Skincare is everywhere, but is natural skincare better for your skin? The quest for clear, radiant skin often leads us to a labyrinth of labels, promises, and buzzwords, leaving us wondering what exactly goes into those elegant potions and brews.
Many people diligently follow a skincare regimen twice a day. This makes the allure of natural products more appealing due to the desire for reduced exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. But what is natural skincare and is it really less harmful for your skin?
What is natural skincare?
Real natural skincare uses ingredients derived from the natural environment such as plants, minerals, and other organic material. The goal of natural skincare is to minimize exposure to harmful synthetic chemicals, while introducing more natural ingredients. The term “Natural” on a label does not automatically guarantee that a product contains natural ingredients or beneficial for your skin.
What is the appeal of natural skincare?
- Gentler on skin – Natural products don’t include harsh preservatives, artificial fragrances, or synthetic chemicals.
- Eco-friendly – Natural products minimize environmental impact.
- Ideal for sensitive skin – People who have sensitive skin are less likely to have a reaction to natural skincare.
- Connection to nature – Some people who like to connect to nature in meaningful ways feel more confident about using ingredients derived from the natural environment.
Despite occasional skepticism regarding its accuracy or its use as a label purely for marketing purposes, there are ways to determine if your product is “natural”.
Similar to clean eating, natural skincare is all about reading labels and knowing what you’re putting on your skin. Understanding what you put on your skin can help you make intentional purchases and feel confident in the effectiveness of your skincare routine.
What do skincare labels mean?
Paraben-Free – Paraben is a preservative found in skincare that has been found to disrupt hormone regulation imitating the hormone estrogen. It’s often found in deodorant and other skincare products.
Phthalate-Free – Phthalate is a preservative and some studies have found that it can disrupt hormone regulation and reproductive system functioning.
Sulfate-Free – Sulfates, particularly sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are to be potential irritants. Sulfate-free products are less likely to cause skin and eye irritation, making them a preferred choice for people with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or rosacea.
Cruelty-Free or Cruelty-Free Beauty – There is currently no regulation in the United States for “cruelty-free” products. Just because the skincare product as a whole wasn’t tested on animals doesn’t mean the raw material in the product wasn’t tested on animals years ago. Cosmetic companies can put cruelty-free on their finished product even if the raw ingredients are tested on animals.
Organic – A product derived from ingredients farmed without pesticides, chemicals, or artificial fertilizers.
Non-toxic – Non-toxic means free of sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates, parabens, artificial colors, and fragrances.
Natural – Most or all of the ingredients in the product derive from the natural environment.
Dermatologist-Tested – A dermatologist tested this product.
Vegan – A product that doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Hypoallergenic – A product that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. There is no Federal standard or definition of what hypoallergenic means, so it means whatever the particular company wants it to mean.
Aren’t all these skincare labels just marketing?
Yes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no truth behind them. Knowing the nuance of these skincare labels helps understand whether these products are actually what they say they are. For example, just because something is labeled “Dermatologist-tested” doesn’t mean it will be suitable for your skin. In addition, it doesn’t mean skip the doctor’s appointment. It’s important to consult your dermatologist about what skincare product is the most suitable for your skin.
Another thing to note is that most skincare products will list an ingredient, but won’t list the quantity, quality, or its ability to penetrate the skin barrier.
What are skincare products supposed to disclose by law?
The FDA states that all skincare products must have net quantity, the ingredients listed in descending order of predominance, and label warnings.
The FDA says “A cosmetic is misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading, if it does not bear the required labeling information, or if the container is made or filled in a deceptive manner.”
What are some skincare ingredients to avoid?
Not all of these ingredients will cause irritation or Contact Dermatitis, but they are more likely to be harmful to skin.
- Synthetic Fragrances
- Essential Oils
- Citrus Oils
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
To learn more about which skincare ingredients, check out Paula’s Choice Skincare Ingredient Dictionary.
Why is skincare packaging important?
If your skincare product claims to have a cornucopia of antioxidants, but is in a jar that you have to open every time you use it, you’re probably not getting those benefits. Look for opaque non-jar packaging.
What are the potential drawbacks of natural skincare?
There are plenty of natural substances in the environment that are harmful for our skin, such as poison ivy. Just because the ingredients in a skincare product source from natural ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean your skin will react well to it.
What is the shelf life of natural skincare?
The shelf life of natural skincare can be less than synthetic skincare because some natural skincare products don’t include as many preservatives. If the product has an expiration date, make sure you check that and make a note of when you opened the skincare product. Remember to store skincare products in dry temperature-controlled environments so they don’t lose efficacy.
According to the FDA, cosmetic manufacturers are not required to print expiration dates on labels of cosmetic products, but they are responsible for the safety of their products.
So is natural skincare really better for your skin?
Natural skincare, rooted in ingredients derived from the environment, offers gentler, eco-friendly alternatives. Understanding labels like “non-comedogenic,” “paraben-free,” and “sulfate-free” is important, though individual skin variations demand personalized choices. Ingredients to avoid, packaging considerations, and the shorter shelf life of natural products are all part of the skincare equation. Ultimately, the path to healthy, radiant skin involves conscious selections, professional guidance, and a holistic approach to well-being.
At Back Health & Inner Radiance Wellness, we’ve thoughtfully curated a range of professional skincare products that are clean and naturally derived, delivering results both during your treatment sessions and in your daily skincare routine. We take pride in offering personalized home care solutions tailored to your specific needs. Whether it’s an in-person consultation or a virtual session, our complimentary natural skincare consultations empower you to achieve your skincare goals.