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healingways Natural Facial

Essentials Few Skincare Product Labels Tell the Whole Story

by Linda Sechrist

uncertified organic products exist and it’s wise to read labels,” explains Elina Fedotova, founder of the nonprofit As- sociation of Holistic Skin Care Practi- tioners. She counsels that we Google any unfamiliar ingredient to learn if it’s toxic or safe. Fedotova, a cosmetic chemist and


t age 25, Paula Begoun, author of The Original

The skin, your

Beauty Bible and other bestselling books on skincare, makeup and hair care, read her first label on a skincare prod- uct she was using. Al- though she’d tried many different products to con- trol her acne and eczema since age 11, she hadn’t thought about the con- tents, which was partially why she was distraught to discover that acetone (nail polish remover) was the fourth ingredient listed. That moment became the inspira- tion for Begoun’s lifetime devotion to skincare research and education and customer advocacy. Today, as founder of the Seattle-based Paula’s Choice Skincare, she continues to help women understand when product claims are misleading or factual.

Buyer Be Aware One of Begoun’s core conclusions is that the terms organic and all natural are largely responsible for fueling the mis- conception that all synthetic ingredients in cosmetics are automatically bad and that all organic or natural ingredients are

36 Lehigh Valley

protective organ, is meant to be

“worn” for life. It is not a luxury, but a necessity to take the best possible care of it.

~Charlene Handel

automatically good. She further notes that many products labeled organic and natural include syn- thetic chemicals, mean- ing that the term organic doesn’t apply to the entire formula. Fragrances are common synthetic ingre- dients, as is the trietha- nolamine that’s often used to adjust the pH or as an emulsifying agent to convert acid to a salt, or stearate, as the base for a

cleanser. To help consumers avoid overpay- ing for skincare products which may not be as natural or organic as touted, Begoun encourages skepticism regard- ing marketing messages. She suggests that an important key is to choose the best formulation for an individual’s skin type and specific skin concerns. “There are no U.S. Food and Drug

Agency-approved standards for the organic labeling of skincare products sold in salons and spas or over-the- counter. The cosmetics industry hasn’t agreed on one set of standards either. U.S. Department of Agriculture certifi- cation is cost-prohibitive for most small cosmetic companies that use clean, certified organic ingredients, so some

aesthetician who makes her profes- sional skincare line, Elina Organics, by hand in a laboratory, compares the difference between salon and commer- cial products to fine dining versus fast food. “Salon products are made in far smaller quantities than mass-produced brands and offer higher concentra- tions of ingredients. They are generally shipped directly to the salon and have a higher turnover rate. Because they don’t have to be stored for indeter- minate periods or endure warehouse temperatures, they are fresher and more potent,” she says.

Although a facial can easily be performed at home with salon or com- mercial products, Fedotova, who owns spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo, Michi- gan, recommends having a professional facial every four to five weeks. Char- lene Handel, a certified holistic estheti- cian, holistic skin care educator and owner of Skin Fitness Etc., in Carlsbad, California, agrees.

Sequenced Steps Handel chooses treatments that pen- etrate and nourish the layer of skin be- low the epidermis, the outermost layer, consisting of mostly dead cells, with 100 percent holistic (edible) products and freshly brewed organic tea com- presses. “Without a gentle exfoliation, the first step in any effective facial, not even skincare formulas with penetra- tion enhancers, can nourish the lower layer of live cells. One key nourishment among others is vitamin C, an antioxi- dant which brightens, protects against sun damage and promotes collagen production,” advises Handel. She explains that skin cells pro- duced in the deepest layer gradually push their way to the epidermis every 30 days and die. Dead cells can pile up unevenly and give the skin’s surface a dry, rough, dull appearance. As we

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