Natural skin care is becoming more popular as people begin to realize that the ingredients in common skincare products may not be good for them.
Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry (which includes personal care products) is highly unregulated. There are few rules for what can and can't go into the products you use everyday. (1)
As more research studies are being done, the results are not looking good. Toxic ingredients that can cause hormone disruption, allergies, and more health problems are common. (2)
There are many reasons to switch to natural skin care, but it can be hard to know where to start. Which ingredients do you use, and what do they do?
To help you get started with non-toxic beauty and skin care, here are the top natural ingredients and the benefits of each one.
Many common skincare products use petroleum-based gels and other chemicals to keep skin moisturized and healthy-looking. But these ingredients can actually be harmful to skin and are often not sustainably produced.
Plant-based oils are one of the best alternatives because they moisturize and nourish skin naturally. You can use these oils on their own to replace moisturizers or combine with other ingredients.
There are many to choose from, but here are some of the top choices.
Coconut oil is currently one of the most popular ingredients to use in natural skin care.
It's cleansing and moisturizing to skin and has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Coconut oil can also help to soothe skin conditions like dermatitis. (3)
Not fr behind coconut oil, olive oil is another great ingredient to have on hand. It contains a high percentage of oleic acid, which is beneficial for skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Olive oil also contains something called squalene that actually mimics our skin's natural oils. These compounds, along with antioxidants and vitamins, have made olive oil a staple skincare ingredient for thousands of years. (4)
There are many more oils to choose from depending on your skin type and what you want to use them for.
Argan oil is rich in vitamins A and E, antioxidants, and fatty acids. It can moisturize skin and balance the production of sebum as well as hydrate hair and make it shinier.
Jojoba oil (which is technically a polyunsaturated wax) is very unique in that it closely resembles human sebum. This means it's easily absorbed into skin and moisturizes without clogging pores.
Sweet almond oil is another lightweight and anti-inflammatory oil. It makes a great carrier oil for essential oils and moisturizes skin without feeling greasy.
Castor oil is often used as part of an oil mixture for face cleansing because it's considered a drying oil, which means it helps with oily skin. Castor oil is also used in natural soap bars because it provides suds.
Butters are composed of fatty acids just like oils and have many skin benefits. The main difference is that butters are completely solid at room temperature.
All plant-based butters make great natural skin care ingredients, but each has slightly different properties.
Shea butter has been used for centuries and is filled with fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins. (5) It's one of the best choices to use for dry skin and skin issues like eczema.
Cocoa butter comes from the fat extracted from cocoa beans. It's high in fatty acids and vitamin E, which makes it extremely hydrating and nourishing for skin.
Cocoa butter has a higher melting point than shea butter and is often combined with other oils to make lip balm, body cream, and lotion bars.
Mango and Avocado Butters
While shea and cocoa butter are the most popular choices, there are two other butters that work well as natural skin care ingredients.
Mango butter is high in vitamins A and E. It can smooth and hydrate skin and has a mild, sweet scent.
Avocado butter has almost no scent and is softer and more spreadable than the other butters. It's high in vitamins B and E and is also hydrating for skin.
Both of these butters can be use to moisturize and repair dry skin, scalp, and hair.
Herbs As Natural Skin Care Ingredients
Herbs (along with essential oils) really take natural skincare to the next level. They can add fragrance as well as skin healing and soothing properties.
Herbs can be used fresh or dried in your skincare recipes and added or infused to give products added health benefits.
Calendula is one of the top skin-healing herbs used in lotions as well as products for dry or damaged skin. Lavender is another well-known herb for skin and can be added to shampoos, cleansers, lotions, and many more recipes.
Other herbs to consider include chamomile, rose petals or rose hips, comfrey leaf, and lemon balm.
Similar to fresh or dried herbs, essential oils can add both fragrance and benefits for skin. Here are a few of the most popular and beneficial.
Tea tree essential oil is often used for skincare because of its natural cleansing and antimicrobial properties. It's a natural ingredient that can fight breakouts and inflammation without being harsh on skin.
Just like the herb, lavender essential oil has many skin healing benefits. It helps to cleanse, soothe, and moisturize skin. The fragrance of lavender is also very stress reducing.
Lemon and other citrus essential oils like orange, grapefruit, and bergamot can help to brighten skin tone and give your skin a radiant glow. Lemon, especially, can help fight blemishes, and all citrus oils can help your hair look smooth and shiny.
Just be sure to apply citrus oils at night since they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Other Natural Skin Care Ingredients
While oils and butters make the base of many natural skin care products, there are a few other ingredients worth mentioning.
Aloe vera gel is a natural moisturizer and a good oil-free alternative for those prone to acne. It can also soothe sunburns and inflammatory skin issues. (6)
Sea salt and sugar are often used in DIY scrubs as exfoliators. Sea salt contains minerals and other nutrients beneficial for skin.
Beeswax is a common ingredient to use when making a skin salve and certain creams or lotions. It makes products thicker or solid at room temperature.
Apple cider vinegar and raw honey are staples when it comes to natural skincare. Honey moisturizes and softens skin and is full of antioxidants. Apple cider vinegar can be used in everything from a hair rinse to a facial toner.
Finding Your Favorite Natural Ingredients for Skin Care
Natural skin care can seem intimidating at first, but the important thing is to work at finding the ingredients that work best for you.
There are many to choose from, but starting with staples like oils, butters, herbs, and essential oils will be a big help.
If you don't want to make all your products yourself, look for natural personal care products that use simple ingredients like those in this list. Your skin and health will thank you!