Skincare is the foundation of the beauty world. Caring for your skin is equivalent to caring for and preparing a canvas for a painting. Without a solid canvas, the painting atop it will never reach its full potential. In the same way, your skin is a canvas that must be constantly maintained. Where a painter prepares a new canvas for each painting, your skin cannot be thrown out and replaced so it must be continually cared for.

There have been many advances in skincare technology over the years, but these advances have largely come with chemicals, compounds, and other potentially toxic ingredients. Your skin absorbs whatever is put on it, meaning any toxic ingredients in skincare products are absorbed into your body and will potentially cause harm. These toxins were ignored for a significant amount of time in the industry, as most people believed the benefits outweigh the risks.

Modern skincare is seeing a return to natural and organic ingredients, but the market is still confusing making it difficult to find the best skin care products. However, with a few guidelines in hand, you can trudge through the vast amount of skincare options to find the best natural products.



Which Claims Are Regulated and Which Are Not

You may think that any claim made on a product’s packaging must be true. Surely companies cannot claim something that is not true. Companies are free to claim their products are “natural,”’ “hypoallergenic,” “for sensitive skin,” or “fragrance-free” regardless of whether or not those claims are true. Skincare product claims are not regulated or substantiated by governments or regulatory organizations. The term “organic” is somewhat regulated in certain countries, but there are often loopholes in those regulations that allow questionable ingredients in products labeled “organic.” Your best defense against false claims is to read the label and investigate for yourself if a product’s claims are true.

How To Choose The Best Natural Skincare Products

Read the Label

By law, skincare products must list all their ingredients. The ingredient list, usually, does not lie and will tell you everything you need to know about what a certain product contains. There is a nearly unending list of ingredients in the skincare world. Rather than learn the ingredients you want, memorize ingredients you do not want.

Many commercial brands use petroleum derivatives and other synthetics in skincare products. These toxic ingredients are cheap, abundant, and have a long shelf life making them ideal from a manufacturing perspective. Companies use these harmful ingredients instead of natural ingredients largely because it is easier, cheaper, and faster. Some companies, Johnson & Johnson being a recent example, are acquiescing to customer pressure and are reformulating their products to remove known toxins, but much of the skincare world is still rife with harmful chemicals.

Organics – Why Your Skin and the Planet Will Thank You  

Ingredients to Avoid

Here is a handful of ingredients that should be avoided:

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Monoethanolamine (MEA)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)
  • Propylene Glycol (PEG)
  • Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Propyl, Ethyl)
  • Isopropyl (SD-40)
  • Mineral Oil
  • Triclosan
  • DMDM Hydantoin & Urea
  • FD&C Color Pigments
  • Synthetic Fragrances
  • Mineral Oil a.k.a. Paraffinum Liquidum
  • Petrolatum a.k.a. Petroleum Jelly
  • Propylene Glycol, PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol)
  • Polysorbates (usually followed by a number) and DEA/MEA/TEA
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Benzyl Alcohol

Sephora created a labeling system called “Clean at Sephora”. The label is applied to any product that Sephora finds does not contain “sulfates SLS and SLES, mineral oil, parabens, triclosan, triclocarban, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, retinyl palmitate, hydroquinone, oxybenzone, and coal tar.” Over 50 companies have products that comply with the Clean at Sephora criteria.

How To Choose The Best Natural Skincare Products

Natural and Organic Does Not Guarantee Better

When you make the change to all-natural skincare products, you are not guaranteed better products. A product might be safer and healthier, but that does not mean the product will be free from downsides or potentially negative effects. For example, these three ingredients are naturally created, but can pose issues:

  • Sodium lauryl/Laureth sulfate and Cocamidopropyl betaine are both derived from coconut oil but are known to cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.
  • Cocamide DEA/MEA can irritate the skin.
  • Lauryl glucoside and decyl glucoside are both derived from vegetables, but neither has been tested for safety, so their effects are largely unknown.

Organic and inorganic pigments have different chemical compositions, with organic pigments tend to create brighter and richer colors than inorganic pigments. While these organic pigments create bolder colors, it takes more than one application to achieve that color and cover the undercoat. Inorganic pigments are generally more opaque therefore requiring fewer applications. However, organic pigments fade much faster than inorganic pigments. It is important to keep these differences in mind and not expect a product containing organic pigments to behave like a product with inorganic pigments.



Making the change to natural skin care products can be confusing due to the lack of regulations on product claims. You should do your own research to determine which products are truly natural. Keep in mind that a natural product is not automatically better and some naturally occurring ingredients have untested side effects. Also note that organic products behave differently compared to inorganic products, so when you switch to natural skin care products, it is important to adjust your expectations as well.


Guest post by Gwen Lewis


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