have come a long way from the days in which they were first
created, when the Egyptians blended healing unguents and
potions from the finest herbs and oils. Today, Americans
spend close to $3 billion annually on cosmetics for the face and
body. The natural cosmetics industry has gained a great deal
of ground in the last decade, as people look toward a more safe,
gentle, and ecological approach to skin and body care. Most
natural cosmetic companies spend advertising dollars on educating
the consumer rather than promoting an image, because they believe
the consumer wants to take more responsibility for her/his
The trend of modern beauty is now
encompassing the whole person, rather than simply ‘looking good’.
The natural cosmetic industry has helped to balance this concept
of beauty, bringing inner health and beauty to the surface.
In a sense, we are renewing the ancient Egyptian approach to
cosmetics, both a healing and beautifying treatment. The
Egyptian embalmers used some of the best ingredients for
preserving, rejuvenating and celebrating the skin: resins and oils
that are used in some of the best natural cosmetics available
Most people begin to pay more attention
to their skin when the effects of aging are first noticed,
generally between the ages of twenty and thirty. By the
beginning of the next century there will be approximately 32
million Americans over the age of 65. With increasing life
spans, there is a natural increase in skin care and a healthy
The skin is the body’s largest organ,
and next to the brain, the most important. It measures
approximately 20 square feet and weighs between 7 and 9 pounds,
twice as much as the brain. It requires one third of the
body’s circulatory blood for healthy functioning. The skin
is often referred to as the third kidney because of its
eliminative role. Skin excretes up to two pounds of waste
daily, moving more toxins than all the eliminative organs
The skin’s main release of toxins is through
perspiration. This function assists in regulating body
temperature and PH balance. It also is a way to burn a few
calories, approximately 500 per day. When perspiration is
inhibited, the kidneys pick up the responsibility for eliminating
the waste, and the body risks being subjected to a toxic state.
Blemishes are one result of the skin attempting to eliminate the
toxic accumulations in the blood.
In addition to its most important eliminative
function, the skin performs six other basic functions.
1. It is a protective barrier from
heat, cold, bacteria and other environmental stresses.
2. It regulates the body temperature,
maintaining its inside temperature despite wide variations on the
outside of the skin.
3. It breathes to a small extent,
exhaling carbon dioxide and eliminating unwanted gases.
4. It absorbs substances, passing
them through the tissues.
5. It has its own
hydration system which keeps it soft and supple, and lubricates
itself by discharging the sebaceous fluids through perspiration.
6. It contains a complex networking
of nerve endings that allow us sensation and enable us to react to
heat, cold, pain and pleasure.
The skin is made up of three main
layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. Each of
these layers support the other and has its own particular
function. All of these layers are made up of cells in
varying degrees of life potency. Of the some hundred
trillion cells in the body, we shed up to five billion a day!
Not only does the environment play a major role in optimum skin
integrity, but the functions of the various systems involved also
plays a key role in skin health. Both the blood and lymph
systems must be taken into account as well, for a healthy skin is
a well nourished skin, and the nourishment essentially comes from
these two systems.
Biological programming, our heredity, is probably the most
influential factor in determining our skin type. It has been
medically demonstrated that the balance of male and female
hormones affects the production of the sebaceous glands.
More sebum is stimulated by male hormones, meaning, according to
medical research, that men have a greater tendency toward oily
skin. Skin on the scalp, face, back and chest contains more
oil glands than skin on the arms and legs.
The activity of the sebaceous glands does decrease as
we age, gradually changing an oily complexion to a drier skin.
This process is speeded up by medical complications, some
medications, or certain skin treatments. A woman who has recently
had a hysterectomy, a menopausal woman, or a person undergoing
chemotherapy will most often experience a change in skin type.
It is probable that a person will experience many skin
conditions in a lifetime, since the skin is a constant reflection
of our age and inner well-being. One’s skin condition varies
on a daily basis depending on temperature, humidity, travel
factors (airplane air is drying to the skin, different water
sources interact differently with the skin), exercise, and outdoor
The skin can be divided into four basic types: sensitive,
underactive, active and overactive.
skin is delicate, generally light in color and tone, and
when treated correctly, reflects a porcelain glow and fineness.
