Movements like the green beauty wave have many consumers convinced that we should be avoiding synthetic chemicals in our cosmetics at all costs. With “Cult Beauty’s Farm To Face page championing homegrown products” and “73% of millennial women prioritizing green beauty” there is definitely an increase in conscious living; noticing that most the controversy on ingredients being used by beauty brands centers around harmful preservatives such as phenoxyethanol and Formaldehyde, it’s easy to see why the “natural is better” a belief is so common. There are now industry specialists arguing against natural beauty dismissing it as nothing more than a trend. Is this completely a misconception or is there some truth in the notion?
Are All Lab-made Chemicals Toxic?
Synthetic skincare means products incorporate laboratory and scientifically derived ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid
The concept of synthetic chemicals being unhealthy is understandable when you consider that most of the toxins found in our cosmetics, such as parabens, are synthetic. This is not to say that natural products can’t be toxic, but that synthetics amount to a large percentage of the inactive ingredients that we are taught to distrust, and not without reason. However, manmade ingredients are now being produced more than ever and the truth is that they are not all bad for you. In many cases, we can argue that they can be sustainable and perfectly healthy; cetyl alcohol, a common moisturizing ingredient in cosmetics which was originally found in whale oil can now be prepared in a lab, therefore, avoiding animal cruelty. Synthetics can be made “near to purity” in ways that plant-based products cannot as they will often carry other chemicals from their sourcing such as herbicides and fungicides. As a result, this lessens the risk of developing sensitivities from chemicals that you may be using unknowingly. In addition, the molecular structure of a lab-made ingredient looks identical to a natural one thus the body will regardlessly respond in the same way. The lab can provide sustainability advantages by presenting an alternative to over-harvesting natural ingredients.
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Does Natural Always Mean Safer?
Both natural and synthetic skincare have their benefits and much of comes down to your own preference
If you tend to associate all-natural ingredients with being safer, imagine using a face cream with poison ivy. Natural ingredients holding unknown chemicals makes it difficult to identify and treat in the case of an allergic reaction. It is also unattainable to acquire the amount of natural resources that it would take to distribute throughout the beauty industry. The process of separating the ingredient from its source often requires several stages using a large amount of the plant/other, and “yet the yield is usually very small”. Nonetheless, these facts should not in any way turn consumers against natural beauty. The truth is that there are many natural ingredients that can and will do wonders for your skin, and sustainability only becomes a problem in big numbers; if you enjoy DIY, household methods are a great way to reap the benefits of what natural beauty can offer. Ingredients such as aloe vera, grapes, green tea, cocoa butter, and oats are a few of the best out there. If you do prefer DIY as a way to avoid toxins and complicated ingredient lists, it’s entirely possible to create an effective skincare routine using natural products alone.
To be put simply, both natural and synthetic ingredients can be healthy or harmful; choosing cosmetics should be less about natural vs man-made and more about the ingredients in themselves. While this side of the argument is becoming more popular, natural beauty is still on the rise as well as synthetic ingredients. Consumers are now taking more interest in what goes into their products through “product scanning apps” and a higher demand for transparency. The conscious living lifestyle is still relatively new in the beauty industry, so even if there are misconceptions over ingredients, enough conversation and awareness are likely to change this over time.
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