Truth in Advertising: A Look At Natural Skin Care Claims

I’ve been talking about natural skin care recently, and on Monday, I talked about how to tell if a product is really natural. Since natural skin care claims aren’t regulated, it’s up to us to decide what natural means. As I was walking around my local drugstore, buying my 3 million count bottle of allergy medicine, I looked at a few products that made natural claims. Here I’m going to share with you my thought process when I review a skin care product for myself or recommend it for a client.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing LotionI looked at some Aveeno products first. Aveeno can be hit-or-miss to me. Sometimes their ingredient choice disappoints me, so I make sure to check before I buy. The first product was a body moisturizer, the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which claims to moisturize for 24 hours and protect and prevent dry skin. It also claims a unique oatmeal formula, which sounds like natural skin care to me.

The first ingredient I see listed is dimethicone, listed as an active ingredient in the Drug Facts panel. Dimethicone is an ingredient found in many moisturizers, foundation primers, and prescriptions. It Aveeno Daily Moisturizer ingredientsprovides barrier protection and slip. It’s a great ingredient, but I don’t consider it natural. Looking at the inactive ingredients, I see oat flour listed (avena sativa kernel flour). So here is evidence of the unique oatmeal complex.

The next four ingredients could be derived naturally, but they are usually synthetic ingredients. Glycerin can be natural or synthesized as well. We don’t know which it is. Petrolatum is a great ingredient for repairing the barrier function of the skin, but also not something I’d consider natural (even though it does technically come from the earth).

Overall, this product doesn’t meet my standards for natural skin care. A closer look at their packaging only claims active naturals, not entire product naturals, and the oatmeal complex is definitely there. Sneaky, sneaky. The product will be effective as a moisturizer for super dry and potentially irritated skin, but this is a perfect example of a regular product masquerading as a natural skin care product.

 

Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerThe next product I looked at was a newer product from Neutrogena, the Neutrogena Naturals Multivitamin Nourishing Moisturizer. I’ll admit that Neutrogena got one big eye roll from me when I heard about their natural skin care line. I don’t have a problem with Neutrogena in general, but it’s my least favorite of the drug store lines. Clients always tell me that they use Neutrogena for their sensitive skin, and I don’t think it’s all that friendly for sensitive skin. So I had my eye roll ready when I flipped this box over to inspect what Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerNeutrogena was calling “natural.”

I have to admit when I’m wrong. I was impressed with this Neutrogena moisturizer and the integrity of the ingredients. I like that they include the source for all their ingredients, letting us know that they’ve been naturally derived. I do have a couple of complaints though. I wish that they hadn’t included fragrance, which can be seen clearly listed down towards the bottom. Fragrance isn’t a great thing for sensitive skin. This product has taken great lengths to formulate without a bunch of unpopular ingredients (parabens, phthalates, dyes), so I don’t know why you’d then add a fragrance. I also hesitate to call this a “multivitamin” moisturizer, since the only real vitamin I see listed is vitamin E (tocopherol) and some extra botanicals, mostly as the very last ingredients.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Wrinkle MoisturizerThe final product I looked at was a product from Garnier, which I’ve always thought of as a natural skin care line. I use a lot of Garnier hair care, but I hadn’t looked at of one of their skin care products recently. I see the ads for this pro-retinol from nature all the time, so I picked up the Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer with SPF 15 to see what it was all about.

I flipped over the back of the box and the first thing I noticed was the Drug Facts panel with theGarnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, sunscreens sunscreens listed. The three sunscreens listed are all chemical filters. I have mixed feelings about chemical sunscreens, and current research is also mixed. For a natural skin care product, I think that a mineral filter is a better option, since it is both natural and effective.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, ingredientsNext I looked at the inactive ingredients section to see what else is in here. I got about a third of the way down before I spotted my first botanical, argan oil (argania spinosa kernel extract). Since ingredients are listed from the highest percentage to the lowest, this isn’t looking good for a “natural” product. I see some rice protein and some natural fragrance components (linalool). The pro-retinol from nature is the fifth ingredient from the end, which makes me doubt its efficacy. In order to get the benefits of retinol, you need a more significant percentage.

I was surprised and disappointed as I looked at these ingredients. I thought Garnier was supposed to be natural skin care. I mean, all the packaging is green? Yes, I fell for the marketing as well! Another look at the front of the package cleared up my questions. Garnier only claims that the retinol is from nature… not the entire product. We find another normal product capitalizing on a natural trend.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a product expecting it to be natural, only to find out that it was just clever marketing?

 

 

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How To Tell If Your Natural Skin Care Is The Real Deal

how to tell if your skin care is naturalEveryone wants natural skin care these days, and I’ve talked about the fact that there is no regulation for this term before. My readers are savvy skin care shoppers, so I want to help you figure out if a brand is really natural, or just capitalizing on a trend.

