One look at any cosmetics label and you’re reaching for your dictionary app. Phosphor-what? Para-who? It’s hard to know what’s actually good for your skin, and what makes your moisturizer feel like a sweaty mask. We spoke with Bill Baker, owner of Consonant Skincare, to find out what ingredients you should be looking for in your skincare products and what they do.
“Not all natural ingredients are created equal,” Bill adds. “There are varying grades of oils and production methods that can have a big effect on the quality of the end ingredient. It’s important to ask questions about the source of the ingredients that are in your favourite skin-care products.”
With that in mind, here are 10 good-for-your-skin care ingredients you should look for in your beauty products.
1. Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide
This unique sugar extract is a very potent water binder and intensively hydrates your skin. The added hydration plumps and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as providing lasting hydration for up to 24 hours. It’s important to note that there is a big difference between anti-dehydrating ingredients, which create a barrier to prevent water loss and, more common, lubricating ingredients like silicone and petroleum (which only make skin feel good on the surface).
2. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
This vitamin has astounding anti-inflammatory properties. It helps increase blood flow, which improves skin tone and is especially beneficial for reducing inflammation for those who suffer from mild breakouts.
3. Grape Seed Oil
Europeans have been using this secret ingredient for centuries and for good reason: grape seed oil is rich in Vitamin E and omega 6 oils, making it an incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent with regenerative properties.
4. Aloe Vera
Rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E and B12, this ingredient soothes and calms even the driest skin.
This Tahitian nut oil is commonly known as the “universal skin healer.” It promotes new tissue growth and can help treat many skin conditions, from eczema to scarring.
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Avocado is a restorative fruit, perfect for protecting and balancing your hair and skin. It is often called the "ultimate beauty fruit" because it delivers nourishing natural oils and other benefits. The vitamin A in avocado adds sheen to hair, vitamin B balances oil production, whether your skin and hair are too oily or dry, and vitamin E protects and repairs sun and pollution damage. You can simply mash up one or two avocados into a mud and apply to hair or skin; for a deluxe treatment, try adding: 1 tablespoon of warmed raw organic honey 1 tablespoon of organic mayonnaise or almond oil Apply to face, body, and hair (cover hair with shower cap) and let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse well and shampoo if necessary.
Cucumber is a highly effective beauty food packed with vitamins and silica, an antioxidant that can help relieve dark-circled or tired, puffy eyes. It also supports cell growth and repair for skin, scalp and body. Simply slice a cucumber for a clean face and neck treatment, or purée it into a clear cream for a scalp treatment. For a great hair or skin mask, try this recipe: 1 cucumber puréed or diced ¼ cup plain organic yogurt 1 teaspoon Aloe Vera juice A dash of sea salt Blend, apply and leave on 10-15 min. Be sure to rinse well.
Whole grain scrubs can be soothing and healing, as well as helpful in detoxing, exfoliating, hydrating and softening skin. Oatmeal and quinoa grains are great for all skin types, and both are high in proteins, saponins and essential nutrients -- all perfect agents for building new skin. Try ½ cup whole or ground organic oats or quinoa cooked or steamed with water or almond/rice milk for a quick pick-me-up. Be sure to let it cool before applying and rinse well. For extra benefits try adding: 1 tablespoon raw organic Agave 1 mashed organic fig or ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce Apply generously to skin and scalp; leave on 15 minutes and rinse well. Shampoo if necessary.
Banana fudge hair/face/body antioxidant balms -- made from bananas and cocoa --are loaded with the mineral sulphur, which promotes healthy hair, skin and nails. This complete anti-aging "sundae" offers free-radical and UV protection for skin: ½ cup cocoa or cacao 1 mashed/puréed ripe organic banana 2 tablespoons macadamia nut oil or butter 1 egg 2 tablespoons heavy cream 1 spoonful organic brown sugar A dash of cinnamon Blend or whip into a pudding balm. Apply to face/body and hair/scalp for 15 minutes and rinse well. Shampoo if necessary.
Papaya is a great way to infuse C and E vitamins into your skin and hair, and exfoliate, soften and tone your skin all in one blast. Papaya enzymes are often used in skin products because they make your face and body glow. It works well as a hair mask, too. For a citrusy recipe: 1 papaya, puréed or blended 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice 1 teaspoon fresh orange or tangerine juice 2 tablespoons raw organic warmed honey Mix ingredients together or blend in a food processor. Generously apply to face and neck (keeping away from eyes), and rinse well after 10 minutes. Shampoo if necessary.
100 percent coconut oil-infused moisturizers have amazing healing properties for skin, body, hair and scalp. This fruit butter promotes hair growth and is a serious healing salve for skin disorders such as eczema and dandruff. Try: 2 tablespoons coconut oil (put the jar in a cup of hot water and the oil will go from butter to a pliable liquid) ½ cup shaved or pureed organic carrot 10 drops of geranium oil 5 drops of chamomile oil 5 drops of jasmine oil A pinch of rosemary, sage and or finely ground sea salt. Combine and use moderately all over body or massage into scalp to stimulate skin and hair. Rinse well after 20 minutes. A light shampoo on hair may be necessary.
Strawberries contain amazing medicinal properties: they're rich in vitamin C and malic acid, both of which are both great for cleansing, toning and brightening. For a natural blemish remover and teeth whitener, try blending: 1 tablespoon crushed fresh organic strawberries 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar or baking soda ½ teaspoon of fresh organic lemon or lime juice 1 teaspoon organic tooth powder or non-toxic toothpaste Blend all ingredients into a paste and spot apply to blemishes and teeth (once a week) for 5 minutes. Rinse well.
De-stressing tea baths and toners made from apples, rose petals and chamomile tea are rich in flavonoids, vitamin C, pectin and malic acid. They revive and firm dull saggy skin, tighten pores, and calm inflammation -- plus they are ultra-hydrating for the face and body. Try this concoction: 1 finely sliced apple 1 cup of rose petals 3 bags of chamomile tea Fill bath and float ingredients and soak your body. You can also boil ingredients for 10 minutes, then steep till cool. Strain into a spray bottle and mist your face and body for an early-morning wake-me-up or a refresher during the day.