What is Natural Skin Care?
Natural skin care is generally understood to refer to those products characterised by the absence of synthetic elements, such as preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils, fragrances and harsh detergents.
Typically, natural skin care products are created using natural ingredients such as plant oils, essential oils, herbal and flower extracts (both aqueous and waxy), that have been prepared in the “old fashion way”, without chemical processing or modification. Sometimes, ethically produced animal derivatives, such as beeswax, may also be present in natural skin care (1).
Natural skincare made with approved organically produced recycleables and practices can be organic authorized by the relevant organic organizations.
Regrettably, there are numerous products in the market that claims to be either natural or which are cleverly marketed for their singular organic extract or vitamin, amongst the dense cocktail of synthetic components. These are the “pseudo-natural” products (1). To help clarify if a skin care system is really natural, it is recommended to read the constituents section in the label.
Why is natural skin care better than synthetic?
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Products that are made from ingredients that have been extracted normally from sustainably maintained plants and crops manifest the essence, the energy, the qualities and the benefits of the original source raw material, in ways that synthetics ingredients do not.
Simply put, the geographical location, the soil and the water the plants are grown in, along with the sun exposure, the seasons and harvesting times contribute to the mature plant life and crop yields in special ways.
These factors cannot be mimicked in the laboratory or controlled nurseries, as the natural exposure to the environmental conditions facilitates development of subtle differences in the particular plants. These are then reflected within the quality of the extracted oils, as well as on their specific composition, properties plus benefits.
Besides, synthetic ingredients are produced in laboratories using scientific, yet often hazardous processes involving the use of carbon dioxide, propylene glycol or hexane based methods. Although these chemical substance agents may only be present is definitely trace amounts in the final synthesised ingredients, it is unclear what effect they might have as they accumulate for the human body, over a prolonged period of exposure (2).
Of course , some of the natural extracts and oils may also be affected or destabilised by the natural extraction methods utilized in their preparation. For these reasons manufacturers associated with natural skin care products give great consideration to the sourcing of their unprocessed trash and how natural ingredients are prepared from the second option.
What is Special About Plant Oils?
Plant oils are made up of complex mixtures of different fatty acids (lipids). It does not take specific mix and ratio of the fatty acids that determines the unique character of any oil. In addition to the major lipid fraction, there are also other extremely important bioactive substances such as the phospholipids, phosphatides, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones and nutritional vitamins. These bioactives are known as the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. They normally are present is small amounts and are unique signatures of the oils (3).
To demonstrate how the oil composition determines the difference within functional properties, the typical fatty acid user profile of apricot kernel and borage oils as described in Kusmirek (3) are compared below.
1 – Apricot kernel oil is a mixture of 58 – 74% associated with oleic acid, 25 – 30% of linoleic, with the remainder 4 – 7% composed of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and alpha-linolenic acids. The unsaponifiable content is approximately zero. 5 -0. 75%.
2 — Borage oil is a mixture of thirty – 40% linoleic acid, almost eight – 25% gamma linolenic acidity, 15 – 20% oleic acid, 9 – 12% palmitic acidity, 3 – 4% stearic acidity, 2 – 6 % eicosenoic acid. The unsaponifiable content can be approximately 1%.
Apricot kernel oil is a great nourishing and emollient oil that is easily absorbed. These qualities are attribute to the high proportions of oleic and linoleic acids. Furthermore, apricot kernel oil can also be an excellent source of vitamin A, present in the particular unsaponifiable matter.
Borage oil is known for its nourishing and penetrating attributes attributed to the presence of linoleic and oleic acids, but in addition the high content of gamma-linolenic acid confers its regenerating and firming qualities.
The differences within the properties of apricot kernel plus borage oils, as well as those of some other oils not discussed here, show the importance to blend various flower oils for optimal skin care, so the skin is adequately fed, continually hydrated, smooth feeling and outfitted to regenerate efficiently. These are essential to promote a healthy skin glow, regardless of age.
But , even if the synthetics natural oils were to reproduce the exact mixes and ratios of plant derived essential fatty acids and unsaponifiables, it would be nearly impossible to mimic into the synthetic oils the particular contribution from the energy that is held in the plant, from which the equivalent oils were extracted. Thus, natural ingredients are very different from their synthetic equivalents.
What about essential oils and other botanicals?
Essential natural oils are concentrated extracts of perfumed and other volatile plant substances, sometimes containing growth factors known for their particular regenerative properties. They are the source of the scents of nature and may be used to add scent to natural items. Because of their concentrated nature and high cost to produce, only small amounts of essential oils are used in natural skin care. Besides, as essential natural oils may be irritating to the skin, they should never be used undiluted.
