Although I have spent a good number of years as a scientist at one of the top skincare companies in the world, I’m still a consumer at heart and always curious about what others like me, though not in the industry, have to say about skincare. One of the most common misconceptions I keep coming across is the topic of Naturals.
At times, when talking to a friend or new acquaintance I’ll mention that I work in skincare, and get some version of the following response. They’ll often have some redness or a rash on their face and say some version of the following story. “I just had the craziest thing happen to me after I used this product I heard about on Instagram! It’s supposed to be all natural and work wonders. I spent $60 on this cream and the next morning my skin turned red and I developed this crazy rash! Obviously, this product can’t be natural, and the brand must be lying.”
Right off the bat, there’s a couple things I want to unpack: 1- How do we define “natural,” and 2- Is “natural” always better and safer for you?
- What exactly is natural?
Honestly, I have no idea! If you think about it, everything in this world is naturally derived. Take eggs, for example— pretty natural, right? However, once we cook the egg, is it still natural? Most people I know would say yes. However, by heating the egg, the chemical structures of the molecules are changed. Technically, can we still call it natural? Maybe you would say yes as well. What if I took this raw egg and spun it at super high speeds, extracting just a fraction of it, purifying one molecule and then heat it under super high pressure, fundamentally changing the molecules extracted. Is this still natural? I don’t know the answer. The same concept applies to skincare ingredients. The bottom line is, the next time you come across the term naturals, keep in mind it is a loaded term and has different meanings to whoever is it.
At Created By ___ , when we refer to something as natural, it means something that can be derived directly from nature without applying synthetic modifications and combinations.
- Is natural actually better for you?
Let’s assume we are using naturals in their purest state, without any modifications. Think of shea butter, or turmeric, two widely popular natural ingredients. While most people assume these naturals are better, unfortunately, I must tell you they are not. There are two reasons I’ll explain here; one has to do with you, the other with the environment. Nature is complex and natural compounds have many different molecules within them. The more molecules there are, the increased likelihood of one of these molecules causes a negative reaction. (Ever had an allergic reaction?) Another factor to take into consideration is environmental sustainability. Often times a naturally derived ingredient is shown to be highly effective for a particular function, however, this ingredient may be hard to come by and its harvesting may be detrimental to the environment. In such instances a case may be made that the synthetic form of the natural compound may be a more desirable alternative.
- What Next?
At Created By _____ we try to balance our customer’s preferences with our scientific expertise and our sustainability charter. We do not think being “clean” is good enough – click here to read our blog post on this topic. We want ingredients that have been tried and tested so that we can rest assured that if there were to be a long term negative effect we would know it by now. Hence, we use natural ingredients that are proven safe — and effective — over time. We also try to ensure that the processes to collect and manufacture these ingredients are sustainable and limit possible allergens. Right now all of our ingredients are 100% naturally derived, however in the future we are open to using “nature identical” ingredients when there is a concern for sustainability.
Article By: Shifra-Liba Klein, PhD