Recent years have seen a surge in natural skincare and the popularity of all things ‘organic’. It’s natural to think that anything that comes from nature is inevitably better and ‘healthier’ for you than products that are man made. But in the world of dermatology and skin, that’s not necessarily the case. Below, straight from our #mythbustermonday series, I set the record straight:
“Organic and natural creams are the safest for my skin…”
- First, a lesson in terminology. Unfortunately the term ‘organic’ does not have the same meaning for topical products as it does for food. In fact, when used correctly to describe sunscreen ingredients, the word ‘organic’ refers to chemical ingredients – think ‘organic chemistry’ – while ‘inorganic’ describes physical ingredients that we see in mineral sunscreens such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
- Second, remember that nature produces a lot of things that are not always good for the skin, like poison ivy, and that even some of the best naturally derived ingredients need to be processed in a lab to isolate the good compounds and remove the bad. A good example of this would be a plant like feverfew which contains one compound that reduces redness and another that causes allergic rashes. Without proper processing the ingredient would aggravate skin, not help it.
- The takeaway? Always speak to the experts (in this case, a dermatologist), to make sure you’re getting skincare that is safe and appropriate for your skin type and needs.
“Coconut oil is a veritable cure-all for everything from Alzheimer’s to dandruff…”
Some of this fad is based on studies of isolated compounds or extracts of coconut oil, but aren’t relevant to the coconut oil you buy in the store or online. A review of the medical literature by the American Heart Association found that coconut oil is higher in saturated fats than butter and pork lard. In Dermatology, we know that topical coconut oil applied to the face or hair can cause acne breakouts. So before starting a daily coconut oil regimen orally or topically, check in with the appropriate physician and find out whether it will do more harm than good.