The 5 meaningful Elements of a Healthy Natural Lotion Or Cream
With the growing popularity of natural and organic body care products there are more options than ever before to choose from with new and interesting products coming out almost everyday. So how do you decide on a lotion or moisturizer that is not only safe but will impart real and lasting benefits to your skin? Reading and understanding elements and product claims is meaningful to avoid being duped by companies who are just trying to cash in on the latest marketing trends. But if you don’t really have time to do this, here’s a simple guide to the 5 meaningful elements of a healthy natural lotion or cream that can help you find good products fast.
1. No petroleum or synthetic elements.
2. Plant-based vegetable or nut oils and butters are used as the dominant base and should be the second or third elements listed on the panel after water.
For maximum effectiveness, look for products made with vegetable and/or nut oils and butters like Jojoba, Coconut, High-oleic Safflower, Olive, Sunflower, Almond, Grapeseed, Avocado, and Shea or Cocoa Butter in place of mineral oil (which is the dominant base for most commercially mass-produced lotions). These plant-based oils are the same ones that are used for culinary purposes and are fully biodegradable.
Generally speaking, if they are safe to ingest, then they are safe to put on your skin and will not harm the ecosystem when they are washed down the drain and make their way into rivers, flows, and landfills.
Jojoba, Macadamia Nut, Virgin Coconut, additional-Virgin Olive, and High-oleic Safflower or Sunflower oils are excellent choices because they have highly moisturizing and protective qualities and are freely absorbed for fast, dry skin relief. They also have the additional assistance of high to very high stability resulting in an excellent shelf life, which in turn minimizes and often eliminates the need for preservatives. If you can get products made with certified organic versions of these oils then that is your best possible option for finished products that are highly effective, safe, and long-lasting.
3. Inclusion of herbal extracts or infusions (either in the oil or in the water portion, or both) or other antioxidants.
Herbal infusions and extracts like chamomile, calendula, lavender, slippery elm, mallow root, comfrey or yarrow are often a bonus as these herbs promote and are highly supportive of healthy skin. Chickweed is especially helpful for controlling itchy skin, and calendula and comfrey can aid in repairing damaged skin, speeding up the healing course of action by promoting the regeneration of new skin cells.
Antioxidants whether consumed via diet and supplementation, applied topically –or both– are meaningful to fighting the “free radicals” caused by sun damage coupled with a diet high in saturated fats. The elements that have shown the most potential in this area so far are Vitamin A (or Beta Carotene), Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and Green Tea extract. Selenium, zinc, and copper are minerals that have also been found to sustain the time of action of neutralizing free radicals. Of course, naturally occurring versions of all of these are always preferable to their synthetic counterparts.
4. For scented products stick to those made with only 100% pure basic oils instead of “fragrance” or “fragrance oils” or a combination of fragrance and basic oils.
Watch out for combination products –ones that use both fragrance and basic oils– particularly if you are chemically sensitive or allergy-inclined. Be aware that certain floral or fruit scents like Lilac, Plumeria, Fig, and already most Vanillas and Coconut are synthetic fragrances that are NOT made from basic oils and may contain other unidentified unhealthy chemicals like phthalates. Since fragrance manufacturers are not required to list the elements used to create their fragrances, there’s really no way to know if they contain phthalates or other unhealthy chemicals. Pure basic oils are safe and if properly combined, can have the additional assistance of lowering stress, increasing alertness, and improving your mood.
5. A freshness or expiration date on the label. You wouldn’t buy a carton of milk without knowing it’s expiration date would you? Then why not need the same from your skin care products?
If you find a freshness or expiration date, that’s usually a good indication that the elements used are fresh and natural with minimal preservation, which is why it should be used up by a certain date for best results.
Most commercial creams and lotions don’t have an expiration or freshness date because the use of parabens and other synthetic preservatives ensures that the product has an almost indefinite shelf life. Have you ever bought a lotion or cream on a whim and then set it aside in your bathroom cabinet or linen closet and totally forgot about it only to pull it out many years later and find it exactly as it was when you bought it? It takes a powerful cocktail of chemicals to keep a lotion in that state for that long!
Remember, the benefits of using natural products come with regular use. If your skin is dry and you switch to a healthier product you will notice a difference right away. But to realize the benefits of that improvement going forward, you need to use the product on a regular basis. On the upside, having a freshness date on your product reminds you to use it up while it’s nevertheless fresh and can have the maximum impact, instead of leaving it unused on a shelf or in a bag somewhere where it will just oxidize and ultimately turn rancid!
With some experimentation you’ll find a good product that works for you. ultimately, as your skin begins to heal itself and become properly hydrated, you’ll notice that you won’t need to use as much of the product as you might have when you first switched.
Copyright 2009 Dropwise Essentials