“Sustainable.” It’s a word that you hear all the time. On social media. On the news. It’s become a buzzword that has transformed how we go about our everyday lives in a multitude of ways. But what does it actually mean? And, how does it relate to you and your skincare business?
Studies have shown consumers care now more than ever about the effects their decisions and behaviors have on our planet. Waste, pollution, climate change, water scarcity, deforestation, global warming… just a few to name off an ever-growing list of environmental concerns that plague our world today. And the public, including consumers, is taking notice.
Consumers aren’t only focused on their own choices – they’re also becoming more aware of everything around them. This includes everything from the brands they purchase to the companies they choose to do business with. And, also, how products in their households are made, and their consumption of those products. Packaging, specifically, has had a significant impact on our environment. Packaging alone accounts for 40% of all plastic usage, with only 14% being properly recycled. As pollution of our oceans, lands, and air continues to escalate, consumers are looking for products, companies, and business owners they can trust to make positive efforts towards saving our planet. This includes sustainable packaging in our niche of the skincare and beauty industry.
So, what exactly is it to be environmentally sustainable?
Environmental sustainability: A state in which the demands placed on the environment can be met without reducing its capacity to allow all people to live well, now and in the future.
Essentially, sustainability is an effort to live life or do business in a way that is friendly to the natural environmental and is sustainable for the planet as a whole. The overall goal being to protect the earth’s ecological balance.
2017 alone presented a huge trend of eco-friendly and sustainable packaging becoming a priority in the beauty marketing segment. Big brands such as Garnier, Dior, Lush, Tata Harper and more have all made conscious, deliberate efforts to incorporate eco-responsible packaging. International studies by Unilever have found that over one-third of consumers prefer to purchase from sustainable brands, or brands they perceive as making an effort to do environmental good.
With the world of “green living” being so expansive and encompassing, it can be intimidating as a small business owner to know where to start. Will it cost more? Will I be able to find sustainable packaging suppliers that fit my needs? Will I be able to make effective changes? Where do I start?
One of the first areas we can evaluate is the one part of our business that has been proven to be one of the highest contributors to global pollution: packaging. With so much information available today, it can be cumbersome to dig through. Below, we’ll go over some popular “eco-friendly” and sustainable options that you can consider utilizing in your own skincare businesses. I’ve also provided a quick reference rating guide that rates each option in terms of their overall “greenness,” price, and availability.
Here are my top 4 sustainable packaging options for herbal skincare:
These frosted glass jars with bamboo lids are available on Amazon.
Little known to many, bamboo is actually classified as a grass. Due to this distinction, the plant has fast-growing qualities (it’s one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, in fact!) that earn it a reputation as a favorable option for renewable or sustainable packaging materials. Bamboo also has a naturally high strength-to-weight ratio, providing the material with a higher compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete. In short, bamboo is a reliable, strong, and green option for packaging. Bamboo is also biodegradable and compostable – making it not only strong, but also a fantastic option for being environmentally conscious.
Bamboo has become a material of choice in the cosmetic industry, with a wealth of packaging options increasing each year. Online retailers provide attractive options such as canisters, jars, tubes, bottles, and more for filling and selling product. Just be aware that many of them still have plastic inside, so look for recycled or otherwise sustainable plastic, or glass insides to your bamboo bottles and jars.
- Green Rating – ★★★
- Price Rating – ★
- Availability Rating – ★
1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score
2. Recycled Cardboard
Cardboard lip balm tubes of many colors are available on Amazon.
Most all modern garbage companies, for both households and businesses, have evolved to include a curbside cardboard pick-up due to the high-commodity usage of the material. Cardboard, along with paper, can be recycled to be redeveloped into a number of different products, so even if you can’t find recycled cardboard for all of your sustainable packaging needs, regular cardboard packaging is still an eco-friendly option. Over half of cardboard recycled will be used to make new cardboard boxes, with the rest being downcycled into thinner paperboard material. Utilizing recycled cardboard in your product packaging is not only helping the environment by incorporating a recycled material into your business practices – but also serves as a positive contribution post-sale, as recycled cardboard is biodegradable, compostable, and/or recyclable on the consumer-end.
Creative uses of recycled cardboard have expanded with the increase of needs in the “green living” space. Adding to the list of regularly found recycled products, such as shipping boxes, businesses can now find jars, tubes, and a multitude of shaped containers that are now available in recycled cardboard material for cosmetic products.
- Green Rating – ★★
- Price Rating – ★★★
- Availability Rating – ★★★
1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score
Cobalt blue glass bottles are an easily accessible and attractive sustainable packaging option for your herbal skincare products.
Glass is universally one of the most eco-friendly product options available. It holds the unique quality of being “infinitely recyclable” – meaning it can be recycled over and over and over again, without any negative secondhand effects; such as a decrease in material quality or strength. Glass is also non-porous and impermeable, meaning there is no risk of an interaction between the packaging and the material the glass holds. Glass also has a zero rate of chemical reactions, ensuring that whatever is kept within glass packaging have no negative interactions with the material that would affect taste, aroma, or flavor. This is why glass is the number one option for food and beverage packaging. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ranked glass with a status of “GRAS” – or, generally recognized as safe – which is the highest of FDA standards.
Generally, due to the weight and fragile nature of the material, glass can be considered one of the more difficult and expensive options (especially Infinity or Miron glass), in terms of both product cost and shipping costs. However, one way to combat against this (and a common strategy in the beauty industry as a whole) is to incorporate “refill” programs when utilizing glass packaging. More details about this can be found below in our “Think Outside the Box” section.
- Green Rating – ★★★
- Price Rating – ★
- Availability Rating – ★★
1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score
4. Recycled plastics
The majority of recyclable plastic bottles still end up in landfills because they are not recycled properly or at all.
