Is Natural Better for Your Skin?

In Being Savvy at Skincare by Cheryl Wooodman1 Comment

Is Natural better? It’s a question many of us are asking when it comes to food, cosmetics and even clothes (have you seen H&M’s new conscious range?).
Does ‘natural’ mean natural?
If you see the word ‘natural’ on pack, what do you take away from this? It’s an area of the beauty industry that is being clamped down on, in the same way I wrote about watchout claims’ the word natural is used questionably, sometimes being more of a ‘name’ than an adjective or fact. Ahhh… I feel like we are being cheated by grammar!
What does natural mean to you?
If you are making a decision to go natural, it’s really about what this means to you and what your reasons are. Is it a specific skin complaint driving you to a natural choice? Are you finding beauty products irritating to your skin? Or are you looking to make a more informed decision on what you’re buying? 

Some think of natural beauty products as products using no preservatives, and only materials which are un-processed. Others see it as using materials which are not chemically synthesized from scratch but extracted from their form, this can go anywhere from almond oil being extracted from a nut to emulsifiers (the ingredient that binds water & oil together) derived from coconut such as Cetearyl glucoside. Personally I think what is important is how you think of the term natural and what you want to gain by making a ‘natural’ decision.

Will natural help your skin?
I choose to ask this question as I think for most of us it’s the key reason we are looking for a natural alternative. This is a controversial question, and I do not think there is ONE answer to the question – sorry, that sounded like a politician! If I was to generalize I would say that more natural beauty products are overall better for our skin, they generally follow the principles of choosing ingredients because of the beneficial effect to your skin (not to cover up problems), use non-petroleum derived products (so they tend to stay away from occlusive’s – you can read more about that here), and remove un-necessary ingredients like synthetic fragrances and colorants.

How do you tell if it’s natural?
This is a tricky one if you are not a formulator, but below I’ve listed some tips on what are generically good indicators.

1) They claim to use essential oils on pack.

2) There are no colorants used, these are the numbers, starting with the prefix ‘Cl’ that you will find towards the end of an ingredients list (because there is less of them in there), for example CI 19140, CI 15985 (those are from the back of my L’Oreal Elvive shampoo).

3) They have bracketed the ‘understandable’ name of the ingredient after the scientific INCI name, for example Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea butter).

4) The packaging tends to be simpler as they are trying to sell to you based on the ingredients rather than sparkle and glitter.

5) Ingredients might even be listed on the front of the label, like Kiehl’s products.

6) They tend to have fewer ingredients, which means they have been carefully formulated, instead of a list of over 50 materials which I think of as a bit like taking one medicine to stop a problem, but that medicine having side effects, so having to take another tablet to deal with the side effects etc. etc.

7) A lot of ‘natural’ products will have some other certifications on pack, like the vegan approved label, organic or soil association.
What are your thoughts on natural beauty products? Have you tried them? Do you see a difference in your skin?

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