Clean Beauty: How Natural is Natural?

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Clean Beauty: How Natural is Natural?

Clean Beauty has been the buzzword amongst the cosmetic and skin care industry for a while now. With rising concerns about the environment, health and wellbeing, this has led to growing interest in skincare products and their ingredients.

Introduced as a ‘green’ and ‘natural’ alternative to mainstream cosmetic products, clean beauty has been the resolution for many. Although it is not a government regulated term, it is generally believed that clean beauty refers to the absence of synthetic ingredients and potentially toxic chemicals.

Choosing clean, green, natural ingredients instead seems to be overall consensus. But how natural is natural?

Natural Clean Beauty Ingredients

How to Define Natural

Natural products refer to a product that is made with ingredients sources from nature e.g., plant, mineral or animal. Other terms you may see are “naturally derived”, “natural origin” or “made with natural ingredients”, which suggests these ingredients are found in nature.

However, very few natural ingredients are used in their present condition and it is important to note that not all “natural” ingredients are safe and harmless. They may be minimally modified, undergo some chemical processing or will have to be recovered from nature using other procedures.

This leads us onto the definition of “nature identical” and the argument of whether these ingredients can be considered as natural or unnatural.

Natural Vs. Nature Identical

The Collins dictionary defines nature identical as “manufactured to be identical to a natural substance.” So, on a molecular level, nature identical ingredients will have nearly the exact same structure and components as natural ingredients.

This is a great alternative to natural ingredients that are hard to source due to being too expensive or harmful to the environment. By using this manufacturing technique, you can still gain the same skincare benefits of natural ingredients but in a more sustainable way.

If they are synthesised in a lab though, does this mean they aren’t considered natural?

What About Ingredients That Are Taken from Nature Using Different Processes?

An ingredient that can be found in nature would be considered as natural, but what if the processes to retrieve the ingredient aren’t? An example of this is Zinc Oxide which is commonly found in natural sun creams.

Zinc Oxide is an ingredient found in nature, but you cannot retrieve it without processing the material that contains it. Once it is taken out of the ground, it has to go through a procedure to be removed, purified and stabilised.

So, even though it was found in nature which would define it as natural, the processes it has to go through to reach its final state could be considered as unnatural. Other vitamins and minerals that can also contribute to the debate are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and salicylic acid.

The Ongoing Debate of Natural Clean Beauty

There is no simple black and white answer to what ingredients are considered natural and clean. This is partly due to the fact that there is no formal government regulation of “natural” or “clean beauty”, which makes it even harder to define.

At Jarvis, we understand the theory behind clean beauty and why consumers would be driven towards searching for the cleanest ingredients. However, there will never be any toxic, unsafe ingredients included in cosmetic and skincare products in the first place. With such strict cosmetic regulations in the UK and Europe, they will not be allowed in cosmetic products or will be only permitted at very low, thoroughly tested levels.

Also, as mentioned above, natural doesn’t automatically mean safe which is another factor that should be considered. Some “natural” ingredients may not even be permitted in some formulations because of this.

If you would like to discuss this topic further with our industry experts, please get in touch.


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