There’s a massive and often dangerous misconception happening right now in the skincare industry and it’s time we shed some light on it.
The words “natural” and “organic” both get thrown around a lot when it comes to ingredients, and at the same time, the word “synthetic” has come to be synonymous with harmful.
It’s very easy to get caught up and misled by this. Much of the confusion comes from the food industry where these terms ultimately mean different things for your body.
That’s because in today’s skincare market these words imply that the product is better and healthier than others because they are formulated from ingredients that come from the earth, and anything synthetic therefore must be poison. However, if you’re not paying attention, this is where you will be misled by many cosmetic companies.
So many people constantly and passionately insist that natural, organic ingredients are always better for the skin but according to the FDA, the truth is this argument has no factual basis or scientific legitimacy. That doesn’t mean that some natural ingredients aren’t good for you, it just means that you cannot and must not assume that just because something is a natural ingredient that it is good for you.
Below, we’ll provide you with a hefty list of which natural ingredients you can trust, and those that you should look out for in any skincare products that you purchase or put anywhere near your skin.
The terrible truth is that there are literally tons of completely natural, 100% organic ingredients that are terrible for your skin, and it’s about time we talked about them and put a stop to this. Not to mention, there are also plenty of synthetic ingredients that are proven to be safe and effective.
Many of these ingredients are included in products that make bold claims to be superior and safe simply because they’re more natural or organic than others without similar labeling. All too often this is a gimmick designed to sell more products, and not necessarily to create healthier skin. The real truth is that there are some organic ingredients that are bad for you, and some synthetic ones that are very effective and safe, and vice versa–it all comes down to educating yourself about what you put on your skin, and seeking out cosmetic brands that truly do their research on each ingredient, in every product they sell.
For many companies, whether it’s due to deliberate denial or because they simply don’t conduct their own research, there are a huge huge number of products with ingredients that aren’t what they claim to be, or they’re ineffective just for the sake of jumping on the ‘organic’ trend and selling more cosmetics.
At the same time, what many people have forgotten, or never knew, is that just because an ingredient is synthetic doesn’t mean it’s not healthy of effective for your skin. It’s time to dispel the rumors and half-truths and shed some real light on this issue.
First, if you take a visit to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, you’ll find some very clear language about natural and organic products and what this really means.
Does FDA have a definition for the term “organic”?
No. The FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The term “organic” is not actually defined in either of these laws or the regulations that FDA enforces under their authority.
This means that the word organic can be thrown on any old product just to make you think it’s healthier and more natural, but the FDA is not currently responsible for ensuring that those ingredients are indeed organic by any definition.
How is the term “organic” regulated?
The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP regulations include a definition of “organic” and provide for certification that agricultural ingredients have been produced under conditions that would meet the definition.
The NOP also includes labeling standards based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product. For more information on “organic” labeling for cosmetics, see the NOP publication, “Cosmetics, Body Care Products, and Personal Care Products.”
If a cosmetic is labeled “organic” according to the USDA, is it still subject to the laws and regulations enforced by FDA?
Yes. The USDA requirements for the use of the term “organic” are separate from the laws and regulations that FDA enforces for cosmetics. This means that any cosmetic products labeled with “organic” claims must comply with both USDA regulations for the organic claim and FDA regulations for labeling and safety requirements for cosmetics.
Information on FDA’s regulation of cosmetics is available on the FDA’s Cosmetics website.
Are cosmetics made with “organic” ingredients safer for consumers than those made with ingredients from other sources?
This is really important–according to the FDA, NO. An ingredient being from an organic source does not mean that it is safe. Many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic.
It’s important to note that under the FD&C Act, all cosmetic products and ingredients are subject to the same safety requirement: They must be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use (FD&C Act, section 601(a). This essentially means that all companies and individuals who market cosmetics have a legal responsibility enforced by the FDA to ensure that their products and ingredients are safe for the intended use. What it does not mean is that you should assume that an organic product is automatically superior just because of that little label.
Is Natural Still Better? Often, Yes.
Our point here is not that that natural products are bad for you–quite the opposite. We are suggesting that you must choose the right combination of natural ingredients with a small number of synthetics that are clean and effective in order to achieve the best possible skincare results.
When we formulated our products for Beauticell, we chose only natural ingredients with a scientifically verified record of being truly beneficial for skin. We never use extraneous ingredients that have no real effect just because they’re “natural”.
Safe Is What Matters
Often times as soon as any kind of preservative is mentioned, people get nervous because of the negative associations with preserved food. However, when it comes to skincare products that will be on your shelf for some time, using safe clean preservatives are crucial to protecting you from bacterial growth or mold that can form on raw skincare products.
At Beauticell we focus all of our energy on combining effective natural ingredients with potent, clinically safe lab ingredients to ensure that not only are the products clean, they are designed to work and keep working until the very last drop.
