All-natural skincare: what does it really mean?
Guest Written by Kelsey McGillis
We live in a world where it seems like every product on the market is labelled “non-gmo” or “organic”. And while we’re totally on board the all-natural train when it comes to the produce aisle, not everything is so simple. That new vegan restaurant down the street might benefit your body and health, but not all “natural” products are built the same. Skincare is one of these grey areas, so take a minute to think before completely abandoning your current skincare regimen in lieu of all-new, all-natural products. Global news recently caught up with top skincare experts to get their takes on the natural product dilemma. So…is natural always better for you?
First of all, cosmetics in general aren’t nearly as regulated in North America as you may like to believe. In terms of the law, Health Canada has virtually no control or regulation over organic and natural skincare products, giving the companies free reign to use which ingredients they may with little overview.
Pair this loose regulation with the fact that not all of nature is as beautiful and picturesque as we may envision. As skincare expert Dr. Lisa Kellett explains “When I hear people say that natural products are better, I always point out that there are a number of things in nature that are very bad for us,”. For example, Dr. Kellett goes on, “You can have an adverse reaction from poison ivy; if you ingest too much of the foxglove plant, you’ll die; likewise, strychnine causes seizures. Just because something is natural, it doesn’t mean it’s good.”
Additionally, there comes the issue of how natural these supposedly all-natural ingredients truly are? I’m sure upon reading names such as ‘parabens’ and ‘sulfates’, your brain has been trained to think “bad, bad, bad”…but this isn’t always the case. In fact, just because a product has been labeled ‘natural’, doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain these very UN-natural sounding ingredients. Shockingly, even blueberries have parabens in them as preservatives!
So, potential negative reactions and inaccurate labelling aside, just how effective are natural products anyway? Without a chemical process occurring, it’s essentially impossible for our skin to absorb any product. As Dr. Kellett puts it “Your skin isn’t supposed to be permeable, otherwise you’d get into a bathtub full of water and swell up like a sponge, There are different compounds on the skin that increase absorption [so you can hydrate], but ultimately, it’s fairly impermeable.” This means the efficacy of an all-natural product is potentially much less than one containing active synthetic ingredients.
At the end of the day, whether you choose a natural skincare routine or not, the key is to be informed. Do research for yourself, beyond simply reading the label. Or, better yet, consult a qualified dermatologist for advice on which products are right for you.
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