Organic skin care - benefits to your skin and body

Marianne James

Many people do not realise that it really matters what they use on their body.  The skin is the largest organ of the body and readily absorbs harmful toxins if it comes in contact with them.  To avoid the absorption of the many toxins in our environment and commercially made products, It is becoming more popular to eat organically grown foods (no artificial fertilisers or pesticides) and to use organic (naturally derived) face and body products.  You can visit our web page at Flora Organics for a range of 100% natural cosmetics.

What goes on, goes in!

Research has revealed that over one-third of all personal care products have at least one ingredient that is related to cancer.  Often chemicals are used to provide 'deep moisturising' ability, yet these chemicals simply push the toxins that are harmful more quickly and deeper into the skin where they can more readily pass into the bloodstream.  

A survey of products conducted by the EWG in the USA showed that more than 25% of all women and 1% of men use at least 15 products daily that could contain toxins and carcinogens.  Parabens are chemicals which can be found in many skin products and can disrupt the function of the endocrine system as well as impair fertility.  They may also be linked to cancer having been found in breast tumors.  Formadehyde can be found in antiperspirants, soap, shampoo and shaving products and is believed to be a human carcinogen.  People need to be aware that talc is actually toxic and can be found in many powder products including baby powder.  It is a proven carcinogen and has been directly linked to ovarian cancer.

What the experts say...

The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that approximately 70,000 chemicals are in common use in cosmetics across the world, with 1,000 new chemicals being introduced every year.  The National Institute of Occupation Safety in the USA has reported that nearly 900 are toxic, although this is criticised as being far too conservative.  Experts criticise the fact that unlike food or drugs, cosmetics and their raw ingredients are not subject to review or independent pre-market approval.  Dr Jean Munro, the medical director of the Breakspear Hospital in Hertfordshire is one of these experts and has been quoted as saying that 'There is no question that people are being damaged by their cosmetics' . 'How can they not be? So many things are put into cosmetics now that are carcinogenic and it is allowed because cosmetics are not considered to be as serious as drugs or food.'


Small amount, low risk?

Many people feel that the risk is low when they use small amounts of a products or are washing it off relatively quickly.  However, small amounts applied regularly can add up over long periods of time and with rinse-off products, there is always a certain amount of residue left on the skin (especially in skin creases) despite our efforts to rinse things off well.  Even laundry detergent in small amounts, comes in contact with your skin through your clothes.  Some hair dyes are now known to contain human carcinogens and are of particular concern as they are left on the skin to 'percolate' for some while.  


Emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, surfactants, preservatives - NATURAL ALTERNATIVES


Natural:  Emollients provide a softening and protecting action to the skin preventing it from drying out.  There is nothing like what nature offers to do this job.  Natural plant oils such as Jojoba, Avocado and Rosehip (preferably organic) and natural waxes and butters (such as Beeswax, Shea butter and Cocoa butter) act as natural emollients, moisturising and helping the skin to stay smooth and pliable.  The added benefit of natural emollients is that they provide nutritional benefits to the skin while allowing the skin to breathe, unlike synthetic emollients which restrict the skin's respiration. At Flora Organics, our star emollient is certified organic Rosehip oil with all its tremendous anti-aging and nutritional properties.   

Synthetic emollients:  

  • Coat the skin, restricting skin's ability to breathe.
  • Can cause skin irritation.
  • Can contain residues of toxic metal catalysts and/or petrochemicals.
  • Have been found to accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes.
  • Examples are PEG Compounds [e.g. PEG- 45], Hydrocarbons [e.g. mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin] and Silicone oils [ e.g. dimethicone, cyclomethicone and copolyol].  



Natural:  A humectant helps whatever it is mixed into to retain moisture by attracting moisture to itself.  Some examples of excellent natural humectants are Aloe Vera juice, Honey, Lecithin, Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B5) and Plant Glycerin.  Natural humectants actually nourish the skin as they are recognised and metabolised by the skin's own enzymes and absorbed into it.  Research has shown that applying a natural humectant to the skin restores the barrier function of the skin, protecting it from bacteria and harmful synthetic chemicals. At Flora Organics, our star humectant is certified organic, raw, wild Manuka Honey, which offers anti-oxidants, nutrients and powerful moisturising properties to our skin care range.

Synthetic humectants:  

  • Synthetic humectants have no nutritional power for your skin as with natural ones.
  • Ethoxylated humectants (those that use ethylene or propylene oxide) can be contaminated with dioxane, a potent carcinogen.  These can be identified with containing the phrase TEG (Triethylene Glycol), PEG (PolyEthylene Glycol), PPG (PolyPropylene Glycol), TPG (TriPropylene Glycol) and DEG (Diethylene Glycol). Also in this category are Propylene Glycol and Ethylene Glycol.
  • Other synthetic humectants are Synthetic alcohols (e.g. Glyceryl Coconate, Hydroxystearate, Myristate, Oleate).



