THE TRUTH ABOUT NATURAL SKINCARE: DEBUNKING MYTHS
SKINCARE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION, DATING BACK TO THE ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS. SPECIFICALLY, NATURAL SKINCARE HAS BEEN AN IMPORTANT WAY OF LIFE FOR CENTURIES, AND STILL A COMMON PRACTICE IN MOST OF THE WORLD.
IN 2020, HOWEVER, THE PANDEMIC PROMPTED A BOOM IN NATURAL RESEARCH IN AN ATTEMPT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND HEALTH AND WELLNESS, TO MAXIMIZE OUR HEALTH DURING SCARY CONTAGIOUS TIMES.
THE GREAT NATURAL AWAKENING!
THE TRUTH ABOUT NATURAL SKINCARE: DEBUNKING MYTHS
We are becoming acutely aware of the constant toxic exposures surrounding us, causing a lot of harm to our bodies and environment. This brings us to our current controversial topic – is natural skincare legitimate?
SHORT VERSION: YES. ABSOLUTELY.
LONG VERSION: YES, ABSOLUTELY. IN FACT, HERE ARE SOME COMMON MYTHS THAT ARE USUALLY ASSOCIATED WITH NATURAL SKINCARE, THAT ARE INCORRECT.
1. PRODUCTS CLAIMING TO BE NATURAL ARE 100% NATURAL – FALSE.
The FDA does not regulate the “natural” label for the cosmetics industry. The lack of a clear regulatory definition of “natural cosmetics” creates challenges for manufacturers as well as consumers (National Law Review). Despite the FDA prohibiting the sale of adulterated or misleading information about a product, there is no clear definition of what falls into the category of natural cosmetics. Mostly natural? Partly natural? Entirely natural? A natural ingredient?
It leaves marketers abusing the term for social clout, thereby over saturating the natural skincare market with falsely claimed products.
Some of the most notorious Clean Standards on the market
Not all natural cosmetics are created equal. It’s up to the consumer to read the label to make that informed decision. Luckily, there is a draft circulating for consideration in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: The Natural Cosmetics Act, that will provide clear guidance as to what it is necessary in order to make a “natural” claim (JD Supra).
The general rule of thumb for properly claiming natural cosmetics is that the formulation should contain at least 70% of natural substances, excluding water and salt. Although this is not rigidly enforced.
2. NATURAL SKINCARE IS NOT EFFECTIVE – FALSE.
Like anything, the effectiveness comes down to the research and formula quality, not just the natural vs. chemical ingredients alone.
In fact, most cosmetics contain greater than 65% water content in their formulations, which dilutes its overall effectiveness, whereas natural formulas usually contain much less water due to their active antibacterial properties found in their ingredients. Natural skincare contains bioactive ingredients extracted from in plants, like aloe vera. There are hundreds of research papers covering the numerous benefits that we get from various plants, including the proof from our ancestors. Not only for beauty purposes, but for health and wellness, in tandem.
Some of the most powerful moisturizing agents can be occlusives, emollients, and humectants derived from plant oils that provide skin with noticeably natural anti-aging moisturizing results. Natural antiaging ingredients include barrier repair, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, skin lightening, and sunblock agent.
Biologically active molecules include (but are not limited to): phenolic acids, polyphenols, triterpenes, stilbenes, flavonoids, steroids, steroidal saponins, carotenoids, sterols, fatty acids, sugars, polysaccharides, peptides, etc.), whose profile and level depend on the pedoclimatic condition and agriculture practice. (NCBI).
3. NATURAL SKINCARE IS ENTIRELY SAFE – FALSE.
Like anything, too much of a good thing, can be a bad thing. Formulas should be tested and put through trials to determine safety. In chemistry, natural ingredients are often referred to as chemicals in testing. You need to run allergy tests at the most basic level to determine safety of a product for the general public. Whether it be the use of one ingredient, or the specific combination of a few. After that, depending on personal allergies, you would need to read the label to see what your allergies are.
