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Are natural and organic products better for you than synthetic ones?

October 29, 2013

Well there’s a question that got me thinking…..

I happened across a piece of writing proclaiming to give me ‘the truth’ about natural beauty products the other day and sat down to take note.  I didn’t learn much from the article to be fair but what it did do is help me to refresh my mind and gain a better perspective of the size of the information gap that marketing speak can fill.  It’s massive!

ground up

Let me explain:

When asked ‘Are natural and organic products better for you than synthetic ones’ the answer given was ‘in short yes’.   Psychologically I can see why, environmentally I can see where that is going  and as such that may actually be enough.  But when it comes to your skin and your health I am not convinced that we have any hard evidence to support that.

But apparently the evidence is ‘wherever we look’.  I am not sure it is that simple, especially given the argument for evolution (the ‘our skin evolved with nature and not synthetic chemicals’ argument).  I think you’d be hard pushed to find evidence of any caveman, woman or child bathing in certified organic bubble bath or even rubbing sweet almond oil into their battle wounds – sweet almond oil has to be extracted by crushing the seeds which would have been pretty time-consuming and difficult under the circumstances.

What I am saying is that things like essential oils,  plant-based surfactants and emulsifiers, plant butters and many plant-based oils don’t exactly JUMP out at you when you venture into the bush. These things have to be squeezed,  ground, reacted and heated and in relatively large quantities to give us the exposure limits that we have become accustomed to.  That doesn’t sounds ‘natural’ in an evolutionary sense to me but anyway….

The next question ‘what is the difference between natural and organic beauty products

It would seem that this question exists purely to give people the opportunity to use the words ‘nasty’ or ‘harsh’ and ‘chemicals’ in close proximity and grab the fact that these natural or organic products are ‘free from’ such ‘rubbish’.

Emotive terminology has very little place in the investigative side of science as emotion can prejudice outcomes. We call that bias but marketing call it persuasion and/or ‘buy in’.   Whenever I see those words I know that the pendulum is no longer swinging into the science half of the equation and a little part of me dies.  I get over it thankfully.

The only other part of this article that made me think was that mentioning ingredient testing.

According to the commentator in this article natural ingredients are ‘not always’ subjected to the same testing as synthetic chemicals.  While I understand where the author of this comment is coming from (ingredients that have been used for many years are not likely to be top of the list for re-testing) this isn’t true.  All ingredients that are permitted in cosmetics are subject to the same testing  laws and standards whatever the source. So,  whether that be your coconut oil or your stem cell regenerator if it is being sold as a cosmetic additive it needs to be able to prove it is fit for purpose.  Traditional cosmetic ingredients such as your base oils, waxes and powders may well have amassed lots of data over the last 60 or so years but if there are gaps or concerns raised then they will need re-testing in order to have those gaps filled.

My take home message from reading this piece was this:

When it comes to selecting cosmetics  it pays to think beyond the obvious or ‘knee jerk’ reactions/ comments  in terms of ‘costs vs benefits’  as that is the only way to ensure you reach your particular goals.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 1959duke permalink
    October 29, 2013 9:51 am

    Reblogged this on Change is Never Ending.

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