Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Sensitive Subject

Sarah Heenan, natural beauty therapist and founder of online organic beauty boutique,, takes a look at the issues around skin sensitivities.

The last decade has seen a dramatic rise in both sensitised skin and allergic reactions. Most skin responses to cosmetics are a result of skin sensitisation, which happens when the ingredients penetrate the skin too quickly and the skin’s natural barrier function is impaired.

Once the product is removed from the skin the reaction will subside. In most instances of skin allergy, the skin can become itchy, inflamed and sore. Many mainstream products made with harsh chemical ingredients and synthetic compounds will exaggerate these symptoms.

Why go natural?

One of the biggest reasons people turn to organic and natural products is because they find high street products over-fragranced and harsh. Organic and natural cosmetics have no harmful chemicals (parabens or petro-chemicals) or artificial fragrances. Quite simply, the ingredients are all chosen to be effective, gentle and to help the skin work naturally.

The good news is that, for people who suffer with sensitive skin, these natural options are unlikely to cause reactions. Today there are hundreds of fantastic organic and natural products available which are just as effective as their high street equivalents. Furthermore, by using these products we are helping to protect our planet for future generations.

Know your ingredients

It is possible that occasionally some people can experience allergies to completely organic ingredients (e.g. sensitivity to certain Essential Oils). Organic and natural brands are very transparent in their communications and include a comprehensive list of ingredients so you can see at a glance what is in the product you are using. Thankfully, for those who are sensitive to essential oils, there are now products free from natural fragrances and herbal flower extracts such as Lavera Neutral and Green People's Organic Base No Scent collection.

Clear labelling also helps with checking the source of ingredients especially with fragrances. For example, Limonene is the term used for the synthetic fragrance, Lemon, but is also the name for Lemon Essential Oil. In order to differentiate, there is usually an asterisk or a comment next to the ingredient, stating ‘from natural essential oils’.

Switching to natural

A few people find that when switching to more natural ingredients they experience a detox period where the body adjusts and the skin may feel uncomfortable or ‘break out’. This usually lasts no longer than a week and once the skin has adjusted it will feel better than ever. It is also important to remember that each of us is individual and hence our skin requirements are very specific. For this reason, Lucy Rose provides customers with both a personal consultation service and the opportunity to 'try before you buy.'