How many times have you heard the word “organic” in the last few days, hours, or even minutes? Maybe you’ve even thought what does that word really mean? You’re not alone; “organic” is constantly in the headlines, regularly trending on Twitter, and often a contentious topic amongst the supporters and the detractors.
In the last few years organic everything has become so entrenched in our culture that in some scenarios it almost seems a bit comical. We all have that friend who uses organic in conversation way more than necessary (you know the one) or the granola crunchy friend who gives the stink eye when you suggest Cheesecake Factory for lunch (won’t make that mistake again).
Of late, organic skin care products are popping up everywhere from your local drugstore, Amazon, to high-end spas. Perhaps you even follow a few of their boards on Pinterest. This sharp increase in organic skin care products is a sign to some that it’s just a passing trend, however those within the industry and the women demanding these products would say otherwise.
So this all begs bigger questions. What is the definition of organic and why should it affect my personal choices when it comes to skin care?
So What Does “Organic” or “Natural” Really Mean?
First, let’s wade through the hearsay, and first define the difference between “organic” and “natural.” Natural ingredients are sourced in whole or in part from natural sources with zero synthetic compounds. Organic ingredients take it further by only being plant-sourced and cultivated without the use of synthetic chemicals, irradiation, GMO, or pesticides.
Products that meet the USDA’s Organic standard of 95 percent or more organic ingredients will be marked with their seal of approval.
The organic or natural ingredients are then chosen for their specific goal and then a natural preservative system is added for longevity of the product without compromising the integrity of the organic ingredients.
All of this becomes clear once you step on to one of the many micro farms on Hawaii’s big island. Its beauty is transportive, thrusting you into an eden-like dream land. Upon entering the fields where delicate and sweetly scented Plumeria grows, you then fully understand the organic and locally grown difference. There’s something particularly special about knowing exactly where the ingredients in your skin care comes from, directly from our gorgeous planet.
Why Does Organic Actually Matter?
Separating itself from the standard beauty industry, the organic skin care movement is taking a healthy and holistic approach to the aging process. In many ways, it’s more about drawing beauty from within and pulling it to the surface by nourishing the body with ingredients born to nature. Better yet, it empowers women to fully understand what they are using on their bodies, and to embrace their naturally beautiful selves.
In fashion designer icon Diana von Furstenberg’s book, The Woman I Wanted to Be, she described how she’s handling the aging process. “There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you’re a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life.”
Diana von Furstenberg’s awareness of enhancing and preserving her natural beauty is exactly the message that organic skin care hopes to empower women with.
“Organic” has expanded beyond trendy lingo and the food, drinks, and household products we consume. It’s now emerging as one of the biggest growth segments within the beauty industry. According to Transparency Market Research, the organic personal care products market will grow to $13.2 billion by 2018. It’s a necessary trend for our environment, personal health, and overall wellbeing, and here’s why:
The key point to note when choosing organic skin care is that you are selecting products whose ingredients work in accordance with the sophisticated natural systems within your skin.
Consider this, our delicate skin is our largest organ that eliminates body waste, and is our initial immune defense barrier. Up to 60 percent of what is on our skin will be absorbed into our blood stream.
Yes, that highly important blood stream.
This means products that host harmful chemicals, yet boast about their “anti-aging” effectiveness are actually anything but nurturing or healing, and instead can negatively affect your health and even accelerate the aging process. Yikes! And clearly not what we want!
Let’s all ask ourselves this, why do we often scrutinize every calorie we put into our body, yet neglect investigating every product we rub on it?
The following are a few reasons why you should reconsider products you have at home:
Exposure to synthetics can cause skin irritation, chronic headaches, infertility, cancers, fatigue, allergies, sensitivities, breakouts, hormone disruption, etc.
Only 11% of 10,500 chemical ingredients in personal care products have been tested in the U.S.
Thankfully we now have a myriad of organic products to choose from that holistically nurture our skin’s natural ability to maintain optimal health. Even better, you’ll achieve that highly desirable radiant glow, the natural way.
What to Look For and What to Avoid
Organic and natural skin care products contain ingredients predominately made of fruits, vegetables, plants, and other naturally occurring items found in nature. At this time there are no set regulations for claiming a product as organic, therefore be on the lookout for dishonest claims from products saying they’re “natural” or “plant-based.” Upon further investigation you may find those ingredients are few and far between.
Again, you will only know that a product is fully organic with the USDA Organic seal.
In addition, look for these statements on the label for further confidence:
- Cruelty free
- No GMOs (genetically modified organisms)
- Environmentally friendly
- Made without the use of harsh irritants, chemicals, or carcinogens
- Does not contain artificial dyes, fragrances, or synthetic preservatives
In 2014, Harvard Medical School released their study on Skin Care and Repair, and noted in their findings that despite parabens and similar synthetics being used for more than 80 years in products they have discovered that they do in fact cause damage to one’s health. Parabens bind with human estrogen receptors (although weakly), and research suggests the connection between breast cancer and parabens. Steering clear of the below ingredients is the best choice you can make for your skin and overall health.
How We Learn From the Past for a Brighter Future
For the majority of people we can’t trace our ancestors back to ancient Polynesians; however what we can do is learn from their traditional skin care regimens that have permeated their culture over the last 1,000 years.
Fairly recently the cosmetics industry has begun to tout the benefits of essential oils and plant-based skin care, primarily due to the advent of scientific studies validating what Polynesian ancestors have known all along.
Polynesian seed oils like coconut oil, which has become the mother of all health foods, is mixed with different flowers like plumeria and other seed oils like sandalwood to provide a multitude of skin health, and anti-wrinkle benefits.
Another common oil utilized is candlenut (Kukui Nut Oil), which contains essential fatty acids that are pertinent to healthy skin metabolism. The oil provides light moisture and gently lifts dirt from delicate, dry skin, leaving it silky smooth. Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar winning actress and radiant beauty, is known to be a fervent believer in the skin rejuvenation benefits of Kukui Nut oil. Her gorgeous skin is clear proof!
Unfortunately, synthetic oils and ingredients replaced those traditionally used because of their cost-effectiveness, and ease of creation in comparison to the traditional laborious methods. Returning to the daily use of natural oils like coconut and candlenut will not only help you maintain healthy, youthful skin, but preserve your overall wellbeing.
Consumers are pushing back against the old cosmetics “standard,” and are demanding natural and organic products. Proving that “organic” is not just a present trend or a buzzword, but a movement towards a healthier and more holistic lifestyle.
And if all else fails follow Lucille Ball’s advice, “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”