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WHAT DOES “NATURAL” ACTUALLY MEAN?
“Natural” is not a term that’s regulated by anyone, and as a result, it’s often used and misused by the beauty industry that are trying to represent themselves as “Natural”. Some brands even go as fare as to claim they sell “chemical-free” beauty products, when even water is a chemical and has a chemical composition!
It’s only when you closely examine all the ingredients on the products ingredients list, that the truth will be revealed.
As a general definition, the term “natural” represents ingredients that are directly derived from nature and not created in the laboratory.
On the other hand, simply because an ingredient is derived from nature doesn’t make it safe. There are plenty of “natural” ingredients that definitely shouldn’t be in beauty products! arsenic, occurs naturally in many minerals, but is also severely toxic and poisonous and you don’t want it in your hair!
Definition of “natural”
As any chemical substance that is naturally occurring and witch is:
-Processed only by manual, mechanical, naturally derived solvent or gravitational means, by dissolution in water or steam, by flotation, or by heating solely to remove water.
-Extracted from air by any means.
A “naturally-derived ingredient”
-Any substance where the starting material is of mineral, plant, microbe, or animal origin but has been chemically processed.
-Any substance where the starting material is of mineral, plant, microbe, or animal origin but has been chemically processed and combined with other ingredients, excluding petroleum and fossil fuel-derived ingredients.
-An ingredient that is derived from a plant feedstock and bio-manufactured using processes like fermentation, saponification, condensation, or esterification in order to improve performance or make the ingredient biodegradable or sustainable.
-Any manufacturer or distributor of cosmetics labeled as “natural” will be required to maintain records verifying such claim including carbon-14 testingresults, which provide data on the biomass-sourced versus fossil-derived composition of the product.
WHAT ARE SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS?
Synthetic ingredients are created by humans and not directly derived from nature but formulated in a laboratory. Think of synthetic as another word for “manmade.” Synthetic ingredients are often derived from natural sources.
Synthetic ingredients can also be engineered to mimic natural ingredients. Vitamin C is a well-known example of a naturally occurring ingredient that is frequently replicated in the laboratory.
There are times that synthetic ingredients may be a better choice, both for the one using it and the planet.
All beauty products contain some form of preservative, but synthetic beauty products almost always have a longer shelf life than all-natural counterparts. That means less packaging waste.
The environmental footprint of laboratory derived ingredients is often smaller than that of natural ingredients. On a large scale, natural products require massive resource consumption, such as land and water for plant crops, and the pollution associated with their transport.
Big demands on natural ingredients can result in sourcing ingredients quickly and inexpensively, leaving the door open for increased uses of pesticides and herbicides that may contaminate water supplies, and over-harvesting.
Synthetic ingredients are created by humans and not directly derived from nature. While we might instinctively assume that natural ingredients are superior to lab-created synthetic ingredients, that’s not always the case.
When it comes to your health, you are your own best advocate! If you do your research, you will know what to look for when examining an ingredient list, and you will be able to identify the safe natural and synthetic ingredients in your beauty products.
ARE A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS FOR SAFETY
While the term “preservative” has become something of a bad word in the beauty product community, preservatives – when used safely – are absolutely essential in haircare products.
From a health perspective, it is much more important that a product is non-toxic and safe from bacterial and fungal growth than for it to be 100% “natural.”
One particularly disturbing bacterium is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, which can grow in un-preserved haircare products and cause skin infections, abscesses, respiratory infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and many other serious conditions.