Why is it Better to Use Natural Ingredients in Skincare?
By Celeste Robertson
Fun fact: the skin is our largest organ, and it absorbs most of the oils, creams and lotions we put on it; so it makes sense to use natural products, right?
In general, skin and body care products are made up of natural ingredients (think coconut oil, sweet almond oil, essential oils, aloe vera, shea butter etc) or synthetic ingredients (sulfates, parabens, phthalates, petroleum by-products etc). There are also synthetic ingredients which may not be ideal to use but aren’t likely to cause harm - like foaming sulfates, which can really dry out skin - and synthetic ingredients which are known to be carcinogenic, like parabens. Avoid, avoid, avoid! It’s worth taking some time to research and decide which ingredients you are confident to use, and which ones you want to avoid like the plague. My rule of thumb is, if I don’t deem a product to be safe to use on my toddler, I won’t use it myself, either.
You can also get an idea of how much of each ingredient is actually in the product by checking the ingredient list. By law in Australia, ingredients must be listed in order of quantity in the formulation – so if water is the first ingredient, then water makes up the majority of the product. If lemon essential oil is the last ingredient, then it contributes the smallest amount to the formula. While we won’t know exact quantities, it’s a good method to get an idea of how natural your product is.
It’s also important to keep in mind that just because an ingredient might sound like it’s not natural, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not. Here are a few examples of natural ingredients which sound toxic but are safe to use:
This is a peptide attached to a fatty acid, which comes from palm oil (hence the 'palm' in the name). So you’ve got the collagen-supporting action of the peptide combined with the deeply hydrating action of the fatty acid. This means that it can help your skin to look younger!
We want to avoid most alcohols in skin products, but this one is a safe combination of fatty alcohols which have been derived from vegetable sources, such as coconut or palm oils. It is used in cosmetics as a surfactant and emulsifier, and is much milder than benzyl alcohol.
Yikes, this sounds nasty, but it’s actually a biological sulfur found in plants, soils, fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, meats, and milk. It’s also found naturally in humans. When applied topically, it penetrates deeply to help encourage hydration, and it has a natural anti-inflammatory effect, making it great for irritated and sensitive skins.
It’s also worth noting that just because a product is natural, doesn’t mean that your skin won’t have a reaction to it. People can have allergies to natural ingredients – I know people who are allergic to aloe vera, various essential oils and nut oils – so if you know of any sensitivities, it’s still important to check ingredients on natural products.
Beautiful skincare and body products are such a luxury to use, and so by checking labels and making decisions on what you feel confident to use on your skin, you can really relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of daily self-care moments.
Beauty junkie Celeste Robertson is based in Geelong, VIC and owns Natural Supply Co with her bestie, Sarah Scott. Celeste is married with a divine 3-year old son, Charlie Bear, and is passionate about finding ways to reduce plastic usage in daily life. She has a horrifying fear of snakes, a love of coffee and books, and dreams of moving to every beautiful small town she visits.