Organic, natural, cosmeceutical skin care. What’s the difference?

In recent years the concept of using organic products has really taken off. The word ‘organic’ has sprung up all over the place – on food, clothing and many household goods.

We carry an excellent organic line at SkinSense Wellness Spa called 302 Skincare and it sells really well. And we carry other lines that mix synthetic ingredients, cosmeceuticals with botanicals, natural plant extracts and essential oils. So I thought it might be useful to clarify these variations so that you can decide more easily what to use on your own skin.

The terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are often interpreted as the same thing and this is not the case. A natural ingredient can mean anything from arsenic to digitalis, neither of which would be safe to use on the skin! And safety often depends on how an extract is processed.

A truly organic USDA approved product has gone through stricter regulatory conditions than other organic products which means crops are grown without using most conventional pesticides or fertilizers. There are, in fact three categories of manufacturing levels instituted by the USDA:

  • 100% organic
  • Organic
  • Made with organic ingredients.

Both natural and organic products incorporate botanical and herbal ingredients into their formulations and both are susceptible to quality variations more so than synthetic. Plant growing conditions like weather variations and pest control, harvesting times, transport and storage can drastically affect consistency. Many clients who prefer organic products have sensitive skin and are concerned about consistency as their skins don’t like change. Other client’s are concerned about the environment. Word to the wise. There is such a thing as ‘wildcrafting’ where wild plants are harvested for commercial use. This is unregulated and puts both clients and certain plants at risk. Sustainable practices should be supported and we need as consumers to know the difference.

The term ‘synthetic’ can often imply something artificially derived or chemically produced in a laboratory but in fact all products are produced in a laboratory, synthetic or otherwise. And synthetic ingredients can sometimes offer more consistency. Cosmeceutical ingredients trend towards the newly discovered anti-aging ingredients – like ATP, collagen, retinoids,and stem cell extract, for example. Then we have botanicals and essential oils that offer a myriad of anti-oxidant and restorative benefits.

In my experience the one factor that is most important in skin care is quality. All ingredients should be rigorously tested and of the highest grade. And as well as being great at performing day to day maintenance should offer extensive anti-aging benefits. That is why we choose to offer a wide range of skin care products to suit every skin type.

Essential oils are wonderful mood enhancers. In the Fall and Winter months they can be especially useful at home to brighten the mood and provide stress relief.

Fall is my favorite time of year and as the evenings shorten and the weather cools, I am always reminded of the crisp Autumnal days of my childhood growing up in the Sussex countryside. England has a wonderfully colorful Fall foliage season every year and as you roam the fields and lanes, crunching fallen leaves underfoot while admiring each indiviual tree, you can smell the open hearth fires in the brisk air.

To re-capture some of that seasonal nostalgia, I always burn some incense at this time of year and change out my diffuser recipes to aromas that are a little more heady and redolent. Clove bud and spearmint is my current favourite, but here are a few more that might warm your darker evenings:

Orange, grapefruit and nutmeg for an uplifting pick-me up.

Peppermint, rosemary and lavender for a head soother after a hectic day.

Geranium, lavender and chamomile to nurture any emotional upheaval.

Rose and ylang-ylang for a romantic evening in.

We have tried all kinds of diffusers and prefer the ones that use a tea-light and water – just make sure that you keep the water topped up regularly. Inhale and Relax!

Refer to my previous post “Lovely Lavender” to learn more about this universal essential oil.

I often get asked why I carry Guinot, 302 and PCA skin care lines at SkinSense so here is a brief summary of all three. Feel free to call with any questions about these products or any others that you may be using.

GUINOT is a skin care line that has been privately owned and operated for over half a century. With the cache of French luxury and the advantages of time tested formulas and modern science, the Guinot line offers the best possible solution to just about every skin problem. I have always used it because of the great results I have seen continuously on my clients’ skins over the two decades I have owned SkinSense. Each formula takes sensitivity into account which is so vital in today’s stressed world where acne, rosacea and even pigmentation can be triggered by our fast paced lives (see previous post on Melasma).

Essential oils, active botanicals and the latest in hydration and aging formulas are all available in this line which suits our clients interested in anti-aging and optimum skin maintenance.

302 Skincare is a 100% organic line with a wonderful avocado molecule that messages the cell receptors to get busy. Also great for sensitive skins, the formulas are uncomplicated and extremely gentle. Clients love the price point and simplicity of these products.

We use PCA skn care to target very specific issues like acne, rosacea and pigmentation and we find the formulas blend very well with everything else we stock. Once again the price point is extremely favorable and even though the ingredients are tough on acne and break-outs they rebalance and correct without causing any irritation.

It took us a long time to decide on these lines and are very proud and happy to utilise all three.

As many of you know, the color lavender is featured heavily at SkinSense – on our stationary and in the decor of the rooms and hallways. It is calming to use and to look at and we do use it in great quantities in all our treatments and products.

HISTORY:

Lavender has had a very interesting and varied history. There are many biblical references made to the plant as a protection against evil and temptation. In terms of its remedial track record, Pliny the Elder, back in Roman times, recommended lavender for menstrual problems, upset stomachs, kidney disorders, jaundice and dropsy. As the plague took hold of Europe many grave-robbers who plundered the victims bodies, washed in lavender vinegar and even though they came in contact with the disease more than most people, they rarely died. In Tudor times, the plant became connected with love and romance. Lavender was tucked under lovers’ pillows and married couples’ mattresses to encourage passion.

By the nineteenth century, lavender finally appeared in the very respected London Pharmacopeia. During the First World War, when modern antiseptics became scarce, lavender was often used to dress wounds. Also around this time, the French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, made the word “aromatherapy” popular in the 1920’s when he treated a self-sustained laboratory burn with lavender. He then went on to treat severely wounded troops who had suffered extreme burns from mustard gas during combat.

Aromatherapy is the science of using distilled essential oils to treat both physical and emotional ailments. The aroma of each oil triggers a response through the limbic system and the active property of the oil can treat a wide range of skin problems from acne to dryness.

Here are a few great recipes for you to use at home;

General Fatigue – fill a diffuser with water and add four drops each of orange, spearmint and lavender oils.

Hangover – place a cool compress of equal parts geranium and lavender on the forehead.

Insomnia – bath in lavender, rose and lemon – eight drops each – and then sprinkle lavender on the pillow case before going to bed.

More recipes next time…