In answer to the title of this article you may expect that the response is “it’s organic or natural” but that goes without saying. However, this article takes a deeper look at the classes of ingredients, the skin benefits of these ingredients and their impact on the skin. The basic aims of a good moisturiser is to maintain or restore skin barrier systems and to improve overall skin health. At a cellular level it is important that the formation of the epidermis or outer layer of skin is supported, as this is the foundation of an effective protective layer.
A well-formulated moisturiser will have the following properties:
• Mimic skin structure and function
• Slow trans epidermal water loss
• Maintain the skin’s protective barrier
• Nourish the skin by providing nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and essential fats
• Have a moisture saturating effect i.e. provide the skin with the moisture it needs
• Have a balanced pH
• Have a restorative effect i.e. work to improve superficial skin damage
In addition, it is important that the formulation looks, feels and smells nice. The aesthetics of a formulation have a large impact on its use. After all, a formulation can have amazing properties but if it sits on the bathroom shelf without being used, it is no good to anyone.
In order to achieve the above aims, a good moisturiser obviously needs to contain active ingredients but just as important are the base ingredients. In many cases, the base carriers, emollients (softening and soothing) and humectants (retains water) could also be considered active ingredients if well chosen.
Base ingredients are those that make up over 50 – 70% of the formulation. They are responsible largely for protection and hydration. If formulated well with ingredients such as fruit, seed and plant oils or gels, they will also provide some nutritional value.
The growing sophistication of natural and organic formulations highlights the key differences between these and their synthetic counterparts. Obviously the lack of potential toxic or irritating colours, fragrances and preservatives is a major difference, however, returning to the original premise of the article, “what makes a good formulation”, the key difference by proportion of formulation is actually the base ingredients. Comprising over half of the formulation, they can either actively promote skin health, or have a somewhat neutral effect.
By way of example, petroleum has an excellent and immediate barrier effect on the skin however, it sits on the surface of the skin and so stops the skin breathing and depending on where it is sourced may potentially be a source of toxic contamination. On the other hand, Shea Butter also has an excellent barrier effect but is also a source of vitamins A and E, iron and essential fatty acids. In addition it penetrates the skin readily, has an emollient effect and supports skin elasticizing. As you can imagine, a formulation containing Shea Butter is much more likely to meet the essential criteria of a good formulation.
Active ingredients are more likely to help to restore skin health and provide skin nourishment. These include antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids and minerals. They may make up between 5-10% of a formulation. These days it is common to see the same active ingredients in a good organic formulation as it is in an expensive department store brand or dermatologist cosmedic range. Ingredients such as vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, hyaluronic acid and peptides are no longer the exclusive domains of dermatologists.
Depending on the formulation colours and fragrances make up less than 5%. An organic formulation is unlikely to have any added colours or fragrances but rather utilizes the natural fragrances of essential oils, which are in fact considered actives or essential oil based preservatives, which again give the formulation its fragrance.
Preservatives may also contribute up to 5% of a formulation. Depending on whether the formulation is natural or synthetically based, the preservatives will be either essential oil or plant based or a synthetic alternative such as parabens. Some organic products contain chemically modified preservatives i.e. the starting material is natural but it is modified to have a preservative-like effect. One example of this is phenoxyethanol. There are a number of ways of manufacturing this preservative however the form that is acceptable in organic formulations is based on natural starting materials.
Determining a good moisturiser from one that is…well average cannot be based on the active ingredients alone. A holistic review of the ingredients including the base formulation, colours, fragrances and preservatives will determine this and if after this you are still unsure, ask! Contact the manufacture, check the Skin Deep database or ask the retailer for a detailed explanation of ingredients so that you really know what you are putting on your face each day.
To review the ingredients of some very good organic moisturisers, click here!Twitter It!
Have you noticed that organic products feel different to their synthetic counterparts? Sometimes they take a little longer to sink in or initially feel richer due to the oil component. Once applied however, you can start to notice your skin feels different, and not just after application but also over time, it feels smoother and more hydrated. There is a reason for this and it all comes down to the base ingredients used in organic skin formulations.
Conventional skin care contains synthetic ingredients such as fillers, silicon and slip agents. These make the product feel smooth as they give the product slip and are designed to settle on the top of the skin, creating a smooth barrier. It also makes your skin appear more hydrated than it actually is. In reality, the barrier created by fillers and silicone agents creates an occlusive coat, trapping ingredients below it and stopping the skin from breathing. While this may make your skin feel better in the short term, in the long term they provide little if any nourishment for the skin.
