Sensitive Skin and Natural Alternatives
I’ve been receiving lots of questions and comments the past few months regarding skin care products and allergies, dry or sensitive skin. In this post, we’ll briefly look at a few different kinds of skin issues and solutions for them. This is a hefty topic, and each issue definitely deserves its own post, but here’s the skinny on a few of the most common issues I hear about:
Dry skin and Eczema – Living in Colorado, it seems like everyone struggles with this at some point. Dry, reddened, cracking or flaky skin is uncomfortable and can even cause bleeding in some cases. Dry skin can be a result of a dry climate, over-washing, over-scrubbing, and using harsh chemical products. Of course, there can be more serious causes for severely dry skin such as eczema.
Coconut Oil - For dry eczema and dry skin in general, coconut oil is one of the best products to use. Coconut oil has a similar composition to the oil found naturally in our skins, and helps to cool and soothe cracked skin.
Sea Salt - For wet or oozing eczema, sea salt can provide relief and healing. Wellness Mama has a great recipe for a homemade sea salt and magnesium spray.
Rosacea – This is a fairly common skin problem. Rosacea is characterized by red, patchy skin that can appear acne-like at times. It’s made worse from products containing alcohol, and from over-washing and scrubbing.
Witch Hazel – Especially in a toner, a small amount of witch hazel has been shown to help with Rosacea. We use witch hazel in our French Green Clay mask, and find it’s best to use once a week for sensitive skin.
Psoraisis – This is an autoimmune skin condition that creates red, flaky patches of skin. It’s another common condition, but can range from mild (hardly noticeable) to severe (extreme flaking skin, large patches, etc.). Keeping a humidifier in your home and avoiding harsh fragrances and dyes can help prevent aggravation of psoriasis. Products with olive oil can help, and using epsom salts in bathwater can relieve some symptoms.
Acne – This is a topic that absolutely deserves a series of posts. There’s some debate about the best approach for acne treatment and prevention. Many folks feel that a diet of heavily processed foods and hormones contributes to acne. My personal philosophy is that a healthy diet coupled with natural skin care is absolutely the best way to treat skin woes. Hormone imbalances can also be to blame (remember your good old friend, puberty? Not a time many of us would like to relive). Another school of thought puts faith in harsh treatments that essentially create a chemical burn on your skin and force skin to regenerate its top layer. Yikes! No thanks.
Oil-Based Treatments - There’s new research that oil-based treatments are best for acne, which seems counter-intuitive until you dig a little deeper. Harsh scrubbing and treating your skin with expensive chemicals dries your skin to the extreme. This creates a vicious cycle where your skin works harder to produce more oil to make up the deficit, thus actually making the problem worse every time you put your scathing, acidic zit cream on. Oil-based products actually help the skin restore its natural balance. Once again, coconut oil for the win!
Apple Cider Vinegar – After washing your face with a gentle cleanser, use a toner made of 3 parts water to 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar. It can cleanse the skin of unwanted bacteria before it gets trapped in pores, but make sure to use at least a light moisturizer afterwards to prevent skin from over-drying. Cleanse the bad, nourish with the good.
Allergies to Skincare Products – The FDA has said that it estimates 1 in 4 people in the U.S. have or will have an allergy to a skincare product at some point in their lives, be that a slight rash or a full-blown allergic reaction. Unfortunately, these kinds of allergies sometimes develop suddenly after years of use. Typically, the reaction is from a fragrance, dye, or preservative.
Unscented Products - The really bad news? A lot of mass-produced “unscented” products still contain a fragrance of some kind to cover up the smell of chemicals in the product. Gross. At Mer, if it says it’s unscented, it’s unscented. It might smell like one of our ingredients (cocoa butter or shea butter, for instance) but we don’t cover that up. If we don’t offer what you’re looking for, we recommend many of Wellness Mama’s recipes. They’re preservative free and there’s always the option to withhold fragrance.
Of course, we always offer unscented or unflavored versions of our products, as well as the opportunity for custom blends or less fragrance. For many folks, these are a wonderful alternative to mass-produced products that contain God-knows-what. Labeling requirements for some cosmetics are a little loose as well, so you may not always be getting what you think you are. It’s worth checking with a manufacturer or reading customer reviews before you purchase if you have any concerns. As always, read labels, do your research, and take good care of your skin.