Skin Deep

For skin care, look beyond organics

You can find “organic” skincare products just about everywhere, including drugstores, department stores and natural markets like Whole Foods.

But just because a product is labeled organic, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically better for your skin.

Sometimes a product with naturally derived ingredients that have been tweaked in a lab can have more benefits than a truly organic product. However, anyone with sensitive skin needs to read the ingredients on natural and organic products carefully, since essential oils—which can be a major cause of skin reactions—are often used as preservatives.

Other commonly used plant-based ingredients can be irritants as well, whether they are organically grown or not. Ones to watch out for include balsam of Peru, lime and kiwi. Check out these non-organic yet naturally sourced ingredients that can do a world of good for your skin:

Soy: A star in many of Neutrogena and Aveeno’s products is “Active Soy.” This derivative of soy has had its estrogenic components removed in the lab, so you’re left with only the positive pigment-fading benefits.

Feverfew: One naturally derived ingredient that’s been improved by science is feverfew. The version featured in the Aveeno Ultra Calming line has had the parthenolide removed since it can be potentially irritating.

Niacin: Nicotinamide is another ingredient sourced from nature that’s been tweaked in the lab to enhance penetration. A niacin derivative, this ingredient helps prevent dark patches. (You can find nicotinamide in CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM, and its close cousin, nicotinic acid, in the NIA 24 line.)

Phytic acid: Resistant skins need extra help getting ingredients deep down in the skin. One alpha-hydroxy acid I like is phytic acid, which is derived from rice, yet tweaked in the lab to improve its ability to remove the uppermost layers of dead skin.

Safflower oil: I’m a fan of safflower oil for dry skin because it contains the linoleic acid our skin needs to make ceramides (which help lock in moisture). Another great option for dry skin is Sophyto Skin Energising High Potency Concentrate.

Recently, I’ve been impressed with the natural offerings from Burt’s Bees and Origins. But if you insist on going organic, then look for antioxidants that can help your skin such as green tea, grapeseed extract, aloe, resveratrol and argan oil. Licorice extract is also gentle yet effective for fading discoloration.

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