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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Why Choose Organic Skin Care Products?

Dec 28, 2011 01:39PM ● By Charlene Handel

Today, there is no need for even the most skeptical individual to hesitate when introducing organic skin care products into a daily routine. Organic products, which deliver corrective results comparable to those of cosmeceuticals, now use organic ingredients from whole foods and other natural sources. Organic skin care products, very effective due to the ratio of vitamins and other nutrients they contain, are not only more likely to work in harmony with the skin but have the advantage of being healthy, safe and ultra-nutritious meals for your skin.

Look for the USDA Organic Seal

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a special USDA Organic Seal for skin care products that meet their specifications. Guidelines specify that edible plants must make up the majority of the ingredients and must be grown in accordance with the Organic Food Production Act. This means that all USDA certified organic botanicals must be produced without conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients, sewage sludge, bio-engineering, and ionizing radiation. An environmental perk—all botanicals used must be cultivated in ways that minimize air, soil, and water pollution and their cultivation methods must seek to restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.

USDA Organic Product Labeling Rules

According to the National Organic Program (NOP) product labeling rules, which must be followed in order to use the USDA Organic Seal: a product claiming to be “100% organic” must use only organically grown plants to display the USDA Organic Seal. An “organic” product must contain at least 95% organically produced plant ingredients; the remaining 5% may be synthetic substances. A product “made with organic ingredients” must contain at least 70% organic ingredients; products containing less cannot display the USDA Organic Seal, nor can they use the tern “organic” on the display panel.

Read Labels

While reading labels avoid: synthetic chemicals and ingredients that contain petroleum derivatives from crude oil; artificial fragrances that can contain toxic chemicals, including benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and other known toxics and sensitizers; and synthetic preservatives such as parabens.

Preserving skin care products in an all-natural way is a challenge. However, there are a number of naturally occurring substances that keep creams and lotions free from bacteria and fungi: colloidal silver; essential oils with strong anti-microbial properties; potassium sorbate (a fungi inhibitor); antioxidants such as vitamin E (Tocopherol) and rosemary (Oleoresin); and food grade preservatives such as sodium benzoate.

Shelf Life

Skin care products are best when made in small quantities that are then sold and used within six months. Although mass-produced commercial lines are generally preserved for one year, fresh, handmade specialty products are usually only viable for six months.

Effective skin care products are also made with rare, unique botanicals, which cannot be certified by the USDA because they are wild crafted, come from a foreign country, or are not available from a USDA certified supplier.  It is challenging for smaller companies that customize products for clients or make seasonal adjustments to retain USDA organic certification, simply because once their product is approved they cannot change its formulation.

Due Diligence

We are faced with skin care choices that are similar to those involved with choosing our food: do we want a “spongy” loaf of bread preserved with chemicals that make it last for a long time or do we prefer a nutritious and freshly baked loaf—made with organic ingredients—that tastes better but hardens in a few days. Doing “due diligence” before choosing an organic skin care line will help you to both understand how the creams and lotions work and also help you discover what you are feeding your skin.

Sources: United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Services.

Charlene Handel, owner of Skin Fitness, Etc., is a certified holistic esthetician.

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