‘Organic’ and ‘Natural’: What’s the Difference?

‘Organic’ and ‘Natural’: What’s the Difference?

Natural Vs Organic Skin Care products: Is There Really a Difference?

Do you know that our skin absorbs up to 60 % of what we apply on it? For those of you who have been aware and conscious about their skin care routine, the terms natural cosmetics and organic skin care are being widely used. Would you like to know the difference and understand what is best for you?

The Truth about Skin care – Know Your Products

Worldwide, people are trying to live better and elevate their quality of life and this is not a trend but a movement! The health of our skin is considered as one of the critical element that impacts not only our physical and biological quality of life but also the psychological and mental well being that affects our confidence and efficacy. What it does mean, however, is that you need to get to know your skin care a little better. Simply using ‘natural’ labeled products won’t ensure great results and it’s never wise to gamble on your skin care routine. Instead, look for the ingredients which supply your skin with the molecules it needs.

What does all natural or natural mean?

While the term “organic” is a fairly regulated term across the US, EU, UK and Australia, the same cannot be said for “all natural” or “natural”. Unless you spot something on the label to that effect, natural doesn’t mean organic. You would expect there to be at least some regulation but, according to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, this is actually one of the least regulated industries out there. This is specifically important in view of the fact that the beauty and cosmetics market in 2019 was $49.50 billion in the US alone.

The lack of regulation creates the difficulty in understanding what is and what is not natural. It is not always true that “natural” or “all natural” is always good. You would not like natural poisonous mushrooms on your skin or in your diet!

Most of us do not read the ingredient lists and trust the marketing claims and slogans on them. Broadly speaking, as per some certification bodies, the term “natural” stands for:

· Ingredients that come from plants, flowers and mineral origins found in nature

· No genetically modified (GMOs) ingredients

· No parabens, sulfates or other harmful substances

· Limited or no petrochemical ingredients

· Never tested on animals

· Manufacturing process is such that it retains the integrity of the natural ingredients

Natural vs Synthetic – where’s the difference?

As per the latest survey, women in the age group of 35-54 are increasingly inclined to go green with 69% favoring natural products. 6 in 10 women now read the product labels prior to purchase! The question is whether we are right in being wary of chemicals in our skin care. Are we blindly buying into natural brands or there is some scientific reason behind it? First of all let it make it clear – everything is chemical and there is nothing like chemical-free! Everything including water is chemical. Better term is “synthetic” which generally means that a natural derived ingredient has been molecularly replicated in a lab to provide the same effect. Natural essentially means that nothing in the product was made in lab.

Natural products are not always good! They might not be ethically sourced or organic. Mineral oil is natural but we would not like it on our skin and non-natural palm oil has a devastating impact on the wild life, hence again not preferable. In a nut-shell, it is not enough that your skin care product is “natural” but it has to be something more and that is “organic”.

Why use natural skin care products?

Safe for environment

Synthetic chemicals are harmful not only to human skin but also to the animals and plants with which they come into contact. If these synthetic products seep into the ground, they could have dire consequences on surrounding ecosystems. Also, manufacturing traditional skin care products release lots of pollutants thus leaving a negative carbon footprint on the environment.

Safe for skin

When you apply any lotion on to your skin, the ingredients contained within it slowly sink into the bloodstream. Thus, they have a direct effect on many of the body’s processes. If the ingredients are beneficial, they will benefit you but if they are a detriment, they’ll cause adverse effects on the body. Therefore, by using natural skin care products, you are essentially avoiding all negative health effects resulting in you feeling better and looking better.

Is Organic better than Natural?

Now let’s see how “natural” and “organic” are different. Although, these words are being used synonymously, but there are significant different differences between organic and natural products. If you see “natural” written on a label that broadly means that ingredients were produced by nature but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “organic”. Natural products can contain chemicals but that is not the case of organic products. “Organic” strictly refers to ingredients that are farmed without pesticides, chemicals or artificial fertilizers and it is non-GMO.

You can safely assume that an organic product will have between 95-100% chemical free ingredients while for a natural product; this is usually around 50-70%.

Top 6 differences between Natural and Organic skin care products

a) Natural skin care products have natural ingredients b) Organic skin care products also have natural ingredients but have stricter standards, always look out for organic logos on label c) Writing the term ‘Natural’ can be a marketing gimmick, always look for the label d) Organic skin care products have to adhere to stricter guidelines e) Terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not synonymous to ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ f) Prices of organic skin care products will be higher

100% “natural” or 100% “organic” skin care product is a myth!

A transparent skin care brand will always mention what percentages of its ingredients are “natural” and what percentage is “organic”, separately. It is never enough to state that the product is natural and organic. This is highly unethical as well. Always check the percentages of natural and organic ingredients. For example, on the label of Refresh Botanicals Daily Facial Moisturizer, you will find that product is 99.7% natural and 83.7% organic. Now, it is very important to remember that most of the skin care products are water-based and water cannot be certified as “organic” hence possibility of finding “100% Organic Skincare Product” is something near to impossible. It is natural but not organic! Also, some products may contain wild harvested ingredients that are as pure and natural as it gets but as they are not organically farmed they cannot be certified as organic.

About the Author

Dr. Jagvir Singh, with a PhD in Nanotechnology, has a research background of more than 15 years. He loves writing on topics of interest in the areas of skin care and commercialisation of active botanicals for the benefits of skin care.

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