Recent Earth Day Network studies have discovered that since plastic was developed in the 1950’s, over 8.3 billion tons of the material has been produced. Unfortunately, 91% of this material is not recycled – even though recycling plastic saves twice as much energy than disposing of it does.
Understandably, there will be times when you may find plastic is unavoidable. Even when we have the best of intentions, sometimes budget, availability, or other outstanding factors can get in the way. However, know that the market is now growing rapidly with recycled plastic options to help control the rapid spread of plastic pollution. While you may not be able to avoid utilizing the material – purchasing plastic containers that are certified as eco-friendly or 100% recycled can still assist in making a difference! These are not as easily accessible in small quantities, but I predict that will change as awareness and demand continues to increase.
- Green Rating – ★
- Price Rating – ★★★
- Availability Rating – ★
1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score
Thinking outside the box
Sustainability doesn’t only encompass the materials we utilize for packaging – there are also a ton of other creative ways to accomplish a more sustainable brand. Even the smallest considerations can make a huge impact and contribute towards positive change in the greater world around us.
Here are a few other ways to consider making your products more “green”:
- Product design – Even details that may seem minor can have a large impact on the overall sustainability and “green footprint.” There may be creative ways for you to change the size of your packaging, for example. Or, changing the shape of your product to achieve more efficient shipping.
- Selecting “green” partners – Do your best to work with companies or manufacturers who utilize materials from renewable or sustainably-managed forest sources, or are known to make an effort to incorporate eco-friendly practices.
- Recycled paper – Packaging is only one part of the many pieces that are involved in your business. You can also utilize recycled materials in other areas – such as the paper you use to print invoices, packing slips, and more!
- Minimize additional elements – As small as they may seem, any additional paper included with your product (leaflets, corrugated information cards, cellophane wrapping) all product excess waste on the consumer-end. Re-evaluate your current product materials to determine if there is anyway to condense or combine to decrease your carbon footprint.
- Refill programs – Refill programs, most commonly coupled with glass packaging, have become very popular in the beauty industry. Brands such as Blackstones in NYC, M.A.C., fragrance brand Thierry Mugler, LUSH, Kiehl’s, and more. Consumers are encouraged to bring in their empty bottles to either recycle or refill. This not only reduces waste – but can also save your costs on additional packaging for repeat customers!
Is sustainable packaging something you think about for your products?
What solutions have you found either for your herbal skincare business, or for your at-home needs? Please share in the comments below!
Need more suggestions for where to purchase sustainable packaging for your herbal skincare products?
I offer a comprehensive list of preferred suppliers for both raw ingredients and packaging supplies to my Create Your Skincare students. Our next semester of Create Your Skincare Professional Edition starts soon!
Click HERE to learn more and schedule your complimentary Skincare Business Consultation today.
*Plastics photo credit J. MacPherson via Flickr
**This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!
Don’t you just hate it when you have an event coming up and a big old zit pops on the most obvious part of your face? Today’s guest post from Emma Hanson shares with you three quick ways to kick that unwelcome visitor out. I particularly like these three remedies, because I’ll be honest with you–many of the “get rid of the zit quick” remedies (and DIY skincare remedies in general) I see online may do more harm than good because even though they are using natural ingredients, they aren’t ingredients that are necessarily appropriate for topical application (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and aspirin, are some of the most common offenders). The overnight pimple remedies listed below are safe for topical application, but keep in mind that they are intended for short-term spot treatment, and should not be considered as part of a daily regimen. Enjoy!
Sudden breakouts are such a common issue for women (and men too) of all ages. A pimple can pop due to a number of factors which we often aren’t aware of.
Fret not! Here are 3 simple overnight pimple remedies that really work.
Even if the pimple doesn’t disappear, completely it surely will reduce in size and look less inflamed.
1. Aloe vera icing
You might have heard about icing the pimple, which definitely helps to calm down the redness and may help reduce the size on its own. If you want to double the effectiveness, try frozen aloe vera. Aloe has the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are add serious therapeutic action to the coldness of the ice. It also packs serious skin nutrition, and pimple fighting properties such as Vitamins A, C, and E, minerals such as copper and zinc, enzymes, and bioavailable salicylic acid (which is a famous solution to acne).
To make your aloe vera ice, simply add aloe vera gel (learn how to safely extract the gel from the plant HERE) to your ice cube tray and then ice your pimple down for up 2 or 3 minutes with it twice a day everyday, leading up to the big event.
2. Tea tree oil and clay spot treatment
This tried and tested treatment is one you won’t commonly see on the DIY blogs (which is why I happen to love it!). Take a teaspoon of bentonite clay and add diluted tea tree oil to it (Rachael’s note: I recommend castor oil or aloe vera gel with about a 3% concentration of tea tree oil) for this particular blend). Add enough to make a paste out of it and apply the solution to the affected area only. Let it dry and then remove it with warm water. You’ll be shocked at how fast this remedy will dry out the blemish and reduce it in size.
Tea tree oil and bentonite clay both have the ability to draw out impurities, and kill the bacteria. For these reasons, this spot treatment is a powerful overnight pimple remedy.
3. Toothpaste magic
The toothpaste spot treatment is nothing new, but it is important to understand that conventional toothpastes on the market contain ingredients that you typically wouldn’t want to put on your skin, even for a spot treatment (like sodium laureth sulfate and artificial flavors). However, you can use a natural, earth-based toothpaste. These are particularly effective because most brands contain ingredients like baking soda, Himalayan or sea salt, bentonite clay, charcoal, and other earthy goodies that are known for their drawing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid other gel-based and colored toothpastes, because they can cause irritation to the skin.