Skin “breathing” is a critical function of body detoxification. While creating a barrier to the outside world the skin also allows substances such as water, waste products and oxygen to pass through its layers. If these are then trapped below an occlusive emollient such as silicone it can lead to skin health issues such as congestion, poor skin texture and irritation. Extended exposure to sweat under an occlusive layer can further irritation. In addition, skin exposure to ingredients such as artificial colours and scents, which are already the most significant cause of skin issues, can become even more problematic if trapped under an occlusive layer.
By contrast natural base oils and butters, while giving products a smooth base feel, also allow the skin to breathe. As fatty substances they are absorbed into the skin, rather than sitting on the surface and in doing so carry important ingredients such as antioxidants through as well. In addition, they are a source of critical essential fatty acids, glycolipids and phosphlipids which support the skin cell membranes and permit nutrients and water into the cell and toxins out.
What to look for in your products are ingredients such as those listed below:
The benefits of products containing such ingredients as their basis are twofold; firstly they aren’t irritating to the skin and secondly provide essential nutrition. This is a win-win situation all round.Twitter It!
One of my major bugbears is the use of “green-washing” when it comes to the natural & organic skin care industry. Waving an organic tea-bag over a jar of skin care doesn’t make it organic. I think a healthy dose of transparency is needed in this industry. This youtube video by Pure & Green Organics is a good one as it helps to identify some of the marketing tricks used as well as showing consumers how to identify certified organic ranges.
I do want to point out that using natural skin care (which isn’t necessarily organic) is the first step to healthier skin…going organic is the next step however it isn’t always possible to find products that work for you that are both natural AND organic. Ultimately I believe you have to choose the product that suits your skin first over organic certification (please comment if you disagree as I love to read what y’all think). I can imagine a world where this will be possible…and quite soon, but we aren’t there yet.
Organic Skincare – Real or Fake by Pure and Green OrganicsTwitter It!
The term “new adopter” refers to people that follow new trends or products particularly in the area of new technology however I have borrowed the term for skin care aficionados i.e. people that just have to have the latest cosmetic or cream released on the market. I can confirm that I have definitely had moments of “new adoption” where I have bought products just because they were new or eagerly anticipated the release of a new range or product with the intent to purchase as soon as available.
On the flip side there are some favourite products I just can’t do without. Products that work for my skin or hair or coloured cosmetics that suit me so I go back to them time and time again. Among these is my Minerelle foundation. I have tried so many different foundations (I receive many samples in the course of my work) and while initially I might be impressed, I go back to Minerelle every time. For me it is not just about the performance of the product, which is excellent but also the shade which suits my skin perfectly.
One trend I did follow (well almost followed) is that of Morrocan Oil. I was really pleased to hear that there was a hair oil on the market based on natural ingredients. However, at the point of purchase I gave the ingredients a quick once over and smartly put it back on the shelf – the ONLY natural ingredient in Morrocan Oil is a bit of Argan oil – it is not even the first ingredient which means the fragrances and polymers make up most of the product. I was so disappointed so I instead chose Pure Lustre from Nature’s Symphony which is based on Camellia oil and completely natural. My hair loves it and love that it is natural.
The body product I just can’t go without is Remedica African Vanilla & Shea Nut Body Butter. I love everything about it – the texture, the scent (which lasts all day) and the way it moisturises my skin. BIG LOVE and a staple in my bathroom cupboard.
One new product that I think will become a favourite is La Mav’s Bio VA5 Daily Wrinkle Smoothing Crème. It has recently been reformulated and I find it excellent for my skin as it is not too rich but the cosmeceutical ingredients really pack a punch – Acai, Kakadu Plum, Hibiscus, Pea and Cassia to name a few.
With regard to cosmetics, when it comes to mascaras, I just can’t go past the Ere Perez Natural Almond Oil Mascara – it doesn’t clump, it doesn’t run or smudge or do any of the annoying things mascaras generally do. HANDS UP for this product. However, I will also say that the newer range of Lavera mascaras are pretty appealing particularly for longer, lusher lashes. I feel the call to try something new…
I did a quick ask around with the staff at Vitale Natural and they all pretty much mention the same three products as definite favourites:
I would love to know if you have any favourite products or products you think will become favourites.Twitter It!
