Most of us are still learning how to read food labels . . . (Did you know four grams of sugar is one teaspoon? Err, anyway.) . . . And lotion labels haven’t been that far up on the priority list. Often, we depend on the packaging to tell us why we should buy the product. Well, if I depended on cereal box fronts to make my choice, I’d still be buying Fruity Pebbles Ã¢Â?Â¢ because I always thought Barney and Fred were such a hoot!
Lotions are typically composed of four main ingredients: water, oil, fragrance, emulsifying agents and preservative(s).
Water accounts for about 65-80% of the bulk of lotion. Oils and butters, such as sweet almond, olive or cocoa butter, usually account for roughly 20%. Fragrance oil, emulsification agents (stearic acid) and preservatives make up to about 3% of the body of the lotion. Seeing that the oils and butters, the healing component of the lotion, make up only about 20% of your lotion, you begin to see the need to choose something that has quality oils.
Mineral oil, while being used for decades, in my opinion is not a desirable component of a lotion. It is often too heavy to be comfortably used on anything but the driest of body parts. Also, it is a petroleum-based product and is therefore non-renewable and toxic if ingested. Some naturalists may also suggest that it is harmful as it is absorbed through the skin into the body.
The top quality oils to look for are plant-based. Plant oils will contain naturally-occurring vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and other goodies.
Olive oil is an excellent dry-skin oil as it is a bit heavier, yet lets the skin breathe. Olive oil is one of the few oils that does not create an airtight barrier between the skin and air.
Other fantastic oils are sweet almond, grapeseed and apricot kernel oil. All of the plant oils and butter offer differ benefits. Did you know that raw shea butter, in pure form, helps to block UVA/UVB rays?
To get the full benefits of your plant-based lotions, use them! Since they are plant-based, the oils do have a shelf-life of approximately six months to a year for best benefits and do no good sitting on your shelf. Pamper yourself and use it daily, instead of only as a treat!
Other beneficial ingredients you can look for in a lotion are: vegetable glycerin (humectant), Vitamin E (anti-oxidant), and herbal-infused oils or waters.
When you read the label of a lotion and can understand what’s in it, then you can truly get your money’s worth for what’s inside the bottle instead of what’s on the outside.