Apply the toothpaste on affected areas only before going to bed and leave it on for a night. Wash your face in the morning and see the pimple almost vanished.
Again, these are all meant to be used as short-term or overnight pimple remedies.
They are simple, yet very strong, and using them in too large of an area on the face, too often, or for too long, can cause more harm than good. If you’re looking to create safe, natural, simple skincare products that you can use every day, check out my free skincare class, Boutique Skincare Basics. Thanks to Emma for this contribution!
About the author:
Emma Hanson is a mother of two, a skincare freak and an avid reader. She loves trying out new products and treatments for healthy and glowing skin. She shares her knowledge and experience by writing regularly on her blog. She is one of the co-founders of http://www.clearawayacne.com/.
Have you tried any of these overnight pimple remedies?
Or do you have one of your own that always works for you? Please share in the comments below!
*Aloe vera gel image by ER and Jenny via Flickr. Toothpaste image from Amazon.
**This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!
“You get what you pay for.” We hear that about so many things in life, don’t we? Cars, clothing, food, and of course skincare. While I believe that this is true for many things (like organic, whole foods for sure), but is it the truth for the other things? Are luxury priced cars really safer and longer lasting? Are designer clothes really better quality than clothes from discount stores? Are premium priced skincare products really better than products sold at drug stores or made at home? For these last things, my answer is a definite MAYBE. The reason for that is because pricing is not always based on cost or quality of raw ingredients. Often pricing is based on marketing–how the brand is positioned, how and who it is advertised to, packaging, how it’s sold, whether there is a celebrity or influencer endorsement, etc. Because of this, it is common for sub-par products to be dressed up and sold as luxury. But there are still the cases where quality does win out and is genuinely responsible for a high price tag. In skincare particularly, high prices of some luxury or professional skincare products are due to fact that they are made with rare, expensive skincare ingredients.
I recently had the opportunity to contribute my knowledge of expensive skincare ingredients to an article that was published on Insider.
In this article, 7 Ingredients in Your Skincare Products That Are Making Them So Expensive, I, along with other skincare experts, talked about the reasons why ingredients such as rose essential oil, jasmine essential oil, arginine, and gold are expensive to source, and what overall benefits they bring to the skincare party.
Click HERE to read about those!
In addition to the expensive skincare ingredients listed in the article, I wanted to share four others that might be hiking up the price of your skincare products, and whether they are worth it:
1. Hyaluronic acid
I consider hyaluronic acid to be the “mother of all humectants,” since it can hold 1000 times its weight in water, and therefore (in theory) can deliver extreme hydration to the skin. It also contains antioxidant benefits. It is expensive for two reasons. First–production. Top quality HA is produced from rooster combs. There are lower quality versions, less potent out there that are used in cosmetics that are either made from sugar beets, are synthesized, or bacteria-fermented. On the retail side though, the price typically would imply the animal-sourced HA. The bigger reason for the high price though, is that it is VERY difficult to formulate with as it is known to deactivate the effects of some of the other ingredients in the formula, and is extremely difficult to preserve.
2. Argan oil
Argan oil is extremely rare because the Argania Spinosa trees that produce the fruit from which it is produced only grow in a specific part of Morocco, between Marrakesh and Essaouira, by Berber women’s cooperatives. The process to produce the oil is extremely time consuming and labor intensive, and it takes the fruit of 8 argan trees to produce a single liter of the oil. Another factor that drives up the cost of argan is that it is very susceptible to damage from exposure to heat and light, and is also prone to rancidity. It must be stored properly, but even so, has a shelf life of only about a year, unless other stabilizing and antioxidant ingredients are added. However, many women will say the price and the effort are worth it. It is incredibly beneficial for helping to support skin elasticity and maintain skin hydration, is also known to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as scarring. It is also known to help aid in sun protection and help the skin recover from sun damage, though it is not a substitute for sunscreen.
3. Prickly pear seed oil
Prickly pear seed oil (Opuntia ficus indica) has quickly gained favor among natural skincare enthusiasts for its gentle astringent (tightening) properties, high mineral content, and high antioxidant content (it contains more Vitamin E than other carrier oils) which help to neutralize free radical damage and protect delicate skin cells from oxidative and environmental damage. It is also known to help soothe and improve the appearance of acne-prone skin, and balance oil production. While prickly pears themselves aren’t uncommon (they grow abundantly in Mexico and the southwestern US but have have also migrated elsewhere in the US and overseas), the high price comes from the fact that the oil is cold pressed from the tiny seeds, and we can’t ignore the fact that the cactus’ spines make the process slower!
Retinaldehyde–also known as retinal–is one of the Vitamin A derivatives that’s commonly used in professional skincare products as an alternative to less expensive forms of Vitamin A such as retinol palmitate or stronger forms like retinoic acid. It is a preferred ingredient because it is less inflammatory and gentler to the skin when applied topically, and has been studied for its benefits for skin issues such as acne, rosacea, and premature aging. What makes it expensive is that it is expensive to produce, and it is also difficult to keep stable once bottled. Its benefits are known to degrade quickly which makes formulation more laborious and expensive, and though more stable forms of the ingredient have been synthesized, all that has done is raise the cost on the ingredient itself.
Are people are more likely to buy products with expensive skincare ingredients?
This is a question that many of my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition students ponder, when deciding what ingredients to include in their formulations. In general, I think that yes, people across all markets are more inclined to buy products made with expensive skincare ingredients, even if the product itself doesn’t contain very much of it. Once an ingredient becomes famous for common skin complaints such as dark spots, scarring, fine lines, or wrinkles–it does seem like everyone wants to try it and will pay extra for it.
But do products made with these expensive skincare ingredients really work better?
