Your skin is your largest organ and a part of your immune system, containing a variety of nerve endings, sensitive to your environment, providing an excellent barrier against viruses and pathogens, regulating body temperature (by dilating blood vessels for heat loss or constricting blood vessels to retain heat), providing insulation and waterproofing, controlling fluid loss, storing and synthesizing vitamin D, releasing toxins, reversing UV damage with DNA enzymes, absorbing small amounts of oxygen, and allowing the easy administration of time-release medications. Made up of multiple layers (or stratas) protecting underlying muscles and organs, your skin has the largest surface area of all organs as well as weighing more than any other, contributing to about 15 percent of your body weight.

This epidermal layer is also capable of letting you know if your bodily systems are unbalanced through symptoms such as flushing, itching, rashes, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. Some skin disorders are caused by an unknown origin, but even more are caused by allergic reactions. A skin disorder is already telling you that something somewhere is misbalanced, and controlling the symptoms by using yet more possible allergens in skin care products or treatments actually adds to the toxic overload that your immune systems is already trying to keep in check.

Widely prescribed for skin conditions and their uncomfortable effects are the unpleasant pharmaceutical options that include steroid creams and medications, tar shampoos, topical antibiotics, hormones, systemic antibiotics, and corticosteroids, among other numerous unnatural remedies that always include side effects. Any ongoing treatment of a skin condition could easily cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in prescriptions and doctor and hospital visits! I know that some of these treatments appear to be working by controlling the symptoms, but the actual source of the inflammation is merely camouflaged, waiting patiently to make a rapid reappearance. A must-try-first remedy is one I have personally seen work over and over again to relieve skin conditions, and it is simply a bar of natural soap.

Keeping your skin clean is part of keeping yourself healthy. Your skin can perform its many functions when its dead cells, dirt, and sweat are routinely cleansed away. Millions of micro-organisms live on your skin, keeping it in balance for optimum protection.

The amount of chemical exposure from our environment is constant. Twenty-four hours of every day, we are bombarded with chemicals, some that are practically impossible to avoid, some that are avoidable but may require some lifestyle changes, and some that we invite into our homes and into our bodies day after day.

Two products that most of us use every day are soaps and lotions. And because we want to provide the healthiest best for our families, we often look for words such as organic, pure, allergy tested, and fragrance-free. Sadly, none of these words actually ensures that the product is just that. Company marketing executives phrase their advertising copy extremely carefully to mislead you into believing that their merchandise will improve your life. There are no Food and Drug Administration regulations in place to protect you from this.

Initially, soap started with the simplest natural ingredients of oils, water, and lye. With time and accurate measuring, this formulation evolved to allow for a gentle and effective cleanser. Truly natural soap will contain vegetable oils (coconut, olive, canola, palm), nonchlorinated, untreated spring water, and sodium hydroxide (an electrolysed salt). This method creates naturally occurring glycerine, which is moisturizing to the skin. For a scented or extra moisturizing soap bar, look for additions such as therapeutic essential oils (naturally from plants) or butters such as cocoa or shea for extra replenishing.

But the soap bars you buy today are not actually soap—they are a detergent, and detergents are often manufactured with animal fats and/or mineral oil, a petroleum product derived from crude oil. From this “soap,” the glycerine is removed and sold separately, sometimes as the base for melt and pour soap. Store-bought brand name soap can be drying and can contain numerous chemicals. A well-known, brand name body wash product with the words moisturizing, naturals, aloe vera, and vitamin E on its label does contain aloe vera and vitamin E, but it also contains twenty other ingredients, eighteen of which are chemicals. One of the ingredients is stearamidopropyl PG-dimonium chloride phosphate, added for its conditioning abilities, yet this chemical is an ammonium known to cause tissue death at a 0.1 percent solution.

Another part of our daily cleansing routine is to moisturize, especially after using our brand name soap. Another international brand name moisturizer containing the words vitamin C and absolutes (a term used with expensive essential oils) has sixty-three ingredients, including the stated vitamin C, fifteen other recognizable ingredients (two extracts, but no absolutes), and forty-eight chemicals. Listed is lauramide diethanolamine, used to give the moisturizer a creamy texture, yet this chemical is from a family of chemicals known to increase the risk of cancer.

There are always alternatives to mass-produced synthetic products. Create or find a truthfully natural skin care routine that adds to your health and doesn’t take away from it. Three fundamental ingredients are all that is needed for a moisturizer. Any basic and honest all natural lotion will have ingredients such as jojoba oil (which closely resembles our skin), sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil (both skin loving and nutrient-rich), bee’s wax (to solidify), and spring water (for a less oily consistency). Look for skin-rejuvenating ingredients such as green tea, glycerine, honey, carrot tissue oil, cocoa butter, and essential oils (not synthetic fragrance oils). One supereasy, all natural alternative is a few drops of rose hip oil applied with a damp cloth.

Check your local reputable health food store for skin care products that are far less toxic than brand name products (see the National Products Database) or, with a few ingredients, create your own. Customize a skin care routine specific to your needs and skin type, celebrating this step to a healthier lifestyle.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Courtney Findlay is a professional soapmaker, having started and later sold a successful soap and bath products business on the west coast, and who still makes her own natural soap and lotions at home. Courtney is now the creator of the thriving Indigo Earth, an online company that provides newsletters and information on health issues, product evaluations, and watchdog reports. Visit this enlightening and educational Web site at