Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

Skin Care Product and Treatment Part IV: It's What's Inside that Counts



Finding the right product for your skin can be boiled down to one word:  ingredients.

So, you've got the product in your hand.  The packaging is lovely and the name is catchy, but the truly important part is what's inside.

So, let's talk about those ingredients.  I believe that the key question here is:  What's necessary?

In my opinion, the only ingredients needed are those that are critical to the benefit of the user and the product itself.  This includes active ingredients (the elements that make the product work), and those that are needed to make the product behave correctly to ensure its efficacy and shelf life.  Sometimes, those particular ingredients are what we call "preservatives."

Being a holistic, integrative practitioner, I like to use products that contain natural preservatives.  Some preservatives, i.e. parabens (like ethylparaben and methylparaben) have been a buzz word for some time and their health safety is questionable.   Personally, I prefer product that does not contain synthetic ingredients like parabens, petroleum based chemicals, "fragrance" or dyes.  There are natural and/or organic alternatives for all of these additives: for example, the use of essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.

So, find the list of ingredients on the product label.  Is it three inches long in tiny type?  Does it contain words that you might have trouble pronouncing?  Odds are, those are chemical additives.  So, how do you know what's what? 

You can take notes and do some research or, alternatively, you can enlist the aid of a dedicated skin care professional (an aesthetician) who can help you decipher the list and make recommendations based upon your skin type.  In my practice, I research and test all new products before I use them on or sell them to others.  (Yes, this is what I call fun!)

This is one of the benefits of working with the help of a skin care professional that you trust.  You can rely on this person to do the footwork for you.

Now, here's an interesting tidbit:  Some of us choose to use natural or organic products.  That's great!  However, here's the difficulty:  Sometimes we think that just by virtue of a product being located at the health food store makes it a good and healthy product.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  There have been times that I've discovered inappropriate ingredients in such products.  It's not that the ingredient isn't healthy -- it's that it might not be beneficial for the skin type.  For example:  witch hazel, which can be drying, in products for dry skin.  So, it's no wonder that the product wouldn't work correctly, but what happens when people self treat is that they will then oftentimes blame the resulting problem and failure on their own skin.  This is another area where consulting someone who can offer suggestions based upon your particular complexion helps. 

In summation:  ingredients are vitally important to what's healthy and effective for your skincare and should be suited to your individual needs.

Stay tuned for Part V, which will help you find your skincare match!

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...

Dr. Sarah Lobisco

SARAH LOBISCO, ND, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo. Dr. LoBisco speaks professionally on integrative medical topics, has several journal publications, and is a candidate for postdoctoral certification in functional medicine. She currently incorporates her training in holistic medical practices and conventional medicine through writing as well as through her position as Director of Clinical Education for a highly-esteemed nutraceutical and medical food company.*Dr. LoBisco’s recent blogs about living naturally in our complex world and on the applications of essential oils can be found at Her book, BreakFree Medicine, is set for release this year. *

*Currently, Dr. LoBisco is not seeing new clients or practicing naturopathic medicine with private consultation work. Although she holds a license in VT, her current role is to provide support for clinical education and technical support on natural products, exclusive of any medical or diagnostic consultations or services. Read more...