It really depends on several factors. First, you have to consider what is the quality and purity of the ingredient? Is it the real deal? Has it been sourced, processed, and stored properly? How fresh is it? Is it the right species of the plant that’s known for the purported benefits?
If it’s been cut, diluted, or otherwise adulterated (which unfortunately does happen), it’s not going to provide as much benefit. It also depends on what else happens to be in the product–how much of this “star” ingredient is actually in it, and are there other ingredients present that might compete with it for absorption?
Lastly, it depends on the person. Not every ingredient works for every person, so unfortunately, many of the people who buy products with these star ingredients won’t receive the desired benefits, not because the ingredient or product doesn’t work–just because that person’s unique needs require something other than that ingredient. What’s great about plants is that many of them contain similar benefits, so we can often experience many of the same benefits of a rare and exotic plant by using a more common one that’s less scarce, easier to harvest/produce, and therefore, less money.
Often the price of a skincare product has nothing to do with the ingredients at all.
Typically when a commercial skincare product is designed, the formulator will pick one star ingredient, and focus the packaging, advertising, etc on that ingredient, but in truth, the product itself often contains a very low percentage of that ingredient. Sometimes that’s OK. In the instance of essential oils or other potent extracts or actives, too high a concentration is not necessary, and can even cause harm.
Honestly though, I don’t think a star ingredient is enough of a reason for someone to shell out a ton of money if the rest of the product doesn’t also deliver in quality. In these cases, pricing has more to do with packaging, positioning, how/to whom it’s sold, marketing, etc–an example would be how a mass produced product with a celebrity endorser vs a small indie brand. The big brand with the celebrity’s endorsement usually contains mostly water, synthetic emollients, then functional ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives, and a very tiny amount of the star ingredient. It’s expensive because of the advertising campaign, packaging, etc.
On the flip side, an artisan or indie brand might make a product that contains no water at all, and high quality plant-based emollients with a very low concentration of functional ingredients like emulsifiers and stabilizers, but without the celebrity endorser and expensive ad campaign and simple packaging–and both products might cost the same.
So I encourage everyone to read labels and look for quality over quantity! And even consider making your own products so you control your costs, and your ingredients.
Do you want to learn how to make top quality natural skincare products or start a skincare business?
I can teach you that! In my Create Your Skincare Professional Edition course, I teach ingredient selection in terms of purity, quality, and efficacy extensively. I also teach you how to choose ingredients purposefully, so that they are smart choices for the person you’re making products for, as well as for the formulation as a whole. And I also teach you how to brand and market your product line based on your skincare business goals. Our next semester starts soon!
Click HERE to learn more, enroll, or schedule a call today.
*Image 1 credit Loyal Naturals, via Wikimedia Commons. Image 2 credit Aaron Patterson.
It is everyone’s wish to age well. Aging is inevitable, and while it may come with certain undesirable effects, how the process affects your appearance and overall health is largely up to you. The aging process can be slowed if your body adopts certain healthy habits before it gets too late!
Adopting good habits early on will help you to enjoy aging with a positive attitude and grace. For you to be able to control aging, it is important to know the agents and factors that can hasten the process of aging. Apart from genetics, most cellular processes that accelerate the aging process are affected by exercise, stress, lifestyle, and diet. It’s not possible to reverse the signs of aging completely–it takes time to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle regimen help your body age gracefully. When you start early–in your twenties or thirties–you’ll be able to enjoy your glow for years to come (although it’s NEVER too late to start!).
Here are 10 healthy habits to adopt to help slow the signs of aging:
Water is essential to help the body’s processes–including removal of waste and perspiration–run smoothly. Drinking plenty of water every day helps keep your skin looking moist, supple and plump. Well-hydrated skin will appear glowing and look younger, and any visible fine lines and wrinkles look less pronounced.
Additionally, adequate hydration promotes skin circulation, which aids in the repair of damaged skin cells. Drinking enough water also helps flush out toxins from your body and give you a healthy glow. Health benefits of drinking water are countless, and most people benefit from drinking 8 glasses per day.
An active social life helps lower stress levels, which in turn, can help you live a long and healthy life. Social support will also help you age gracefully, prevent cognitive decline, and depressive symptoms that can hasten the aging process. Even for introverts, there are many ways to create a positive and supportive social network, whether online, or in person!
Lack of sleep can cause premature signs of aging, such as facial wrinkles, fine lines, and unevenness of skin texture and tone. Poor sleep quality weakens the skin’s ability to repair itself, which in turn, accelerates the aging process. As you age, it is helpful to increase nighttime sleep (most people require 7-8 hours per night), as it will make your body and skin feel rejuvenated and replenished the following day.
Adequate sleep has numerous health benefits, as well, as it helps to improve memory and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It also improves your skin health, as it allows the body to release hormones that help to restore elastin and collagen levels.
Daily use of sunscreen will protect your skin from damage caused by UV rays and other harmful effects caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Liberally applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher will help to slow down the aging signs and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Ensure you apply liberal amounts of sunscreen daily at least 2 hours before going out to the sun, and then again every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating while still outdoors.
Feeding on nutritious and high-quality food will help to improve your overall health. Reducing sugar intake will prevent premature aging of the skin. Eating a diet of fresh, whole foods rich in skin-healthy nutrients like zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and carotene provides antioxidants, which promote cellular repair, increased production of elastin and collagen, keep the skin firm, increase cellular regeneration and reduce visible signs of aging like fine lines. In addition to a more vibrant appearance, eating healthy, whole foods will make you feel rejuvenated.
While the aging process affects the entire body, often the first place that people notice signs of aging enough to take action is the skin. Making proper skincare part of your routine will help to slow down the aging process and significantly improve the most visible signs of aging. Keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized will make it look soft and glowing. Incorporating all natural, organic (and preferably handmade!) skincare products in your daily skin routine will help to restore the proteins of youth, and help you look younger.
