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Skin clinic

Most of us are exposed to the effects of pollution and toxins in numerous ways, but it’s possible to cut it out of your beauty routine and relieve skin problems. Rude Health magazine finds out how

“Petroleum is my absolute pet hate, and is quite a prominent ingredient in mainstream skincare products,” says Niamh Larkin, skincare specialist at health store Evergreen in Mainguard St, Galway. “It is used to bulk up the product and give it a silky texture, but it can’t actually be absorbed by the skin, so sits on top of the skin, causing pores to become blocked. Petroleum has lots of different names, so if you want to avoid it always read ingredient labels. Avoid products containing petroleum, liquid paraffin, mineral oil, white oil or sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate.”

“The main nasties in beauty products include parabens – ethyl, butyl, methyl and propyl used as preservatives,” says Ingrid Hume of natural beauty company Pravera. “SLS/SLEs are found in over 90% of personal and cleaning products like shampoos, cleansers and body washes and give these products foaming action. Phthalates, synthetic fragrances and perfumes are also common. All of these ingredients are known skin irritants and may cause allergic reactions, eczema, redness, irritation and premature skin ageing. They can enter the bloodstream when applied to the skin or hair and have been linked to everything from hormonal disruptions to cancer, therefore it is advisable to opt for certified natural and organic products.”

Natural benefits

“Using certified natural and organic beauty products will improve your skin,” says Ingrid Hume. “Chemicals found in conventional skincare products work against the skin, rather than working with the skin, as natural skincare products do. Natural and organic products are gentle, kind and welcoming to your skin.”

“Most people don’t realise the effect petroleum has had on their skin/scalp until they switch to a natural alternative,” says Niamh Larkin. “Mineral oil (as it is often referred to) clogs pores, making it more difficult for your skin to absorb any good ingredients in your skincare products, and also causing blackheads and breakouts. In hair products, petroleum sticks to the scalp and over time can cause dandruff or dermatitis, as well as a build-up of sediment, causing blocked hair follicles and inhibiting healthy hair growth. Switching to products which are free from mineral oils, can dramatically improve not only your scalp, but also your skin’s natural ability to absorb moisturising ingredients.”

Natural alternatives

“There are many alternatives to petroleum,” says Niamh Larkin. “The most common is beeswax which is often used instead of petroleum in lip balms. Natural brands are becoming more aware and more adventurous, experimenting with ingredients like sweet almond oil, coconut oil and castor oil to name a few. There is no excuse for continued use of this horrible ingredient. Make the switch in 2019, your skin and hair will thank you for it.”

“Making simple, easy changes such as swapping your petroleum jelly for a natural coconut oil will improve your skin’s appearance,” says Ingrid Hume. “Coconut oil is excellent at providing moisture, hydrating the skin and keeping it soft and supple. It helps to reduce inflammation, heal wounds and also has antimicrobial properties that can help to treat acne and protect the skin from harmful bacteria. Look for products that include natural and organic ingredients to balance and keep skin fresh.”

Skin solutions

“Free radicals are formed naturally In the body, but their production can be increased by factors like sun damage, stress and air pollution,” says Ingrid Hume. “The result is damaged skin, a decrease in elasticity and increased wrinkles. Using skincare products which include antioxidants helps to neutralise free radicals, combat premature skin ageing, prevent damage and protect and nurture the skin cells naturally. Antioxidants such as Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, green tea and grape seed will all help to improve the skin’s appearance – look out for these ingredients.”

Natural help for acne

Aloe vera – a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Look for creams which contain aloe vera – you would need about 10% content to make a difference.

Coconut oil – anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Rub pure coconut oil onto inflamed skin.

Garlic – eat more of this to help the body fight inflammation and infections, including skin problems.

Green tea – packed with antioxidants which help to clear the skin of waste that gathers in acne spots. Drink regularly.

Honey – the antioxidants in honey can help to clear skin and it has been used to treat skin conditions for thousands of years. Rub onto spots or mix it into a face mask.

Jojoba oil – can help to reduce skin inflammation. Dab onto skin or mix with a skin cream or mask.

Tea tree oil – a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Choose a cream with tea tree oil or mix with a carrier oil and dab onto acne sores.

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