If you know me or read my blog, you'll know that I don't require for all of my products to be all-natural or organic. Those labels simply don't mean that a product is better, more efficacious, or even safer than the traditional kind, despite popular belief. Yet increasing numbers of my friends prefer natural or organic products. So, in that regard, if you are going to stay in the natural/organic arena, you must know that not all natural/organic products are equal either:
1. Some fruits are better than others.
According to the American Chemical Society, strawberries are the best fruit for your skin. The ACS compared the antioxidant activities of twelve common fruits via ORAC score, and the results were the following:
4. Red grape
5. Kiwi fruit
6. Pink grapefruit
7. White grape
12. Honeydew melon
2. Same goes for vegetables.
In this 2006 study by the American Botanical Council, the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score of 27 vegetables were compared. The following were found to have the highest antioxidant activity:
3. Not all forms of nut butters are the same either.
When ingredients are produced in a lab, the advantage is that you know all of the ingredients are exactly the same, right down to the very last bit of nutrient content. However, when harvested in different locations at varied climates, the same ingredient can have a fairly wide range of nutrient content. For instance, take a look at shea butter: According to a 2004 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, different locations and climates will produce shea butter with different concentrations of fatty acids. The same study concluded that the hydrating properties, including vitamin E content, also varied by location of growth. The ranges are significant (in parentheses): oleic acid (40-60%), stearic acid (20-50%), linoleic acid (3-11%), palmitic acid (2-9%), linolenic acid (<1%) and arachidic acid (<1%).
Obviously, there is no way to know where a given company is deriving its natural/organic nut butters from, so you need to test lots of different brands before you find one that works. Keep in mind also that nut butters that are ultra-nutritious one season may also be somewhat less so in the following seasons. Is this a significant difference? Maybe, though you probably won’t notice a difference from season to season on your skin. You might, however, notice a big difference between brands.
4.) Packaging matters.
Natural and organic products often contain a slew of antioxidants. However, most antioxidants will break down in the presence of heat, light, and air. When buying products, select products in opaque containers with as little an opening as possible. Tightly cap the bottle after each use. While some people I know insist on storing their products in the back of their refrigerator, this level of diligence is not necessary if you have air conditioning in the summer and a running furnace in the winter.
Natural and organic products are not better than synthetic ones. However, if you insist on using natural and organic products, keep in mind not all fruit and vegetable extracts are equally beneficial; not all nut butters are the same in nutrient content, even if they are the same in name; and packaging matters.