Let’s think deep and ask ourselves a question:
What is natural in skincare?
Is it a simple matter of the ingredients in the products being derived from nature?
What about products in which all the ingredients are derived from nature, yet they go through chemical processes?
Or should active ingredients at least be derived from nature and then the rest can be of synthetic origin?
How many ‘natural’ ingredients should there be in a product for it to be called a ‘natural’ product?
And is there an acceptable ratio for a product to be called natural?
We can ask similar questions about ‘organic’ products, too.
There are several certifying boards that govern this. For example, in the United States, there are the Natural Products Association (NPA) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). In other countries, NaTrue, Soil Association, and the COSMOS-standard promote organic agriculture and clean processing and manufacturing in the European Union. Each board, however, has different rules beyond the basic ones, like packaging requirements, animal testing, and permitted ingredient lists depending on the country in which the product is manufactured. Besides these non-government organisations (NGOs), some retailers and manufactures apply their own standards.
Unregulated industry – beauty
However, unlike the food industry, there is no legal definition of the term ‘natural’ when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products. This means in theory that any product can be called ‘natural’ according to the manufacturer’s own definitions. Companies can label a product as ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ even with little organic ingredients and containing dangerous chemicals.
Typically, off-the-shelf products contain more ingredients, the majority of which is used to make the products look and feel luxurious, including colour, fragrance, and surfactant along with various preservatives.
The main reasons why the cosmetic industry chooses to use synthetic chemicals are:
They are more cost-effective, and secondly, synthetic materials are stable and contain no impurities. In contrast, naturally derived materials differ in their chemical components, and their efficacy depends on many factors like weather, soils, etc. There probably is no big business that is willing to work with 100% natural ingredients. It simply would not be feasible. Therefore, it makes sense to tackle ‘natural and organic’ products with some scepticism first.