The Many Benefits of Organic Health and Beauty Products
Organic health and beauty products are starting to make a considerable dent in the personal care industry in the U.S. and throughout the world. Organic beauty products are those that contain ingredients produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Companies such as Kiss My Face, Yes to Carrots, Weleda, and Avalon Organics have products that are showing up in clusters in grocery stores, drugstores, and discount stores.
There are a number of chemicals used widely in conventional personal care products that are not used in the organics--parabens and sulfates chief among them. Parabens are preservatives, and they are used to prevent spoiling and bacterial contamination. You can find them close to the end of most of these ingredient lists--occasionally, you will see them higher in the list, meaning there is more in the product. Parabens (methylparaben, etc.) are under scrutiny because they may mimic estrogen and encourage the growth of some cancers, namely breast cancer. Some breast cancer tumors have been found to have a high number of parabens present in the tissue. For now, these ingredients are allowable, and although there is not complete information about these risks, organic manufacturers are erring on the side of caution by leaving these chemicals out of their formulas.
Most organic products do not use the "nonsoap" detergents sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or any of their derivatives (ammonium lauryl or ammonium laureth sulfates). These cleansers are liquid, and can be found in shampoos, hand soap, and shower gels. Sodium laureth sulfate is milder than sodium lauryl sulfate, however they can strip the skin and hair of moisture, and they may cause allergic reactions. They are also seen as a form of pollution, in that they are carried out into sewer water in large quantities.
Organic products contain natural and essential oils, such as sesame, safflower, apricot kernal, and olive oil. Petroleum-based moisturizers, ie mineral oil, paraffin and petrolatum are not used, as you can't grow a petroleum plant! These natural oils are said to penetrate the skin more effectively than chemical moisturizers, due to their similarity to the skin's natural oils. In addition, natural oils may include antioxidants such as Vitamin E, present in sesame and apricot kernal oil. Olive oil contains the potent antioxidants polyphenols. Antioxidants applied to the skin help to prevent UV damage by bonding with the free radicals produced by the sun. Used in conjunction with sunblock, antioxidants provide a one-two punch to unhealthy radiation damage and reduce the incidence of skin cancer.
There are some health concerns surrounding using mineral oil, paraffin and petrolatum on the skin. When petroleum is distilled to produce gasoline, mineral oil is the waste from that process. Mineral oil is cheap, because there is so much of it. Mineral oil has to be disposed of, and what better way to do that than to sell it to various personal care companies, who also need a cheap, effective moisturizer? Mineral oil is clear, odorless, tasteless, and unlikely to cause a skin reaction. It is the primary moisturizer in a myriad of lotions, creams and oils, including prescription products. The concern is that the skin absorbs moisturizers and petroleum moisturizers are unsafe by nature, as crude oil is toxic. Although this issue is just beginning to be understood and debated, it is clear to see there are valid health concerns that need to be investigated. Organics offer an alternative to petroleum products.
A primary focus of organic products is the promotion of health. As previously noted, antioxidants are anti-cancer powerhouses and no small reason to consider natural oils for moisturizing. But there's more! Many plants and herbs have therapeutic uses for everday ailments. Aloe can soothe burns and calm redness and inflammation. Tea tree oil can tackle both dandruff and acne. Just smelling essential oils can be good for you--lavender is used for stress relief, lemon for wakefulness, and the aromatherapy list goes on.
Organic farming is an important win for the environment that is truly exciting. Organic health and beauty products are plant-based, and these plants are grown without pesticides. When pesticides are not used, they do not go into the soil, they do not go into the water, and ultimately, they do not go into our bodies. When you buy organic lotion, shampoo or hand soap, you are supporting these companies and helping to lessen pollution. A lot of organic companies are still small enough that every sale and every new customer has an impact. A strong commitment to caring for the environment is evident on such websites as Kiss My Face, Nature's Gate, and Avalon Organics.
Organic health and beauty products are on the verge of exploding in popularity and sales as more people become aware of the benefits--the omission of questionable chemicals, the focus on improving health, and the major advantages for the environment.