The Natural Skin-Care Products Derms Swear By

It's a common story: You spend countless hours wandering the aisles of Whole Foods for the best healthy lunches, log an impressive amount of work-out time, and yet the products in your medicine cabinet don't get the same kind of careful consideration. In fact, you may be letting just about any formula behind its mirrored doors.

Despite the fact that we've reached new levels of awareness about our general health, our understanding of skin care may not be up to par. So, what's the deal?

“We were told for so long that stuff wasn’t absorbed through the skin. But now we know that’s not true," Erika Klemperer, MD, a dermatologist in Santa Barbara, CA told us. "The shift has come and we’re starting to see the impact of pollution, chemicals that touch our skin through skin care, and cleaning products, and, of course, the rising level of stress from all facets of our life — including electronics."

Add to that that organic ingredients can be difficult to quantify: Many brands claim to be organically derived, yet a quick scan of ingredient lists tells a completely different story. “It’s hard for the consumer — and even the dermatologist — to figure it out since rarely are the amounts of organic ingredients called out, or even which specific ingredients are organic,” explains Karyn Grossman, MD, board certified dermatologist in New York and Los Angeles.
However, the solution is a beautiful one. New organic brands are finding all-natural ingredients to treat pigmentation, aging skin, acne, and parched complexions; their products aren’t just as effective as the mainstream chemical alternatives — they’re better!

“Organic products are healthier, gentler, and in the long-term we’re going to see that they’re also way more beneficial,” adds Dr. Klemperer. Plus, the demand for organic beauty is continuing to rise, “The industry is figuring it will grow by over $13 [billion] to $15 billion by 2018,” adds Jeannette Graf, MD, dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Luckily, it gets even easier. Ahead, three top dermatologists help us navigate through four skin care issues ahead and suggest the products with natural and organic ingredients that will help you take ‘em down.
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Dark Spots and Pigmented Skin

The main instigator of dark spots? Diminishing cell turnover that allows a build up of pigmentation to sit on top of our skin, instead of shedding off the way cells should naturally, so the discoloration remains.

Cleansing with a gentle exfoliant is of primo importance to encourage cell turnover and slough off the extra melanin. One Dr. Klemperer likes is from Tata Harper since it contains willow bark, pomegranate, and apricot seed powder to softly exfoliate. Apply to dry or damp skin and massage in, then rinse thoroughly.

Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser, $78, available at Credo Beauty.
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Fun fact: The sun is not your friend if you’re prone to pigmentation. UV light stimulates skin’s pigment cells creating even more darkness and the only way to prevent it is with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Don’t cringe just yet, “In the past every [mineral] sunscreen turned you white and cosmetically didn’t feel good, but that has dramatically changed in the last few years and continues to get even better,” says Dr. Klemperer.

Coola’s mineral-based sunscreen offers broad spectrum protection, is infused with antioxidants to battle free radical damage, and leaves skin with a natural, matte (not white) finish.

Coola Organic
Sunscreen Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Tint, $36, available at Ulta.
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Multi-purpose peels and masks work wonders on pigmented skin — especially when combined in one jar. Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel is a micro-exfoliating mask/peel hybrid that contains a powerhouse of natural ingredients including rosemary, spearmint, clay, hibiscus, and grape seed oil. It not only sloughs off dead surface cells but refines and clears out pores, all while brightening skin.

Dr. Klemperer likes to dampen fingertips, then with circular motions, gently massage a small amount onto cleansed skin. She suggests allowing it to dry and remain on skin for five minutes; then remove it with a moist cloth. It may be used two to three times a week.

Tammy Fender Epi-Peel, $80, available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
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Targeted treatments help tackle individual spots without treating the entire face. Look for one with powerful antioxidants that help prevent future discoloration by inhibiting melanin production, while also fading current spots. This one contains green tea and maritime pine, which inhibits pigment formation after UV exposure while also containing regenerating vitamins C and E. Apply to clean skin before moisturizing.

Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum, $72, available at Reed Clarke.
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Acne-Prone, Oily Skin

“Acne-prone, oily skin tends to have a greater amount of sebum production compared to normal or dry skin," says Dr. Grossman. "Often this is due to hormonal issues like puberty and young adulthood, although some adults find themselves battling oily skin as well."

Cleansing is key to removing the excess oil, but maintaining hydration is equally important. This gel contains lemon, cherry, and grape juice to gently clarify the skin without stripping it.