It is almost always dry skin. It is easily irritated and
should be treated with very mild, non detergent products.
Both fragrances and preservatives can cause reactions and such
products should first be patch tested on a less sensitive part of
Sensitive skin is generally a thin textured skin,
making capillaries, or blood vessels more visible. Because
the blood supply is generally closer to the surface of the skin,
it is more prone to irritations or allergies. In some cases,
the tiny blood vessels, being so close to the surface, are damaged
by environmental stresses. They rupture, creating a
condition called cuperose, which most often occurs over the cheeks
and across the nose. Alcohol consumption, spicy foods, and
increased blood flow through exercise and even blushing, can
contribute to cuperose problems.
This skin type can react unfavorably to many synthetic chemicals
in skin care products. In addition, environmental stresses
such as excessive heat and cold, wind, and exposure to ultraviolet
light increase the aging process by damaging delicate tissues.
is found most commonly on a fair skin that easily burns in the
sun. It is often sensitive with a somewhat delicate texture,
poor elasticity, and generally lacks tone and suppleness. It
does not commonly break out in blemishes or acne, but has an all
over taut feeling, sometimes showing signs of flaking or peeling.
Flakiness is a sign of dehydration. Sebum production is
somewhat sparse or impaired, resulting in moisture loss which
increases the tendency toward wrinkling and fine lines,
particularly around the mouth and eyes.
I like to refer to dry or underactive skin as a need
for stimulation of the various layers. The treatment of dry
skin necessitates increasing the blood circulation which is a
primary factor in plumping and regenerating skin tissue. The
easiest way to accomplish this yourself, without electronic
equipment, is through massage.
Since water comprises about 70% of the constituents of
the skin, it is understandable that the skin serves as a sort of
reservoir for the rest of the body. It is widely confirmed
that a relative humidity of 60-65% helps to maintain the skins
natural moisture content. A lower relative humidity draws
moisture from the skin into the environment, and a higher relative
humidity forces moisture into the skin. Hydrate the skin
with a rich moisturizer both morning and night, using a moisture
replenishing toner spray between times.
is most often seen in glamour magazines models who are
pre-adolescent. Truly, it is not the most common skin type,
and is found mainly in young and/or health oriented individuals.
Active skin shows a normal function of the body’s organs and
systems, a good balance of oil and moisture, a general sign of
good health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It most
often has a firm, supple and smooth appearance.
Most people have a combination skin type, recognized by an oilier
T zone (forehead, nose and chin) with a drier look around the
cheek, jaw and hairline. It is really two different types of
skin, and should be treated accordingly. The aim is to
moisturize the dry areas and stabilize the more oily areas.
Overactive skin is often a strong hereditary trait.
The most commonly identifiable characteristic is an all over shiny
look from the oil secretions which are heaviest in the T zone.
A thick skin texture with large pores, particularly around the
nose area, are signs of overactive skin. Because of the
pronounced sebaceous activity, this skin type will appear smoother
and more plump than Underactive skin. This excessive oil
production will keep a face looking more youthful much longer than
a dry skin type.
Bacteria from one’s fingertips and the environment at
large tend to breed in the oily film which contains toxic wastes
from the body. Although oily skin is prone to developing
acne in younger persons, other factors beside oily skin are also
responsible. Stress, improper cleansing, poor diet, hormonal
imbalance, heredity and nervous habits contribute to skin
eruptions. Acne is a chronic inflammation of the sebaceous
gland and hair follicle, and most types can be treated with proper
home care. Bacteria within the hair follicle multiply
approximately every half hour. It is important to treat acne
appropriately by following the strictest hygiene practices.
Once you have an understanding of your
own skin type and its individual needs, shopping for skin care
products is a quicker, easier and more enjoyable venture. When
trying a new line it is a good idea to purchase trial sizes first.
Give your skin at least three weeks to determine the benefits of
the product. Remember, it takes three to four weeks to
develop a new layer of skin. Products generally have
directions for use. Follow these directions accordingly.
There are easy ways to keep the skin in
a glowing healthy state. Drink a half-gallon of water
a day. Eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, whole
grains and fresh fruits. Steam or sauna your skin on a
regular basis. Exercise moderately. Quit or reduce
smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption. Keep a positive
attitude and a fulfilling life-style.
