Show Notes

This week I am celebrating 50 shows and I want to thank you especially for tuning in and making it a possibility. I am so grateful for all your love and shares and wanted to take this opportunity to also acknowledge my amazing business Twenty8 Essentials for being the main sponsor of the show. It is such a treat to align my passion for natural skincare and essential oils and my love of this podcast together and this week I answer a question I get asked all the time ~ What is Natural Skin Care?

What exactly is natural skin care? Is it the same as chemical-free? Does it have any bearing on organic or pure skin care? Do companies have to display or demonstrate their meaning of natural, organic and pure? It is one of the most confusing and scary things to question, and sadly it is not that easy to decipher.

Natural skin care was first recorded in Egypt in 1000BC. One of the first popular skincare treatments was a mixture of bullock’s bile, whipped ostrich eggs, olive oil, dough, resin and milk; this was thought to be beneficial for dry skin. It did not take long for someone to derive a more pleasant mixture for the face. Plant oils and herbal tinctures, and readily available ingredients such as honey and milk and fruits were used. Cold cream developed by the Greek physician Galen was a great success. Made from olive oil, beeswax, water and rose petals, it was said to have a cooling effect on the skin.

Today, thankfully no whipped ostrich eggs or bullocks bile in sight, truly natural skin care using essential oils, herbs, roots, flowers, clays, honey, and combining them with naturally occurring carrier agents and preservatives is still, for us, the best skincare option. This is because products using ingredients derived from nature and produced for use with as little human interference as possible are kinder to your skin. However, in the last 3,000 years human interference has become the norm in skincare products.

As the industrial revolution took shape, it became a lot cheaper and easier to synthesize ingredients found in nature. For example, the vegetable oil in cold cream was replaced with mineral oil. Synthetic ingredients don’t spoil like their natural counterparts, giving them a longer shelf-life and making the manufacture of beauty products a much more profitable venture. Synthetic ingredients also allow for a multitude of new concoctions to be added to the market with ease. During the nineteenth century the tide turned –beauty products became cash cows. As natural went out ‘scientific’ skin care came in. Women were impressed with the amazing claims that they would look younger and more beautiful than ever. The products available were endless, with lovely textures, smells and colours. It was exciting times as the industry boomed.

However some of us have always questioned this industry, because unlike a new drug which has to go through exhaustive testing before it can be used on the public, cosmetic ingredients are virtually unregulated. Contrary to popular belief the United States Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) does not regulate skincare and cosmetic products before they are sold. Generally, the FDA will only regulate a product once it has been released to the marketplace when and if they receive a complaint or a query from the public. Manufacturers may use any ingredient or raw material with the exception of colour additives and a few prohibited substances in a product without government review or approval. Australia and New Zealand are no exception to this worldwide situation.

Increasingly aware of this, the general public has called for more natural products. But here is the all elusive question…what is ‘natural’? The FDA and most other regulatory bodies have no actual definition of ’natural’. All ingredients are chemicals by definition. However, the term ’natural‘ has considerable market value in promoting skincare cosmetic products to consumers and, despite pressure from advocacy groups such as The Environmental Working Group (EWG), the FDA has not defined what ’natural‘ is or how to achieve it. In the market today we see thousands of skincare products claiming their ingredients are the best. Many are marketed using the natural angle, claiming they contain active botanicals and plant extracts. We are bombarded by hundreds of plant images and the promise of plant extracts to solve every beauty problem. Unfortunately when these extracts are suspended in a chemical synthetic base, as they are in most cosmetic products, any real enzyme activity the plant extract had is totally lost. To add to this, consumers are exposing themselves to harmful ingredients in the form of the synthetic base itself. Yet these products still claim that they are truly natural.

So how does the consumer navigate the shelves of the average pharmacy or beauty therapist? For the purist, there are regulatory bodies. Many will only certify products which have ingredients they consider to be safe. These are mainly natural ingredients though a few do allow some synthetics. So even regulatory bodies can be confusing. Then there are words like ‘organic’ and ‘pure’. These words are bandied around often with no real intention or meaning. We believe it is one of the hardest industries to believe and understand.

For most of us then, it comes down to a case of trust. Getting to know companies philosophies, personal integrity and understanding of their interpretation of what is ‘natural’ is the key. With a growing, though still small number of companies committed to a holistic and ethical approach to skin, we can, if we are able to understand and navigate the market successfully, see and use the best of both science and nature.

I grew tired of not knowing who to believe or what it all actually means. And although it took us over ten years to create – this is why we do what we do… Twenty8 was born, and we can honestly say we are incredibly in awe and proud of it. I hope you love it too!

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