Since there is no regulation for the word natural, you must decide what natural skin care means to you. Does it need to be paraben free? Are you simply looking for more botanical ingredients or essential oils? Do you have other ingredients that you want to avoid, like petrochemicals, dyes, or sodium lauryl sulfate? I have my own idea of what natural means, and I’m sharing it here. It starts by flipping over the box and looking at the ingredients.

  • High percentage of natural ingredients and botanical extracts. When you look at the ingredients, do you see a large number of botanicals? Are there only a few words that look like chemicals? Some of those chemically looking words can still be derived from natural sources, so you may want to look them up in a ingredients dictionary like A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.
  • Low to no synthetic preservatives. Skin care products must be preserved some way. There’s really no way around it. Mostly what I’m looking for here is how many preservatives are they using? If they’re using six parabens, I doubt their commitment to being a natural skin care line.
  • No synthetic fragrance. This can be hard to figure out from the ingredient list since even a certain amount of essential oils must be listed as perfume. Your nose will tell you if the product smells like botanical ingredients or a bottle of perfume. When you check the ingredients, does the product smell like the oils and botanicals listed? Beware the product that smells like nothing. Every ingredient, especially botanicals, has a scent. If your product smells like nothing, that may mean that something, like a masking fragrance, has been added to remove or neutralize an unpleasant smell.
  • No synthetic dyes. Check the ingredients list. See anything that looks like Red 40 or Blue 9? Again, I doubt just how natural that natural skin care is if there are dyes.
  • Corporate transparency. I like to see companies openly sharing their practices. It is still marketing, but I respect companies that are willing to pull back the curtain and let us look behind the scenes. I was recently browsing the Tata Harper website, and I noticed that they offer percentages of the organic ingredients for each product. Ren Skincare lists where they derive some of their ingredients that look more like chemicals, which is also helpful if you have allergies. If you’re gung-ho to use the most natural skin care possible, call the company and ask about their ingredients. If they won’t answer all your questions, they may not be as natural as they claim.

You’ll need to make your own decisions about what you want in your skin care and what you consider natural. My goal is to put enough information out there to help you make your own informed decisions.

 

 

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Natural Skin Care, Naturally Better?

natural organic skin care, sensitive skin care With the surge of interest in organic food, there has also been more interest in organic and natural skin care. But many healthy foods have a health halo; they appear healthy, but they aren’t any better than regular junk food. Skin care products can hide behind the same guise. Like those foods, natural skin care products may not always be the best choice for you.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is better for sensitive skin.

Botanicals can often be more stimulating. Highly concentrated essential oils can overstimulate reactive skins. Ingredients can vary from batch to batch as seasons and farming conditions change. Some reactive skin types can’t handle these changes; they need more consistency.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is not as harsh.

Salicylic acid is derived from the botanical willow bark. Glycolic acid is derived from sugar. Apricot scrubs are completely natural and still incredibly aggressive. Sometimes, your sensitive skin can tolerate a natural form of an ingredient better. Sometimes it can’t tolerate an ingredient in any form. You may just have to experiment.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is less likely to cause allergic reactions.

You can be allergic to any ingredient, even natural ones. Poison ivy is completely natural and sometimes even organic, but you still don’t want to rub it on your face. Additionally, highly allergic skin types may find that the long lists of active ingredients make it difficult to narrow down specific ingredient reactions. They may find a simple list easier to navigate.

Health Halo: Natural skin care is more effective.

Natural skin care products can be incredibly effective. So can clinical skin care ingredients. It just depends on the condition of your skin and the results you desire. Some skin concerns, like acne, can respond well to natural ingredients like willow bark or tea tree oil. More persistent acne may need prescriptions like Retin-A or clindamycin. Your need changes just like your health. You may be able to avoid catching the flu by eating leafy greens and sleeping well, but once you’re sick, you might really need some Nyquil.

Health Halo: Natural skin care products are better for pregnancy.

Essential oils abound in natural skin care products, and they may be too stimulating for the sensitivities that can sometimes arise with pregnancy. There are also differing opinions on what essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy. As a rule, I advise women to avoid hydroquinone, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. Defer to your doctor for any other ingredients.

I really love natural skin care products. I love the light fragrance of the essential oils, the lack of synthetic preservatives and fillers. In fact, I prefer many natural ingredients. But I love the results I get with clinical products, and my skin also looks its best when I mix in ingredients like retinoids. Don’t choose natural skin care over clinical simply for the health halo. [Tweet this!] The best part about the skin care business is that you have plenty of options. What do you choose?

 

 

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