By Brett Pattinson BA, Dip Hom, DST
As a student I remember staring at the ingredients in my wife’s beauty cabinet, words like DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), Propylene Glycol & Parabens would scream out at me and as glamorous as the bottles were, and as much as they promised I never really truly felt comfortable with it all. Decades and decades older, with well over 10 years in the beauty industry, I now make most my own beauty products and as geeky as it sounds, after years of study and asking so many questions, I actually know what most ingredients do.
But how does the average person decipher what’s on the label? Short of studying chemistry or getting chummy with a chemist there aren’t a lot of options. So I’ve sifted though Australia’s best natural product experts and got some of the juiciest information on cosmetic ingredients. Let me break it down for you.
Is Your Skincare Harming You?
Our body’s largest organ is our skin, so what you put on it ought to be as good as what you put in it. On a daily basis the normal person applies chemicals to their skin when they use a variety of body and skincare products. Some of these chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin. Ouch! Natural ingredients work on the skin because the chemical compounds in them create a beneficial reaction with the skin, trapping moisture, fighting elements that can damage skin cells or minimizing oil production. Good, good, but how do I know its natural then? If the dictionary version and consequent interpretations are followed then a huge array of ingredients can be claimed as ‘natural.’
Petrol Is For Your Car Not For Your Skin!
It seems it’s not what’s in a product, but actually what’s not in a product that we need to be aware of, so let’s work backwards then. A natural product should not contain: Artificial colours, fragrances, sulfates, ethoxylates, phthalates, DEA, mineral oils, artificial fillers and thickeners. They should be packaged minimally and in materials that are of least harm to the environment. Its also seems a general consensus that although petrochemicals (such as Vaseline or mineral oils) can be classified as natural they should not be contained in ‘natural products’. Petroleum based ingredients, are particularly nasty and may have links to the possibility of causing various cancers. Petrol is for your car not for your skin.
Unfortunately in the cosmetic industry, unlike in the food industry, there are no laws governing the use of terms like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. The words ‘natural’ and ‘botanic’ mean that the product contains some type of natural ingredient. To confuse even further the word ‘organic’ is used in much the same way. Many products are labeled as ‘natural’ when only a small percentage of ingredients are naturally derived. If you’re looking for a truly natural product always read the label carefully. Look out for products that are 95-100% Certified Organic, this ensures the farming principles have been verified by a government or independent organisation and carries the certified organic stamp of approval. Truly organic skin care products contain no sulphates or parabens, artificial fragrances or colours, chemicals, pesticides, synthetic detergents, petroleum by-products, or genetically modified ingredients. Organic skin care products are not tested on animals.
Natural Products You Can Trust
Unfortunately not all natural ingredients for beauty products are certified organic; but manufacturing has come a long way in Australia and by 2010 certified organic beauty products will be easy to find. In the meantime make sure your beauty products contain the maximum amount of botanical and natural ingredients. Ask the experts at Healthy Life for natural skincare products you can trust.