An excerpt from a publication by Universal Companies, written by Lisa Sykes, Sustainability Specialist.
As a sustainability specialist with a concentration in personal care, I get a variety of inquiries daily concerning formulations, ingredients, and usage. One of the most frequent questions that surfaces is this one: “Do natural skin care products actually work?” I try really hard not to appear exasperated—it’s not the person’s fault who’s asking me this question. Now that natural is in vogue, many personal care companies are creating new formulas and repositioning some of their lines as “natural” while still justifying their continued use of problematic synthetics (e.g., ethoxylated compounds, formaldehyde donors). This has caused some confusion. The pervasive myth that natural skin care is ineffective originated from at least two places: brands hyping their patented delivery systems and micro-technology for the “advanced consumer” and consumers using what they think are natural brands and getting less than mediocre results. However, instead of launching into a diatribe about inconsistencies in the personal care industry, which is easy for me to do, I am just going to approach the issue with observation, education, and logic.
Many personal care manufacturers highlight their “active” or “key” botanical ingredients in ads and marketing materials. From photos of dewy berries to crisp red apples, these plant-based components are the dominate theme in imagery. Next, there’s wordsmithing to highlight these ingredients in copy, usually by preceding their names with verbs that indicate strength, potency, or nourishment such “powerful antioxidant-rich green tea” or “skin-softening shea butter”. Of course, inactive ingredients aren’t referenced because they are typically problematic synthetics.
First, to see if natural skin care works, you need to make sure what you’re trying is really natural. Once you move beyond the marketing aspects of the brand, look at the ingredients—all of them. What is the amount of natural ingredients used in the products? Active ingredients, like extracts, may have been extracted by the use of petroleum based solvents. Are synthetic inactives (e.g., fragrances, colorants, preservatives, emollients, surfactants, and thickeners) used? This is certainly a basic broad brush approach, but these questions serve as a great tool for the process of elimination.
To illustrate this process, let’s look at a visual example of the ingredient decks for two facial cleansers:
Witch Hazel, Vegetable Glycerin, Acylglutamate (a natural amino acid derived from sugarcane), Geranium Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil.
Water, Fragrance, Decyl Oleate, Polyoxyethylene, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Oak Root Extract, Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata), Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Ceteareth-12, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Cetyl Palmitate Titaninum Dioxide, Carbomer, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Disodium EDTA
Number one is a 100% natural facial cleanser. Number two is not. Which one of these appears more results-oriented?
Plants used in skin care were once thriving living things; their life force essence is what makes them powerful. Other natural ingredients, such as organic milk powder, contain a host of other intrinsic beneficial properties, such as lactic acid for skin brightening.
Natural skin care isn’t inferior but very powerful. Straight, unadulterated ingredients in natural formulations are able to work synergistically because fillers and additives don’t restrain their potency or render them useless. So, the next time you’re selecting a skin care line--no matter what the representative or marketing materials claim--you should look at the ingredient deck to determine if it’s comprised of dynamic natural ingredients or inexpensive ineffectual synthetics.
INtelligent Nutrients skincare is a perfect example of a very effective 100% natural brand. Products are formulated to allow maximum herbal benefit, meaning that natural ingredients can work without hindrance of synthetic chemical additives.
Your skin is only getting what it needs—nothing else. Infused with organic and wildcrafted plant extracts using a traditional process that allows time for the ingredients to garner the healing properties inherent in each plant variety.
The Cleansers don't contain harsh surfactants or petroleum-based alcohols, so they never change the skin’s natural pH level.