Mediaplanet: Why is it important to understand what is in your skin products?

Karen Behnke: Since your skin absorbs over 60 percent of what you place on it, buying certified organic beauty products means that the majority of the ingredients have been farmed without synthetic pesticides and chemicals and thus limits the residue that our bodies may absorb. Studies have shown that organically farmed produce can have up to a 30 percent higher antioxidant level than those ingredients that are farmed conventionally, which means greater nutrients to feed your body and skin.

Synthetic fragrance, listed as one ingredient such as “fragrance” or “perfume” can contain hundreds of harmful chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruption can increase the risk of certain cancers. It is important to educate yourself and understand the ingredients in your skin care products and to carefully examine the labels so that you are aware of what your skin is absorbing on a daily basis.

MP: What is the most important thing to know when searching for the right skin care product?

KB: When searching for the right skin care product, make sure to look at the ingredient label first. Usually the first few listed ingredients make up the bulk of the product and in most conventional chemical products, you'll see water, butylene or propylene petroleum glycols listed at the top. This means that you are paying for a product that is mostly water or petrochemicals. If you see organic grapeseed, aloes or rich ingredients listed on top, you'll know that your product starts out with antioxidant rich nutrients.

"Buying certified organic beauty products mean that the majority of the ingredients have been farmed without synthetic pesticides and chemicals and thus limits the residue that our bodies may absorb, with the added benefit of treating the planet better."

I recommend buying authentically organic beauty products. Buying certified organic beauty products mean that the majority of the ingredients have been farmed without synthetic pesticides and chemicals and thus limits the residue that our bodies may absorb, with the added benefit of treating the planet better. 

Studies have shown that organically farmed produce can have up to a 30 percent higher antioxidant level than those ingredients that are farmed conventionally. This means greater nutrients to feed your body and skin. Note also that artificial dyes or fragrances can be endocrine disruptors, which can lead to several health complications. 
 
MP: What skin care product should every reader be sure to keep in their medicine cabinet?
 
KB: A mineral based, certified organic SPF 30 broad spectrum sunscreen is essential. It’s time to stop using avobenzone or oxybenzone chemical sunscreens. Instead, use a zinc mineral based sunscreen daily. No matter where you live or what month of the year, you will be exposed to UVA and UVB rays. To make sure you don't get the "white" zinc look, choose a tinted moisturizer and make sure to read the ingredients because you can also have the added benefit of rich moisturizing and antioxidant ingredients in SPF mineral moisturizers. Remember that sun damage is the number one culprit in premature aging, so use a sunscreen daily and don't forget the tops of your hands, your entire neck and delicate.