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Five Natural Skincare Ingredients That Aren’t As Scary As They Sound

Image by Olya Lolé

Ever tried to decipher the ingredients list on a bottle of your favorite moisturizer?

It can be a daunting task. Sometimes, it really feels like you’re forcing your eyes to slog through a list of long-winded, scary-sounding chemicals that nobody can pronounce the names of. But before you let your eyes glaze over, be on the lookout for hidden gems: some ingredients that sound like they were created in a test tube actually are derived from completely natural sources. Better yet, they possess amazing protective, anti-aging, and regenerative properties. Don’t shy away from these five superstar ingredients:

Copper Peptides

Don’tworry, we’re not asking you to rub pennies all over your face with this one. Copper peptides are actually naturally occurring complexes, usually found in human plasma and saliva. Their biggest claims to fame in the skincare world are their anti-aging and antioxidant properties. Copper peptides promote collagen and elastin production while clearing your face of dead skin cells. They also neutralize free radicals (unstable atoms in the body that can damage cells and cause some serious health issues). The result? A healthy, supple glow that radiates from the inside out. Copper peptides are found in many lotions, serums, and even some hair care kits! 

An image of the beach - while sunbathing, you might encounter sunscreen with the natural ingredient zinc oxide

Zinc Oxide

Did you put sunscreen on this morning before heading out the door? (Hint: the answer should always be yes!) If so, you most likely applied a blend of ingredients that included zinc oxide to your face. Zinc oxide is a naturally occurring mineral that filters out UV rays, keeping them from damaging skin cells. It’s also commonly found in natural deodorants, as it minimizes the growth of the pesky bacteria that gives underarm sweat its unpleasant odor. According to Tom’s of Maine, a pioneer in natural health and beauty products, zinc oxide is also non-irritating, non-allergenic, and non-comedogenic (which means it won’t clog your pores). 

Helichrysum (Immortelle)

Okay, so this ingredient might not be as scary-sounding as others on the list. But it’s absolutely worth diving into. This miracle-healer is derived from the Helichrysum italicum plant and possesses anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antiallergenic properties. You might also see it under the name “immortelle” on the back of a serum or lotion bottle. Poppy Rhys, a licensed esthetician and CEO/Founder of Poppy Products, said that this herb has been coveted for its healing and beautifying properties for thousands of years. “It’s such an amazing herb,” she said. “Our skin gets torn a lot, through scrubs and even just by taking makeup off. Immortelle is really good for reducing scar tissue and regenerating tissue. It can help with eczema, and it’s also anti-bacterial, so it can kill breakouts. It’s a high antioxidant, which is important because antioxidants are what prevent aging.”

Image by Goran Horvat

Need to see it to believe it? Try our Sun Worshipper Skin Repair Serum, which is chock-full of helichrysum, as well as other amazing natural ingredients that heal and smooth the skin!

Hyaluronic Acid

We get it — just the thought of spreading acid all over your face is enough to make your skin crawl. But hyaluronic acid isn’t toxic or corrosive, as its name might suggest. Our skin cells actually produce it naturally, and it’s sometimes derived from the combs of roosters, said Rhys. It’s the key to maintaining a healthy, hydrated glow all year round, and can even act as a barrier against free radicals. Applied topically, hyaluronic acid acts as a natural humectant (a substance that draws moisture from the air and into your cells), keeping the skin plump and hydrated while fending off fine lines and wrinkles.


Activated Charcoal

Nope, we’re not talking about the charcoal that you throw onto the grill. Activated charcoal is a natural ingredient that’s been used for thousands of years for beauty and medicinal purposes, dating all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians. Its unique, porous structure makes it perfect for drawing toxins and impurities from the body — including the skin! Charcoal is especially useful for people with combination to oily skin, as it absorbs excess oil and sebum and can prevent future breakouts. It can also reduce the appearance of pores and gently exfoliate the face. 

Try applying our Activated Charcoal Mask and wind down for a soothing, detoxifying self-care session.

Do you have any go-to natural skincare ingredients that you’d like to share with us? Let us know about them in the comments!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. One of her favorite writing topics is sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty + wellness and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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