What Does Natural Ingredients Mean in Skincare?

When it comes to skincare products, what does 'natural' really mean? Learn about natural skin care products and their benefits from an expert SEO guide.

What Does Natural Ingredients Mean in Skincare?

When it comes to skincare, the term “natural” can be a bit confusing. But in this context, we can define “natural skin care” as products that use ingredients derived directly from nature, such as seed oils, fruit and grain extracts like oats and rice. Generally, natural skin care does not contain any synthetically created ingredients. Beauty brands are developing natural-based formulations that use natural, naturally sourced and certified organic ingredients.

Naturally occurring means that the starting material is natural. Often, these modifications are done to create a more stable natural ingredient, which prevents oxidation, browning, etc. Many companies follow a globally approved guideline to calculate their natural percentage. Organic formulations are divided into three categories, which are overseen by the USDA. To be 100% organic, products must use only certified organic ingredients (except water and salt); these products can use the USDA seal.To label a product as organic, formulators must have a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients (excluding water and salt), as well as a certification from a third party, such as Quality Assurance International (QAI); these products can use the USDA organic seal.

Products can say “made with organic ingredients” if they contain more than 70% certified organic ingredients; any product can use an ingredient that is mentioned as certified organic. Both this approach and organic product greater than 70% cannot use the USDA seal. It may seem that everything natural equals what's best for the environment, but this isn't necessarily true. On a case-by-case basis, all-natural ingredients can lead to a less sustainable supply due to the amount of that natural ingredient needed or to the places and media where it is harvested. In reality, sustainability is a priority in the decision-making process for each ingredient. A good example is vegan squalane in personalized skin care.

Natural squalene is shark liver oil, an incredibly effective moisturizer that doesn't meet the ethical standards of many beauty brands. Instead, vegan squalane (made in a lab) combines olive oil, rice bran oil, and amaranth oil. It doesn't occur on its own in nature, but it's better for nature. That means that a skincare formula could contain some unnatural ingredients, and technically you can still call it a natural product. Some synthetic ingredients (hyaluronic acid, SPF, vitamin C) are favorites of skincare lovers, and as with natural ingredients, it's best to avoid them or use them in minimal amounts (for example, an ingredient can also be considered synthetic if it's derived from nature and then processed or altered in a lab to create a more polished version of the 100% natural ingredient).It may seem obvious that natural ingredients are derived directly from natural sources, such as water or coconut oil.

It's important not to focus too much on natural products (they're not always good, ethically sourced, or organic), for example, non-organic palm oil, which has had a devastating impact on wildlife, but is still technically natural. This means that no matter how many potentially harmful or questionable skincare ingredients are found in a formula, technically your brand can still call it a natural product.

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