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Healthy You

Skin Care: Is Natural Better?

Friday, May 03, 2013 12:08 PM

They are everywhere, from drugstores to dedicated brands. It’s impossible to miss all the makeup, moisturizers, anti-aging serums and cleansers with the words “natural” and “chemical-free” written in bold on their packaging. But are these “natural” options any better for your skin than more conventional skincare products? The only way to find out is to ask your skin.

When it comes to skincare, it’s what your skin wants and how it reacts to what you put on it that should matter most. Certain skin types are just as likely to react to natural ingredients as they are to non-natural ingredients. Natural also doesn’t necessarily mean the product is safer for your skin or that it will produce more impressive results.

Give any product a month or more to determine its effectiveness. If you like what you see, you might have found a good match. If you react poorly, discontinue use and try all over again with something new.

If using natural products is important to you, Sarah Kasprowicz, MD, Dermatologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem, shares some tips how to find the best product for your skin and what to look out for before buying:

1. Read the ingredients. Make sure to read the ingredient label on all skincare products like you would a food label. It will help you get to know the ingredients you are putting on your skin. The word “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean the product contains only “all natural” ingredients. In fact, it might contain some of the same ingredients as its non-natural counterparts.

2. Keep an eye out for these natural ingredients:

  • Green Tea Extract – Green tea contains antioxidants that help prevent and treat UV damage to the skin.
  • Soy – In studies, soy has been shown to be a good natural alternative to prescription creams aimed at correcting darkening and discoloration of the skin.
  • Oats – Studies show that oats can help maintain and protect the skin barrier in conditions like eczema.
  • Feverfew – This flower extract has been shown to effectively counteract the redness from conditions like rosacea. 
  • Vitamin C – It’s a powerful topical antioxidant that can help regulate oil production for people prone to acne.

3. Use sunscreen. Always include a sunscreen in your skincare routine. Look for a sunscreen that is labeled as “broad spectrum,” which means the product has been tested and proven to protect against deeply penetrating UVA rays and shorter-waved UVB rays. Zinc oxide, a physical blocker, is considered more “natural” than many of the other ingredients found in sunscreen.

Have you gone natural with your skincare regimen? Why or why not? What’s worked for you?