Everyone wants natural skin care these days, and I’ve talked about the fact that there is no regulation for this term before. My readers are savvy skin care shoppers, so I want to help you figure out if a brand is really natural, or just capitalizing on a trend.
Since there is no regulation for the word natural, you must decide what natural skin care means to you. Does it need to be paraben free? Are you simply looking for more botanical ingredients or essential oils? Do you have other ingredients that you want to avoid, like petrochemicals, dyes, or sodium lauryl sulfate? I have my own idea of what natural means, and I’m sharing it here. It starts by flipping over the box and looking at the ingredients.
- High percentage of natural ingredients and botanical extracts. When you look at the ingredients, do you see a large number of botanicals? Are there only a few words that look like chemicals? Some of those chemically looking words can still be derived from natural sources, so you may want to look them up in a ingredients dictionary like A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter.
- Low to no synthetic preservatives. Skin care products must be preserved some way. There’s really no way around it. Mostly what I’m looking for here is how many preservatives are they using? If they’re using six parabens, I doubt their commitment to being a natural skin care line.
- No synthetic fragrance. This can be hard to figure out from the ingredient list since even a certain amount of essential oils must be listed as perfume. Your nose will tell you if the product smells like botanical ingredients or a bottle of perfume. When you check the ingredients, does the product smell like the oils and botanicals listed? Beware the product that smells like nothing. Every ingredient, especially botanicals, has a scent. If your product smells like nothing, that may mean that something, like a masking fragrance, has been added to remove or neutralize an unpleasant smell.
- No synthetic dyes. Check the ingredients list. See anything that looks like Red 40 or Blue 9? Again, I doubt just how natural that natural skin care is if there are dyes.
- Corporate transparency. I like to see companies openly sharing their practices. It is still marketing, but I respect companies that are willing to pull back the curtain and let us look behind the scenes. I was recently browsing the Tata Harper website, and I noticed that they offer percentages of the organic ingredients for each product. Ren Skincare lists where they derive some of their ingredients that look more like chemicals, which is also helpful if you have allergies. If you’re gung-ho to use the most natural skin care possible, call the company and ask about their ingredients. If they won’t answer all your questions, they may not be as natural as they claim.
You’ll need to make your own decisions about what you want in your skin care and what you consider natural. My goal is to put enough information out there to help you make your own informed decisions.