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October, 02 2017

A beginner's guide to natural skincare products


Yvonne @JdeV Glasgow Shawlands store

Nowadays there are countless facial skincare products on the market; store shelves are packed full of toners, moisturisers, cleansers, serums, oils, and face washes. Which is great because it means there is now a huge variety of skincare available for each and every skin type, but what do all these terms actually mean? How do you use these products? Today I delve into the world of skincare to explain all.

Our skin is one of the least focused on areas of our body; normally when we think healthy living we jump to exercise and clean eating but it is important to extend this caring mentality to our skin too! The skin is the largest organ in the body, and anything we put onto it gets absorbed into our body so it is important to consider what goes into the products that we put on our skin.

The skincare industry is one of the most under-regulated industries when it comes to chemicals. Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetic products and only 10% of these have been evaluated for how safe they are to use on your skin!1 Research has found that, on average, women put around 168 chemicals a day on their skin and men are exposed to around 85 chemicals daily through skincare products.2 These harmful chemicals are absorbed through the skin and can wreak havoc on the body. Opting for more natural products with minimal chemicals will result in better skin health – and your internal body will thank you too!

Before we jump into the best natural alterative moisturisers, toners, serums, oils and cleansers, let’s take a look at what these products are actually used for!

Moisturiser

First up are moisturisers. This is probably the most well-known skincare product, but do you know why and when you should be using it? As the name suggests moisturisers are responsible for adding moisture to the skin to try and keep dry skin and dehydration at bay. Skin dries out by a normal process called transepidermal water loss. Blood vessels only supply moisture to the dermis, the middle layer of the skin, and from there water moves outwards away from the body. A good moisturiser should trap or replenish this lost water. 

There are three types of moisturiser: occlusive, emollients and humectants. Occlusives create a barrier over the skin preventing moisture from escaping; on the other hand, emollients penetrate the layers of the skin to make it feel softer and more flexible. Finally, humectants help to retain moisture in the epidermis, reduce flakiness and encourage the younger skin cells to move towards the outer layer of the skin. Humectants also promote the body’s natural production of ceramides which help to reduce water loss.3 However, a good moisturiser will contain all three!

How should I use moisturiser?

To keep skin healthy and happily hydrated you should apply moisturiser at least once a day. In fact, you might want to increase this to twice daily if you can, particularly during the winter months where the cold weather can make your skin drier. 

What moisturiser do we recommend?

Picking a moisturiser really depends on your skin type and the type of environment your skin is exposed to (i.e. cold weather, or dry central heating). Why not check out our blog on which moisturiser you should use for your skin type? One of our favourites here at Jan De Vries is Natura Siberica’s Rhodiola Rosea Day Cream for sensitive skin. This gentle day cream is perfect for the winter weather as it contains allantoin, which provides deep hydration, flavanoids, to strengthen skin, and SPF-20 to help protect the skin from sun rays. What’s more, this friendly day cream doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, oils, or parabens!

Toner

Next up are toners. Probably one of the lesser known about cosmetic products, toners are used to cleanse skin and remove oil and traces of dirt. A good toner should help to unclog and shrink pores as well as adding another protective layer for the skin. Some toners are humectants which help to bind moisture to the skin.

How should I use a toner?

It is best to use a toner after using a cleanser or face wash. As with moisturisers you should really aim to use a toner once a day and depending on your skin type and how often you feel you need to, you could consider increasing this to twice a day.

What toner do we recommend?

We’d always recommend choosing a toner that is free from parabens like Avalon Organics Brilliant Balance Hydrating Toner. Avalon Organics only use organic ingredients meaning that you won’t be surprised with any hidden harmful chemicals! Their Brilliant Balance Hydrating Toner is great to help remove excess oils, redness, irritation and breakouts without stripping away any essential moisture. 