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)
The FDA allows the use of established dangerous chemicals (in small quantities) to be used in regular cosmetics, and in such small doses it can hardly be considered dangerous – until you’ve used that product too often. Chemicals like artificial fragrance, and most recently deemed toxic – PFAS. PFAS and fragrance are found in virtually every cosmetic product in North America. PFAS molecules persistently remain in your blood stream, poisoning it slowly (EPA). And unfortunately, due to extensive factory and landfill pollution, it is not only found in industrially manufactured cosmetics, but in our environment (water, soil, air, and fish).
It’s a matter of regulation and testing, that unfortunately is lacking.
4. DIY NATURAL SKINCARE IS THE SAME AS BUYING ESTABLISHED NATURAL SKINCARE – FALSE.
DIY skincare, like face masks, salves, balms, and oils are great and can be done every so often. They are beneficial to your skin and hair, however, making these products doesn’t ensure that they will tackle your skin health from deeper within. Natural skincare is formulated by chemists and tested by dermatologists, and undergo a series of examinations to determine efficacy and strength, that DIYs do not do. DIY is good for conditioning, natural skincare is specially formulated to penetrate deeply, and is ideal for regular use.
5. YOU NEED CHEMICAL PRESERVATIVES TO KEEP IT LASTING – FALSE.
Most skincare in the North American market are over 65% water. This requires the addition of artificial chemicals and preservatives to keep bacterial growth at bay. Natural skincare can use either artificial preservatives or natural preservatives. Natural preservatives do not harm or affect your body in any way, and are listed under organic preservatives on the FDA website. Natural skincare usually also uses fresher and potent ingredients that contain antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, unlike regular skincare.
It’s true that natural skincare has a slightly shorter shelf life, but does it not freak you out that you are putting something onto and into your skin that doesn’t expire? Your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you apply topically within the span of 26 seconds. Preservatives are notoriously carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. Natural skincare offers a safer, and fresher alternative.
6. DRINKING WATER WILL SAVE YOUR SKIN – FALSE.
8 times out of 10, drinking more water will show you a visible improvement in your skin, since you are now providing more material to plump and hydrate your skin from within. Water, however, is not the cure all for your skin problems. Of course what you consume has a dramatic impact on your appearance, since your skin is usually an indication of internal distress, but skin also reacts tremendously to external factors like UV damage, pollution, humidity, and sweat – among other things. These all impact your skins microbiome, and need to be adjusted accordingly with your skincare routine.
An important fact worth mentioning is that the quality of your water also has an impact on your skin. Whether it’s the pH levels of what you’re drinking, or the quality of your sink water that you use to wash your face!
7. NATURAL SKINCARE IS MORE EXPENSIVE – FALSE.
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Generally speaking, higher quality skincare is more expensive, not just natural skincare alone.
Natural skincare requires the use of ingredient extracts, and not laboratory synthetics, which would be one of the main reasons for higher prices – except it’s not. Natural skincare varies in pricing, from moisturizers that cost $20 from Whole Foods, to moisturizers that cost $230 from Tata Harper, it really depends on the quality you look for and what the desired outcome you want is. However as a general rule of thumb, higher quality is associated with higher prices, since there is a lot more research and raw materials that go into creating an ideal formulation. There is a lot of variety in the pricing for natural skincare to work with!
8. NATURAL SKINCARE IS JUST A TREND – ABSOLUTELY FALSE.
Natural skincare has been in use since the dawn of civilization. There are people who prefer traditional cosmetics, and those who prefer the natural route, that hold onto the traditions of their families, or prefer safer ingredients in their skincare. The pandemic prompted a massive search into natural alternatives for pretty much everything. But it’s not the same as trending cloud bread or the cottage core aesthetic trend. This is a lifestyle that humans have lived for thousands of years, where the popularity rises and falls, but it’s still a very stable segment.
Nefertiti, one of the oldest known admirers of Rose Oil
Natural skincare as a commercial product is relatively new, but has been gaining popularity over several years, not diminishing.
The desire to get more in touch with the natural world is growing, and so is the natural skincare industry.
Natural skincare is here to stay, and I am all for it!