Choosing beauty and skincare products can be quite a brow-furrowing affair. The choices we make will not only affect our outer appearance, but our inner health too. Constantly bombarded with information on the latest breakthrough formulas, it's no wonder so many of us are drawn to man-made wonders but what about Mother Nature's offerings?
The long-term affects of using chemicals on our body is still a grey area, and with an ever-increasing spotlight on health, natural pampering goodies are giving big brand cosmetic companies a run for their money.
ninemsn Health caught up with natural skin and body care guru and the creator of Be Genki, Sam Sample, for her expert opinion.
Are natural products really as effective as synthetic ones?
Yes, but I think it ultimately comes down to personal preference and what each individual is comfortable with putting on their skin. Both natural and non-natural ingredients will give you results, but the question is "at what cost?" People should be asking themselves "what results am I looking for?"
If you would like to treat your body superficially and provide instant "bandaid" solutions for skin concerns, then non-natural ingredients are the way to go. But if you truly value the long-term health and appearance of your skin and would like to treat your body holistically, then natural ingredients are a much better option.
Should we believe all the "scientific research" claims of big brand cosmetic companies?
There is a lot of research out there that states the benefits of using synthetic chemicals and some people are happy to use those products on their skin, despite the known risk that those ingredients may contribute to allergies. Man-made chemicals disrupt the natural process of oil production and some are even known to be carcinogenic.
Natural ingredients will give you results without the potential harmful risks, and it's more often the case that natural ingredients offer better long-term results as they work with your body's natural physiology. And yes, you really do get results with natural products.
Is there proof that natural ingredients actually work?
There are countless and unbiased studies that document the benefits of natural ingredients. For example, rosehip oil contains high levels of vitamin C, as well as vitamins A, E and D, which can be extremely beneficial in the regeneration and repair of your skin, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and pigmentation.
So, if natural products provide great results without any harmful side effects, why would you make a conscious decision to feed your skin with a cocktail of carcinogens and allergens?! Sure, the jury is still out on a number of synthetic chemicals, but the jury was also out on nicotine many years ago. If there's enough suspicion out there that something is harmful to your body, then why take the risk when you don't have to?
What are the deeper health benefits of using natural products?
Our skin is our largest organ, protecting us from the outside world and reflecting our inner life. It is a two-way membrane. In other words, toxins are eliminated through the skin via perspiration and may be absorbed through the skin into the body's circulation system through hair follicles and sebaceous glands.
By choosing natural alternatives, you are immediately reducing your exposure to harsh synthetic chemicals that are found in non-natural based products. On top of that, you are getting all the benefits of each individual ingredient that is in a natural product. Every ingredient has different properties that may be beneficial to the physiology of your skin.
For example, essential oils have the ability to improve circulation, moisturise dry skin, reduce oiliness, rejuvenate stressed skin and assist the healing of damaged skin. Long-term use of essential oils will contribute to the health of skin and help keep skin supple.
What are the environmental affects of using all-natural ingredients?
Natural ingredients are sourced from plant, flower and mineral sources and therefore are biodegradable. Complex chemical structures (found in non-natural products) are created in a laboratory and are non-biodegradable. They accumulate in soil, water and air, and may become toxic, which in turn affects the physiology of living organisms in contaminated ecosystems. There is countless research out there in reference to the damage that man-made chemicals have had on our environment.
What are the natural world's most potent plants/herbs and why?
Essential oils are considered to be the "life force" of the plant (that is, the "soul" of the plant) and have been used for their healing properties for centuries. The positive effect that certain oils have on the physiology of the human body is amazing. Lavender essential oil on a wound applied each day is an amazing healer. Neroli oil can assist with the symptoms of anxiety and depression, while lemon and peppermint oil is enough to lift your spirits.
Can natural products improve our state of mind?
Research indicates that essential oils stimulate receptors in the nose, which relay messages to the limbic system the part of the brain that regulates emotions. Based on my experience and countless educational books I have read, yes they certainly can keeping in mind that everyone is unique and some people react to some things better than others. Aromatherapy may assist some people and may have little or no effect on others. It is up to the individual to work out what works best for them.
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