We all know that "natural" is becoming more popular when describing products as a way to market products. March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness month, and I wanted to shed light on how we can think differently about the role skincare can play in our lives when it comes to product selection. For many of us, products can cause rashes to allergic reactions, and we have to be mindful consumers.
What is "Natural" Anyway?
Simply put, a natural ingredient comes from a plant or substance found in nature: aloe vera, lavender, rose, etc. From a skincare perspective, they're used when making products because of their chemical properties. I use the term "chemical properties" on purpose because I want us to move away from using the phrase "chemicals are bad" because our world is made up of chemicals; however, how those chemicals are formed and used can have an influence on our health. From here on out; however, I will refer to these natural ingredients as plants or herbal ingredients.
Why Are Plants and Herbal Ingredients Helpful in Skincare?
We know how beneficial plants are, but it is a skill to incorporate them into our products because we have to ensure they are stable, safe, and effective, especially for sensitive skin. Sustainability is also an important consideration when using plants and herbal products. Many of them are endangered just like animals because of over harvesting (among other unfortunate practices), which impacts the plants, and the communities where those items are grown (Castle et al., 2014).
What Are Some Examples of Plant-Based Items Used in Skincare?
You are probably familiar with many of these items used in skincare products. Here are a few examples:
- Chamomile: Chamomile has calming properties and can soothe irritated or sensitive skin. It is also rich in antioxidants, which can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.
- Lavender: Lavender is one of the more popular plants because of its relaxing properties. The plant itself is also known to have antibacterial and antifungal qualities.
- Sunflower: Sunflowers are amazing plants that have anti-inflammatory and are full of vitamin E. It not only protects our skin from transepidermal water loss, but it also has a high amount of linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that we need to consume through food (Whelan & Fritsche, 2013).
Castle, L. M., Leopold, S., Craft, R., & Kindscher, K. (2014). Ranking tool created for medicinal plants at risk of being overharvested in the wild. Ethnobiology Letters, 5, 77-88.
Whelan, J., & Fritsche, K. (2013). Linoleic acid. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 4(3), 311–312. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.113.003772