Author Archives: morgan strohan

Products marketed as “Organic” vs “Synthetic”… What is truly better for your skin?

When we hear the words “natural”, “organic” and “green” we automatically believe this means something is good for us because it comes from nature, compared to a product that is advertised as “synthetic” or containing “chemical” ingredients. But the truth is, not all products advertised as natural are necessarily good for you, and not all synthetic and chemical products are bad for you… especially when it comes to talking about skincare!

Face Mask Application Source: Flickr Commons


What’s the difference?

One of the main differences between products advertised as “organic” and “synthetic” is that many of the ingredients that are made up from organic molecules in these products are much bigger due to the structure of the molecule and they tend to be less refined. This can be bad because the ingredients then sit on top of your skin and can cause irritation. Whereas in synthetic ingredients, the molecules tend to be smaller and more refined so they can easily absorb into your skin. However, the synthetic products that are more easily absorbed into your skin are only any better than the organic products if they don’t irritate your own skin, but this can vary from person to person. Still, the synthetic ingredients overall have less of a chance of irritating your skin because it can absorb.

In order to decide what kind of products are good or bad for your skin regardless of what they are advertised as, you should always look at the ingredients list to discover the truth of what is in these products. For example, a lot of “organic” skin care products contain essential oils, which may be pleasant to smell but it can actually really irritate your skin as with many fragrances in skin care- these molecules are quite large as well.

Aloe Plant, a common ingredient found in Skincare products Source: Flickr Commons

A recent study was done investigating two forms of sunscreen – a chemical based synthetic sunscreen and an organic physical block. Researchers compared the two and found that the chemical sunscreen absorbed better into skin and people experienced less irritation compared to the organic physical block sunscreen where dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) was common.


So what should you use?

It’s true that some natural and organic skincare products can be harmful for your skin especially if you’re not aware of what ingredients are contained in the product, but the same is true for synthetic. I believe that synthetic products are a safer option for your skin due to the easy absorption. At the end of the day regardless of what the product is marketed as I will always be reading the ingredient list to determine what products are best for my skin and I suggest you do the same as well!

Ingredients List for skincare product Source: Flickr Commons


If you’re curious as to what are some examples of common irritants are in skincare, check out this blog post by skin care specialist and author Paula Beguon.

-Morgan Strohan

The Flu Shot Debate- Does it really work?

Every year, we are reminded all around us by advertisements, pharmacies, doctors, even family members to get our flu shot so we won’t get sick! However, there are some that are skeptical when they see flu shot advertisements and campaigns. The general public debates on whether this shot actually does anything beneficial and are skeptical when reports come out every year of vaccines not being as effective as they should be or deaths from the flu such as this article here.

Flu virus coming into contact with cell. Source : Flickr Commons


So, to be a voice of reason in this massive debate, one first needs to understand how the flu shot actually works and why there have been past years where the flu shot has failed tremendously or has had huge success in keeping people healthy.

How it’s made

Between flu seasons (Spring-Summer), scientists’ study previous month’s “flu-trends” and base the vaccine they make for the year on this information. The influenza vaccine is first made in lab months prior to our annual “flu-season” (Fall through Winter) and then injected into hen eggs where the virus can multiply. The next step in the process requires the virus to enter a weakened, inactivated state. This inactive state prevents the virus from further mutation in the human body, which would otherwise consist of flu symptoms. Vaccines are then made with the inactivated flu virus.

How it works

The timeline for this process can be problematic in that the preparation of the vaccine occurs months before the current strain of influenza affects the general population. The time which the vaccines are modeled after the flu virus strains to when people can actually receive the flu shot is approximately 6 months prior to distribution. This leaves plenty of time for the flu virus to further mutate. This is why in some flu seasons the vaccine can target the completely wrong strain of influenza, thus leading to a useless vaccine.

Source : Flickr Commons

Flu Vaccine Source : Flickr Commons

However, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccines can reduce the risk of illness and symptoms by 40%-60% on a good year when the vaccine closely matches the circulating strain.

Now to answer the question; Does the flu vaccine really work? The answer I believe most accurate is yes. Although there is potential for the flu strain to mutate to something that does not match the vaccine exactly, little protection is better than no protection, and by getting the flu shot you are not only protecting yourself but also those around you.

-Morgan Strohan