Is It Natural?
The facts behind “natural”product claims.
Is that product natural? This it the most commonly asked question with respect to skincare products.
I will answer this question firstly wearing my glam marketing beret, then wearing my not so glam science hat.
As a marketeer you can claim that something is “natural” if it has been originally sourced from nature or if it is ‘naturally derived.’ A naturally derived ingredient is processed in manufacturing before it can be included into a product. Once an ingredient has been processed, does this not detract from its natural origins?
Just because a product claims that it is “natural” or “organic,” does not mean that it is free of chemicals or preservatives.
If the front of the pack claims “natural” then read the back of the pack. If you see an ‘ingredients list’ on the back of a pack, then you have the correct answer to the question, “Is it natural?”
Now lets look take a look from a scientific perspective. Think of when you last sliced an avocado or an apple. How long did it take before it started to go brown? This process is called oxidation.
Oxidation is a chemical reaction that takes place when a substance combines with oxygen.
Within a couple of seconds upon slicing a vegetable or a piece of fruit, oxidation begins. Placing fruit or vegetables into a fridge will slow the oxidation time, but it will not stop the oxidation process. The photograph below illustrates the oxidation of a lemon, avocado and an apple at different times from them being sliced.
Once an apple or an avocado is sliced the browning is noticeable within seconds. As for a lemon, oxidation is noticeable after 48 hours. Without preservatives all products whether they are cosmetics, fruits or vegetables will oxidise and spoil. There are natural preservatives, like lemons, that can be used to slow down the oxidation process. But eventually even a lemon will oxidise and spoil. When products or unused fruit and vegetables spoil, they end up being wasted.
Natural, sometimes ain’t so great!
Marijuana is natural, but it can induce psychosis in some people. Grass is natural, yet I am allergic to its pollen.
Just because an ingredient is not natural (synthetic), does not mean that it is not good for you.
Natural skincare product ingredients
If you are keen to create your own 100% natural skin care products, then begin with an organic vegetable garden. Remember, the word “organic” means no pesticides or any other chemical additives.
You can make your own skincare products with a variety of produce. To begin with cucumbers have historically made great eye masks. Avocados make rich moisturisers. Lemons are a natural astringent. Egg whites, from free range chickens, are great for facial masks. These are just a few examples of “natural” ingredients that can be used to make “natural” skincare products.
The key to an organic vegetable garden
Before you begin sowing your seeds, check that no nasties are present in your vegetable garden. Toxins can leach into the soil of gardens that are located next to major roads. Planes release toxins which can fall into gardens that are located below their flight paths.
For those living in Australia, you can check whether your soil is free of toxins, like lead and zinc. There is a community science programme run by the Macquarie University which can test your soil. Check out their website, http://research.science.mq.edu.au/vegesafe/.
Finally, it is imperative that products are not only safe enough to be used on our skin, they also need to be sustainable.
Sustainability is not just about trying to preserve our natural environment. Sustainability is also about making wise choices in the products that we purchase. We need to ensure that products are not being wasted because they have spoiled.
A balance needs to be achieved between ingredients that are sourced in nature and those produced in a laboratory. We need to take into consideration what is genuinely good for us and what is good for our environment.
Basically, everything in moderation.
What do you think?
Sharpen your nose, as the nose, knows!
Daphne K Knows
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
Native Indian Proverb.
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Thanks for sharing & enlightening us with this interesting post Daphne! To be honest I never truly thought about what ‘natural’ meant. I certainly will be a lot more critical of products claiming to be natural in the future. I think the use of fruit to demonstrate the oxidation process would be a great experiment for children to engage with in the classroom. Raising awareness about the true nature of ‘natural’ products is important for children to explore. Especially as advertising is becoming more targeted at children, in particular young girls. The nose does indeed know ; ) Looking forward to reading more posts in the future. Thank you, JB
‘Critical thinking’ … exactly! This post is asking you to put on your ‘critical thinking’ cap when faced with product claims and then you can rely on your own judgment and that is empowering.
Exactly!!!! I couldn’t agree more : )
Daphne, what an interesting article! Food for thought I’d say.
Thank you Kathie for your feedback. When you look at things from all angles, you certainly do get a different view.
Is it natural? What an interesting article Daphne. Thank you.
The other year I watched the tail end of a Jamie Oliver programme. He was in America talking to school children about healthy eating and what’s in packaged food. One of the points mentioned was that if the list of ingredients on packaged food was more than 5 or 10 (I’m not sure what the number was, but not more than 10) it wasn’t healthy.
I was wondering if the same thought process could be applied to cosmetics/facial products?
I would love to know what you think.
When is comes to the food that we eat, all the research shows that the closer it is to it’s original state the better. Therefore, as Jamie Oliver says, the more ingredients on a product’s packaging ….the further it is from it’s natural form. For me, packaged foods are considered a treat in my home. When it comes to cosmetics, personal and skin care products, there are certainly ‘safe ingredients and non safe ingredients’. Safe and non safe ingredients can include either a combination of naturally sourced, naturally derived or synthetic. So in summary, cosmetics science is quite complex and getting the formulae right is challenging. But when it comes to food, it’s simple, the every day foods that we eat, should be closer to their natural form and if we choose the convenience of packaged foods, the ingredients list should be short. Thanks for the chat Kim.
I never thought of making my own moisturizer until i read this. I came up with a plan recently where i put the avocado with a slice of onion on it in foil after ive sliced it and put in the fridge. It seems to slow the process down even more. No idea why really, it just works for me because i love avocado and dont like to waste any part of it 🙂
Angelique thanks for sharing .. I love avocado’s, they are packed with so much omega 3, which is great for your brain and skin. My intentions for this post, was purely to encourage, critical thinking with respect to the question, whether something is ‘natural’ or not. With knowledge comes power and we have the power to choose what we do and what we buy.
Absolutely fabulous article Daphne K – it is definitely the question I always ask myself when purchasing products. I will now definitely think twice and take the time to check the ingredients and make sure that the products are also sustainable – something I had never considered. It is a great read, informative, interesting and I really like the scientific based evidence. I’m also a believer in everything in moderation and I might even start making some creams using natural ingredients you suggest. Looking forward to reading more insightful articles from you. Thanks Daphne K. SS
Hey SS, thanks for getting in touch. The key is balance and that is a tricky one for all of us to achieve. As long as we have the desire to keep learning, we can achieve anything.
Very intersting article Daph. I know this is on alot of people minds including mine so i thank you
I thank you for your feedback. Until then … enjoy.