When the world started living the lean-green-clean lifestyle, it was only a matter of time before beauty caught up. But, is all-natural as good as their chemical counterparts, or just a load of holistic hot air?
Panic over pollution and our endless quest for antioxidants mean natural beauty isn’t just for hippies anymore. There’s also no evidence of how artificial and synthetically produced ingredients affect our bodies in the long term. When the average person uses around ten different products on their skin per day, and sensitive skin sufferers are on the rise, it may be time to ditch the man-made mutations and embrace going au naturelle.
If it works, that is.
Definition: What do you mean by natural?
Natural and organic beauty aren’t synonymous. To define a product as ‘natural,’ it needs to be present or produced in nature and be of plant, animal, mineral, or microbial origin. No surprises there. But natural also means the use of minimal ecological and sustainable production processes. No petrochemicals (like mineral oil), genetically engineered, or modified ingredients, either. Organic, however, just means the ingredients are grown without using synthetic fertilisers or pesticides.
Who would convert?
Despite what you may think, natural beauty products aren’t just for the uber-sensitive. In fact, many include essential oils used to benefit skins and add fragrance (for that ‘spa-like’ experience) that some may be allergic to.
Those with fridges bursting with kale and beets, who recycle and/or compost, or just don’t want to ingest second-hand micro-beads, may be first in line. For pregnant women, natural and organic products are the safest to use for baby-safe pampering.
If you’re one to block a pharmacy aisle studying ingredient lists, the reassurance that natural products are eco-friendly and safer than chemicals may be all the convincing you need.
Pros and cons
Pros: If the skin is an organ, it stands to reason that loading up on natural, plant-based products can only be a good thing, right? Natural products are also more eco-friendly than chemical, artificial, and synthetic alternatives. Unlike anything man-made, they don’t have the cheap filler ingredients from petrochemicals. It often doesn’t include parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and other complex words that, although not proven to kill you, we’re told to avoid. Simply put, biological processes are used to obtain ingredients and so the products may be purer, and could be more potent.
Cons: Like the organic section of your local supermarket, much of it comes at a premium. It’s up to you whether it’s worth the splurge. Using essential oils in many of the products is still controversial, too. While many natural companies swear by them, the other camp of natural brands cites the risk of allergy and irritation, preferring to steer clear. Organic products don’t always mean ‘safe,’ either. According to the FDA, an organic source can still be unregulated, so just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s good.
Converted yet? Or just confused?
If, like us, the call of nature has piqued your curiosity, here are a few landmarks to look out for in 2017, and the potholes to avoid – in the style of Snog, Marry, Kill of course.
Snog (The booty-call, FWB products to flirt with… and you never know, they might be the real deal.)
Essential oils: Used for centuries, it’s hard to deny that essential oils have incredible skin benefits. Tea tree oil is an acne-fighting hero, and neroli is a wrinkle rewinder. However, the strong fragrances can irritate and inflame sensitive skins. We know they’re gorgeous, but approach with caution. They could be bad news.
Masks: Because plant acids are less expensive than lactic ones, AHA and enzyme masks often use glycolic acid or fruit enzymes to exfoliate the skin. They’re a little harsher though, so try not to get too needy.
Marry (Like your favourite food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They might get boring, but you can’t live without them.)
Probiotics: A recent welcome dot on the skincare radar, in 2017 everyone’s talking about probiotic skincare. Think Yakult or kimchi, but for the face. The good bacteria in probiotics help the skin to balance itself. Happy skin, happy gut, happy life.
Cold-pressed oils: The clue’s in its name. You know exactly what you’re getting with a 100% pure, cold-pressed oil. Often fragrance-free, they’re definitely the oatmeal-over-BBC Breakfast of face products, but the clear skin and glow are still 99.9% worth it.
Cleansing oils and/or balms: An all-natural, oily second cleanse (after makeup removal) is a super relaxing way to give yourself a mini facial massage, without stripping or damaging the skin’s surface.
Kill (Creep at the end of the bar. Avoid at all costs.)
Manual exfoliation: We don’t care whether they’re tiny plastic beads or shrapnel-sized apricot kernels. Your face isn’t a block of wood and doesn’t need sanding! AHA and BHA liquid exfoliants do a better job and are kinder to the skin.
Words: Mimi Davies
Hashtags: #natural #organic #beauty #2017 #beautytrends #skincare