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Do organic cleansers and moisturizers irritate the skin?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology

Organic cleansers and moisturizers can provide the same results as their synthetic counterparts, and therefore they have the potential to irritate the skin too. Most people don't recognize that natural ingredients are still chemicals. An orange contains vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid. A doctor might say "ascorbic acid," and in the natural beauty world it's known as "vitamin C," but it basically boils down to the same thing. The ingredient tocopherol (used as a conditioning agent in most synthetic products) is a derivative of natural vitamin E. Many soaps, synthetic detergents and organic surfactants are derived from a natural vegetable source (primarily coconuts), so it becomes a question of how that source becomes a cleansing agent. They all started as coconuts after all.

Botanical elements and pure essential oils such as tea tree oil, menthol, eucalyptus, willow bark (a natural form of salicylic acid), and especially citrus (natural citric acid) can cause allergies or irritation. Mushroom extract contains kojic acid (a natural skin lightening agent), and papaya and pumpkin enzymes exfoliate the skin because they are alpha-hydroxy acids. These elements can sometimes be even stronger in their natural forms. It's important to test any product, even a natural one, on the inside of your arm or on your neck before using it on your face. It's a myth that a product must sting to be effective. That pain is actually an alarm bell.

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.