Natural Skin Care is a type of skin care.

When we talk about natural skin products, it is usually understood that they are those without synthetic additives such as mineral oils, preservatives or petrochemicals.

Typical, natural skincare products use ingredients that are “old-fashioned”, such as botanical oils, essential oil, and extracts of herbs and flowers (both aqueous, and waxy), and haven’t been altered or processed with chemicals. In some cases, animal products, like beeswax and other ethically-produced derivatives of animals, are also present in the natural daily skin care.

Natural skincare made using approved organically-produced raw materials and methods can be certified organic by the relevant organic bodies.

There are a lot of products out there that either claim to have natural ingredients or they cleverly advertise their botanical or vitamin extract amongst an abundance of other artificial additives. This is the case with “pseudonatural products” (1). If you want to know if the skin care products are really natural, read the labels.

What makes natural skin products superior to synthetic skin care?

In contrast to synthetic ingredients, products made with ingredients derived from naturally grown plants and grains that are maintained sustainably retain the essential qualities, benefits and energy of their source.

In a nutshell, factors such as geographical location, soil type, amount of water and sun exposure as well as seasons, harvest times and weather conditions can have a unique impact on the yields and maturity of plants.

It is impossible to replicate these factors in controlled nurseries or laboratories, because natural environmental exposure allows the development of subtle variations in plants. This is reflected on the composition and benefit of the oil extracted, along with its quality.

The production of synthetic materials in laboratories is a scientific process that can often be dangerous. It involves the use carbon dioxide or propylene glycol, as well as hexane. The presence of these agents in the final synthesized ingredients may be in trace amounts. However, there is no way to know what effects they could have on us over prolonged exposure.

It is also possible that some oils and natural extracts are affected or damaged by the extraction method used. This is why manufacturers of natural skincare products are very careful about the raw material they use and how the natural ingredients prepared.

What’s so Special about Plant Oils

Complex mixtures of fatty acid (lipids), including plant oils, are composed of these fatty acids. This mix and proportion of fatty acids is what gives each oil its unique characteristics. The main lipid component is not the only bioactive substance. It also contains phospholipids phosphatides phytoestrogens vitamins, phytosterols phytoestrogens phytoestrogens. These bioactives make up the “unsaponifiable” fraction of the oil. They are typically present in very small quantities, and their unique signatures make them unique to the oil (3).

In order to demonstrate the differences in oil properties due to the composition, Kusmirek’s (3) description of the typical fatty-acid profile in apricot and borage kernel oils is compared.

One – Apricot oil contains 58-74% Oleic Acid, 25- 30% Linoleic Acid, and the remaining 4-7% is made of Palmitic, Palmitoleic Stearic Alpha-Linolenic acid. It is estimated that the unsaponifiable portion of this oil ranges between 0.5 and 0.75 percent.

It is a combination of 30 – 40% linoleic, 8 – 25% gammalinolenic, 15 – 20% oleic, 9 -12 palmitic, 3-4 % Stearic and 2 -6 % Eicosenoic. It is estimated that the unsaponifiable component of this oil is 1%.

This oil has a high percentage of oleic and linoleic acids, which makes it nourishing. High percentages of both oleic- and linoleic-acids are responsible for the oil’s nourishing properties. Apricot kernel is a rich source of vitamin a, which can be found in its unsaponifiable form.

The high content in gamma Linolenic Acid confers a firming, rejuvenating effect.

In order for the skin to be properly nourished, constantly hydrated, feel smooth and regenerate, it is essential to use a blend of plant oils. The oils will help to give your skin a radiant glow regardless of the age.

The energy in the plants, which produced the natural equivalent oils, would not be able to be replicated into synthetic oils. So, the natural oils are not identical to their synthetic counterparts.

What about essential oil and other botanicals

Essential oils are extracts concentrated from volatile aromatic substances and plant materials. These can contain growth-promoting factors with regenerative qualities. These oils contain the smells from nature, and they can be used as a way to scent natural products. Only small amounts are used because of the concentrated nature of essential oils and their cost. Essential oils, which can be irritating to skin, should always be diluted.

Contrary to oils, floral/herbal extracts are water-based extracts made from plants or flowers. Aqueous extracts and oils produced naturally are created by steaming, distillation or infusion. This is a slow process that can be inefficient, and adds to the costs. These products are far healthier and less harmful than those produced by artificial means.

Are there any problems with variations in the natural ingredients batches?

It is not a quick no!

Naturally produced ingredients do show “batch variance”, but nature is a part of this, showing the cycles of evolution. This is the natural biorhythms. In nature there can be periods of abundant sunlight and others with only clouds. Obviously, the weather affects the growth of plants.

The natural ingredient may occasionally contain higher or lower levels of certain components. However, after a while, they will eventually balance. What is most important is the fact that natural ingredients have an overall positive impact on health.

Those who support the conventional cosmetic industry are against this type of variation. In their opinion, synthetic ingredients would be a much better choice for manufacturing any type of product including skin care. Their argument is that synthetics are standardized, controlled and scientifically tested. The truth is, however…these ingredients are not naturally occurring!

What about stabilisers, emulsifiers and preservatives?

It is true that preservatives or stabilisers can prolong the shelf life for all types of products (1,2,4). In recognition of the benefits of preservatives, European organic regulators and USA regulatory agencies have allowed certain preservatives to be used. Blends containing dehydroacetic acids. These preservatives have been designed to substitute the paraben family in personal care product. Preservatives should be used in the smallest amount possible for natural products.

It is a fact that preservatives including parabens (and their derivatives), phenols (and denatured ethanols), and other denatured substances are very effective in extending the shelf-life. Nevertheless, these preservatives are known to disrupt the hormone balance, and they may also be allergenic. Evidently, these substances aren’t health-promoting. Because they can easily be absorbed into the skin and last a very long time, there is no way to know what long-term effect these substances will have on other organs.

Vitamin E has a number of natural properties that make it a potent anti-oxidant. In addition, this vitamin is an effective natural preservative when used in oil mixtures and oils emulsified (2). Extracts from rosemary and oregano, which have anti-bacterial effects (2) are also natural preservatives. As they are strong-smelling and could cause some irritation, it is not common to use them. This example shows the need for caution with natural substances. While these occurrences do not occur very often, they are still worth mentioning.

As a stabilizer, Alginic Acid obtained from Brown algae can be used (4). The allantoin extract, which is obtained from comfrey, works better as a natural skin-care stabiliser (2).

Emulsifiers prevent the separation of water and oil fractions within a lotion or cream. For natural skin products, these can include lethicin or the wax Cetearyl Alcohol (1.2,4. Lecithin can be extracted from beans of soya and softens skin. Cetearyl alcohol consists of a combination of cetyl, stearyl and other fatty acids with a high melting temperature. It can be derived from animal or vegetable fats. For natural skin products, it’s best to choose cetearyl alcohol derived from plant sources. In addition to its emulsifying abilities, the fatty-acid mix helps keep skin moisturized.

What was his main message to take away?

Even though natural products may have some limitations, they are still more beneficial to the skin than synthetic alternatives. The synthetics do not have the same unique, heterogeneous, and nourishing properties of the oils and natural extracts.

Aside from the obvious technological benefits, there is no doubt that using mostly or exclusively synthetic ingredients can bring significant financial rewards to manufacturers. It is obvious that the cost to manufacture natural skin care products will be higher than if they were made with easy-to-use synthetic ingredients. Comparing their alternatives with natural products, synthetics offer greater versatility, both on the production line and in the form of shelf life.

By Mary

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