Refrain from smoking and drinking
Stopping drinking and smoking will help you age gracefully and improve overall health. While some studies show that some people benefit from drinking a glass of wine with dinner, others contradict that, and there is enough evidence to show that more than moderate alcohol consumption can have pro-inflammatory effects on the skin, which speeds up the aging process. Reducing alcohol consumption prevents dehydration, promotes healthy sleep, and is otherwise protective of the skin and health. And when it comes to smoking, we’ll keep it simple and just say that there is nothing at all healthy about smoking for the skin or health, and there are very few things worse for the skin and overall health than smoking. Just quit. Now.
Exercise your body
Regular exercise will help to improve your overall health and reverse the signs of aging. Facial yoga exercises prevent premature thinning of the dermis, and may help your skin appear younger than your actual age. Regular workouts reduce stress and help your body eliminate built up toxins, which also help keep premature aging and acne breakouts at bay. Physical activity allows the supply of fresh oxygen in your body, which makes you look and feel younger.
Being positive towards life will help you stay physically and emotionally healthy. Choosing a positive attitude when handling challenges is more likely to help you create a successful life and stay healthy. By positively embracing aging, you will be able to take care of your mind, body, and skin, consequently slowing down the aging process. One simple way to help shift your mindset from negative to positive is to work with affirmations.
Practicing meditation regularly–even if it’s for 5 minutes a day–is the easiest road to less stress and more ease in life. Daily meditation will keep your mind relaxed, clear and focused. It also helps to provide emotional balance, increase immunity, and lower blood pressure. It helps to prevent depression and other mental health issues, thus improving the overall quality of your life. The beauty benefits of meditation also can’t be ignored–there are numerous accounts of acne, eczema, and other skin issues improving after meditating regularly for just a couple of weeks, in addition to visible improvement in signs of aging like fine lines.
Aging is a process that cannot be avoided, and it affects everyone despite your health status or your lifestyle. It is a natural process that should be appreciated for the privilege it is, rather than attacked as it is in mainstream culture. Many factors accelerate the aging process and being familiar with them will help to slow down and reverse the aging process. You cannot completely stop the aging process, but there are healthy habits that you can adopt to help you age gracefully and stay a healthy life.
About the author:
Margaux Diaz has been writing about health, beauty, skincare, and fitness for many years. In addition to her writing, she recently got a chance to assist in the research and development of Idol Lash. Connect with her Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
*All images provided by Margaux Diaz.
In the world of skincare, the revolving lists of ingredients are nothing short of fantastical. One day we’re touting the power of stem cells, the next we’re lauding the benefits of seaweed. At the latest International Congress of Esthetics and Spa show, I noticed an abundance of metals–particularly gold in skincare. It can be hard to sift through the trends to find the ingredients that will truly improve your skin’s appearance. Which ingredients work? And when is it worth paying more for those truly sophisticated products?
The use of metals in skincare perfectly exemplifies this phenomena. Copper is needed by the body, but what does it do when applied topically? The idea of using 24K gold in skincare has its characteristic allure, but is it worth shelling out for said allure?
As you know, I custom make all my skincare, so my main question when I started researching this was… should I consider including precious metals in my skincare formulations? In this article, I’m breaking it down according to each metal, because they offer different qualities. Then, I’ll touch on nanoparticles, which have become important (and controversial) in skincare recently.
Copper in skincare
The most electrically conductive of all the metal elements, copper, has a long history of being used to make tools and jewelry, sterilizing water, and now, as an ingredient in skincare.
Its use as a purifying agent is one of copper’s most popular applications. Hospitals even use copper surfaces to reduce the spread of germs. So it’s not surprising that one of copper’s effects on the skin is as an antimicrobial. These germ-reducing properties aren’t what most companies are promoting, however. Products containing copper are instead touting its ability to reduce redness, minimize wrinkles, and get rid of dark circles under the eyes. There’s even a pillowcase infused with copper that promises to reduce wrinkles while you sleep!
The peptides in copper may be responsible for these skin-rejuvenating properties. Oregon State writes, “Another [copper enzyme], lysyl oxidase, is required for the cross-linking of collagen and elastin, which are essential for the formation of strong and flexible connective tissue. The action of lysyl oxidase helps maintain the integrity of connective tissue in the heart and blood vessels and also plays a role in bone formation.” This sounds promising.
Aesthetics Journal notes, “Copper metal ions have been found in higher concentrations around healing wounds and thus are implicated in wound healing and inflammatory processes. The topical application of copper ion-containing ointments has been associated with improved wound healing.” Another compelling piece.
Both of these excerpts point to some validity in the claims that copper in skincare formulations could help give it a more youthful appearance. Given its long history of use, as well as these studied effects on wound healing and connective tissue, copper stands out as an ingredient worth including in a skincare regimen.
Silver in skincare
Like copper, silver has a long history of use–it has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. Lately you might have heard of colloidal silver being used to fight infections or used in skincare formulations that claim anti-aging properties.
First off, “colloidal” refers to a solution of microscopically dispersed insoluble particles suspended throughout another substance. Those who endorse silver for these purposes explain that it is only beneficial or absorbable in its colloidal form. Colloidal silver was banned as a medical ingredient in the 1990s because it was being overprescribed and overhyped, which caused some pretty crazy adverse reactions. However it is still available in natural formulations, and is considered safe when used appropriately.
Medical journals do confirm silver’s antibacterial activity, with a study published in 2013 noting that “It is widely recognized as an effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent… effective against a broad range of aerobic, anaerobic, gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, yeast, filamentous fungi and viruses,” also appearing to have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes silver appealing as a preservative, perhaps, or an acne-fighting ingredient– but does it live up to the hype as a skin-transforming ingredient?