Cleansers and Facewashes

A cleanser helps to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil and dirt. A toner is used to restore pH balance, tighten pores and remove anything that gets left behind after cleansing so a toner is not always needed. And what’s the difference between a facial cleanser and a toner? Well, both cleansers and facewashes essentially do the same job – cleaning your face. The main difference between the two is a facewash is a foaming cleanser, whereas a cleanser itself is non-foaming and needs to be wiped off rather than washed off.

How should they be used?

Face washes should be used twice daily: once in the morning and once at night. Similarly, cleansers can be used twice a day, although for dry and sensitive skin you may want to opt for using your cleanser just once a day.

What face wash and cleanser do we recommend?

Green People’s Organic Foaming Face Wash is a great product to try! Free from aggressive chemicals and synthetic fragrances, Green People’s face wash is completely organic and friendly on the skin. It contains extracts of witch hazel, green tea and rose geranium oil and is high in antioxidants, helping to reduce free radical damage and reduce blemishes.
If you prefer a cleanser rather than a face wash we’d suggest Natura Siberica’s Moisturising Cleansing Milk. Containing extracts of lungwort, arnica and apricot oil, it effectively cleanses sensitive skin and normalises its water balance.

Oils

Oils are great for holding extra water in the skin and helping the skin to rebalance itself. Many botanical oils, such as argan and passionfruit are rich in antioxidants which means that they offer protection from premature skin ageing from free radicals. Natural oils can also help to reduce irritation and inflammation of the skin which can arise from using too many chemically pumped products. Oils are lipophilic which means they pass through the lipid skin layer faster, prevent water loss and plump up skin. Oils can help better absorb creams and moisturisers, letting natural ingredients and vitamin C penetrate the skin deeper.

How should oils be used?

After cleansing either morning or night massage a few drops of oil directly onto your face. Contrary to belief oils can actually be beneficial for oily skin as well as for dry skin. Check out our blog on the best oils for oily skin here!

Which oil do we recommend?

Our favourite is Dr Hauschka’s Clarifying Day Oil! Whether you’ve got dry, oily or blemished skin Dr Hauschka’s got you covered! It’s 100% natural and reduces oil production whilst also nourishing and hydrating skin.

Serums

Face serums are lightweight moisturisers that aim to deliver active ingredients deeper into your skin. Their lightweight nature makes them a particularly good product to use if you have clogged pores or oily skin. However, that being said, serums will only moisturise to a minimal extent. They are not necessary to have in your skincare regime but it is good to use them in combination with a heavier moisturiser if you find you have dry skin.

How should a serum be used?

Like moisturisers, serums can be applied twice daily. They should be the first product that is applied to the skin after cleansing and toning. Applying a serum to slightly damp skin can be more beneficial because moist skin is 10 times more permeable than dry skin. Try misting skin with a spray-on toner then patting your serum in for quicker, deeper absorption. Press serum into the skin with an open palm instead of the fingertips to release the active ingredients. You should wait around 5 minutes or so for your serum to be absorbed before applying your moisturiser.

Which serum do we recommend?

Suitable for day or night use and for any skin type, Pacifica’s Sea Change Natural Future Youth Serum is the serum we’d go for! Containing aloe vera, coconut water, kelp and iris leaf extract, Pacifica’s serum helps to keep your skin’s natural youthful glow and prevent damage by free radicals. It’s extremely toning and free from nasty chemicals and parabens.

Look after your skin, send the chemicals to the bin!

Your skin is affected by so many lifestyle factors such as our diet and how much water we drink, adding in tonnes of chemicals is a recipe for skin disaster! It is important to watch for changes in your skin, particularly when the colder weather rolls in, and adjust your skincare routine as needed. Every person has a different skin type so different products will work differently for different people. When it comes to trying new products don’t try a whole bunch all at once because you won’t know which products will be producing which effect. Take it one product at a time and give your skin time to adjust, that way you’ll be able to see just how your skin reacts to it.

1 https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/13/toxic-chemicals-cosmetics.aspx
2 http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/2004/06/15/exposures-add-up-survey-results/#.Wcyx9MiGPIU
3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdNPiW4ZULk
4 https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/5-ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-serum