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What Is Natural?
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Skincare

What Is Natural?

Whatever or whoever brought you here, I want to personally welcome you to a healthier and more environmentally friendly way of life. The move to natural beauty is on the rise with more people just like us, becoming increasingly aware on the subject, which in turn, is fuelling a demand for cosmetic products that won’t damage your skin or the environment. Let’s be honest, Just you being here lets me know that you have either:

    1. Already moved to using natural beauty products, or
    2. Are starting on that journey of change to natural beauty

Either way, well done you for paying attention to what goes into and onto your body, it is naturally a more beautiful way to be, and your body will be grateful for the change. In this post, we will look into the term natural, its use within the beauty industry and then I will detail what natural means to me. We will also touch on the importance of knowing those natural ingredients that are potentially harmful. Yes it is true, not all natural ingredients are good for your skin, remember all that glitters isn’t gold.

What Is Natural To You?

Is it the raw, unprocessed version of a vegetable, fruit or plant that arises naturally in nature?
                                                                    or
Is the same ingredient natural even if it has been refined and processed?

Before you decide, lets consider these questions in context to a favoured product of mine. In the past decade, coconut oil has become increasingly popular in both culinary and cosmetic circles and can be purchased in two main forms, Refined and Unrefined (virgin coconut oil).

Refined coconut oil, also known as RBD coconut oil (Refined, Bleached and Deodorised) is oil extracted from dried coconut meat called Copra. The meat is left in the open to dry and then goes through a process of being cleaned, ground down, steamed and heated to a high temperature to remove odour and flavour. Additionally, It is filtered through bleaching clay to remove the contaminants that arise during the drying process and sodium hydroxide added to remove fatty acids and extend the shelf-life.

Unrefined coconut oil on the other hand, is pure or virgin oil extracted from fresh coconut meat. This oil is is extracted by two methods: quick drying or wet milling. During the quick drying process, you dry the meat quickly and mechanically express the oil.  During the wet milling process, the coconut is grated into water to make coconut milk. The milk is then fermented without heat or on very low heat and the oil extracted. This process does not require bleaching or additives .

Both coconut oils, refined or unrefined are created through a process which extracts oil from coconut meat but the end products have distinct differences. With unrefined (virgin) oil, most of us would consider this to be a natural product. While refined oil however, we may considered less natural as the oil itself has been altered from its natural form.
However, there are those who believe refined coconut oil should still be referred to as natural, as it is made with coconut from natural origin. I have had many discussions with friends, family and other formulators on this subject, and it is clear that while we find common ground in some areas, we hold differing opinions in others.

At the end of the day it is still a matter of personal opinion. My only advice would be to ensure that your decision on what is natural, is made from a position of knowledge i.e. do you research people.

What does the Industry say?
The ‘natural’ cosmetic industry doesn’t help, as it seems to be in no hurry for regulation which leaves us with a lack of guidance on terminology from both industry and government organisations.
The term ‘natural’ is being capitalised upon by some manufacturers as a marketing ploy while it remains an unregulated term. This in-turn can cause confusion for consumers as while some products marketed as natural may well have naturally occurring ingredients that same product can still contain a high percentage (30%) of synthetic ingredients. For the consumer the important thing is to read the label(hyper link).

What Is Natural To Me?

After studying and obtaining diplomas in organic skincare , I am of the belief that all natural products should meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Be free from harmful chemicals that irritate the skin and causes harm to the environment
  • Include naturally derived ingredients such as oils, vitamins and other extracts from fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants
  • Contain no animal by-products
  • The ingredients themselves should be sustainably sourced and cultivated without the use of harmful pesticides.
  • Does not include synthetic fragrances, colourings, silicone, phthalates, sulphates or other harsh chemicals.
  • Made without cruelty to animals.

All that glitters isn’t gold
Many people will be surprised to learn that there are a lot of naturally occurring ingredients that are bad for skin! and worryingly many of them are used in products claiming to be natural, clean or organic. These naturally occurring but very toxic substances that are knowingly or unknowingly being used by manufacturers, can be very problematic and cause skin sensitivities that build up over time as the ingredients are absorbed into the skin. That is why It is great that so many people are waking up to the potential issues to our health caused by the synthetic ingredients used in the beauty industry. However, we must all apply the same level of prudence when buying or making our own natural products.

I found out very early in my journey, that not everything labeled natural is what it seems. So I say again, do your research, read the labels and set those boundaries for yourself from an informed position and stick to them where you can.

“After all, lets be honest, who knows your body better than you?”

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