The thing about skincare products is that they promise us consumers a host of skin benefits and the seller a hefty profit. All they’ve got to do is to find a chemically-synthesised compound, glorify its benefits for the skin, hide its side-effects and risks, and tada! The products will sell like hot cakes.
Nope, this isn’t a criticism of capitalism. This is just a friendly initiative to encourage you to take the safer, pocket-friendly route and use natural ingredients that can offer the same advantages to your skin.
So, we’ve listed some glorified chemicals and their natural alternatives for your convenience right here.
1. Hyaluronic acid
This mild acid is present in the skin naturally and is hugely responsible for the suppleness and elasticity of our skin. But, thanks to ageing, the production of hyaluronic acid decreases, creating the need for us to use products containing hyaluronic acid to maintain the softness of the skin.
Skincare products like serums, face masks, and moisturisers containing this acid can help retain moisture and hydrate the skin.
However, this hydration comes at a steep price—not just that of money, but also of the potential harm it can cause to your skin.
According to a 2015 study published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, the light molecular weight of the hyaluronic acid makes it super-easy for the acid to penetrate through the layers of the skin—all this with the possibility of it carrying other harmful chemicals and bacteria deep into the skin along with it.
Natural alternative: Cucumber-honey-aloe vera pack
Cucumber is a proven powerhouse of hydration, honey doesn’t let moisture escape the skin, and aloe vera replenishes lost moisture. Now imagine what a combination of these three ingredients can do to your skin when it comes to nourishment.
In a bowl combine a teaspoon each of cucumber pulp, aloe vera pulp or juice, and honey. Once thoroughly mixed, apply this mixture on your cleansed skin. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes and thank us for that dewy, hydrated-skin glow, thereafter.
2. Alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid (AHA & BHA)
These mild acids extracted chemically from sugary fruits are the perfect exfoliators, thanks to their ability to peel off dead skin cells. This is exactly why toners, cleansers, scrubs, and peels containing AHAs like glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid and BHAs like the salicylic acid promise to give you an even-toned skin.
What these products don’t really mention is how they can strip your skin of its natural oils and damage the protective top layer of the skin, thus making it more susceptible to further deterioration.
Natural alternative: Yogurt-pineapple masque
Being natural sources of AHAs, both yogurt and pineapple can exfoliate the skin without being as harsh as chemically-extracted acids. All you’ve got to do is:
Mix a teaspoon of yogurt with a teaspoon of pineapple pulp or juice, massage it on to your face, and leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse it off with water and go forth with your usual skincare routine.
Do this twice a week to get the glowing skin of your dreams, minus any side effects.
Derived from vitamin A, retinol is packed with a host of skincare benefits such as wrinkle reduction, acne control, and pigmentation reduction. It also boosts collagen production, which means this synthetic ingredient can increase the value of any skincare product ten folds. But, be warned, it can also lead to peeling and flaking skin as well as irritation, dryness, and increased sun sensitivity.
Natural alternative: Babchi seeds
How about taking a risk-free, natural route to get an even-toned skin and reduce wrinkles and fine lines? The seeds of the Indian babchi plant have been used in Ayurveda for years to do just that, ladies. And it’s time for you to bring them into your skincare routine.
Boil the seeds in water, let the mixture cool down, and then use it as a serum on cleansed skin twice a day to enjoy the anti-ageing benefits of retinol—minus the side-effects and the ludicrous cost. You can even opt for babchi oil, which is easily available in ayurvedic stores, online and offline.
4. Benzoyl peroxide
Used as the go-to treatment option for mild to moderate acne, benzoyl peroxide creams and gels work their so-called magic by reducing the growth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin as well as making the skin dry, leading it to peel off.
Redness, irritation, stinging, burning—these are just some of the very well-known and well-experienced side effects of using benzoyl peroxide to clear acne.
Natural alternative: Green tea or tea tree oil
Bursting with antioxidants, both green tea and tea tree oil discourage bacterial growth on the skin and have been found to bring acne under control—almost as effectively as its chemical counterpart benzoyl peroxide. Hence, massaging your face with tea tree oil every day as well as letting it soak in the goodness of green-tea sachets can rid you of acne.