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More than Skin Deep – choosing natural skin care products for total body health

Choosing a skin care product that is both effective and healthy as well as being affordable can be a major endeavor. When reviewing products I evaluate the quality of ingredients, the company’s philosophy, the impact on the environment and cost.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it. I encourage people to look beyond the shiny labels and to skim the ingredient list. Stick to products with ingredients you recognize and know to be beneficial to the body, for example stay away from sodium laurel sulfate, mineral oil, and parabens and include natural ingredients like olive oil, shea butter, and chamomile essential oil.
Everything you put on the skin is either nourishing the body or polluting it. I remember growing up with every lotion and skin care product having petroleum products in it. We did not think anything of using petroleum oil topically even in baby care products. We used “baby oil” to get that deep tan and wouldn’t think of using an spf above 8. I have to laugh at our ignorance back in those days.
Now we are more aware of our skin and how it is connected with the rest of our body and health. I have been analyzing skin care products for more than 20 years and I’ve been impressed with how far the industry has come with offering more products that are effective as well as being made from quality, health promoting ingredients.
Good quality skin care products do cost more because the beneficial ingredients in the products cost more. Just like the food you eat, unless you grow it, buying high quality food that supports your health can be more expensive than buying nutrient deficient empty food. In the short term buying a fast food lunch is cheaper, but we all know that in the long run it costs a lot more when it comes to medical bills. Plus once you’ve become accustomed to live, nutrient rich food, no fast food can compare.
The best rule of thumb regarding skin care product ingredients is, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. You can even make your own skin care products at home. Jeanne Rose’s Kitchen Cosmetics is an old favorite and there are a plethora of books available online with recipes from cleansers to creams, facial masks to exfoliates.
My first introduction to edible skincare products was in 1990 with the Boulder, Colorado company, Jeremy Rose. I was living in Boulder at the time so I could purchase this product from the local health food store made by a mom concerned with her young children’s health. None of their products had preservatives so they couldn’t be shipped, and they did not last long in hot weather or humidity. These fresh, live ingredient products didn’t last long when I stored them in shower but I could tell I was putting live food on my skin.
My all-time favorite these days is L’Occitane. This French company from Provence knows what they are doing, and they’ve been at it for a long time. They are the grandmothers of facial care products and their ingredients are among the finest I’ve ever seen, and they work! Their research campaigns show that women all over the world have seen measurable results with their products. The company also walks their talk with projects to preserve old growth lavender fields and other plants native to Provence that are being challenged by environmental issues. Provence is known for its rich history of medicinal plants and high quality essential oils.
So in my book L’Occitane does it right – excellent ingredients, high quality manufacturing practices, effective products with a wonderful company mission and commitment. The downsides however are these products are expensive and they have to travel all the way from France. The cost is understandable with their beautiful glass containers and purity of ingredients. But I’m not completely comfortable with my face cream flying from France to California just to be on my face. I picture this beautiful yellow glass jar sitting in an airplane seat on AirFrance…I think I’d rather spend a little more and get my own ticket! I also know we grow amazing plants here in California including those same species that are indigenous to Provence.
We do have a plethora of natural skin care companies in California, with shout outs to the large industry leaders Dermalogica and Zia and local companies, Original Sprout in San Luis Obispo and Avalon in Santa Barbara. We also have a beautiful home based essential oil line from Grisel Puig-Snider in Los Osos who puts tender loving care and very high quality ingredients in everything she makes.
Whether you want to try your hand at making your own products or experiment with the great variety of excellent quality natural skin care products available over the counter, do your body a favor and reach for healthy ways to feed your skin. Your body will love you for it!

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