Swap This For That: Moisturizers

Contributor: Courtney O'Conner
Photographer: Primally Pure
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Dry, dehydrated, desert-looking skin isn’t exactly the picture of healthy + balanced skin we imagine. Yet, for many skin types, that happens to be their current state – Sahara desert status. Maintaining skin’s moisture is a top concern for many individuals and the cosmeceutical industry has created a myriad of lotions, oils, ointments, creams and butters. They line department store counters and drugstore shelves… The options are endless. 

And the ingredient lists? Even more so. 

Moisturizers are a very beneficial + integral part of skincare regimes for dry skin, sensitive and even oil-rich skin types. However, with the chemicals saturating ingredient lists, we’re sharing why you should swap out conventional creams with clean alternatives – for the sake of your skin and your health.

Let’s start by looking at the science of the skin. (Don’t worry, we’ll keep it super simple!)

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Our skin plays a powerful role in our health as a whole. There’s so much happening beneath the surface, more than what we merely see in the mirror. The skin has a long, daily to-do list and is in charge of several functions to keep our bodies balanced, detoxed and protected. Among skin’s several functions, here are just a few we’ll focus on:

  • Protection: Our skin acts as a defensive barrier to keep out chemicals, bacteria and other harmful substances, while keeping water and other necessary nutrients intact – preventing dehydration, injury and sun damage.

  • Secretion: Skin produces sebum (a fatty substance that smooths the hair shaft and skin) which acts as a natural moisturizer and protective barrier against bacteria. Sebum (read: oil) production really is a positive thing – we promise! But when out of balance, over-stimulation of sebum results in excess oils + problematic breakouts and lack of oil causes dryness and sensitivity.

  • Absorption: Topically applied products can penetrate past the skin barrier through the skin’s layers, hair follicles or sweat glands and into the bloodstream. The composition of the product and the specific area of the skin to which it is applied can both affect the skin’s ability to absorb and the product’s capability to penetrate. (Doctors even administer medicine topically through ointments or patches as they’ve found that treatments can be more effective that way – evidence that what we put on our skin truly does affect our health as a whole!)

After that little sneak peak into the skin, we can now dive deeper into hydration and why moisturizers are a must for every skin type.

While our largest organ is brilliant at producing + balancing its own natural hydration, skin’s moisture levels can be in flux due to internal and external factors. One of the downsides of getting older is that as we age, our ability to produce fatty acids (a.k.a. sebum) that act as a natural moisturizer diminishes. Diet, UV damage, genetics, stress levels, hormonal imbalances and overall health also has a great impact on the integrity + strength of our skin. And of course, as seasons change and temperatures drop, so do our moisture levels.

From slight dehydration to severe dryness (think cracked, bleeding, painful, itchy, red patches), moisture that lasts and actually, deeply heals is sought after by so many.

It may come as a shock, but even oil-rich skin needs hydration. Skin that is stripped with scrubs, harsh cleansers or chemicals (which sadly, is often the go-to acne protocol) can go into a state of shock and start to over produce sebum to make up for the lack of oil. The outcome? Excess oils and even more acne. So when searching for a moisturizer to balance already oily skin, it may sound counterintuitive, but steer clear of oil-free formulas.  We can’t say it enough – healthy, skin-loving oils are really, really good for your skin.

The benefits of moisturizers vary depending on its key ingredients, but applying a moisturizer (morning and night) can significantly help to:

  • increase hydration

  • protect skin from outside elements + environmental toxins

  • regenerate skin cells

  • support skin healing

  • soothe inflammation (including acne!)

  • even skin tone

  • diminish the appearance of fine lines + wrinkles

  • deliver a boost of vitamins and antioxidants

Woah, what a list!

But while conventional beauty creams may claim to make all of your perfect skin dreams come true, their ingredient lists prove otherwise. More times than not, they are filled with chemicals + toxins that appear to be hydrating, however, these products often coat or clog (i.e. suffocate) your pores. Or if they do penetrate the skin past the epidermis (skin’s outermost layer), harmful ingredients are potentially headed straight to your bloodstream.

Several conventional lotions and creams contain ingredient lists that are almost entirely made up of unrecognizable, artificial, skin suffocating + irritating ingredients. 

Let’s take a look at some of the chemicals that could be looming in your lotions.

