So, you’re thinking about going natural with some or all of your beauty routine, but maybe you’ve heard conflicting information about the definition of “natural.” This quick primer will help you understand the difference between synthetic and natural ingredients, what “chemical” actually means, plus some superstar natural ingredients to watch for.
What is a natural ingredient?
“Natural” is an unregulated term, which means you have to do your research to understand what a brand means when it says its beauty products are “natural” or “100% natural.”
- Natural: If a brand says that its products contain natural ingredients, that means that some of the ingredients can be found in nature—but perhaps not all.
- 100% natural: In most instances, if a brand says its products are 100% natural, that means they are entirely free of synthetic chemicals and only contain ingredients that can be found in nature.
That said, sometimes a brand will still consider itself natural if it contains synthetic ingredients whose molecules are nature identical (known as “chemically identical ingredients”).
You also need to watch for brands that use “natural” ingredients, but then alter the chemical structure of those ingredients in a lab through processes that would not occur in nature.
Are there chemicals in my natural skin care?
We tend to think of chemicals as toxic substances we keep under our sinks to scrub our floors and unclog drains. And while those household cleansers definitely contain chemicals—and they are often toxic to our health and the environment—everything around us is a chemical, too. Water has a chemical structure (H2O). Oxygen is a chemical element. Chemicals are not inherently unhealthy. We need water to live, right?
When a beauty brand claims that it is “chemical free,” it is usually referring to synthetic chemicals—those human-made ingredients that are built in a lab.
The best natural ingredients to look for in skin care
There are too many good-for-you natural ingredients to list, but here are a few extra-special ones:
- Jojoba oil to help reduce redness and calming skin
- Aloe leaf juice to help moisturize and hydrate
- Rose water to help minimize the look of pores and fine lines
- Witch hazel to help remove excess oil
- Kaolin and bentonite clays for absorbing excess oil while helping to heal the skin
- Evening primrose oil to help maintain hydration and enhancing elasticity
- Apricot oil to help promote radiance
- Camellia oil to help stimulate collagen and reducing fine lines
- Juniper berry oil, vitamin E, geranium, green tea and frankincense for antioxidant protection against skin oxidation caused by UV light and pollution
Natural skin care can be a blessing for your skin, your body and the environment. The key? Doing your research into the brand and its ingredients before you buy.