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Preserving Your Skin Naturally

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Cosmetics are manufactured in large vats and shipped all over the world. They are vulnerable to contamination and therefore, contain strong preservatives. Even if a product is hypoallergenic and dermatologically approved, this doesn't mean that you won't have an adverse reaction.

Cosmetics are manufactured in large vats and shipped all over the world. They are vulnerable to contamination and therefore, contain strong preservatives. Even if a product is hypoallergenic and dermatologically approved, this doesn't mean that you won't have an adverse reaction.

Which ingredient is the preservative?

Well, most often it's the last name on the ingredient list. The most common are methyl and proplyl parabens (preservatives that have a greater-than-normal potential for causing skin irritation and allergic reaction). They are reported to be toxic and are widely used in personal care products including shampoo and cosmetics.

In addition, the preservative Dantoin 685, a formaldehyde-based product, can cause insomnia, coughing, headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and skin rashes. It's used in deodorizers, disinfectants, personal care products (including shampoo) and cosmetics (including nail polish and hardeners). It is also a suspected carcinogen.

You might react to Dantoin 685 quickly, or it may take years to develop a sensitivity. To check if you're reacting to the preservative, test the product twice a day for five days on a one-inch area on the inside of your forearm. Another test method is to stop using all cosmetics and shampoos, wait for your skin to clear up, then start with one item at a time. Make sure you wait five days after each trial.

Natural preservatives like vitamins C, E or A, alcohol, apple cider vinegar or refrigeration are non-toxic and effective. However, most cosmetic companies use chemical preservatives because they are less expensive to mass produce. Many natural skin care manufacturers employ a combination of powerful, non-toxic antioxidants to protect against micro-organism growth in both water and oil based products. Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, carrot oil, (which is high in vitamin A), grapefruit seed oil and vitamin E are most often used.

Make Your Own

Using herbs to make your own skin care products is a healthier option. Herbs to help preserve youthful skin are camomile, calendula, rosemary, sage and mallow. Camomile and calendula are used for soothing and healing irritated skin. Rosemary and sage tone skin cells while mallows are used as smoothers and emollients.

The best way to use these herbs is to make a tincture of one teaspoon of the herb to one cup of alcohol or apple cider vinegar.

Natural preservatives are better for you than synthetics, but be sure you don't have a reaction to the tincture before you use it. Many people are sensitive to natural fragrances, citrus fruit, alcohol and vinegar. For example if you're allergic to ragweed then you might have a sensitivity to camomile. You can test for sensitivity to natural preservatives the same way you do for chemical.

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