TCM Classics — This story on natural beauty ingredients originally ran in 2016 but we loved it so much we decided to bring it back.
Junk food for your pores? No thanks. When it comes to skincare, we believe that dramatic transformation shouldn’t involve drama or compromise. Sure, some lab-crafted, not-so-natural beauty products achieve impressive, tangible results, but often at the cost of damaging side effects both on your skin and beneath it. Not for us. There has to be a better way!
With roots in Ayurveda and holistic medicine, luxe beauty pro, Shrankhla Holecek of Uma Oils, knows that beauty is more than just skin deep – literally. She’s rounded up a list of seven eco-sound, flesh-friendly beauty ingredient alternatives to give you amazing results without succumbing to harmful synthetics…
Whether you’re an expert beauty buyer or just starting to explore your skincare routine options, chances are you’ve heard the buzz around skin-saving ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids and others. Avoiding natural products because you can’t quite figure out the comparable ingredient to look for? These seven natural compounds are just as effective as their chemically created counterparts, but without the potential dangers of absorbing artificial ingredients into the skin. Here’s a breakdown of common beauty ingredients and their natural beauty equivalent…
7 Natural Beauty Ingredient Swaps
Rose Oil for Hyaluronic Acid
Chances are, if you’re a beauty junkie, this ingredient is a common sight on ingredient labels in your skincare arsenal. Hyaluronic acid is a moisture-binding ingredient known for its supposed ability to carry 1,000 times its weight in water. Since it’s so impressively hydrating, you’ll often find hyaluronic acid in anti-aging beauty products. But this synthetic ingredient has an equally potent natural complement: rose oil. Intensely hydrating, rose oil plumps and moisturizes your skin without any potential chemical side effects. Due to its vitamin packed properties, rose oil also acts as anti-inflammatory agent, so it has the added benefit of soothing redness.
Sandalwood for Hydrocortisone
Hydrocortisone, a topically applied steroid, is used to treat skin conditions like eczema and other rashes. Before resorting to this steroid to treat sometimes painful conditions, consider sandalwood essential oil, a rare but effective natural ingredient. Sandalwood is ultra-moisturizing and anti-inflammatory, so it can be used to treat many of the conditions hydrocortisone can. It works with the skin’s natural systems and helps boost overall luminosity and fights hyperpigmentation. That’s a win-win-win for your skin!
Frankincense for Retinol
Beauty aficionados are no stranger to seeing retinol on their product labels, especially those who buy anti-aging products. Retinol is actually the name for the whole vitamin A molecule, but when used in cosmetics, it is artificially synthesized. It’s known for having two appealing effects: It’s an antioxidant, and it communicates with cells to get them to act younger and healthier. The good news is you can get these same powerful, age-reversing effects without putting an artificially synthesized chemical on your skin. Frankincense, revered in ancient times in places like Egypt and India, is the natural replacement for retinol. Frankincense rapidly increases cellular turnover, which means it quickly causes the skin to produce healthier cells to replace aging cells. This effect speedily minimizes the signs of wrinkles and scars. An additional benefit of frankincense? It’s incredibly soothing – it can disinfect the skin and act as an antiseptic.
Lemon Essential Oil for Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid, a top ingredient in many exfoliating acne scrubs, is a potent but unfortunately fairly drying ingredient. Available over the counter, it’s also commonly prescribed mainly for its redness-reducing and pore-clearing properties. For those of you who suffer from acne or oily skin, never fear! There’s a natural solution that’s equally as powerful and – major plus -doesn’t dry out your skin: lemon essential oil. Not to be confused with using the fruit and its juices in your kitchen, this oil is high in vitamin C and works to combat acne and hyperpigmentation. But like many potent essential oils, lemon essential oil is not lightweight, so it should always be diluted before being applied to skin!
Clove + Tea Tree Oils for Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide, another popular acne treatment, is an ingredient with some very strong and potentially damaging effects. This ingredient is often prescribed to treat blemishes because it causes afflicted areas of your skin to dry and peel, essentially hyper-exfoliating your skin. Thankfully, less damaging natural alternatives are out there: Clove and tea tree essential oils have the pore-clearing power to add the right amount of natural oomph to your acne routine. Clove essential oil is especially effective at managing skin sores because it can also rapidly promote cellular turnover. Tea tree essential oil is best known for its soothing and disinfecting properties – qualities essential to treating acne and inflammation.
Grapefruit and Yogurt for Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Alpha hydroxy acid, or AHA, is another go-to ingredient in many beauty and skincare products, especially anti-aging skincare. It works to remove sun damaged cells from the skin and has other properties, all of which can improve the youthfulness of skin. Unfortunately, AHA often comes at the price of causing irritation to sensitive skin. The natural substitute here? Grapefruit and yogurt. (No they’re not just for breakfast!) Grapefruit is known for being revitalizing and circulation boosting. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which is a natural form of AHA. There’s no need to turn to synthetic AHAs when these natural (and delicious) alternatives are sitting in your fridge.
Neroli, Orange + Chamomile Oils for Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone may be one of the more controversial ingredients in the beauty world. Known for its skin-lightening properties, hydroquinone is an attractive choice for many women looking to correct dark spots, especially those that come with age. But if your skin goal is overall evenness, there are three possibilities that don’t involve harsh chemicals: neroli oil, orange oil and chamomile. Neroli oil is derived from orange tree blossoms, and the vitamin-C rich oil improves the elasticity of aging skin and boosts overall luminosity. From the same tree comes orange oil, which contains the same vitamins and nutrients the delicious fruit does. It rapidly repairs damaged skin and acts as a natural antiseptic, leading to overall flawlessness in the skin. In case you need extra convincing to switch hydroquinone out for good, chamomile is another natural counterpart. Chamomile essential oil contains naturally occurring skin compound azulene, which calms a wide variety of skin conditions that cause unevenness in the complexion.