True beauty of course, is more than skin
deep. It is also an expression of how we feel about
ourselves. The results of cosmetic applications, for men as
well as for women, is an extension of this full expression of our
For many, make-up is a face of
acceptance, a conformity to a greater-than-self image, a
collective face, a cultural coloration. It is also a
delightful way to play with and celebrate one's self image.
The art of making up a face is as individualized as an art can be,
each face a unique palate to adorn with color. A simple
knowledge of color, one’s skin tone, and an understanding of one’s
own facial composition are the skills required. One is
either yellow toned (warm colors) or blue toned (cool colors).
This is determined by looking at the skin and blood veins at the
inside fold of the elbow.
A few tricks of the trade can sculpt a
face with shades of color. To achieve a finished and
soft coloration, a few good brushes are necessary. The three basic
are a dusting brush for loose powder to absorb excess oil and to
soften and smooth the skin tone; a blunt, tapered brush to accent
the eyebrows or rim the eyes; and a lip brush to define the lips.
There are talc-less translucent powders and colors to
match every mood or skin tone which can also shade or highlight
the contours of the face. The same color can be used for the
three most important highlighting areas. A single shade such
as an amber, brick, or a soft coral tone will brighten the face
and can be used on the eyelids, the > above the brow and along the
cheek bone, and on the lips. One can layer color to increase
the facial contour that the lighting and coloration create.
Wash brushes regularly with a mild soap and warm water.
It is hard to know what product
ingredients may or may not do for you without knowing what their
action is. The more refined, processed, stabilized
and neutralized a product is, generally the more it is in-active
on the skin. Choose products with ingredients that are as
close to food , to what you would want to eat, as possible.
Many chemical sounding names are perfectly harmless, and may even
be helpful to the skin. Manufacturers are beginning to unite
around a True Label program to increase consumer awareness and
provide the most accurate information possible in regard your
choice in skin care products.
All of the chemicals that could possibly be used in
manufacturing natural skin care products have been subjected to
testing already, so there is little need to continually re-test
such ingredients. We are in fact, getting closer to the new
standard of tests through computer models.
The cruelty-free and eco-sound shopper
is making a bigger impact on the colossal business of cosmetics.
More people are choosing to buy personal care and household
products that are animal and cruelty free and that contain
environmentally sound ingredients. We can balance our skin
and help balance our fragile eco-system responsibly.
Actions You Can Take
1. Refuse to purchase
products that have been manufactured and marketed by subjecting
animals to toxicity tests.
2. Help educate others about
unnecessary product safety tests for cosmetics. The Humane Society
of the U.S. sells bumper stickers saying, “Do Something
Beautiful-Buy Cruelty- Free Cosmetics“ for $.50. See address
3. Send your contribution to the
Humane Society of the US (HSUS) to continue their efforts to
eliminate unnecessary animal testing. Now that they have prompted
cosmetic companies to develop alternatives, we must all work
toward convincing them to implement these non-animal tests! Write
to: HSUS 2100 L STREET NW, Washington DC 20037. (202) 452-1100.
4. Write to the Cosmetic, Toiletry
and Fragrance Association (CTFA) urging it to increase financial
support for the development and implementation of non-animal
testing methods. Write to: CTFA 1110 VERMONT AVE., NW, SUITE 800,
WASHINGTON DC 20005.
5. Write to the FDA, the regulatory
agency which does NOT require animal tests to determine product
safety of cosmetics. Urge the FDA not to accept data from the
Classical LD 50 test. This would result in the industry’s
adopting alternative testing methods. Write to: Food and Drug
Administration, Cosmetics Division, 200 C Street SW, Washington DC
6. Send donations to the American
fund for Alternatives to Animal Research, 175 W. 12th St. #16, New
York, NY 10011-8275. This group of researchers and educators has
contributed greatly to the Animal Rights movement.
7. People for The Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) has a catalog of cruelty free products for
personal, home and office use. It lists companies that do animal
testing so that you can make wiser consumer choices. P.O. Box
42516, Washington DC 20015. (301)770 PETA.
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