Skincare: How Safe are Those Potions and Lotions?

Let’s face it: there are a myriad of “miracle” skincare products lining drugstore shelves and dotting department store counters. And, because we’re bombarded with skincare ads promising to make us look younger, feel fresher and be happier, we fall prey to scooping up just the right products at the perfect price.

But there’s a problem with this. Not all skincare products are created equal – no matter what the campaign tells you. The only way to truly know what you’re slathering on your skin – the largest organ on your body – is to do your homework before heading out and read the labels before buying.


In honor of National Skincare Month, Health Net has rounded up a list of pronounceable ingredients proven to soften your skin, brighten your tired face and reduce unsightly wrinkles – without harmful toxins, synthetics and chemicals. Before applying any product to your face, however, apply a daily dose of SPF 30 sunscreen.


Outside could equal inside

First, it’s important to note that your skin can be a window into your health, so pay attention to the changes you notice. While blotchy red skin or a butterfly-like rash could just be rosacea or contact dermatitis, it could also be a sign of lupus, for example. If you have a sudden change in your skin’s texture and/or color, visit your doctor sooner than later.


Food for thought

Natural ingredients like nut oils (source of vitamin E for smoother skin), Aloe Vera (an anti-inflammatory), avocado (encourages cell turnover with beta-carotene and healthy fat), oats (helps skin irritation with lipids and proteins) and green tea (helps reverse UV damage) are all excellent ingredients to use in a skincare routine. Look for products that contain these natural ingredients listed and not just shown on the label. “All-natural” is not an FDA-regulated saying, so don’t be fooled into thinking a juicy orange on the packaging means there’s loads of vitamin C inside.


Are acids harmful?

Foods such as citrus fruits, sugar cane, milk, apples and grapes feature alpha hydroxy acids. When applied to the skin, these acids do everything from moisturizing and sloughing off dead skin cells to treating acne and helping reverse skin damage. According to WebMD, these acids are likely safe and have been studied in scientific research as it relates to skin application. However, it’s crucial to understand that their function is primarily to strip dead skin cells from the skin’s top layer, so they can cause sensitivity to the sun (which is where your sunscreen comes in), and burning and irritation when used in things like skin peels and in high concentrations.


Where does this leave you?

Do your homework! Read labels, get to know ingredients and realize there are many paths to healthy skin – staying out of the sun, using as many natural ingredients as possible in your skincare routine, eating foods rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, drinking alcohol in moderation and laying off smoking are some things that will make a huge difference between healthy, vibrant skin and, well, skin that suffers. Also, don’t jump on “just discovered” bandwagons right away. Do the wait-and-see approach when it comes to your skin. Research new discoveries before falling prey (fish pedicure, anyone?).




Related Reading

Lisa Finn