LOHAS stands for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability which is essentially a socio-economic term that describes a segment of conscious shoppers i.e. people who not only consider their own personal benefit but the impact on the wider community and planet. In Australia this represents around 26 % of the adult population. However, this is a global trend and not only do I think the number of people that start making more conscious choices will rise, particularly in Australia where such a wide range of choices are available.
You can see evidence of this trend impacting on companies and brands alike particularly in the cosmetic industry where the trend towards natural & organic products has been taken further so it encompassess use of eco packaging materials, fair trade ingredients, stopping the use of palm oil or using sustainable plantation sources and choosing only cruelty free products.
At Vitale it is about ensuring coherence between what we say we do and what we actually do. We do this by:
I was prompted to write this little blurb by an article about LOHAS which got me thinking about how we as a company perform. Of course there is always room for improvement but I also think we have set a high standard for ourselves and we strive to achieve it in every way we can.
We would love to hear about areas we could improve so please have your say.Twitter It!
Winter is such a great time to get into using blush. Blush can give you that “just flushed after exercise look”. I must stress this is not the beetroot look I get after running rather a dash of colour on your cheeks that makes you look healthy and full of life. I adore wearing blush but hold back a little as I also like strong lipstick colours. The combination can be a bit 80’s so I avoid really bright lipstick when applying blush. Now don’t be put off, this is a peculiar quirk of mine based on the colours I like, not a hard and fast rule. A little blush with bold lipstick is fine; just don’t go over the top.
Applying blush can bit a bit tricky but there are some failsafe guidelines that can make your technique foolproof.
Firstly you need to choose a blush colour that suits your skin tone, either from a warm or a cool colour palette. Basically if you have a cool undertone, choose pink or mauve tones. If you have a warm undertone, choose apricot or sienna tones. Some examples are:
Cool Undertones – pinks, mauves and plums
Warm Undertones – apricot, earthy tones and even yellow based reds particularly for mediterranean skin tones
For more about how to work out your skin undertone read “How to choos the right coloured makeup”
Next work out the shape of your face and decide where to contour the blush. Some key tips on this:
Use a good blush brush. The effect you achieve when applying any makeup is based on the quality of your materials, both cosmetics and good brushes. A blush brush with a full head is ideal.
Choose the type of blush that will suit your skin. There are few different types of blush formulation that you can choose from:
If you have any application tips you can recommend, let us know. We would love you to share the blush love!Twitter It!
I have to admit I am a bit lackadaisical when it comes to using a toner every day. If it is in front of me, I use one under my moisturizer but if it isn’t I don’t go searching. This is in contrast to Mary and Caitlyn, our Vitale beauty therapists – they both swear by toners and use them religiously. May I also add they both have gorgeous skin! So when the Dr recently told me to keep the scars on my face moist, I added in the use of a toner first under the healing oils to deliver extra moisture, with might I add, excellent results! Since then I have been using a toner daily.
There are three categories of toner so it is important to make the distinction between them: traditional toners, astringents and fresheners.
Traditional toners are used to restore moisture to the skin. They are ideal for those with normal to dry or dehydrated skin as they contain moisturizing ingredients, herbal extracts and essential oils. They do not contain alcohol, which can reduce moisture and oil content in the skin and potential cause irritation. Examples of traditional toners are:
Remedica Hydra Mist – this amazing looking and smelling product is an active hydrator, moisture retainer and lipid-acid mantle restorer. The effectiveness of this product is due to a complex synergism between antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins and of the natural water binder Lecithin (humectant) which attracts water molecules from the atmosphere and helps bind these molecules to the skin. These actions are exactly what are needed for dry, dehydrated or damaged skin.
La Mav Refining Toner – again excellent for normal to dry or dehydrated skin this toner contains loads of slow ageing ingredients which when used under the La Mav Wrinkle Smoother, layer nutrients and enhance their effects.
Astiringent Toners contain alcohol based (or ethanol) in some form, which has the effect of tightening pores and removing oil. The natural & organic skin care industry moved away from this type of toner a long time ago however, you can still get the pore tightening, cleansing and refreshing effect from other ingredients used in toners that are suitable for normal to oily skin. I will also add that I think toners are excellent and often overlooked for very oil and acne-prone skin. They can deliver a light layer of healing and oil minimizing ingredients without the congestion issues that are sometimes found with moisturizers. Acne prone or oily skin is surprisingly often quite dehydrated. Yes you can have oily but dehydrated (low water) skin. So delivering moisture to oily skin is essential.
