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A skin care primer: with the help of aesthetician Laura Kruggel, Maggie Cramer takes a stroll through the beauty product garden and learns how to pick'em.

It can be hard to imagine that the world was once a much simpler place, particularly since options are never-ending these days. New and "better" products for every facet of life hit the shelves seemingly every minute. (Remember when we were all painstakingly rewinding and fast-forwarding our VHS tapes to find the exact place we left off? The thought!) The beauty industry is right up there, coming up with new and advanced products before you've even been able to try what was the latest release. Groceries' and drugstores' aisles are spilling over with products that claim they can do everything from moisturize to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles.

But claims are just that. After all, a few years ago the media industry promised laser disks would replace VHS tapes forever! You can't believe ever}thing you read on a label, and, today, you can't even trust that the ingredients in that skincare miracle cream are actually good for your skin. (Ah, in a simpler world.)

Think about it. We strive to eat organically grown foods to avoid potentially harmful ingredients and processes, so shouldn't we do the same with our beauty products? Beauty isn't all aesthetics. Although feeling good about the way you look can do wonders for your well-being, there are greater health benefits to taking care of your largest organ.

When I asked local aesthetician Laura Kruggel how I could become a conscious skin care product consumer, she gave me a simple answer: understand labels.


Just like with foods, it can be difficult to truly understand everything behind a "conventional," "natural," or "organic" beauty product label.

"All natural' or 'pure and natural' labels indicate that the "substances are derived from or produced by nature, not synthesized in the laboratory," Laura says. She cautions that often "natural" and "organic" are used interchangeably in describing cosmetic products, but that some, while a good choice over conventional products, are not necessarily organic.

"Organic refers to the way ingredients or goods are produced or grown: no additives, no perfumes, no chemicals and no colorants," Laura says, noting that there are many benefits to choosing organic items. "They are highly compatible products for the skin," she explains, referencing their anti-inflammatory capabilities and natural aromatherapy fragrance. "Traditional skin care items have a shelf life of seven to ten years! They contain synthetic additives, artificial colors and buffers that are irritating to certain types of skin."

But, Laura does caution that some organic products may contain animal ingredients, since organic denotes a derivative of something living, including both plants and animals. If you want to avoid this possibility, she suggests looking for labels that read 100 percent or 95 percent 'pure natural botanical organic'. If in fact pure, the labels of these products should list all of the plants' names.


Knowing ingredients to look for and avoid can also help you discern fact from fiction when it comes to labels and claims. In natural and organic products, Laura says you're likely to find a few things: nourishing organics, like ginkgo biloba, rose and ylang-ylang, which are natural forms of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C that can moisturize and provide anti-aging effects; zesty ingredients like grapefruit, lemon and camphor that can naturally deliver salicylic acid and vitamin C to help with clogged and problem-prone skin: and ingredients that refresh and calm the skin. like black currant, aloe and blue chamomile.

Laura particularly advises seeking out products with ginkgo biloba. The "flavonoid molecules are known for their ability to help strengthen capillaries and connective tissue and are antioxidant. Ginkgo also helps oxygenate the skin cells." she notes. In addition to ginkgo and the other nourishing, zesty and calming ingredients. Laura also recommends products containing seaweed extracts, like fucus or bladderwrack kelp, which are full of beneficial components like water, minerals, lipids and B vitamins, as well as vitamins A, C, D, E and K.

On the top of Laura's list of ingredients to avoid are those complicated, hard-to-read ones: isopropyl myristatc. acerylated lanolin, laureth-4, coconut butter. D&C #30 and #36. ceteryl alcohol and ceteareth 20. which arc all skin irritants and comedogenic, or acne-causing.

So, next time you head out in search of the perfect cleanser or lotion, don't fret. You're armed with the knowledge you need to understand labels and find the products that can help maintain the health of your skin. If you're worried you'll forget Laura's advice, we've made a cheat sheet you can cut out and take on your search. Enjoy shopping!

Pickin' Products Cheat Sheet

* Look for labels reading "pure natural botanical organic."

* Look for products containing ginkgo biloba and seaweed extracts.

* For problem or acne-prone skin, look for products containing grapefruit, lemon and camphor.

* For nourishment and refreshment, look for rose and ylang-ylang, black currant, aloe and blue chamomile.

* "If the product's label lists isopropyl myristate, acetylated lanolin, laureth-4, coconut butter, D&C #30 and #36, ceteryl alcohol or ceteareth 20, pass on it.

Laura's Top Five Actions for Healthy Skin

1. Don't smoke.

2. Use a botanical-based sunscreen and hat to protect skin from the sun.

3. Find a licensed aesthetician for regular facials.

4. Use quality, pure natural botanical organic products for your specific skin type.

5. Visit a dermatologist if you notice any unusual changes in your skin.

Laura's Top Three MUST HAVE Skin Care Items

1. A good-quality facial cleanser

2. Serum moisturizer

3. Natural, botanical sunscreen for the face that blocks both UVA and UVB rays

Laura Kruggel is a licensed aesthetician, massage therapist and NC licensed cosmetic arts instructor with 22 years of expertise in all aspects of spa services. She specializes in the premier choice of a completely natural, botanical, organic, health-conscious and high-performance approach to skin care and well-being in her skin-care studio, Beauty Organics, and can be reached at 828-335-6288.
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Author:Cramer, Maggie
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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