Let’s transport ourselves to the world of biochemistry for a moment. There are some compelling cases for silver as a skincare ingredient, namely a study on silver nanoparticles at a particular size protecting skin cells against UVB radiation-induced DNA damage, which lends some credibility to its use as an anti-aging ingredient. I’ll touch on nanoparticles at the end of this article, but just know that there is some controversy behind their safety. For now, let’s talk about our first place prize metal.
Gold in skincare
Gold is perhaps the most enchanting of these three metals. Companies that utilize gold in skincare tout its youth-enhancing and luminizing effects. But is gold in skincare all it glitters to be?
The Huffington Post’s review of gold in skincare concludes that its main attributes are that it’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Because it’s not soluble, the article explains, you don’t need to worry about side effects.
Yet Allure’s comparison of different precious metals in skincare notes that gold was named ‘Allergen of the year’ in 2001. And many people can’t even tolerate wearing gold jewelry. How’s that for going for the gold?
Well, a study published in 2010 found that gold particles stimulated the proliferation of keratinocytes. They concluded that at a low concentration, gold particles could be useful in biomedical skin tissue engineering, but that at high concentrations they were toxic to cells. I think it’s safe to assume that skincare companies would not use high enough concentrations in their products for them to have a toxic effect; and while these results are in scientific jargon, it does seem to point to gold’s ability to revitalize the skin.
Just last year, a study of metal in skincare confirmed that gold encourages the proliferation of skin cells. They also noted that gold does have ability to penetrate into the skin, which may be a good thing, or may be a bad thing, depending on what else is in the formulation; because essentially, having gold in your skincare may increase your skin’s absorption of the other ingredients in that product, helping your skin to soak all the goodness (or not-so-goodness). Also, its benefits and effects on the skin depend on whether or not it’s compatible with the bioindividual chemistry of the person using the product.
Is the idea of metals in skincare a little bit too Marie Curie when it should be more Marie Claire? Stick with me, because I want to touch on one more science-oriented thing that’s rather important…
Several years ago I wrote about Kabana Skin Care and why I steer clear of nanoparticles in skincare. It’s a topic thick with opposing views and uncertainty. You may have heard of nanoparticles, which means any particle under 100 nanometers, because they are often used in natural sunscreen formulations. Zinc oxide and titanium oxide in nanoparticle size have less of the characteristic white chalkiness. Since the technology has become available to achieve nanoparticle size, companies and scientists have been using it because it allows for easier assimilation into products and medications.
Because nanoparticles are often able to enter the bloodstream, there are concerns about their interactions with cells and bioaccumulation in the body. Indeed, the aforementioned study about gold particles being toxic at certain concentrations was looking at nanoparticles. They write, “It has been found that AuNPs of 14 nm can easily penetrate through the cell membrane and accumulate into the vacuole.” But also that, “the unique properties of NPs: high surface area relative to the size as well as the ability to penetrate biological membranes and barriers greatly reduces systemic dose thus potential side effects and toxicity. Recent studies show very promising clinical potential of NPs to serve as controlled release and delivery systems for drugs/active substances.” Alas, the double-edged sword of nanoparticles.
I don’t find nanoparticles appealing enough to ignore the evidence that they could bioaccumulate in the body. Given how many healthy, natural, nontoxic ingredients there are available, I don’t see the point in risking it.
To Indulge or Not to Indulge?
Gold, silver, and copper each have merits when it comes to skincare. Gold can help increase the effectiveness of other ingredients in your skincare, while also acting as an antioxidant. Heck, the simple shine and color of it can add a beautiful luminosity to your skin.
And silver? Its antimicrobial actions are totally legit, and it’s possible that it also protects against UVB damage, which would be a great bonus.
Copper, also verifiably antimicrobial, also contains peptides that can stimulate collagen production.
Overall, each of these metals have qualities that make them worth including in your skincare. But be cognizant of nanoparticles! There is a potential risk associated with them, and companies don’t have to disclose if they are using them (never hurts to ask!).
And it’s probably not a good idea to spend all your coins on these precious metal formulations. They’re beneficial, but not magic 🙂
*Photo credits: Copper by Qaqqaqtunaaq, Silver Crystal By Alchemist-hp (talk) (www.pse-mendelejew.de) – Own work (additional processed by Waugsberg), CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7394995, Gold Leaf Eye Makeup by pumpkincat210, Gold Face Mask by Alison Shaw
No skin condition is fun or easy to live with, but some tend to be tricker than others to overcome. Skin rashes–especially those associated with eczema or psoriasis–fall into that latter category. Part of the reason for this is that unlike acne, premature skin aging, and even rosacea, eczema and psoriasis are both autoimmune diseases.
Eczema and psoriasis are widespread, especially here in the United States. Did you know that 31.6% of Americans have some form of eczema? And while 3% of world’s population has psoriasis, 2% of the US population has been diagnosed.
It’s not just about the numbers for me though. In my work, I see how profoundly skin issues affect people on an emotional and spiritual level. Those with eczema have higher risks of developing asthma, depression, anxiety, and skin infections. (source) Psoriasis quality of life surveys have found that more than 50% of sufferers have had their physical activities affected, and experience social relationship disruptions. (source) As a mother, I’m also concerned about the fact that young people with skin disorders are often targeted by bullies.
For all these reasons and then some, I am really happy that my friend, clinical nutritionist and former eczema sufferer herself, Jennifer Fugo has organized the first ever Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week, which happens April 16-22, 2018. I was honored that she asked me to be a speaker for this event, and to help spread the word, we did a little broadcast together on Facebook.
Watch my interview with Jennifer Fugo to get a sneak peek at 2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week!