  • Petroleum (Mineral Oil): While these names may seem natural and maybe your grandma used petroleum for decades, it actually sabotages the health of your skin and whole self. It’s origins are anything but natural as it’s derived from the same substance as motor oil. Yuck. Once absorbed by the skin, our bodies don’t know what to do with this foreign substance. Instead of metabolizing it and using it as beneficial nutrients, it builds up in the body. And even worse, this build up contains components that are proven to be toxic and carcinogenic.

  • Dimethicone: This silicone-based substance is super popular is skincare for its ability to make skin appear smoother and fill in fine lines and wrinkles. However, it actually sits on top of the skin like plastic wrap (similar to petroleum) and doesn’t allow skin to breathe, traps bacteria + dirt and disrupts normal, healthy skin functions. Over time, this skin irritant can increase dryness, sensitivity and even exacerbate acne.

  • Fragrance: Ocean Breeze, Berrylicious, Brown Sugar Vanilla… Fun fragrances and cute packaging can suck you into thinking this lotion will make your skin feel + smell ahhh-mazing. But the ugly truth is that these engineered scents can contain any combination of 3,000+ chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed.

  • Water: Clearly water is not a chemical, water is as natural as you can get! However, when water is among the ingredient list (often it’s the very first) of a lotion or cream, it comes with some strings attached: preservatives. The presence of water in a product requires some sort of preservative to protect it from the growth of bacteria or mold. And the majority of preservatives in skincare today are hormone disruptors, skin irritants, toxic and carcinogenic.

  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA): This petroleum-based preservative (ahem, chemical) is present in moisturizers and makeup to maintain the product’s color and appearance – and is also found in certain foods. The EU has banned BHA as several studies strongly suggest it’s a carcinogen, allergen and endocrine disruptor. All of this for the sake of preserving the pretty color of cosmetics? We don’t think these risks are worth it.

Our goal is to not just coat the skin to appear to be healthy and glowing, but to truly transform it. It is possible to boost hydration and renew skin with natural ingredients, rather than with harsh chemicals or products. Plus, with ingredients that are similar to the makeup of your skin (i.e. oils and healthy fats!), healing properties can actually penetrate into the deeper levels of the skin to rebuild + retain moisture.

Moisturize your dry + dehydrated (and acne-prone!) skin with real, vitamin-rich, healing ingredients to leave your skin truly glowing.

  • Tallow from grass fed cows uniquely resembles the makeup of our skin cells (both are comprised of roughly 50% saturated fats) and contains high concentrations of fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K. It helps to retain moisture + water levels in skin, rebuild strength of skin cells, repair tissues along with natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has even proven grass-fed tallow helps to rejuvenate skin and help to heal severe dry skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema.

  • Organic essential oils are extracted from plants and have extremely high levels of vitamins, nutrients + antioxidants and are easily absorbed by the skin. These active oils are potent and powerful in helping to nourish, hydrate and promote overall health. Plus, essential oils have the added benefits of aromatherapy for your mind and mood.

  • Hydrosols: Pure botanical extracts created from steam distilling plant materials offer multiple benefits in restoring and balancing skin. Unlike harsh astringents and harmful alcohols, hydrosols hydrate and replenish the skin’s protective barrier. Calm inflammation, reduce redness and rebuild hydration with neroli, lavender, rose or geranium.

  • Potent herbs + plant-based oils are botanicals that have incredible beauty benefits leaving skin soft, supple and smooth. Lavender, chamomile and calendula are just a few of the several skin softening and healing herbs available in natural balms and creams. While plant-based oils such as jojoba oil and extra virgin olive oil regenerate and supply the skin with nutrients and essential fats, protecting + rebuilding the skin’s lipid (oil) barrier, leaving skin balanced and beautiful.

Say goodbye to superficial hydration and swap out skin suffocating or potentially harmful moisturizers for natural alternatives that actually improve skin’s hydration and health.

 

Holistic Hydration Skin Tip: The health of our skin is daily bombarded by chemicals + harsh conditions which strips our outermost layer (the epidermis) of fatty acids – which are essential for balanced skin function. It’s so important to take an inside + outside approach to heal and hydrate our skin to replenish and rebuild our level of fatty acids. Diet has a huge part to play (up your intake of wild caught salmon, sardines, walnuts, flaxseed and dark leafy greens) right along with your natural skincare routine.