In contrast to oils, floral/herbal waters are the aqueous components from flowers/plants. Naturally produced natural oils and aqueous extracts are made via distillation, steaming, or infusion techniques. These are slow and often inefficient procedures that add to cost. But , the products generated using non-synthetic approaches are much safer and healthier than those extracted with the use of artificial methods.
Is there a problem with the variation in natural ingredient batches?
The quick answer is NO!
Certainly, naturally produced ingredients show “batch variation”, but this is section of nature, demonstrating the cycles associated with change. These are natural bio- rhythms, and as with everything in character sometimes there is abundant sunshine, other times there are only clouds. Naturally, these weather changes affect the growth designs of the plants.
This means that periodically some of the natural ingredients may contain a slightly higher or lower percentage of one or perhaps several of the components, but over a period of time, these variations balance out. The key point is that the overall effect of using 100 % natural ingredients is still beneficial in the long run.
Supporters from the mainstream cosmetic industry object to this variation associated with natural ingredients. Instead they advocate that synthetic ingredients really are a far better option to manufacture any items, including skin care. They argue that artificial ingredients are scientifically controlled, exacting, standardised and can be made in a totally reproducible manner. But , at the end of the day… they may not be natural!
What about preservatives, stabilisers and emulsifiers?
Sure, preservatives and stabilisers extend the shelf-life of any product, natural and synthetic (1, 2, 4). Because of this recognition Western and USA organic and regulatory organisations have approved the use of particular preservatives for which there has been long standing up accumulation of safety and degree of toxicity data, e. g. blends associated with dehydro-acetic acid. These preservatives were designed to replace the paraben family of preservatives in the personal care products. Even though natural products ought to have the minimum necessary amounts of preservatives.
Without a doubt, chemical preservatives such as the parabens, the phenol derivatives and the denatured alcohols are extremely efficient, as they increase the product shelf-life nearly indefinitely! But , they are also known to interfere with hormone balance and can be allergy (1, 2). Clearly, they are not health promoting substances. As they are readily absorbed by the skin and are long lasting, their long-term effects on distal organs are unknown, and thus unwanted.
Interestingly, vitamin E is a powerful organic anti-oxidant, as well as a fantastic natural additive for oil blends and emulsified oils (2). Extracts of rosemary and oregano are also considered organic preservatives because of their anti-bacterial properties (2). However , these are not frequently used because they impart a strong scent and may give rise to some skin irritation. This is an example of where caution has to be exercised with natural substances. Though these situations are more the exception than the principle.
Alginic acid obtained from brown algae is sometimes used as a stabiliser (4). But , allantoin, an extract from comfrey root is a more suitable organic stabiliser for skin care preparations (2).
Emulsifiers are substances that help to prevent the parting of the of oil and water fractions in a lotion or lotion. In natural skin care these include lethicin and the wax cetearyl alcohol (1, 2, 4). Lecithin is extracted from soya coffee beans and is known to soften the skin and help penetration of the skin care item. Cetearyl alcohol is a mix of the high melting point cetyl and stearyl fatty acids derived from either animal or plant fats. In natural skincare it is preferable to have plant sourced cetearyl alcohol. Apart from its excellent emulsifying properties, this fatty acid blend facilitates maintenance of skin hydration.
Therefore , what’s he take home message?
Irrespective of some of the limitations of natural skin care, the natural ingredients in these products continue to be far more beneficial than those that are completely synthetic. Synthetics are unable to reproduce the unique heterogeneous and nourishing character from the natural extracts and oils, since discussed above.
Technology aside, it is also clear that there are major financial benefits for manufacturers to use mostly, if not strictly synthetic ingredients. The cost of producing natural skin care products is of necessity higher than that of synthesising vast amounts of easy to make and use synthetic ingredients. Compared to their equivalent natural counterparts they afford versatility on the production line, on the shelf-life, as well as on profitability.
These attributes of scientifically designed skin care in the twentieth century satisfied the increasing market desire for youth elixirs. However , since the 1960’s growing conscious awareness of that which was in our food, demand for natural and organic products increased. This requirement extended to the personal care sector furthermore. Indeed, the natural and organic cosmetics marketplace has been the fastest growing industry of the personal care products since the past due 1980’s.
Fortunately nowadays, the driver is not purely for skin care that makes you look good, but for products that can achieve this goal with respect for human beings and the environment.