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Holistic Beauty and Skin Health Part 3: A Whole Food Philosophy for Skin Care

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: August 27, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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And even if an essential oil claims to be organic, it can still be adulterated. Although commonly perceived to be straightforward, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) testing—a method that combines the features of gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify different substances within a test sample—is not a true marker of purity. The only way to really know if your essential oils are synthetic or adulterated is through experience and the trust of your supplier.

Plant extractions

Familiarity with common extraction methods may guide you to develop an understanding of holistic properties. See Extraction Processes for information about the various techniques used to extract oils. Additionally, how the plant material is grown, its geographic location and the farming skills involved all determine therapeutic content and the quality of plant extracts. The quality can also vary according to the integrity and skills of the producer.

It’s important to remember that the whole food concept has not yet infiltrated through to many in cosmetic manufacturing, as well. Many cosmetic chemists are not yet clear on the content due to lack of familiarity with herbs and plant-based ingredients, and they, too, must trust the integrity of their suppliers. Also know that cost is generally higher for quality extracts.


In today’s market, organic has become a buzzword, though it is often misunderstood or inaccurately used. Your precise knowledge and the ability to express your organic awareness to your clients is very important to your credibility as a skin care professional and as a spa business.

Organic is a well-defined certification that can be found at, and it has specific growing standards for food. That a plant is grown without pesticides or industrial fertilizers, as well as being free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are the main qualifications. Your single ingredients may be certified organic, and there are also new standards and certifications that are being adopted to define and certify organic personal care products, which can be viewed at