Natural beauty and skincare products are in high demand. Customers used to be wowed by the inventions of molecular chemists. Now, many people have come back to the idea that Mother Nature knows best.
Do you want your skin slathered in a substance that didn’t even exist until last year? The answer is, more and more often, no.
Much like food, beauty products affect your body. Your skin isn’t just a wrapper for the rest of you — it’s your largest organ. What you put on it can also be absorbed into it.
Choosing the right natural beauty products can be a challenge, though. The business of natural skincare is a bit like the wild west. Standards and regulations are lacking or unclear. This means that you can’t rely on truth in advertising. You have to do some digging.
Truth and Lies in Advertising
You might think, “Even if a company can exaggerate, they can’t outright lie, can they?”
That depends on your definition of the truth. If there aren’t any laws defining what various things even mean, companies have a great deal of latitude in the claims they make.
In the U.S. this can be a problem. The FDA doesn’t oversee beauty industry ingredients. A company can legally mislead you about whether its products are natural and organic. A lot of them do. This is called “greenwashing” — and it happens all the time.
How can you get the truth?
Check independent sources. The European Union has banned numerous cosmetic ingredients based on safety concerns. Many of those ingredients are still common in other places. If a product’s ingredients show up on that list, you might want to steer clear.
The Environmental Working Group also shares a treasure trove of information about product ingredients.
What Are the Ingredients?
If it’s not clear what an ingredient is, look it up. Some ingredients will be obvious. For example, you know what peppermint oil is.
Others won’t be as obvious. You know what vitamin B5 is, but you might not know that it’s also called panthenol. If you saw panthenol on an ingredients list without looking it up, you probably wouldn’t assume it was a simple vitamin.
Meanwhile, some ingredients that sound harmless might be toxic. “Fragrance” is regularly listed as an ingredient, without any further explanation. Companies often choose to list things as “fragrance” in order to avoid stating the actual ingredients.
Are the Ingredients Used Safely?
Even if an ingredient doesn’t throw up glaring red flags, it’s still wise to do some research. Sometimes, even when an ingredient is natural, things can go wrong.
Let’s look at talc. It’s a completely natural clay mineral. If you’ve ever used baby powder, you’ve used talc. What could go wrong?
A lot, it turns out. Impure talc can have high levels of asbestos.
A company shouldn’t just use natural ingredients. They must also use natural ingredients correctly.
Do You Know How To Use the Product Safely?
It’s easy to assume that “natural” and “gentle” mean the same thing. They don’t.
Natural ingredients often come from powerful plants. This is why they work so well. If you’re skeptical, just remember that aspirin was originally derived from plants.
With some natural ingredients, a little can go a long way. Before you slather something all over your body, use it on a small patch of skin as a test.
Once you’ve chosen a natural product that meets all your expectations, you’ll need to pay extra attention to the expiration date. Without synthetic preservatives, natural beauty products often have shorter lifespans than standard products.
Sometimes, that means an ingredient loses efficacy over time. For instance, maybe the vitamins in a serum could break down after a year.
Other times, you could face mold and bacterial growth if you don’t use the product before it expires.
Natural beauty products are on the rise. Companies — some honest, some not so honest — are trying to cash in. Honest brands and tricky brands look alike at first glance. Fortunately, armed with the information you need, you’ll be able to spot the fakers. Once you switch over to natural products, your body will thank you.