Finding it hard to go clean with your skin care?
It’s as simple as choosing the right type of product.
So you’re trying to go chemical free with your skincare and you’re not sure whether you should head for the face oil or moisturizer? They both claim to be natural right?
If you have spent time trying to clean up your beauty routine you will know by now that just because a product claims to be natural certainly doesn’t mean that it is.
But one thing that can help you navigate the confusing world of natural skincare is by understanding how different formulations are in fact “cleaner” than others. The type of skincare product you choose and how it is formulated can be the key to going chemical free.
Let’s start by explaining a little bit about skin care formulations.
At a basic level there are four rough “types” of formulations:
- Water and oil formulations – a product where water and oil are both in the ingredient list. As water and oil don’t mix , an emulsifier holds these two ingredients together. Typically moisturizers, wet masks and lotion/ foaming cleansers fall into this category. You will know these products straight away by checking the ingredient list, and most of these products will have water as the first or second ingredient. They are also usually white and creamy.
- Water only based formulations – these products contain water without oil. They may also contain other ingredients such as extracts and glycerin but no oil and hence no emulsifier. Face mists and hydrosols fall into this category.
- Oil only formulations – these products do not contain any water at all only oil. They can take a couple of forms: face oils, cleansing balms and moisturizing balms.
- Dry formulations: These products also do not contain water and come as a loose powder to be decanted and mixed with water on use. Dry masks and exfoliants are examples of these products.
You can see from each of the explanations of the different formulations that the relationship each has with water is important and that is because understanding how clean your beauty product is, comes down to understanding the role of water in the product.
So why is water relevant to clean beauty?
Let me start by saying that water in skin care is a huge problem for clean beauty.
Bacteria loves water. The only thing that bacteria likes more than water is when water and oil are mixed together – from the point of view of bacteria water and oil is an absolute party!
Luckily you cannot sell unsafe skin care product swimming with bacteria in Australia or any country. So to stop bacteria growing in the water and oil products an aggressive preservation system is added that prevents the growth of bacteria.
And this is where Parabens came into play! Many traditional preservatives have been parabens, which the majority of us know by now can affect your health and we run a mile when we see this ingredient in a product.
But what about the preservatives that natural brands claim to use?
Aren’t they ok I hear you ask?
Phenoxyethonol , Sodium Benzoate , Natacide, and all other preservatives that claim to be “natural” are still a cocktail of chemicals and alcohol designed to kill bacteria. Some claim to be originally derived from a natural source but really this is clever marketing attempting to hide the fact that they are still harsh chemicals often with alcohol added that is not declared on the label.
Every moisturiser because it contains water and oil, by the very nature of the formulation is not CLEAN as it contains chemicals in the form of a preservative, (often two) to inhibit bacteria, even when it is classified as “natural”.
In addition to the preservatives, water and oil products contain another set of chemicals due to the nature of their formulation . Remember we mentioned earlier that water and oil products don’t mix?
When there is water and oil in a product something called an emulsifier must also be added. Adding no additional benefit to the skin, emulsifiers are simply chemical and synthetic ingredients that help keep oil and water from separating in the jar. Basically another chemical in your skin care.
The obvious conclusion is that if you are truly looking to go clean with your skincare any product that mixes water and oil together is not the best option for you.
Where do you go from here? Simply skip the water?
You need both oil and water in your skincare routine (although less of the later ) for the skin to stay in balance. Water hydrates the skin and oils hold the water in the epidermis and prevents transdermal water loss, as well as adding a load of amazing vitamins and minerals that repair and heal the skin!
Products that are 100% oil do not need a preservative as oil on it’s own is not a hospitable environment for bacteria to grow. Therefore one of the major benefits of face oils and oil based cleansing is that they do not contain preservatives or synthetic emulsifiers.
And further to this, products that contain water without oil can be made “self preserving”, meaning that they do not require a preservative in specific formulations cases. Analysis of the ingredient list will be required in this instance and most likely these products will have vegetable glycerine as the first or second ingredient.
Skin care brands that truly care about clean beauty are solving the problem and giving you zero chemical skin care by keeping the water and oil separate in their range. They have created separate steps in their skin care routines for water and oil so that your skin gets the necessary dose of both without the hidden nasties.
Separating the water and the oil into separate steps doesn’t mean the routine is more complicated for example a routine where the oil and water products are separated could be as follows:
Step 1: Oil Cleanser
Step 2: Serum
Step 3: Face oil
When it comes to having skin that is completely clean of artificial, synthetic and chemical ingredients avoiding a skin routine that contains products where water and oil are mixed is critical.
Go for a skincare routine that has 100% oil products and 100% water based products that are self preserving and don’t require a preservative. Always read the ingredient list and look for water in the product. By understanding the role of water in your skincare you will find choosing clean beauty a much easier experience.
And of course as always, your skin will feel amazing, be healthier and you can rest easy knowing that there are no chemicals, synthetics or artificial ingredients in your skincare.