Natural:  Emulsifiers blend and hold together ingredients that don’t normally mix (generally the oil & water components). Naturally derived emulsifying agents can be obtained from coconuts, olives, nuts, berries and leaves.  Many of these substances can and do provide their own nutritional benefit to the skin, contrary to the synthetic version.  Here at Flora Organics, we use the Ecocert approved emulsifying wax comprising of Cetearyl olivate & Sorbitan olivate, the compounds resulting from a natural extraction from olives.  This has been EcoCert approved, which means it is safe for your body and environment.  The wonderful thing about this wax is that has restructuring and anti-aging properties, giving tonicity and elasticity to the skin.

Synthetic emulsifiers:  

  • Synthetic emulsifiers are usually petroleum/hydrocarbon derivatives.
  • The synthetic emulsifers that are alkoxylated amides (e.g. TEA, DEA, MEA, MIPA compounds) are potentially unsafe.  These compounds can undergo nitrosation with other chemicals to form nitrosamines which are known to be carcinogenic.
  • Sodium Lauryl sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) commonly used in shampoos become contaminated during the ethoxylation process of their manufacture with a by-product called dioxane (a potent carcinogen)
  • Other examples are PEG compounds, Sorbitan Stearate/ Laurate/ Palmitate or Oleate.  Also, Ceresin, Silicone and Isopropyl Stearate. 



Natural:  Surfactants are used in skin cleansers and shampoos in order to dissolve oils and hold dirt in suspension so they can be rinsed away.  They act as effective cleansing agents. Naturally sourced surfactants do not generally strip the natural oils in the skin and create the perfect balance of mildness, effective cleansing, scalp and skin nourishment as well as protection.  Effective natural surfactants can be derived from both coconut and corn. Yucca Extract, Soapwort and Quillaja Bark Extract can also be used.  Here at Flora Organics, we use the Ecocert approved surfactant Decyl Glucoside which is obtained from coconut oil and corn starch.  It has a first-rate environmental and skin compatibility profile being suitable for even sensitive skin.  It does not dry out skin and is an excellent deep pore cleanser.

Synthetic surfactants:  

  • These are created from a combination of petrochemicals (derived from petroleum) and/or oleochemicals (derived from fats and oils) and chemicals such as sulfur trioxide, ethylene oxide or sulfuric acid.
  • They tend to be excessively harsh on the skin, stripping all the natural oils and therefore have a tendency to irritate the skin and scalp.  
  • Eethoxylated surfactants (those that use ethylene or propylene oxide in their manufacture) such as Sodium or Ammonium Lauryl or Laureth Sulphate can be contaminated with dioxane, a potent carcinogen. Others in this same class can be identified as containing the phrase PEG (PolyEthylene Glycol) or PPG (PolyPropylene Glycol).
  • Another class of synthetic surfactants that is potentially unsafe is the amides. These are listed on labels containing the term TEA, DEA and MEA.  All of these compounds can undergo nitrosation with other synthetic chemicals to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.  
  • Cocamide DEA and Lauramide DEA are foaming and cleansing agents in acne treatments, baby wash, body scrubs and moisturisers.  Both are able to create carcinogenic compounds and are linked to certain kinds of cancer.
  • Other examples are Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Lauroyl or Cocoyl Sarcosinate Cocomidopropyl Betaine, TEA (Triethanolamine) compounds, DEA (Diethanolamine) compounds, MEA (Monethanolamine) compounds, PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) compounds, Quaternium -7, 15, 31, 60 etc, Lauryl or Cocoyl Sarcosine Disodium Oleamide or Dioctyl Sulfosuccinate.



Natural/ nature-identical:  Preservatives are essential to protect products from bacteria and mold and give them a longer shelf life. In all matter, the decaying process is natural and will eventually occur with or without preservatives of any kind.  Skin care products do not, and should not, last forever.  Here at Flora Organics, we use the very reliable, time-tested and EcoCert approved combination of dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol.  This excellent preservative has been approved as being safe for your skin and environment.  Dehydroacetic acid is an organic acid found in the flowers of the solandra species while Benzyl alcohol is a constituent found in many pure essential oils, fruits and teas.

Man-made preservatives:  

  • Imidiazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl urea - can release formaldehyde.
  • DMDM Hydantoin (contains formaldehyde, believed to be a carcinogen).
  • Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Parabens (disrupt endocrine function).
  • Phenoxyethaol (neurotoxic), Ethylhexylglycerin (tested as causing dermatitis).
  • Benzalkonium Chloride (strong evidence as a skin allergen)
  • Others are sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (Suttocide-A), Unigerm, Chloromethylisothiazolinone, Isothiazolinone, Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, Methylisothiazolinone (may be neurotoxic), Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) (possible organ toxicity) and Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) (is an endocrine disruptor and a possible human carcinogen).


So why on earth do cosmetic manufacturers use risky synthetic ingredients when there are natural alternatives? Simply because they are readily available and cost less!  The other issue is that many man-made chemicals used in the cosmetic industry are not biodegradable.  We urge you to be kind to the planet and to yourself by buying only organically based skin formulations.


Join the revolution with us - be green and be kind to your body.  For a range of superior organic skin formulations, see our 100% natural skin care range at FLORA ORGANICS based in New Zealand where we utilise wild, raw certified organic Manuka Honey, raw Shea butter organically grown in Ghana and many other organic ingredients to suit your skin type.  

Leave a Comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published