Which All-Natural Grooming Products Should You Care About?


By Julia Savacool, Men's Journal

The world of nature-based grooming products is on fire right now. Globally, the natural and organic skin-care market is an $11 billion industry, with U.S. consumers leading the charge, making more purchases last year than any other country. What’s more, 50 percent of men now say they believe grooming products with natural ingredients are better for their skin than synthetic formulas, according to a survey by global research firm Mintel. “Men have a growing awareness about the risks of synthetic chemicals and are eager to find a healthy solution,” says Dan Pettit, co-founder of the all-natural grooming line Tenzing. “Just as there is a big push in looking at food labels and understanding what we’re putting into our bodies, the grooming products we put on our skin should have an equal emphasis. Our largest organ is our skin, and toxic ingredients are absorbed quickly into our system.”

[post_ads]Some natural ingredients may be more effective than synthetic ones — but not all. And not everything made in a lab is bad for you either. “Over the years I have used a broad range of hair- and skin-care products on my clients,” says Rayon Mclean, owner of SteelMclean Barbers and founder of SteelMclean grooming products. “The reality is that the benefits versus risks associated with the use of a natural chemical or synthetic chemical aren’t as black and white as they may appear. There are many naturally occurring compounds that can cause dermatitis, acne, and many other allergic reactions that one may view as being harmful. Similarly, there are synthetic chemicals that have been used in the cosmetic industry for many years and have proven to be beneficial.”

How to distinguish between what’s safe and what’s not: “The synthetic ingredients that I would stay away from are those that mimic the benefits of a natural ingredient — moisture, suppleness, and so on — without providing the benefits, such as the infusion of essential vitamins and minerals that aid in healthy hair and skin maintenance,” says Mclean.
So which natural ingredients are worth seeking out? And what should you avoid? Here’s what to know about the stuff you put on your skin and hair.


SEEK IT: Burdock Root

What it does: “Burdock root is a medicinal herb that is most commonly used to detoxify our bodies,” says Mclean. “For purposes of hair and skin care, burdock extract is an essential fatty acid that promotes hair growth. It creates a healthier scalp by removing grease and oil build up and exfoliating dead skin.”
Where to find it: Steel Mclean Fortify Shampoo ($27, steelmclean.com)
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SEEK IT: White Birch Extract

What it does: Extracted from the leaves of the Betula alba tree (Russia’s native birch), white birch extract works as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and astringent in cleansing products, soothing the skin while removing layers of grime. It has been used for centuries by apothecaries to treat skin outbreaks.
Where to find it: Olivina Men All-in-One Body Wash ($18, www.olivinamen.com)

 
SKIP IT: Phthalates
What it does: “Phthalates are used to homogenize products by dissolving solid ingredients,” explains Pettit. However, “phthalates have demonstrated to be carcinogenic and have been shown to cause reproductive birth defects in laboratory animals, particularly males. These chemicals were banned by the European Union in 2003, yet we still allow these products on our shelves in the U.S.”

SEEK IT: Aloe
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What it does: Aloe contains compounds that are both skin-healing and skin-rejuvenating. “Aloe has been shown to increase oxygen to the skin, while moisturizing and firming the surface,” says Pettit, whose Tenzing label uses Aloe as the base for all skin-care products.
Where to find it: Tenzing Sandalwood Facial Moisturizer ($20, www.tenzingskincare.com)


SEEK IT: Kiwi Fruit

What it does: “Kiwi fruit has a very high concentration of vitamins C, B6, and A,” says Mclean. Vitamin C is essential to help your body produce collagen, a connective tissue protein that keeps your skin from sagging. “It is also rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium, all of which are the essential nutritional building blocks of healthy skin and hair.”
Where to find it: Steel Mclean Fortify Mask ($27, steelmclean.com)

 
SKIP IT: Propylene Glycol
What it does: The same compound that serves as the active ingredient in antifreeze is also used in items like makeup, toothpaste, and deodorant, says Pettit. In fact, “stick deodorants have a higher concentration of propylene glycol than what is allowed for most industrial use!” Direct contact with the chemical has been shown to cause brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities.



SEEK IT: Acai Berry

What it does: Known as a superfruit and consumed by health nuts around the world, acai berries have antioxidant properties that fight off damaging free radicals in your skin — the stuff that basically makes your face wrinkle prematurely.
Where to find it: Tenzing Sage Mint Premium Shave Cream ($24, www.tenzingskincare.com).
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SKIP IT: Parabens
What it does: Parabens are used as a preservative that will prevent bacterial contamination. “It sounds good in theory, but like phthalates, parabens have been linked to certain cancers,” says Pettit. “They are known as endocrine disruptors that can interfere with the body’s hormones, most notably reproductive hormones such as estrogen and testosterone.”
SEEK IT: Jojoba, Cedarwood, and Castor Oils

What they do: “Each ingredient has its place,” says Joseph Moore, CEO of the new natural grooming line Olivina Men. “In our beard oil/shave prep products, castor oil is used for comfort and razor glide, while jojoba oil is included for non-oily moisturizing of the skin. We use cedarwood oil to keep the beard smelling fresh.”
Where to find it: Olivina Men Organic Shave Prep & Beard Oil ($24, www.olivinamen.com).

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