Or read the highlights from our interview here:
Rachael: Welcome, Jennifer. It’s so great to have you here.
Jennifer: Thank you. I want to thank you first for being willing to do this, because one of the things that I love about you is that you’re very focused on helping people understand there’s a lot of complexity in skincare. The thing that I recognize and that I learned a lot from you, Rachael, was that there’s a lot of stuff in skincare products that actually makes chronic skin rashes worse. I find it so troubling when people go to the drugstore, for example, and see all these products that are marked for eczema or psoriasis or severe dry skin. They buy it, try it, it burns terribly or it doesn’t work or it makes it worse–and then they end up with this box of products that they can’t return, that were very expensive. Thousands of dollars of ointments, salves, all this other stuff.
Rachael: Yeah, I see it a lot. It always drives me so nuts when I see ingredients on the products that are intended to treat eczema or psoriasis or extremely dry skin that actually make it worse. Eczema and psoriasis are not the same as acne, in that they are considered autoimmune diseases now. Can you speak a bit about that?
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting. We have to thank the drug companies, actually, funny enough, for that information. Big pharma has made it official that these are autoimmune processes. We’ve known for a long time that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. Eczema’s a lot more complicated, unfortunately, because it’s not just the immune system and gut health–there are a lot more triggers for eczema, and it’s more complicated. I think one lesson I’ve learned is that, with eczema especially, it’s really a two-pronged approach. It is outside in and inside out at the same time to simultaneously see resolution. Biologic treatments are also not always the best or most effective way to treat these conditions. In case you’re wondering, “What’s biologic?” biologic is involved in stopping these inflammatory processes. But one year’s worth of that biologic, Dupixent specifically, is like something around $35,000 a year. The other ones that they use, like Humira and such that are used off label for skin issues, are closer to $50,000 a year. I know because I pay for my own health insurance and other people do, the deductibles are going up, the co-insurances are going up. So if you’re on a medication like that, it is hard to oftentimes even get them approved because they’re so expensive. So you could look at it from a financial standpoint, but then you also have to be on them for life. It’s not like you do it, the skin resolves, and then you can just go off them. It’s a life-long halting of a process in your body that’s then triggering the skin.
Rachael: Right, and that’s what I want people to understand, is that these treatments, they’re treatments. They’re not cures. They’re not going to make it go away. They’re intended to help you live with the condition and manage the condition, but it’s not going to make it go away. I believe that there is a place for Western medicine in certain instances. But I have to say, when it comes to chronic situations, and when we’re talking about the skin, the skin usually shows us something when the rest of our body’s systems have tried and we haven’t listened. So by the time the skin is like, “Hello, you can’t ignore me anymore because I’m looking right at you and you’re going to see it,” we’ve already ignored other symptoms that have been going on on the inside that I think as chronically stressed, overworked, tired people we’ve kind of just come to accept those as normal.
Jennifer: One of the things I’ll share too is that I’ve been doing all this research over the past so many months and discovered that there are at least 15 different skin triggers for eczema. Eczema alone. That includes genetics, because you can’t ignore the genetic implications of certain proteins that are produced in the skin to keep the barrier healthy. So if you have a problem producing those proteins, then naturally, you may be more prone to eczema or psoriasis. There are genetic triggers, but also environmental triggers. It could be your cat, your dog, or maybe the carpeting that’s throughout your house, the chemicals in the paint, the fumes off gassing, mold, or food. We feel like we have some control over food allergies, but in looking deeper, you then have gut dysfunction, gut infections, gut dysbiosis. You can have allergies to things like nickel, which you’d go, “I don’t eat nickel. Why would that matter? I just won’t wear cheap jewelry.” But guess what, there’s an awful lot of nickel in some very healthy foods. So it becomes more complicated than just saying, “I’m going to throw some Vaseline or Crisco on my skin,” which you and I were laughing about.
Rachael: Yeah. We’re not advising you do that. Spoiler alert.
Jennifer: No, but there’s an awful lot of triggers that people are not … We’re not given that information, and it’s buried and scattered. I, in no way, shape, or form want to be all conspiracy theory, but when you look at it purely from a financial standpoint, what impetus does the drug company, for example, even have to want anybody to stop getting rashes? Because then you don’t buy their products anymore, and they have spent millions and millions of dollars not only paying physicians, by the way. There’s some really disturbing research out there about how much money dermatologists are getting from drug companies and also how much they spend on developing these drugs in the first place. So if the customer base goes away, if the drugs work too well, what happens to your bottom line?
Rachael: Right, and never mind the cost of those expensive TV commercials that they’re now marketing to everyone and their children. My kids are even like, “Why on Earth would somebody risk cancer to get rid of a rash?”
Jennifer: That is a side effect, by the way, of biologics and those that suppress the autoimmune system. It’s important to understand that we all, to some degree, have cancer cells at any given moment, but it’s more about the state, the amount of cells that have been produced that are not healthy, and your body’s ability to maintain that. When your immune system is suppressed, that army, or force, that’s meant to be there to protect you by getting rid of those cells that your body accidentally produces that are not as healthy or appropriate as they should be goes away. So there’s no check and balance, and that’s why there’s a side effect of cancer for those drugs. I had eczema, so I understand very well how awful of an experience this is. I got sick and tired of dealing with, “Here’s a cream, here’s an ointment. Try this.” And it was frustrating from an integrative approach, because I’m already gluten free, I’m already dairy free, I’m already egg free.
Rachael: I find that eczema and psoriasis, as you said, there are more triggers, there are more combinations of things going on, and when you’ve done what you’re supposed to do but you’re still having symptoms that’s when people get really frustrated and they give up, and that’s when they feel like they have no other choice but to go on these biologics and risk these horrible side effects. I think that that’s a big difference we see with eczema and psoriasis versus some of the other skin conditions that occur on a chronic basis.
