There is plenty of misinformation when it comes to skin care ingredients. This is unfortunate because your choice of products has a profound impact on your health.
Let’s clear up some of the confusion. This requires a deep dive into product descriptions. Because words matter.
What Does “Natural” Mean?
The term “natural” as applied to personal care products is not regulated in the United States. There is no legal definition. It is generally assumed that manufacturers who use it are signifying that it is made with ingredients found in nature.
But what does that mean, anyway? One could argue that every ingredient—safe or toxic—is from nature. Uranium is from nature but sure isn’t good for you.
Does Natural Mean It Doesn’t Contain Chemicals?
A chemical is considered to be the antithesis of a “natural” ingredient. A product with chemicals is considered harmful.
In a scientific sense, a “chemical” is anything with matter; liquid, solid, or gas. Clearly, there are safe chemicals, dangerous chemicals and everything in between.
This leads us to “synthetic” vs. “natural” chemicals.
How do scientists differentiate the two? A natural chemical occurs in nature without human involvement. Humans produce synthetic chemicals using methods that differ from the processes that occur in nature.
Does natural mean it is not processed in a lab? This isn’t an accurate test either because even plant-based ingredients must undergo at least minimal processing. With essential oils, for example, you have to extract it from a plant. That is a basic “process.”
The point is that syntax used to describe skin care ingredients can have a multitude of meanings. To choose skin care products carefully, you have to separate truth from spin or intentional misguidance.
Personal care ingredients fall into seven general categories:
In the U.S., there are roughly 12,500 unique chemical ingredients approved for use in (or in the manufacturing process of) personal care products. However, at least 90% of these have never been tested by the USDA, Cosmetic Ingredient Review, or any other regulatory body.
The de facto system is that manufacturers can use ingredients until they are found to be dangerous by overwhelming evidence. For this to happen, testers must be able to determine a causal link. The problem is that we use multiple products and the potential health problems they cause are due to prolonged exposure.
In the skin care industry, it is unlikely that there will ever be meaningful regulation in the U.S. Consumers must take responsibility for their own health and safety. They can’t rely on the government to police the industry. American businesspeople don’t want more (or any) regulation. They argue that it stifles growth and reduces revenue. As in many industries, profit trumps public safety.
Fewer Safe Products For African American Women
African American women take note. There is an unusually high rate of dangerous ingredients in products marketed specifically for black skin.
The Environmental Working Group surveyed ingredients in 1,177 products marketed to black women. Approximately one in 12 was ranked highly hazardous on the scoring system of EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. https://www.ewg.org/research/big-market-black-cosmetics-less-hazardous-choices-limited
Why Should I Use Natural Skin Care?
“Why should I use safe skin care?” is the real question. And the answer is “To protect your health”.
Isn’t it ironic that you can harm your body in the pursuit of looking better? In the case of sunscreen, you are trying to avoid skin cancer but harmful preservatives or fragrances could cause another type of cancer!
The first line of defense is to avoid known toxins. In this blog, we have talked about the most dangerous ingredients. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics lists these along with alternate names. http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/fragrance/
The Fragrance Loophole
We have mentioned the problem with fragrances before but it bears repeating. Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients that make up their fragrances. These are considered a protected “trade secret.” Fragrances can be listed as perfume, parfum, aroma, or essential oil blend, and can contain up to 200 chemicals, many of which rate high on the toxicity scale.
This is a ridiculous loophole. What’s the point of scrutinizing a label if it simply lists “fragrance”? There is no point. Look for products that are fragrance-free, or use safe botanicals to scent the product. Essential oils create a safe scent. If you are used to highly-scented products with artificial fragrances, be aware that essential oils often create a more subtle aroma.
Ingredients With A Proven Track Record
At Australiana Botanicals, we use safe, naturally-sourced, minimally processed, botanical-based ingredients. We add no harmful chemicals, use only gentle botanical preservatives (which are required by law), use no fillers, or artificial fragrances. Our cold-press fruit crushing method doesn’t require chemicals.
As you can tell by our name, our botanicals and essential oils come from Australia. They are the same nutrient-dense plants that Aboriginal cultures have thrived on and used medicinally for at least 80,000 years.
Think about that for a moment. Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders who existed on the isolated continent before it was named “Australia” relied heavily on fruits, seeds, nuts and berries for food and medicine. These cultures were hunter-gatherers rather than farmers. In a mostly harsh environment, these botanicals became highly evolved and dense in nutrients. Indeed, some of the most nutrient-rich on earth.
Their plant-based medicines treated internal disorders, skin problems, and mental health conditions. They prevented or healed insect bites, sunburn, wounds, and rashes. They treated digestive disorders. They provided essential nutrients that sustained life. Over the millennia, the various cultures refined their preparations to make them more effective. Meanwhile, the plants evolved through natural selection.
You can’t do that kind of testing in a lab.
Australiana Botanicals mantra is “pure, natural and safe”. We don’t believe you should compromise your health for beauty. Our formulations are based on purity and effectiveness and not on reducing manufacturing price.
For more information, see our ingredients policy.