Natural Skin Care for Acne
According to Discovery Channel's Planet Green, most people use 10 different skin care products each day, exposing their skin to about 130 different chemicals in the quest for beautiful skin. Natural skin care aims to achieve the same results without the harsh and potentially toxic aftereffects of these chemicals.
There is no Food and Drug Administration regulation of the word "natural." Companies can use it to describe an entire acne-fighting product line, an ingredient, a look, a feel or even an idea. As a result, the term is often misused. Nationwide cosmetic retailer Sephora created its own system for defining natural, using a list of ingredients natural products should contain and a second list that should be excluded. These lists make handy guidelines for evaluating a product's status as "natural." According to its lists, natural skin care should contain botanicals, essential oils, vitamins and minerals, fruit extracts and antioxidants. Excluded ingredients include phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals, parabens, triclosan and synthetic colors and scents.
Natural skin care products designed to reduce acne often take a two-pronged approach: treat existing acne and reduce or remove the conditions under which acne forms. Products include toners, astringents, masks, cleansers, creams and scrubs. According to author Janice Cox in her book "Natural Beauty from the Garden," natural acne-fighting ingredients include aloe vera gel for a clear complexion, feverfew for blemish treatment, tea leaves for antioxidants, chamomile to fight redness and inflammation, clay for oil absorption, and strawberries for natural salicylic acid.
In general, the following types of products can be reasonably described as "natural": organic product lines, plant- or animal-based products, homemade acne treatments and homeopathic over-the-counter acne remedies. Nationwide retailer Drugstore.com offers a list of skin care providers that offer natural acne treatments, including Burt's Bees, Nature's Cure, Desert Essence, Kiss My Face and Derma e.
Natural products are usually free of harsh lab-created chemicals that may be harmful to your health. For example, according to Discovery Channel's Planet Green, many scented cosmetic products contain phthalates, a chemical hormone disruptor that causes reproductive damage and birth defects. Harsh acne fighters such as benzoyl peroxide can over-dry skin, causing redness, itching and flaking. Natural products are also gentler on sensitive skin, thanks to their milder herb- and oil-based formulations.
Even though the FDA doesn't monitor the use of the word "natural," it does classify over-the-counter acne medications and over-the-counter homeopathic remedies as drugs, not cosmetics. This allows the agency to hold manufacturers to certain standards. The FDA issues approval for a drug once the manufacturers have shown the drug is safe to use and reasonably effective at treating acne. The medication's ingredients, safety instructions and uses must be listed on the packaging.
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