Dr. Linda M. Katz director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors famously voiced the same concerns that we have applied to developing our product lines, when she stated that “Consumers should not necessarily assume that an ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ ingredient or product would possess greater inherent safety than another chemically identical version of the same ingredient. In fact, ‘natural’ ingredients may be harder to preserve against… contamination and growth than synthetic versions” (Source: New York Times, November 1, 2007).
What it comes down to is that natural and organic can be good, and often are, but an organic sticker on a package does not necessarily imply that it is healthier than one without the same sticker–and because of the trend toward “everything natural is better,” many people just don’t know this.
Joan Shaffer, USDA spokeswoman stated that “…people should not interpret even the USDA Organic seal or any organic seal of approval on cosmetics as proof of health benefits or of efficacy. The National Organic Program is a marketing program, not a safety program. [Chocolate cake] may be [natural and/or organic] but that has no bearing on whether it is safe or nutritious to eat (Source: www.ams.usda.gov/nop/FactSheets/Backgrounder.html).
If you take nothing else away from today, remember that just because a product is organic, that doesn’t make it good for you, and just because it isn’t, doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy.
Natural Ingredients to Avoid at All Costs
As mentioned, there are in fact a great many 100% natural, organic ingredients used in skincare products are known to cause major skin sensitivities that get worse over time. Shocking right?
Many of these are abrasive to your skin and may have harsh side effects. None of that is going to bring you closer to your skincare goals, so it’s important that everyone get educated on what ingredients to avoid in order to keep your skin looking its best, and help you reach your skincare goals.
Irritant ingredients of any kind whether they come from natural or synthetic sources can cause you all sorts of problems including causing your skin to breakdown and age prematurely. This can cause inflammation that is both visible and adversely impacts the strength of your collagen matrix.
So if an ingredient is interrupting your skin’s ability to renew and maintain its natural elasticity, what is it doing in your skincare regimen?
Fragrance ingredients are some of the worst offenders that often fly under the radar, labeled as essential oils. There are over 200 chemicals that can be hiding in cosmetic problems and labeled simply as ‘fragrance’. Quite often these oils are not so essential.
Another scary fact is that sometimes an ingredient can have a negative impact on your skin that you won’t necessarily see on the surface. This is why it’s even more important you stay aware of what ingredients are truly good for you and what to avoid.
Many natural ingredients do provide your skin with positive effects without side effects. These are the ingredients you should be looking for, if you want to achieve your best, most vibrant skin. First, we’ll talk about the ones to avoid.
Here are some ingredients that you should look out for and avoid in any skincare products that you purchase:
- Almond extract
- Balm mint oil
- Citrus juices or oils
- Clover blossom
- Coriander oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Fir needle
- Geranium oil
- Ground up nuts
- Lavender oil
- Lemon balm
- Oak bark
- Witch hazel
- Ylang ylang
Healthy Natural Ingredients You Should Look for
Since the list of problematic natural ingredients is so long, you may be wondering what are the best natural ingredients for skin. There are many! Here are the top ones that have only beneficial properties and none of the bad:
- Amino acids
- Hyaluronic acid
- Green tea
- Willow Herb
- Coconut oil
- Safflower oil
- Canola oil
- Shea butter
- Olive oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Argan oil
- Carnauba wax
- Rice Bran oil
- Rosa canina Fruit oil
- Palm oil
- Omega fatty acids
- Corn oil
- Aloe vera
- Jojoba oil
- Algae extracts
- Sea whip extract
- Feverfew extract
- White tea
- Cocoa butter
- Sesame oil
- Borage oil
- Acai oil
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B3
- Goji Berry
- Coffeeberry extract
- Evening Primrose oil
- Tamanu Oil
- Silybum marianum extract
Preserving Your Skincare Products Safely
Much like food, the shelf life of cosmetic products matters immensely to whether they will be helpful and healthy, or rancid and completely unhealthy. Here’s how we protect our customers.
Products that are completely “all natural” that use no preservatives whatsoever half a severely limited shelf life. This means that in the 2 months or so that it might take for these products to reach shelves, and another month until you bring them home, they can literally be crawling with bacteria by the time these products touch your skin.
This is why it’s important to select products that use gentle safe preservatives to keep your products effective and bacteria free while you use them, throughout the entire use of the bottle until the last drop. Phenoxyethanol is one such safe ingredient that is an alternative to the harmful traditional formaldehyde releasing preservatives that are common in cosmetic products. For more on the top offenders for chemicals to watch out for, check out Top Ingredients to Look Out For.
To put it all together, remember that choosing skincare products that are made with natural ingredients and a safe gentle preservative to keep these products viable and effective will provide the best results. Just because a product says that it’s organic, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy and just because it’s not organic, that doesn’t assume it’s unhealthy. Know your ingredients, know your skincare company and you’re well on your way to achieving your skincare goals and protecting your skin.