Natural and organic skincare has experienced an astounding surge in popularity over a short amount of time. Yet, with the bombardment of products and information, it seems to have brought an overwhelming amount of confusion- and a swarm of unanswered questions. I will answer some of the most common questions so we can get a better understanding on some of this things.
What is “Natural Skin Care”?
Natural skincare, for our purposes, refers to the use of products and ingredients which are sourced from nature- rather than synthetic in origin- to cleanse, protect, and replenish your skin.
When the term “natural” is applied to products on the market, it is distinct from the term “organic”, and there are no regulations related to its use in marketing or on the packaging.
What does that mean to you?
Sadly, the term “natural”, or even “all-natural”, on packaging tells you little about what’s in the product or how it was made.
Knowing the ingredients that go into a product is critical. Let us guide you where to look, so you can verify – for yourself – if a product measures up to what you believe has your best interest at heart.
Does Natural Matter?
Let’s be clear: it would be wrong to say across the board that natural ingredients are safer to use on your skin. But when natural ingredients are selected for their specific healing properties to replace common synthetic ingredients (known to damage both your skin and our environment), why wouldn’t you want to reap the benefits by indulging in Mother Nature’s bounties?
As we’re all waking up to the importance of what we put in (and on) our bodies, we’ve come to realize a sad truth: within the ingredients of skincare products, and those which are deviously hidden behind the “perfect packaging”, lurk an abundance of fabricated wannabe’s, pore-clogging grossness, and man-manufactured fragrances that do anything BUT care for our skin.
These synthetic additives often damage our health, and except for a vague word like “fragrance” listed on the label, we would never know they were there.
Natural skincare products using healthy and safe ingredients impact your well-being once those synthetic additives have been removed and replaced with non-toxic, beneficial elements.
Luckily, ingredients with healing properties found in nature –those of which were used for thousands of years by the cultures that discovered them- are now, like hidden treasures unearthed, available to all of us.
What to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, a product could be labeled “all-natural” and still contain ingredients that are undesirable and unhealthy. Turn your container around and check the ingredients.
Here are some of the common offenders to look for when you check that label:
- Parabens – This group of substances, including methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben, are preservatives used to stop the growth of fungus and bacteria. Preservatives have their role to play; however, they’re now known to disrupt hormone function, cause reproductive problems, and have been linked to causing breast cancer. Phalates and Parabens are mild endocrine disruptors and have a high level of bioaccumulation meaning they build up in the body.
- Unidentified Fragrances – Many synthetic fragrances are volatile substances that must undergo a reaction to impart their scent. For this reason, they can be aggravating, especially to sensitive skin, and chronic irritation from repeated use can cause damage over the long term. Some of the vague terms that you’ll want to look out for on labels include fragrance, parfum, and perfume. * best alternative – pure essential oils
- Petrolatum – Petrolatum is derived from crude oil, which is not a renewable resource. Currently, only the highly refined versions of it are allowed in skincare products in the European Union and Canada. The substance itself has not been directly linked to cancer; the problems with it come, instead, from the possibility of contamination by cancer-causing substances found in crude oil.
- Synthetic Colors – Again, the problem with synthetic colors often lies in the lack of information. Where synthetic dyes are used, it’s difficult to determine exactly what chemicals you’re dealing with. It’s much safer to avoid these dyes as many are derived from coal tar and some contain heavy metal salts. In most cases, these dyes are labeled with “FD&C” or “D&C.” * best alternative – beetroot
What About Organic?
As opposed to claiming to be “natural,” the term “organic” is highly regulated when used to describe natural ingredients found in cosmetics and skincare. This can be confusing because the term itself is not regulated. Skincare products are eligible to be certified, but they don’t have to be to use the term “organic.” Legally, however, any product or ingredient labeled “certified organic” in the U.S. must meet the strict standards imposed by the USDA and governed by the NOP.
Regulations aside, those products using organic ingredients are beneficial to both the planet and those of us who live on it. Adding organic skincare products to your skincare routine can provide peace of mind and the knowledge that ingredients have been sourced through safe practices.
You’ll also know that those living in the communities that grow and harvest the ingredients your products depend on – all whose lives are affected by those practices – are better off.
What About Vegan?
A product that is vegan does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. This includes, but is not limited to, honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, albumen, carmine, cholesterol, gelatin, and many others. To many, the term “vegan” also means that a product is free from animal testing as well. The truth is, without animal ingredients, vegan products are actually better for your skin, especially if you’re someone with sensitive or condition-prone skin. Animal ingredients can be harsh and clog pores, so vegan products are a soothing alternative. … Your skin will thrive off being fed natural, vegan ingredients. Leaping Bunny Certified companies are dedicated to NO animal testing on not only their products but also all the ingredients that they use. “cruelty free” can be very flexible and those products have traces mostly in their ingredients of animal testing (cheaper to produce). The Leaping Bunny Certification is a very complex certification to get and it takes true commitment to animals to achieve it. These are their standards if you’d like to learn more about it.
Synthetic vs. Natural Ingredients
Science is catching up to the healing powers of substances found in nature, used by indigenous cultures for centuries. Yet surprisingly, many of the big players in the skincare industry have been slow to respond.
When comparing synthetic ingredients to the natural ingredients used by smaller companies, the biggest difference can usually be found in the priorities behind the products.
We know that free radicals cause reduced elasticity, premature aging, wrinkles, and attack the skin at the cellular level. Fortunately, antioxidants and other nutrients found in many plant-based and natural substances are champions at blocking free radicals from attacking our cells.
Nature’s unique ability to rejuvenate, restore, and support our skin’s health is unquestioned. But using healing oils and extracts from nature is expensive. And unfortunately, many large companies have chosen to decrease costs rather than increase the potency of their ingredients.
Ingredients (like silicone) are an easy way for manufacturers to produce substances that feel good on the skin but cause damage in the long run. Other cheap and commonly used ingredients like mineral oil actually attract free radicals and even age skin faster!
Often the hidden priority behind a synthetic ingredient is to mass-produce products cheaply that will appeal to consumers superficially.
Natural ingredients represent an increased cost for the industry, and that’s likely why their effects haven’t been celebrated in the media and advertising.
Natural oils, such as Jojoba oil (one of nature’s preservatives; contains compounds called tocopherols that eliminate free radicals), are amongst those substances that are healthier, albeit more expensive. Such substances were long overlooked in favor of synthetics until the public caught on and demanded better.
A Healthy Skin Care Routine
Hopefully, by now we’ve clarified some of the more confusing issues surrounding natural skincare, so you can choose products with confidence.
Now, let us dive into a simple 3-step routine designed to revitalize your skin in the safest and healthiest way possible, using the natural ingredients that work. You can go here directly and shop based on your needs and get high quality natural skin care products with certified organic ingredients.