home without breaking your budget.
Activate Healthy Skin with Avocado Seed Oil
Many people may not realize this, but avocado seeds are one of the world’s most nutritious superfoods.
Over 70% of the amino acids and antioxidants in avocados are found in the seeds. This makes avocado seed oil even higher in anti-oxidants that avocado fruit oil. And yet every day we throw out the most nutritious part of this delicious super-fruit.
The antioxidants found in avocado seeds include catechins and procyanidins which have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on your epidermis, dermis and connective tissue.
It’s a natural source of vitamins A, B, C, D and E. The seeds also contain high amounts of oleic, palmitic and linoleic fatty acids. These healthy fats can fortify and hydrate the skin barrier.
Avocado seed oil is one of the most penetrative skin oils known. It has many benefits when used in massage creams and other products where you want skin lubrication and penetration of active ingredients.
To use avocado seed oil on your skin, simply rub it into the area that needs attention. It’s an excellent oil for moisturizing and softening your skin.
But be aware if you’re prone to acne. Avocado seed oil is high in oleic acid, a fatty acid which may clog pores or aggravate acne-prone skin.
However, when rubbed into dry skin or skin that is suffering from the effects of aging, it has been shown in studies to increase collagen levels and reduce the appearance of early fine lines and wrinkles.
Pump Up Healthy Skin with Pumpkin Seed Oil
Pumpkin seed oil was historically used in Europe for it’s nutritious and healing properties. It contains high amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It also contains vitamins A, B, and C, as well as the minerals zinc, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
One of the unique ingredients found in pumpkin seed oil is plant sterols or phytosterols. These are cholesterol-like molecules found in many plant and seed oils. Studies indicate that phytosterols may help prevent collagen breakdown and could help reduce inflammation.
Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to be non-comedogenic. In fact, the high zinc and selenium content of pumpkin seed oil may help to combat acne-causing bacteria and prevent acne scars. This is a win-win for the skin.
Sunflower Seed Oils for Your Skin
One of the most amazing effects that sunflower seed oil has for the skin is its ability to protect against infection.
A study in Egypt found that applying sunflower seed oil, rather than olive oil, to preterm infants helped to significantly reduce the level of hospital born infections. They believe that sunflower seed oil naturally helps to protect and strengthen the skin barrier function. In fact, it was found to be much better for the skin than olive oil. This has lead to the recommendation that sunflower seed oil be used instead of traditional olive oil for newborn care in certain countries.
Sunflower seed oil contains high amounts of the omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids. It also contains lecithin, tocopherols, carotenoids, and waxes. This unique combination of healthy fatty acids and vitamin E make it an excellent skin oil.
For treating dry or cracked skin, sunflower seed oil may help protect and prevent further chapping and dryness.
Jojoba Seed Oil for Silky Skin
Jojoba seed oil isn’t really an oil – it’s a collection of liquid wax esters.
It is also very similar to our skin’s natural sebum which makes it more compatible and agreeable for sensitive skin conditions.
The oil is non-allergenic and non-comedogenic, so it can even be used on acne-prone skin. As a matter of fact, jojoba oil may even help you get rid of acne. A preliminary study conducted in 2012 found that clay masks with jojoba oil helped to reduce acne skin lesions over a six-week period.
Jojoba oil may also help get reduce the appearance of wrinkles by penetrating the spaces between cells in the corneal layer of your epidermis. As this natural emollient penetrates deeply and thoroughly into your skin, it can help reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Aloe Vera to Heal and Nourish
Aloe Vera isn’t just good for burns and sunburns, it’s also been scientifically proven in research studies to be an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis.
Preliminary studies are also showing that Aloe Vera is useful for treating psoriasis.
One of the best things about Aloe Vera is that it is so easy to grow and produce yourself- outdoors in a warmer climate, or indoors in a cooler climate. This will ensure that your source is completely organic and free of harmful chemicals, solvents or alcohols.
DIY Natural Skin Care Tip
To make your own soothing aloe gel, simply peel off the tough outer layer of a fresh, organic aloe leaf with a sharp knife (be careful!) and crush or blend the gooey gel inside.
It will keep for about a week in your refrigerator, or you can also freeze the gel in ice cube trays. These aloe ice cubes are incredibly soothing for cooking burns. Even better, they are nutritious, so if you mix them up with your regular ice cubes, either accidentally or on purpose, they’ll just add to your daily nutrition.
These are just a few of the many natural ingredients you can use to help enhance and support natural skin care. Since the personal care industry isn’t entirely regulated, try to use products that contain organically-grown ingredients.
Since everyone’s skin is different, do a sample skin test whenever you try a new product to help ensure you get the results you’re seeking.
- The Dirty Dozen: Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Should People Be Concerned about Parabens in Beauty Products?
- Skin Barrier Benefits of Sunflower Seed Oil
- Clay Jojoba Oil Facial Mask for Lesioned Skin and Mild Acne
- A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial of an Aloe Vera Emulsion in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis
Kevin Lee is Editor of Healthy-Oil-Planet.com, your place to learn the benefits of healthy oils and other natural health supplements based on research and anecdotal evidence. Helpful Buyer’s Guides and Products Reviews can help you choose the best products for your needs.
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Kristy, Life-n-Reflection says
Great article, natural carrier oils are can do wonders for the skin!