Organic Skin Care Must-Knows

Organic Spa Houston very own founder, Kylee Nguyen sat with for an interview

We're all looking for our skin care mecca—that holy grail product that will dry up our acne, hydrate our skin, hide those crows feet, and simultaneously make our face radiant, supple, and flawless. Tons of products claim to do all these things. And as much as we love trying the newest product on the shelf, we may be doing it wrong. It's possible that instead of using the most expensive, luxurious products possible, the solution to our skin care blues might be to simplify. This summer we're heading back to basics with organic skin care.


In recent years it seems the term "organic" has gained a cult following. Enthusiasts for organics abound in selected food aisles in grocery stores and at spas offering organic skin care, where these chemical-free, natural alternatives stand out among the parabens and artificial ingredients. But with every product claiming "all natural" and "no harsh chemicals," it's hard to know what's the real deal and what's hype. We talked to Kylee Nguyen, owner of Organic Spa Houston, and Dr. Christine Schaffner, owner of Bella Fiore Med Spa, to find out what organic really means.

What is organic skin care?
There are a few ways to define organic skin care. The FDAdefines it as products that contain FDA-certified organic ingredients. This means that chemicals get the boot and the organic skin care ingredient is qualified to help with specific skin problems, Nguyen says. An ingredient such as aloe vera soothes the skin and—if grown on a certified organic farm—would be considered organic.

While Schaffner says that while the FDA refers only to ingredients that are derived from nature and that are not processed using excess synthetics or harmful chemicals, she doesn't think the FDA best defines organic skin care. Since their regulations on the field are open, it's better to trust wildcrafted ingredients, she says. These ingredients are not "FDA organic," but they're taken from nature and processed into skin care products. "From my perspective, wildcrafted supersedes 'organic,'" Schaffner says.

Why it works
"Most people think they have sensitive skin when they don't. People are reacting to the long-term use of synthetic ingredients," Schaffner says. Once her clients go organic, they don't go back. "Their skin is happier; it's less inflamed, less irritated, less sensitive," she says.

Nguyen also says she notices a difference when clients use professional organic skin care products rather than the lower-grade alternatives. "They [the products] tend to be more concentrated where most over-the-counter products tend to be more water- or oil-based," Nguyen says. "Think of it as over-the-counter compared to prescription medication—it's really obvious that there will be a different strength or potency. It's worth the investment."

What to look for
It's important to remember the FDA is an American-specific organization, meaning imported products take a bit more research. When it comes to American-specific brands, Nguyen recommends Ormedic and Source Vital. But if you're looking for an overseas product, she suggests shopping Germany's lines, because their skin care standards are unparalleled. "German skin care products are highly recommended in the professional industry," Nguyen says. Dr. Grandel and Dr. Schrammek are her go-to German labels.

What to avoid
There are a few ingredients that Schaffner warns against. If the product contains paraben or fragrance, it's probably not truly organic. "Fragrance can be a blanket term," she says. This means companies don't have to disclose the ingredients, and the term "fragrance" could encompass up to 500 unspecified ingredients. If the product is truly organic, the label will disclaim that the fragrance has organic essential oils. She also suggests shoppers scan the label for anything starting withPEG. PEGs are typically petrochemically derived (meaning derived from petroleum or natural gas) or propylene glycol, which dries out the skin. If these are on the ingredient list, the product isn't organic.

What to try now
In the past there was a tendency for organic skin care adherents, especially those with oily skin, to stay away from oil, but, Schaffner says, "our skin needs oil to stay hydrated." Since most people who overproduce oil have dehydrated skin, Schaffner suggests using jojoba oil for the face and coconut oil on the body. The nutrients our skin needs are often fat-soluble, and oils are a great way for those nutrients to reach deep into pores.

"You get mixed results when it comes to oil cleansing," Nguyen says. Instead of using oil alone, she suggests pre-cleansing with the product to draw out dirt and makeup, then washing with your favorite cleanser (her favorite is theOrmedic balancing facial cleanser). She says this is great for keeping the skin glowing between spa visits or as a general cleaning method.

DIY alternatives
Nguyen says that while there are tons of DIY skin care alternatives online (thanks, Pinterest!), what really gets results is consulting with a skin care professional. Your esthetician will be able to make skin-type–specific recommendations, and then you can find the organic skin care recipes that work best. Nguyen suggests, "Find out what your skin type is; then find the products suitable for your skin type." It's not about the trendy or new, she says. It's all about targeting your skin type.


If you prefer to go it alone, Schaffner suggests making a mask out of high-quality honey. Honey is a natural antibacterial, plus it hydrates and calms the skin. This one-ingredient mask may be the easiest organic option.

Demand for chemical-free & natural skincare continues to rise.

 As the natural trend in skin care continues to rise, a recent survey has found more U.S. women consumers are checking labels to avoid certain ingredients (Skin Inc. a magazine, a leading publication for the professional skin care industry, keeping everyone up to date on the latest skin care trends and news reported in August 2015). 

A "Green Beauty Barometer" survey, which was conducted online in June among over 1,000 U.S. women aged 18 years old and older, revealed nearly six in ten U.S. adult women (59%) read beauty product ingredient labels prior to purchase, while nearly 40% intend to increase their spend for all-natural beauty products. 

Of those surveyed, 54% of women claimed it is important their skin care product purchases are all natural.

Survey highlights included:

• When asked to identify which ingredients consumers look for on beauty labels that would deter purchase, the most watched for ingredient was sulfates. Nearly three in ten women (29%) seek to avoid sulfates, followed by parabens(22%), synthetic fragrances (18%), PEG compounds (15%) and mineral oil (11%).

• When it came to age, 65% of women ages 35-54 claim they read beauty product labels, followed by 63% of women 18-34, 59% of women aged 45-54, 55% of women aged 65-plus, and 52% of women aged 55-64.

• Regarding future habits, 39% of women claim they will buy more all-natural beauty products in the next two years than they currently do. The intent to "only purchase" or "purchase more" all-natural products ranked highest for the skin care beauty category (39%), followed by nail care products (33%), fragrance (31%), makeup (20%) and hair care products (18%).

Millennials (women aged 18-34) are the most likely to spend more on all-natural beauty products in the next two years, with half of them claiming they will. This is compared to 44% of women aged 35-44, 34% of women aged 55-64, 31% of women aged 45-54 and 30% of women aged 65-plus.

• When asked how important it was to purchase all-natural products among particular beauty categories, skin care came out on top, with 54% of women claiming it is important their skin care product purchases are all natural. This was followed by all-natural hair care at 49%, makeup at 40%, fragrance at 31% and nail care products at 26%.

• Nearly one in four women (24%) noted it was "very important" their skin care product purchases are all natural, while some one in three (30%) ranked it "somewhat important." Among those who deemed it important, Millennials led the charge at 63%, followed by women aged 35-44 at 58%. Geograph­ically, 62% of women in the Western U.. claimed it was important, followed by 54% of those in the South, 51% of those in the Northeast and 48% in the Midwest.

• When it comes to beauty product retailers, women are most disappointed in the volume of natural beauty products found in department stores. Of those who purchase beauty products in department stores, 17% say they are "not very" or "not at all" satisfied by the volume of natural beauty products found there. This is compared to 14% of beauty product shoppers in specialty drug and grocery stores, 13% in mass market drugstores and 8% of shoppers in specialty cosmetic retailers.

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