Natural skincare vs naturally derived skincare
The rise of popularity for natural products is steadily increasing but just what is it that we are buying when we see the word ‘natural’?
Let’s first of all discuss what makes a ‘natural' product. Every chemical in existence is natural, from water and oxygen to oil and gas.
Man cannot create what doesn’t already exist in nature, so why is it that when we hear the word synthetic or man-made in our skincare products, that we automatically think ‘bad’?
Synthetic is a word used to describe combining two substances together which when mixed, create a chemical reaction.
Think of oil and water, both of these items are natural and our skin needs a balanced combination of both to be healthy. Yet if we were to make a natural product from just oil and water alone, the two liquids will separate and neither will be of benefit to our skin; once we add an emulsifier, both the oil and water combine together and can be used in harmony with one another and our skin.
So what is the difference between 100% natural and naturally derived skincare products?
Well to be 100% natural is to use raw ingredients only. No buffering or changing the molecular structure, to be truly natural it would be the raw product (e.g, manuka honey) in a jar that you could then use directly on your skin for healing purposes.
To be naturally derived is to take the singular healing property from the honey and alter it slightly to allow it be not only stable alongside other ingredients but also to allow it to be of full benefit to the skin. I use manuka honey in this example as it is one of the few ingredients that has shown to be of proven benefit when in its raw form. However let’s look at another ingredient often advertised as beneficial in skincare, Vitamin C.
Vit C has great antioxidant properties and we all know that citrus fruit is a major source of Vit C; but if you were to take an orange or a lemon from your organic tree and squeeze the juice onto your face, how do you think your skin would respond? Chances are it would burn and become quite red and irritated. The good news is that scientists can use the vitamin C from these natural products, stabilize them and bind them with other ingredients so they can be utilized by our cells for the purpose of anti-aging. Once again the amount of Vit C also needs to be correct to be of actual use to our skin. Too much can cause irritation and too little will be of no use, we need science to determine the correct amount and to be able to extract and buffer this ingredient before it can be deemed not only useful but also safe.
A product that claims to be 100% natural would have to be un-interfered with to be able to make that claim, which in some cases can actually make the substance quite unsafe.
Every chemical and substance can be toxic whether it be natural or synthetic, the level at which it is declared dangerous depends on the dose. Just as we need water to keep all of our cells healthy, too much water can deplete our body of essential salts and can be fatal.
There are many products in our natural world that can be dangerous and yet also extremely beneficial, in fact, there are more natural parabens in a cucumber than you will ever find in a synthetic product. Parabens are used to extend shelf life and prevent the growth of micro-organisms, however new research shows a link to parabens in some cancerous tumors. Thankfully there are new formulations being made all of the time allowing stabilization of skincare and new research into levels of paraben use deemed harmful.
Sometimes it is a matter of which is more harmful to your skin, a natural product with a shorter shelf life and a higher chance of contamination or a product with synthetically derived preservatives in non toxic doses.
We make these choices every day and ultimately you must choose which skincare philosophy feels right for you, but make your choice by educating yourself first. Don’t be fooled by marketing companies that use scare tactics to push sales and in turn create an unsafe product that is of no actual benefit to your skin. Quality skincare isn’t cheap to make, it takes years of research, sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients and most of all time to perfect the right quantities to be of safe benefit. So take some time to read behind the lines with your skincare choices because ultimately; you will wear your skin every day of your life, so let’s look after it!