Examples of toners for oily or acne-prone skin include:
Third Stone Botanicals Cedarwood Toner – this product delivers concentrated hydration to skin after cleansing just when it needs it and before acid mantle returns which is the best opportunity to lock in extra moisture. The cedarwood essential oil helps to balance out oil production.
Devita Cool Cucumber Toner – well this just smells divine for a start but it also contains chamomile to soothe irritated skin and natural fruit acids to help clean out and tighten pores.
Fresheners are a category of toners that are used for…well exactly that, freshening up your face on a hot day or resetting your mineral makeup, cleansing off makeup at the end of the day or just adding that extra bit of moisture when you look and feel tired or your skin is dehydrated. Based on floral waters, they give much needed moisture but without the drying effects of water (ironic isn’t it but one of the most drying thing we do to our faces everyday is wash with water!).
Treasured Earth Gardenia & Honeysuckle Rehydrating Mist uses rose and lemon myrtle floral water to refresh and rehydrated skin. It also includes the purifying qualities of Iceland Moss so is excellent to help cleanse skin after makeup removal.
For best results use toners twice a day, morning and night after washing your face. One or two sprays is usually enough.Twitter It!
As we move into the cooler months I checked in with the Vitale Team about their favorite products. Basically they had nothing to do with drier, cooler weather and we all about individual skin type or needs:
cause it is natural but doesn’t leave a white cast to the skin like other mineral sun protection products. In a minor concession to my question about Autumn skincare, she added that sun protection is important all year round and looking at her skin, which is gorgeous, you can tell she means it!
We would love to know what your favorite product is!Twitter It!
A question from a customer struck home for me this month. It was about red skin, not rosacea rather a red or pink tone to the skin. This is more common in pale skins like myself and I have always tended to a slightly pink nose and red cheeks. Ironically now that my skin tone has evened out, I use blush!
This question from Nadia: I am a 39 year old redhead with freckly skin (from the sun!) and fairly red skin on my chin and cheeks, other than that, my skin is in good condition, with no wrinkles and I am regularly told I look late 20’s. I have had the redness for many years (I have had two try at expensive laser treatment twice, (its not rosacea ), though it hasn’t worked and I was very disappointed.
My skin doesn’t appear to be sensitive at all. I wear a lot of foundation to cover the redness (I don’t have any freckles on my face). I would love to get away from wearing foundation all the time, though it is quite a sensitive topic for me, as it stops me doing many outdoor activities, sports etc, as I am always touching up my make up, as I am so self conscious about my skin.
My response to Nadia was: Thank you for your e-mail. Based on what you have written below I have a couple of suggestions. Firstly it is great that your skin looks so good – it shows you have looked after it.
With regard to redness…the cause may be internal. I have attached a link to an article I wrote recently about Facial Diagnosis which looks at the internal causes of skin issues including red skin. The thing that makes my redness worse is when I drink too much coffee, alcohol or eat sugary, processed foods. These foods are pro-inflammatory and so can cause redness in the skin. For me, minimising these foods helps a great deal.
Topically I find that vitamin C products help reduce redness. They increase the antioxidant network in the skin and improve skin immunity all which seem to dampen down redness. Personally, as one with red cheeks, I have used Devita C Accelerate to great effect with redness. I have also used antioxidants internally (vitamins A, C, E and zinc along with grapeseed) and this markedly decreased the redness in my cheeks. The grapeseed works by strengthening the capillary network reducing reactivity and “blushing”.
In addition, while it may not be obvious, sun exposure can contribute to redness over time so wearing sunscreen on your face is important. Where the damage is permanent and long lasting Devita Sun Damage Repair Gel may help as it promotes repair of damaged skin and helps lighten spots. To cover redness, I recommend and use Mineral Makeup (my savior on many occasions). Minerelle, the brand we stock is a professional range and the cover is excellent. I only need to apply once a day for great long-lasting cover.
Ed note: I did go onto to discuss feelings of self-consciousness with Nadia because on a personal note, I do understand the feeling of being self-conscious about my skin. It took me a long time to feel ok about going without makeup and even now sometimes I look in the mirror and think that my skin looks terrible. However, I finally realised that the more I focused on it, the more of an issue it became and I was making myself miserable. These days I am far more accepting of how I look and it is quite frankly, a relief.
I would love to read your comments, how you feel about your skin and what helps you feel better.Twitter It!
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