For many years now we have seen a move away from skin care products that contain chemicals which are potentially harmful to the skin. Consumers have begun to demand natural skin care products. That is, they demand products, that instead of containing potentially harmful, synthetic and/or artificial ingredients contain natural ones. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not the whole story.
Natural skin care is by definition the use of natural ingredients such as herbs, essential oils and various extracts and nutrients from fruits and/or vegetables that treat the skin. Skin care after all is not about plumping up of the skin or temporarily removing fine lines and wrinkles, skin care is far more than that.
Real skin care is about maintaining or regaining healthy skin by use of natural ingredients that facilitate and promote the normal functions of the skin. If the skin needs particular attention, because one of its functions is compromised, herbal extracts and other natural substances can be used to specifically target that issue. Herbs are healing substances that have been used for thousands of years to re-establish health and many of these herbs have specific therapeutic functions on the skin.
The Skin is an organ and just like any other organ in our body, and it too requires regular attention and maintenance. After all, we drink water to help our Kidneys function properly, we eat bran and other fibre containing foods to help maintain healthy bowl function and so on. However, when it comes to our skin we often use products that simply mask dis-function rather than addressing the underlying problem.
Natural skin care products, or if you prefer, herbal skin care products, that contain therapeutic doses of herbs, essential oils and other nutrients, are like eating bran and grains to maintain our digestive system, but they are formulated to work on maintaining the normal functions of the skin.
Unfortunately, this is not the attitude of the cosmetics industry. The fact that products are being made with one or two natural ingredients (together with all the other synthetic and artificial ones) and then are advertised to contain natural ingredients is merely a marketing ploy by these companies. They are not interested in healing the skin, far from it; they want you to continue using their products to cover up the symptoms of a stressed skin that is in need of actual treatment.
Think about it. What is more profitable, treating the underlying cause of a problem and thus fixing it, or treating the symptoms by continually applying products to cover the problem... I'm sure shareholders of large cosmetic companies don't want to see problems solved... But then again, I could be wrong...
Therapeutic herbal skin care is about one: addressing weaknesses or problems of the skin and addressing these in specific ways through the use of specific herbs and/or essential oils; and two: once normal skin function has been established, herbal skin care products can then be used to maintain optimal functioning of the skin. The aim of therapeutically formulated herbal skin care products is not to mask symptoms of skin problems, but to fix them.
For example, Lavender is well known for its wound healing, antiseptic and toning properties. It has the ability to remove redness and heat from the skin, making it an ideal choice for soothing and repairing an irritated or hypersensitive skin. Although it is not really an anti-inflammatory as such, Lavender is often useful where there is inflammation, hence its use in burns, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, boils, rheumatism, wounds, ulcers, and so on.
From a natural medicine point of view, treatment of any health problem needs to be viewed from the first principle, that is the cause of the problem, not the effect. Thus, therapeutic herbal skin care products are formulated to target the cause of the skin problem not the result of it. This approach may take longer for the person to see the effects, but these will be more permanent and ultimately easier to maintain.
When products merely aim to mask symptoms, they actually never address the underlying cause and therefore the problem gradually gets worse. At some point, the problem will be irreversible and the masking of the symptoms no longer possible. This is when the whole deck of cards falls in a heap and serious skin problems become apparent and almost impossible to treat.
Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and together with his wife Susan, a medical herbalist and Aromatherapist, they have created Natural Skin Care Products by Wildcrafted Herbal Products to share their 40 years of combined expertise with you. They practice Herbal and Chinese medicine at their Wildcrafted Cottage Clinic. (c) Wildcrafted Herbal Products 2009