By Dr. Michael S. Spicer
This is a huge topic in today’s society. It seems like every time you turn around there are new all-natural or organic skincare products on the shelf. But are these products really effective and safe like they promote?
One of my first priorities was to create a skin care line that was made of all natural ingredients. In fact, my first skin care moisturizer was pure aloe, shea butter, cocoa butter, and safflower oil. It worked great, but turned rancid after a few months; back to the drawing board. After much research I found that many of the all-natural products are ok but they are missing some of the most important ingredients to actually make it effective. So essentially, the all-natural became more of a buzz-word or marketing strategy than truly being effective. Pure Shea butter is no more effective than pure cocoa butter or coconut oil. They all have the same premise as occluding moisture in the skin to prevent evaporation of water to a greater or lesser degree. That’s it, no magical properties. I have read books on the benefits of these natural oils, but the premise is still the same; it is what it is – something is better than nothing.
Organic plants are supposedly safer because they are grown free of pesticides, fertilizers or any other chemical intervention. Unfortunately this is a myth. They still use fertilizers and pesticides, but they are considered organic like manure for fertilizers and organically derived copper and sulfur, which are used in much smaller quantities in conventional synthetic fungicides. Organic fertilizer can contain bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. These pesticides can be just as dangerous in concentrations used to compensate for not being as effective as conventional fertilizer.
Using natural ingredients doesn’t mean safer. I myself almost fell into that trap trying to be all-natural, but it would eliminate the very components that would actually make a difference. The true benefit to the patient was at risk, do I go with “all-natural” label or do I add a safe, effective “chemical” that would make all the difference in the world. I decided to look at “chemicals” and why they were considered so “bad”. Dihydrogen oxide, glycosaminoglycans, phospholipids are naturally occurring chemicals. Dihydrogen oxide (water) is the most abundant and necessary chemical in our body. Without drinking Dihydrogen oxide in some form we would be dead in about 48 hours. Glycosaminoglycans are the chemicals in our skin that support the collagen and elastin that keep it soft and supple. So what about synthesized chemicals? Chemicals made in the lab are the purest form of the chemical. Water from a stream is nature’s gift to survival, but I would still want to boil or filter it before I drank it. I want to advocate health instead or “all-natural” or “organic” slogans. So much of the medicines we use are based on nature such as penicillin from the penicillium fungus and aspirin, salicylic acid, found in nature in willow bark and used for thousands of years. But I would prefer aspirin from a lab than chewing on willow bark.
What about dyes, additives and preservatives? Ok, so I agree that, if possible, we should limit the amount of unnecessary additives. I have tried to remove all dyes, limit preservatives, and unnecessary additives from Epice Skincare line. Interestingly, I will admit that I have removed ingredients that I believe are perfectly safe and effective, but are considered “bad” by certain environmental watch groups. In contrast, no one talks about the numerous allergic reactions that present to dermatologists that are due to “natural” products such as tea tree, blood root and black salve. I have seen horrible skin reactions from these natural products. Suffice to say I have developed Epice Skincare Line with health in mind, not gimmick slogans such as “all-natural” or “organic”.