We all want to lessen the number of chemicals, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, sulfates, parabens, and preservatives we expose ourselves to. As such, we look to product labels to tell us exactly what’s inside. It’s helpful when we see a product labeled “organic,” or “all-natural,” because it clues us in on what we can expect to be exempt from the product, and also the nature of the ingredients included. However, labeling is tricky, and sometimes we end up with products that aren’t what we thought they were. Sometimes, the labels mislead. As such, it’s important to know how to differentiate between labeling. What does it mean if a product is labeled “organic?” What does it mean if a product is labeled “all-natural?” We’ve done the research, and we’re going to share with you everything you need to know about natural skincare and how you can benefit from its use.
What Makes a Skin Care Product Organic?
It’s no secret that as a society we are in love with natural beauty products made with cruelty-free organic ingredients. If a skincare line simply markets a product as organic, whether or not it is actually certified organic or not, a consumer is more likely to purchase it as the term “organic” has become synonymous with health and wellness.
The skincare industry is no different. If a skincare brand labels its products as organic or vegan, consumers are usually drawn to them because they (sometimes incorrectly) assume that the products will perform better or be better for them. The truth is, a product label can state that it is organic without having received any certification. To complicate matters even more, the FDA doesn’t regulate the use of the terms “organic” or “natural,” meaning the marketing departments of companies are free to use these terms in their advertising any way they wish.
Although the terminology can be tossed around, for a product to actually be certified organic, it must bear the USDA (or other country’s equivalent) certification stamp. But what does that even mean? For skincare, it means any natural ingredients it contains (fruit extracts, green tea leaves, etc.) must have been grown in an environment free from pesticides, fertilizers, and anything else non-organic. There’s a real debate as to whether or not it’s actually important for a skincare product to be certified organic, which is why a more popular option for skincare products is “natural.”
What Makes a Skin Care Product Natural?
More skincare companies are opting away from obtaining testing and certification from the USDA (which can be time-consuming and expensive) to certify their products as organic, and instead, are committing to using ingredients that are natural, to begin with. Natural skincare is generally expected to be as safe as organic, as the companies that produce it are typically holding the same standards of development as companies that produce organic products; the main difference is just that they aren’t committing to the labeling process of being “certified organic.”
Simply put, natural skincare is simply a skincare product that does not contain any ingredients chemically produced in a lab, like artificial fragrances. This eliminates a lot of popular skincare ingredients right off the bat. For instance, a very popular sulfate is included in practically every shampoo and cleanser on the market to make it sudsy and bubbly. While this sulfate produces a great cleansing experience, the sulfate is a chemical that has been shown to have negative effects on sensitive skin types. As such, a natural skin care product will not contain any sulfates, and instead contains natural ingredients like essential oils including coconut oil, jojoba oil, and rosehip oil, along with other ingredients like chamomile, acai, shea butter, aloe vera, Vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid.
Organic vs. Natural – What’s the Difference?
The major difference between organic skincare products and natural skincare products is the label. As we just mentioned, almost all of the ingredients found in natural skincare products are held to the same high standards of growth and production as those found in organic skincare products, they just lack the labeling. A product that lacks the label will likely save you some cash because a company bearing the USDA organic seal tends to price products higher than those that do not bear the seal.
The ultimate takeaway is this: if you are careful to read your natural skincare ingredient labels, you should be comfortable opting for a natural skincare product over an organic skincare product. As such, let’s take a look at what’s available in terms of all-natural skincare.
All Natural Skin Care – What’s Available?
Not all-natural skincare products are created equally. It’s important to research your products to know what percentages of their ingredients are natural. We recommend you look for natural skin care products that are 100% natural. If you are unsure if a product is 100% natural, a quick glance over the ingredient list should help you make the determination. As a precaution, here’s a list of ingredients you should never find in a natural skin care product.
Parabens. Parabens are a type of preservative that has been popular for use in skin care products for decades. Most popularly, sunscreens, lotions, and moisturizers contain parabens. Parabens aren’t good for our skin because they can cause free-radical damage. In case you aren’t familiar, free radicals in our skin play a role in what ages us prematurely. Unless you’re trying to sneak into a bar underage, you will want to avoid parabens at all costs.
Sulfates. Sulfates make things bubbly and sudsy. The most popular sulfate contained in skincare products is sodium laureth sulfate. This is the quintessential “suds-maker.” Sulfates aren’t great for the skin because of their tendency to dry out the skin and strip it of its natural oils. Additionally, many people, children especially, can have allergic reactions to sulfates in skincare products, so it’s best to avoid them entirely if at all possible.
Phthalates. Your favorite body mist or perfume could contain a chemical called a phthalate that could be harming you more than making you smell appealing. Popularly used in cosmetic fragrances and as solvents in some cleansers and moisturizers, phthalates are linked to endocrine system disruption and have even been banned from skincare products in some countries.
Now that you are aware of what should not be included in your natural skincare products, let’s look at some of the best examples of natural skincare products and how you can benefit from them.
Natural skincare cleanser. You may be tempted to think that because a cleanser is rinsed away with water, there’s no chance for an included harmful ingredient to hurt your skin. This simply isn’t true. A cleanser actually delivers more product to your skin than you think. A great exfoliating cleanser, for example, will remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oil, and open the pores, allowing for the natural ingredients of the product to enter your skin cells and work their magic. Because a cleanser opens pores and prepares it for the products you use next, it is important it doesn’t contain any type of ingredient that creates a barrier over the skin’s pores, preventing products from penetrating the skin.
Natural skincare moisturizer. Everyone is crazy about serums and face oils, and we can’t argue with them. A great serum can have the power to restore your skin’s natural glow and promote an all overlook of smoothness, firmness, and health. They are also used for brightening your skin, healing dark spots and dark circles, evening skin tone, and soothing breakouts and blemishes. Unfortunately, some serums are full of ingredients that either don’t work or aren’t safe. Look for a natural serum that contains a probiotic, rose extract, and CBD oil to obtain the most benefit.
Natural skincare serum. As important as having a natural skin cleanser is, a natural hydrating moisturizer is even more of an absolute necessity. A moisturizer has the power to penetrate the skin deeply, therefore the ingredients contained within it should be high grade and natural. Your moisturizer preps your skin for the day and also has the power to fight fine lines and wrinkles by protecting it with natural ingredients if you select creams that contain moisturizing ingredients like CBD, SPF, milk thistle, and shea oil.
Natural nighttime repair moisturizer. While we think all your products should be natural, your nighttime repair moisturizer should most definitely be an all-natural product within your skincare routine. This night cream will be applied to your skin before bed and is made to work through the night to try and repair and detox your skin while you sleep. This is a great time for a product that includes retinol, which is a derivative of vitamin A. You can also look for a product that contains green tea and CBD, as these ingredients also have properties that can help to heal and hydrate your skin while you sleep.
Also look for other natural beauty products like toners, eye creams, exfoliants, face masks, and lip balms to make sure that your skin is getting everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t!
As for whether or not you should opt for organic or natural skincare: the real difference is most obvious in price. A natural skin care product is normally formulated to the same high standards as a product that bears an organic label but may be less expensive because it doesn’t have to go through the grueling certification process. Natural skincare is important as it protects your skin from unwanted chemicals, preservatives, and other ingredients that can irritate it or cause an allergic reaction. Natural skincare also contains ingredients derived from nature that are better able to activate your skin’s natural healing properties and can promote healthier skin.