Herbal Skin Care Products: A different perspective

Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre offers Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Western herbal medicine and Remedial therapies to the communities of Kurrajong, Richmond, North Richmond, Glossodia, Kurmond, and the greater Hawkesbury area.

 

For some time now, more and more people have started to change their purchase habits to choosing natural, organic or herbal skin care products. Why? Because information in the media has alerted consumers about the potential dangers they were exposing themselves to by buying skin and personal care products that contained potentially toxic chemicals.

Why Herbal Skin Care Products Are Becoming Increasingly More Popular

As consumers started to demand natural ingredients in their skin care products, companies scrambled to include at least one or two natural ingredients and then advertised these products promoting the content of the natural ingredients. However, unfortunately they did not remove the dangerous ones (at least many of the companies did not), instead, they simply implied that the natural ingredient made their product natural. The use of one or two natural ingredients does not make a natural or herbal skin care product.

Some companies do make products that are 100% natural and some are even certified organic. The unfortunate thing is however, that just because a product contains natural/organic, or herbal ingredients, does not mean it actually works, nor does it guarantee that there are not synthetic or artificial ingredients in the products. The problem is that to obtain ‘Certified Organic’ status for a product, only 95% of the ingredients need to be certified organic. The other 5% may be synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers or any other potentially harmful non-natural chemical.

Whether or not a product is certified organic or not, makes little difference to its effectiveness. This is because the effectiveness of a product is determined by the quantity of the active ingredients.

Herbal extracts and essential oils have long been recognised as having medicinal properties and actions. However, they only have these actions if present in high enough concentrations. Two or three drops of Lavender oil will make a product smell lovely, but that amount of lavender in 100ml of product base, will not have any significant effect on the skin or its underlying tissues. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia provides guidelines as to what constitutes a therapeutic dose for a herb or essential oil in order for it to be effective in treating a given health problem.

Effective vs. 'Look good' Products

So let’s look at what it takes to make a product effective.

Firstly, it needs to be established what the product is supposed to do. If it’s supposed to nourish the skin, promote blood circulation in the local area and reduce redness, then the ingredients that need to be used must address these needs. In other words, herbs or essential oils that are indicated and have medicinal properties which address these problems must be chosen.

Secondly, in order for herbs and/or essential oils to meet these needs, they need to be present in specific quantities. In addition, there is probably also a need for several herbs to be present. Herbal skin care products can include one or more herbs, depending on the desired action the cream or lotion is intended to have. Usually, a product will however include several herbs and/or essential oils, as the combination of herbs will produce synergistic effects. (Synergistic effects are effects caused by combining two or more herbs that in combination produce actions that none of the herbs have individually; or multiply their effects.)

Thirdly, it takes considerable depth of knowledge of herbal medicine to be able to formulate effective herbal skin care products. It is not a matter of throwing a bunch of herbal extracts into a pot, adding a base cream, stir and bingo; an effective product results.

For example, using the same two herbs, but at different ratios to each other, will result in different therapeutic effects, yet the only thing that has changed is the quantities used.

It’s like making a salad. Using the same 5 or 6 ingredients, but in different quantities, will make for a different salad. Just think about adding halve a clove of Garlic compared to two cloves of Garlic – there will be a difference in taste. The same goes for the salad sauce. Using the same ingredients but in different quantities will make for salad sauces with different textures and flavours.

Unfortunately, most people buy their skin care products based on the packaging, the brand name and the smell of a product. None of these things, however, effect on the skin. Herbal skin care products on the other hand tend to be packaged in simple, useful packaging, they probably do smell very nice, but the brands are usually not as well know.

Wildcrafted Herbal Products for example has customers the world over, but you never see their name in a fashion magazine, TV or anywhere else really. Their products are true therapeutic herbal products, they work, have done so for over 25 years and the people in the know buy them for exactly those reasons.

Therapeutic Herbal Skin Care Products

The ‘secret’ is that true herbal skin care products have been formulated to have specific healing effects on the skin. We know that the absorption of essential oils via the skin can affect the organs inside our body – treatment from the outside in, if you like. Footbaths are well known therapeutic tools to treat a range of systemic diseases. Maurice Mességué, the well-known French herbalist, used to use hand- and footbaths almost exclusively to treat his patients. Therefore, there is nothing new or ‘magical’ about using herbal medicine in the form of creams, lotions and the like.

Good quality herbal skin and body care products are based on these principles, and contain therapeutic levels of medicinal herbs to treat the skin and positively affects its functions.

If you want your skin care products to actually do some good, than think about choosing herbal skin care products next time you’re shopping.

 

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Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre & Wildcrafted Cottage
7/1147 Grose Vale Rd.
Kurrajong Village, NSW, 2758
(02) 4573 0784

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