Jennifer: I think that’s also a good heads up for people who are listening to this that are like, “My doctor told me to go on a gluten-free diet and maybe that’ll stop the rashes.” Sometimes it does, but when I developed my own hand eczema, I was already gluten free, like seriously 100% gluten free, for six years. I was gluten, dairy, and egg free, and it still developed. So you can’t assume that it’s just always tied to food. Food is one piece, but there’s also the complicated matter of what caused the food sensitivities in the first place, and you need to look underneath those. For me, it was like, “Okay, number one, is my skin getting enough of the nutrients?” We need raw nutrients to come in and make sure that we’re not depleted anywhere else, because the skin is the least important … Isn’t it so funny? We spend so much money on making our skin look beautiful, but it is the lowest priority on the totem pole of organs.
Rachael: I know, which is crazy, because it’s the biggest one and it’s our first line of defense against the outside world. The nutrients and hydration that come in all go to nourish and hydrate the internal vital organs first, and then the skin gets the leftovers.
Jennifer: I had to figure out what my unique combo of triggers was and address that because my solution is not necessarily somebody else’s solution. Part of it was food, part of it was nutrients, part of it was stress. There was a big stress component to it. I want to give people hope because there are so many facets to this, whether it’s hormonal, environmental, food, or gut-related. I want to give people the tools that I was blessed to have available to me, so that they can find actual resolution, not just management.
Rachael: Right. Let’s get to the bottom of it. Let’s find your unique bio-individualized solution by doing a little bit of self-detective work here, because that is required. There’s some trial and error required, but really, we’re here to give you hope that this can resolve. You don’t have to live like this, for real. Jen, you’re proof of that.
Jennifer: I have to be more aware of my skin than a normal person, but my level of awareness around my skin now is not nearly as hyper-focused as it was when it felt like my hands had a thousand paper cuts. It’s just so painful. For me, it’s like if I just have to be a little aware, like, “Oh, I’m starting to get a little bit of dryness. Oh, I got to get back on. I just got to do a little bit extra,” and it goes right away. Right now I have zero eczema, and it’s amazing. It changes your life in so many ways. That’s why, Rachael, I’m so excited too because your presentation is just so fantastic and you offer this completely unique view of why skincare products don’t work that are out there on the market and why they’re so bad. You talk about it in a way that’s so relatable, so I’m really excited to have you as one of our presenters, because there’s never been another event like this, ever.
Rachael: No, it’s really unique. I want to talk about that, because it’s not just … this is not a webinar or a course. This is an awareness week that you’ve created. This is the 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. We’ve talked about some of what’s not working, but as you’ve said, what is going to work is so dependent on each person, so you have put together this entire event with speakers, but with resources that people get as soon as they sign up. Let’s talk about that.
Jennifer: Register (USE THIS LINK) and you’ll get a free seat to this event. It happens between April 16th and April 22nd. What we’ll have every day is presentations that will be shown. I really tried my darnedest to keep the presentations consistent and concise, because I also know that you’re busy. You have a life, especially if you’re a parent and this is for a kid or just even for yourself. You want the good stuff. You don’t want fluff. So we tried to keep everything to about 30 minutes for each presentation, focusing on what works and why it works and what the next steps are for you from a functional and integrative approach, as opposed to just slapping more medication on and giving it a try. There are 25 different presenters. Rachael is one of them, and I’m so, so excited to be able to share what has worked for me and for other people. It’s not just, though, the how to and why. There is some mindset to this, because I recognize that this makes you feel really alone. We want to address that emotional component, the emotional wellbeing, and the impact that these issues can have, because you’re walking around, essentially, with a red scarlet letter on you making you look different, and people do treat you differently when they see that your skin is not clear. They’ll say you’re infected or diseased or whatever, so we want to address this from all pieces, all facets of how it affects us, people who suffer with this. When you sign up, you’re also going to get immediately a copy of the Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week Skin Supporting Cookbook. It has 34 recipes that I’ve conglomerated from all the different presenters of things that they recommend to their clients. These are practical, great recipes to try, and there’s a lot of different flavors and all sorts of stuff, so you’re not going to feel like you’re eating weird diet food or anything. We want people to be happy. Something for everyone. We also have over $2,000 in giveaways from natural skincare companies and food product companies of things that I use in my kitchen and things that have helped me and my clients.
Rachael: I want to thank you for coming on today to share about 2018 Eczema & Psoriasis Awareness Week. Jenn, before I let you go, what is one bit of a preview, like your favorite thing, that you gleaned as you went through all of these materials that you want to give people as a little sneak peek?
Jennifer: One thing that’s been really interesting and fascinating is the piece on mold, because we’ve had these huge natural disasters in the U.S. specifically, but people have had hurricanes and typhoons and things all over the world. We don’t realize that when our home is exposed to water, the mold that can grow behind the walls where we don’t see it can actually cause a really big problem. One way you know if mold is a potential trigger is if when you go on vacation and everything seems to start clearing up, and then you come back home and, you get another flare. That’s usually a sign that it’s something in your home, and it may be mold, because actually is a suppressor of the immune system. We’re going to talk about that and what the implications are and how you can test and whatnot. That’s one little preview.
2018 Eczema and Psoriasis Awareness Week happens from April 16-22.
Click HERE to secure your free ticket to the presentations (including mine!), your complimentary recipe book, and entries to all the amazing giveaways Jennifer mentioned.
And on a personal note, I really do hope you share this event with anyone you know who might be struggling with skin rashes, extreme chronic dry skin, eczema, or psoriasis. This is information that is going to help a LOT of people!
*This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!