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser, $22, available at Credo Beauty.
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Facial oils can also be used to cleanse oily skin because, “believe it or not, oil and oil are compatible so they can get in there and clean out the dirt and sebum build-up,” explains Dr. Graf. Look for one with rose oil, but not castor oil, which can be too harsh and detergent for the skin. Plus, it's a super gentle way to remove makeup without irritating skin.

Meow Meow Tweet Cleansing Oil, $25, available at Credo Beauty.
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Dr. Graf loves rose oil for its anti-aging and hydrating benefits. Plus, when paired with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (like grape seed oil) in a face cream, it becomes anti-inflammatory and helps soothe and comfort acne-prone skin. Apply daily morning and night.

Alteya Organics Bio Damascena Ageless Rose Otto Face Cream, $40, available Alteya Organics.
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An exfoliating mask's main job is to rid your skin of dead cells, so you can revel in it’s newly bright, smooth finish. This one from Goop contains natural alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to exfoliate, vitamin B5 to soothe, aloe vera to hydrate and calm and “can be used one to two times per week on oily skin. Just leave it on for one to three minutes then wash off with your usual cleanser,” says Dr. Grossman.

Goop Exfoliating Instant Facial, $125, available at Goop.
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Dry Skin

Those with dry skin typically have less natural sebum production, resulting in skin that feels tight or delicate and shows signs of being flaky. It’s best to use gentler products with heavier lipids in addition to hyaluronic acid to hydrate and moisturize the skin. January Labs' moisturizer soaks in and hydrates beautifully.

January Labs Revitalizing Day Cream, $68, available at Credo Beauty.
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For smaller areas or patches of seriously dry, itchy skin, opt for a balm. Dr. Grossman swears by this one, which she uses on her hands and lips when they feel parched. It contains shea butter to hydrate plus lavender and calendula to soothe and calm. Use twice a day on areas that need repair (including eczema and psoriasis), and to reduce itching and inflammation.

Shiffa Healing Balm, $106,available at Shiffa.
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Dr. Klemperer likes layering her skin care for optimum results. Tip: Patting a facial oil over a treatment product at night helps to boost hydration and prevent skin from becoming sensitive. This one has olive oil to hydrate, plus sage to soothe and calm dry skin.

Eminence Facial Recovery Oil, $76, available at Dermstore.
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Aging Skin

You can blame genetics, but odds are that there are a lot of other factors to blame when it comes to fine lines, loss of firmness, and rough texture — all of which are common signs of aging. Look no further than the sun (and its ultraviolet light exposure) as your public enemy number one.

To combat the effect, vitamin C is essential. “It’s the most well-researched, superstar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that can help protect skin from ultraviolet injuries,” says Dr. Klemperer. She adds, “It’s important to apply it every morning to help build collagen and repair the skin.”

Since vitamin C can be very unstable, look for it combined with vitamin E, ferulic acid, or even green tea. Dr. Klemperer loves this one because it’s super-moisturizing and has a good mix of antioxidants including green tea and sea buckthorn.

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin C Serum, $75, available at One Love Organics.
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Free radicals and inflammation are at the very root of aging skin. The answer? Look no further than antioxidants as your foot soldiers. “Antioxidants scavenge and eliminate free radicals; basically they inactivate them before they get the chance to damage your cells,” says Dr. Klemperer.

Rose hip oil contains natural vitamin A and this product pairs it with omegas 6 and 9 (linoleic and oleic acids) to soothe. Apply it at night on clean skin.

Pai BioRegenerate Rosehip Oil, $40, available at Credo Beauty.
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May Lindstrom and Dr. Klemperer share a beauty philosophy, “We need to get out of the mindset that skincare is a chore," Klemperer says. "It’s a pleasure. We need to start to honor our bodies with self-care — radical, compassionate, self-care. And rather than rushing through it, we should take the 60 seconds and carefully massage each product into the skin.”

With that in mind, Lindstrom’s antioxidant (raw cacao) and anti-inflammatory (healing bamboo charcoal) mousse mask was developed to be a decadent ritual for aging skin. You activate a tablespoon of powder with equal parts water in a bowl. Blend to form the mousse then apply allover your skin with a brush. Allow the mask to dry for 45 minutes or until fully dry; then rinse off.

May Lindstrom The Problem Solver, $90, available at May Lindstrom.
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