The Science Of Natural Skincare Ingredients (And Why They’re Usually Better Than Synthetics)
You might have a rough idea of the difference between natural and synthetic skincare, but what’s the precise definition, and why does it matter?
Generally speaking, natural skincare ingredients are those manufacturers derive from whole plant sources and process minimally (or not at all). The aloe vera in your skin lotion for instance, is chemically unchanged from the naturally-occurring substance in the original tree, even if the form it takes looks different.
By contrast, synthetic ingredients do not occur in nature and are made in labs. See those unpronounceable ingredients with loads of hyphens on your skincare products’ ingredients lists? They’re usually the synthetics.
Interestingly, both types of ingredients get a bad rap. Commentators lambast synthetics for causing irritation and hormone imbalances. But at the same time, they complain that natural ingredients aren’t potent enough for the skin needs of most people and are too expensive.
So what’s going on here? What’s the truth of the matter? And which should you prefer?
Why Natural Skincare Products Are Preferable
The debate between which is better - natural or synthetic - rages back and forth. But what does the science say?
In general, natural products tend to be preferable because they don’t lead to the buildup of toxic compounds in your body, they’re non-carcinogenic, and they don’t disrupt your hormones.
Formaldehyde, for instance, is sometimes intentionally added to skincare products to prevent the buildup of bacterial growth in the form of slow-releasing preservatives. Unfortunately, the IARC and a range of other official bodies around the world classify the compounds as carcinogenic.
The good news is that if a compound is natural, it is unlikely to cause cancer if it gets into the body. And it is also less likely to lead to other concerns, including hormone imbalances.
How Natural Body Care Products Are Made
Ever wondered how brands make organic soap and organic care body wash? It all comes down to processing.
Natural doesn’t always mean “unprocessed.” Usually, it means that the basic molecule is unchanged from the form that it had while it was inside the living plant. However, it is usually much more concentrated and that contributes to its potency.
Think about mint essential oil. It looks nothing like the original mint leaf itself. But manufacturers press and concentrate it in a way that preserves the original fragrance-generating ingredients.
The same goes for natural body washes made in Australia. These products take potent ingredients from nature and then package them up in a recognisable format that you can conveniently use in the shower or bath. In many cases, the resulting formulation is much more potent than the source and combined with safe and proven synthetics that enhance the performance of the product.
Saying something is better because it is “natural” is what philosophers dub the “appeal to nature fallacy.” In many cases, the optimal blend of natural and synthetics lies somewhere in the middle. Natural ingredients can be better because they avoid many of the dangers of synthetics, but not necessarily. Rubbing raw garlic directly onto your skin, for example, is perfectly natural, but also extremely dangerous.
Why Are Natural Skincare Products Effective?
Don’t discount the power of nature to heal. We already know that eating a healthy diet can produce incredible effects in the body, such as reversing serious heart disease. So it stands to reason that these ingredients can also produce similar effects on the skin.
Several mechanisms explain why natural skincare ingredients are good for the skin, but the main channel appears to be something called xenohormesis. Topically-applied plants signal to your skin that “times are tough” and that they need to go into maintenance mode, activating your skin’s latent rejuvenation potential, making it look younger and healthier.
Natural skincare products, including soap-free body wash, are also good for supporting the environment. The natural compounds they contain break down naturally, just like all substances created by nature, helping to maintain balance in local ecosystems. You’re not damaging the environment by allowing your suds to drain away via the plughole.
Types Of Natural Body Care Products Available From OC Naturals
There are loads of natural body wash products available from OC Naturals that contain an optimal blend of organic and synthetic ingredients for you to try out.
- Moisturising body washes, such as our Moisturising Vanilla Ylang Ylang Body Wash
- Rejuvenating body wash, which contains special ingredients such as Rose and Patchouli
- Naturally-inspired hand washes, such as our Lemongrass and Ginger Hand Wash and Vanilla Shea Hand Wash.
There are also a selection of kids washes from OC Naturals too, formulated with gentle ingredients for their sensitive skin. Experience the difference for yourself today.