If you’re like me, finding a good skincare product is like discovering the holy grail. I have sensitive skin, and I’m at that troublesome age where I have to deal with acne and wrinkles. It’s hard enough to find a product that works, let alone worry about ingredients. But when I started switching to natural products to heal my Chronic Fatigue, I knew I needed to find some good natural skincare products.
Here are the ingredients I stopped using and the “holy grail” products I’ve found along the way.
Ingredients to Avoid
A lot of skincare products work, but contain ingredients that aren’t actually good for your skin or overall health. Some can throw off your hormones or break down your skin’s natural defenses, creating the need for—you guessed it—more products. To stop the cycle and prevent more serious health problems, here are some ingredients you should avoid.
Sulfates (like sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate) are used as cleansing and emulsifying agents. They aren’t dangerous to your health, but they are harsh on your skin. Sulfates break down your skin’s natural barriers, which creates dryness and irritation. Over time, your skin will compensate by becoming more oily and prone to breakouts.
Commonly used as binding agents, phthalates are suspected to cause endocrine disruption and metabolic interference. Basically, they can disrupt your hormones and could even be making you gain weight. If you’re like me and get hormonal acne, you definitely want to stay away from phthalates.
Most skincare products contain some kind of preservative, but not all preservatives are created equal. Many products use parabens, methylisothiazolinone, and BHT. These are known to cause hormone disruption and skin irritations.
Petroleum (sometimes labeled as paraffin or mineral oil) is used to create a barrier on top of the skin, and it comes with some serious health risks. Like parabens and phthalates, it mimics estrogen in the body, throwing off your natural hormones. It also carries a moderate risk of contamination with dioxane, a carcinogen. To make matters worse, once petroleum absorbs into your body, it can’t be metabolized, which means your body can’t get rid of it. Better to steer clear.
Retinol is a synthetic version of Vitamin A that is used to treat wrinkles. While that may sound natural, retinol is anything but. It’s been linked to skin cancer and increased risk of tumors. It’s also classified as a developmental and reproductive toxicant. Thankfully, there are some natural alternatives to retinol that will fight signs of aging without all these health risks.
You don’t actually need a lot of ingredients to remove makeup and impurities. Some people just use oil—a method I’ve tried and can vouch for. But if you’re not ready to go full coconut-oil hippy, here are a two of my favorite natural cleansers.
Acure Organics’ Radically Rejuvenating Cream Cleanser
Acure is a brand I often recommend, because they use great ingredients and aren’t crazy expensive. And their products work! This cleanser is a great balance of moisturizing and deep cleaning—perfect for combating both wrinkles and acne. I like that it contains mint, which gives it that slight tingly feel. I noticed a significant improvement in my skin’s texture, which became silky-smooth. If your skin is looking tired and dull, I’d definitely recommend this cleanser. It also comes in a sensitive skin and brightening formula.
Goddess Garden’s Fresh Start Invigorating Cream Cleanser
Although I was very happy with my Acure cleanser, I recently received this Goddess Garden cleanser through the Mighty Body natural beauty subscription box. I’ve been totally blown away by it. This cleanser contains witch hazel, tea tree oil, and willow bark to combat breakouts, and coconut and safflower oil to nourish the skin. It’s also full of essential oils that are designed to leave you (and your skin) feeling refreshed. I love the natural scent and that it actually lathers (something hard to come by in natural products). Since using it, my skin has been even smoother, brighter, and breakout-free than it was with the Acure cleanser. I’d still recommend them both, but Goddess Garden has my top vote.
Although it’s easy to make your own natural scrub using sugar, I prefer something a bit gentler on my sensitive skin. Lately I’ve been loving Derma E’s Overnight Peel with Alpha Hydroxy Acids. I use it in place of moisturizer 1-2 nights a week, and I love how easy and quick it is. You just put a small layer on before bed and wash it off in the morning. It doesn’t burn or smell—it feels just like a light moisturizer. Because it’s quite gentle, I don’t notice a dramatic difference each time I use it, but I have seen improvement in my skin’s texture over time. I would especially recommend it for people with sensitive skin or if you’re looking to replace chemical peels with a natural alternative.
If traditional scrubs are your thing, natural beauty gurus swear by Acure Organics’ Brightening Scrub. It’s also the top-rated scrub on Amazon, so it must be pretty good.
I’ve always had a hard time finding a good moisturizer. My skin tends to be dry, but a lot of moisturizers cause me to break out. I’m always looking for the perfect balance of moisture, and I found it in Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Oil-Free Moisturizer with Green Tea and Aloe. I love this stuff so much, I’ve refused to try any other moisturizers (which is kind of a big deal when you review products on your blog). It goes on really smooth and light, and a small amount (like pea-sized) is enough to moisturize my face and neck. Plus, it hasn’t caused any breakouts or irritation. I’d highly recommend this moisturizer for breakout-prone skin or if you’re looking for a light daily moisturizer. It also creates a nice smooth base for makeup.
This year, I also started using Derma E’s Firming DMAE Eye Lift. Although I’m still pretty young, Chronic Fatigue has definitely aged my skin. I wanted something that would help me look less tired and more like my actual age. This eye cream is super moisturizing, and I have noticed an improvement in my crows feet and dark circles. I’m still interested in shopping around, but would recommend Derma E for their selection of natural eye creams. They’re a good price and actually seem to work.
Natural Masks & Acne Treatments
Whether it’s for self care or a bad breakout, a girl’s gotta have at least one face mask in her arsenal. These are my natural picks for spa days and skincare crises.
Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay
Although it’s only one ingredient (calcium bentonite clay), tons of people swear by this mask for healing breakouts. I use it when my skin is starting to look congested, and it really does work to draw out the gunk and get your skin clearer faster.
The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Clay Mask
This mask is another great natural treatment for acne. It uses tea tree oil to wipe out acne-causing bacteria and clay to draw out dirt and oil. Although it’s designed to be a 10-minute mask, I actually prefer to use it as a spot treatment. I find that the tea tree oil is a little strong for parts of my face (and actually stings), but works great if I just dab a bit on problem areas before bed.
Tony Moly’s “I’m Real” Ginseng Sheet Mask
If sheet masks are your thing, Tony Moly does a great line of “I’m Real” masks made from natural ingredients like avocado, seaweed, and even red wine. I personally really like the ginseng mask, which claims to improve skin’s elasticity. When my skin is looking tired, I pop on this sheet mask, and it perks right up.
Since finding these products, I haven’t missed my old chemical-filled skincare routine at all. I also don’t think I’m spending any more money than I was before, and the quality of my products has only improved. Most of all, I’m thankful for the peace of mind that has come from using safe and healthy products. My Chronic Fatigue is improving, and while it’s not solely due to this switch, I do believe that removing chemicals from my daily routine has helped.
Bottom line: you don’t have much to lose when switching to natural skincare products. And you’ll be making a step towards a healthier lifestyle. I recommend trying them!
This post contains affiliate links, which help support this blog. I only link to products I use or would personally recommend.
Photo: © Elizabeth Steere