On Your Health

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The Truth About "All Natural" Skin Care and DIY Products You Can Make at Home

From whole foods to organic tampons, many people are increasingly aware of what they put in their bodies. A growing number are starting to believe that those ingredients they can’t pronounce might be harmful over time, making them rethink the products they ingest every day.

Since our skin is the largest organ in the human body, it only makes sense the focus has also turned to natural skin care products. Have you considered making the switch to all-natural skin care? We’re diving into what that actually means and if it’s worth the cost.

What does “natural” beauty mean?

Technically nothing — that is, the word “natural” has no regulatory meaning in terms of the FDA. The term “organic” is regulated by the USDA and means the products are free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and other non-organic substances.

It’s important to note natural and organic products aren’t necessarily safe. Natural and organic products can still cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. Even worse, some organic products are not effective or don’t produce the results they claim, such as anti-aging, brightening, toning, acne treatment or moisturizing.

How does skin care work?

The skin has a healthy barrier that protects it from harsh elements. Unlike foods we ingest, products applied to the skin aren’t necessarily absorbed by the body. Only very small molecules get absorbed into the skin. For example, water molecules do not, and many molecules in non-natural products are absorbed slowly, in trace amounts or not at all.

Many synthetic materials used in skin care products are essentially vehicles to deliver the active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Otherwise, some ingredients would never be absorbed, making the product less effective.

So the question is, do these synthetic materials cause harm to the body if absorbed into the skin? The answer is… possibly.

Harmful substances in skin care products

There are a variety of potentially harmful elements found in many skin care products, such as toxic pesticides and preservatives, potentially harmful chemicals, products that are bad for the environment and parabens (which are a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry). The natural skin care movement aims to avoid any potentially harmful ingredients in products applied to the skin.

The problem is, there isn’t definitive research indicating that all synthetic ingredients are harmful. Furthermore, products branded “natural” as a marketing tactic aren’t regulated and can contain the exact same synthetic ingredients as any other product.

With so many products and ingredients on the market, it can be challenging for the common consumer to discern what is or isn’t harmful. Even if you can find a 100 percent organic, all-natural product, there’s no guarantee those products won’t cause skin irritation.

jars of skincare products

So, what’s the verdict on natural skin care?

If you’re interested in adopting a more natural skin care routine to clean up your products or reduce your carbon footprint, by all means, give it a try. However, don’t feel pressured to immediately throw out every synthetic product you own. The important thing is to find what works for your skin, without causing irritation or allergic dermatitis.

If you do switch to natural products, keep the following in mind.

  • The label on the back of the bottle is much more important than the label on the front. Any product can claim to be “all natural” but the ingredient list doesn’t lie. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, look it up. There are even apps to help you determine which products are most natural and organic. Think Dirty is one app that rates products based on their ingredients and makes it easy to quickly determine whether a product is truly natural.
  • What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it. A clean, nutritious diet of whole foods is essential for healthy skin. Many “superfoods” can help nourish your skin, keeping it clear and young from the inside out.
  • Skin care doesn’t have to be expensive. Many natural and organic skin care products are more expensive than your average product.

If you can't afford the prices of organic products, try making them yourself!

DIY natural skin care you can make at home

Many natural skin care products are made from ingredients in your fridge or pantry. Creating do-it-yourself (DIY) natural skin care products can have similar benefits to store-bought products without paying a pretty penny. Keep in mind, these may not be as effective as store-bought products. They also may need to be refrigerated to avoid spoiling.

Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it can’t harm your skin. If a product causes irritation, stop using it immediately and consult a dermatologist.

Makeup remover

Olive oil works as a gentle, moisturizing makeup remover. Simply dip a cotton ball into a small amount of olive oil and rub over your face to remove makeup before cleansing.


Raw honey contains antibacterial properties and is full of antioxidants. To make your own gentle face wash, combine ¼ cup raw, local honey, ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap. Rub the solution into your skin and remove with warm water.


A facial toner restores your skin to its normal pH balance before moisturizing. Apple cider vinegar is a natural alternative to store-bought toners that typically contain alcohol, which can be harsh on the skin. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water with a few drops of tea tree essential oil for an all-natural, DIY facial toner. Apply the toner to your face with a cotton pad after cleansing.


Shea butter and natural oils are hydrating for dry or aging skin. Melt ½ cup of raw shea butter in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of jojoba oil. Place in the fridge until solid. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree, and mix together with the whisk attachment on your hand mixer. Scoop into a sealed jar and apply to the face or body.

Face mask

Avocados contain antioxidants, vitamins, healthy fat and anti-inflammatory properties, making them the perfect ingredient for a face mask. Mash up half a ripe avocado. Dissolve one teaspoon of honey into two tablespoons of hot water and mix it in with the avocado. Apply the mixture to your face and let sit for 10 minutes. Then, rinse off with warm water.

Anyone can make the switch to natural skin care, but it’s important to choose products that are actually beneficial for your skin. Before changing your skin care regimen, consult an INTEGRIS Health dermatologist.