With many of us becoming more conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies and the evolving consumer demand globally, brands are also pressured to embrace this trend. What we then observe is a shift towards “clean label” products and inclusive beauty. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s take this discussion a bit further.
Natural and organic skin care, which was earlier limited to a handful of niche beauty brands has seen several new entrants over the last few years. On that note, it is refreshing to see that one of the most searched key words on my blog has been ‘green beauty’ and ‘organic’ skin care. While I’m someone who values green-ethos and strongly voices and advocates supporting cruelty-free brands, I also understand the need to recognize my skin’s needs and therefore, yes, I do use retinols.
Your skin is a complex organ
Often we forget that the skin’s processes are highly complex and it can defend itself against a plethora of harmful ingredients and toxins. It functions through a multi-layered system of cushioning with an extensively well-developed cellular barrier and nourished with protective oils. In fact, the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin) has inherent barrier protective properties. Collectively, it is readily apparent that the stratum corneum is not a fixed, non-dynamic, non-pliable wall, and its lipid composition is not random and inactive.
With all the media awareness and campaigns raising concerns to ditch all ‘chemical’ based skin care, I believe it is more important to understand how your beauty regimen should be dealt with, individually and purely based on your skin type and concerns. You should treat it the same way your would do in a relationship. It must be relevant, evolving and clear emphasis should be placed on flexibility and function. The more time I spend reading and researching about skin care, the more I begin to realize the complexity of this subject.
It is safe to say, I belong to the school of thought that believes that while it is essential to avoid certain known toxic chemicals and to scrutinize products with mystery labels and irritant chemicals, it is equally necessary to address the lurking pseudo-science in cosmetics. Again, this is relevant both in the standard and organic skin care industry.
This brings attention to some questionable assumptions, such as ‘cellular respiration’ and the aggressively marketed benefits of oxygen facials. Yes, while there is some evidence suggesting the top most layer of the skin, or the epidermis (to a depth of 0.25–0.40 mm) might be exposed to atmospheric oxygen via diffusion, this function is not relying on absorption through pores. Also, the addition of ‘oxygen releasing’ chemicals in skin care products remains rather unsupported in practice. So while pores may not help you ‘breathe’, using gentle exfoliants to unclog them is an essential component of any skin care regime. This is to prevent skin occlusion which may later cause pimples, whiteheads or blackheads. More on this topic will be shared in upcoming posts.
While it is difficult to generalize a single consensus on whether or not should you switch to an all-organic skin care, an ideal approach would be to develop a balance between your skin’s needs and use it to adopt a beauty regime that works best for you on an individual basis. Follow what works best for you. There’s so much to debate on this front and different directions to take this discussion to, so hopefully we can touch on this topic again in greater depths, as I am aware of your interests in this subject.
- Del Rosso JQ, Levin J. The clinical relevance of maintaining the functional integrity of the stratum corneum in both healthy and disease-affected skin. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011;4(9):22–42.
- Stücker M, Struk A, Altmeyer P, Herde M, Baumgärtl H, Lübbers DW. The cutaneous uptake of atmospheric oxygen contributes significantly to the oxygen supply of human dermis and epidermis. J Physiol. 2002;538(Pt 3):985–994. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013067