What does natural mean to you?
How do you define natural?
With the personal care products industry booming over sales of "natural" products, it is a fair question. Why are people looking for natural? Is it to be more eco-friendly? Is it for safer ingredients? Is it to limit chemical exposure? I think all of these reasons come into play. But just what IS natural?
Over the past couple weeks, I talked to as many consumers as I could to find out what they consider to be the meaning of natural when it comes to their personal care products.
My first mission: Learn how consumers define natural
I hit the stores and online boutiques to take to learn how consumers view "natural."
Webster's defines natural as "existing in nature and not made or caused by people" -- but that is actually a bit different than what many of us think of when we talk about natural products.
I first asked the people I spoke with this question: "How do you define a natural product?" The answers were varied. Here are some of the comments you shared:
- "Natural means that the ingredients are grown in the ground or come from plants."
- "A natural product contains no artificial ingredients like colors or fragrance."
- "Natural skin care products are made from food ingredients and plants."
- "Natural means that a product is organic."
- "Natural is the opposite of synthetic."
- "Natural products are safer and do not have chemicals of any kind."
How does the FDA define natural?
It doesn't. There is no regulatory definition of natural established by the FDA as it relates to personal care products.
The same applies to organic. When it comes to your personal care products, please be aware of these claims. This is actually something I intend to write about in the near future here on the Seed blog -- "organic" skin care.
We use organic ingredients when we can at Seed, but some organic ingredients are harder to come by. Plus, the process of being USDA certified organic is can be cost prohibitive to many small companies.
Here is something I want to note about whether "organic" is actually better. This comes from the USDA Organic Skin Care website:
What do other companies consider natural?
I love taking a more in-depth look at labels. Being an advocate for truth in labeling and better ingredients for years, I have done this many times before and it is always refreshing: looking at claims made by skin care and beauty brands.
As there is really no definition of "natural" -- and no oversight -- a company can pretty much say whatever they'd like. For example, a drugstore line of "Naturals" has a giant bottle of body wash for $3 and has a big glossy image of verbena and almonds.
Surely, it must contain real lemon verbena and almonds, right?
In reality, it has synthetic fragrance and the second to last ingredient is lemon verbena, right between Methylisothiazolinone and Caramel Color on the label. The fragrance they add tricks you into thinking you are getting an abundance of the real deal.
Another product I encountered was a popular face scrub. It has Apricot in the product name, so surely it must have a large quantity of apricots, correct? The packaging makes it seem so wholesome and natural -- almost good enough to eat.
In reality, this is the ingredients list:
WATER (AQUA, EAU), JUGLANS REGIA (WALNUT) SHELL POWDER, GLYCERYL STEARATE, GLYCERIN, SODIUM LAURYL SULFOACETATE, ZEA MAYS (CORN) KERNEL MEAL, COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE, CETEARYL ALCOHOL, CETYL ALCOHOL, PEG-100 STEARATE, CETYL ACETATE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), POLYSORBATE 60, CETEARETH-20, ACETYLATED LANOLIN ALCOHOL, TRIETHANOLAMINE, CARBOMER, FRAGRANCE (PARFUM), PPG-2 METHYL ETHER, PHENETHYL ALCOHOL, LIMONENE, LINALOOL, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE, PRUNUS ARMENIACA (APRICOT) FRUIT EXTRACT
The VERY last ingredient in the "Apricot scrub" is apricot. This is maddening. Let's take a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe. Think of the ingredients you use. You use flour, butter, sugar (white, brown or both), vanilla, chocolate chips, eggs, and a bit of salt and baking soda. There is a VERY small amount of salt and baking soda. Would you call your chocolate chip cookies "baking soda cookies"? Of course not! That is why it is ridiculous for the "apricot" scrub to be called "apricot" scrub. I am guessing "PEG-100 Stearate Scrub" or "Triethanolamine Scrub" doesn't sound as wholesome even though those ingredients make up a larger portion of the scrub than apricots.
I then stumbled upon a bright pink shampoo with "Naturals" in the brand name. This "hypoallergenic" (read more on that buzzword here) shampoo with "natural extracts" contains the following ingredients:
Water, Amino Methyl Propanol , Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate , Ammonium Chloride, Cocamide MEA , Fragrance, PEG 5 Cocamide , Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose , Tetrasodium EDTA , DMDM Hydantoin , Citric Acid , Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Vitamin E Acetate , Methylchloroisothiazolinone , Methylisothiazolinone , Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract , Red 4CI 4700
What does natural mean to Seed?
I shared above how other companies attempt to get by on technicalities. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element. So are poison ivy and the botulism toxin. Yet, you most likely do not want to slather these ingredients on your skin. Common ingredients such as dimethicone and mineral oil are technically "natural" but these by-products can have side effects.
Seed doesn't twist the meaning of natural. To Seed, natural means that everything we make for you is plant-based, harnessing the goodness of proprietary blends of seed oils, and other straight-from-Mother Nature ingredients.
We hope that this helps you understand a bit more about natural products!
Yours in health & harmony,
Leave a comment
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Also in Lately I've been paying more attention
It's an often asked question of skin care professionals: "Is toner really necessary?"
In a word, yes.
I think that some people are skeptical of trying toners because they associate toner with the old SD alcohol-based astringents that used to strip skin and leave it feeling tight and dry. Many toners out there still have some less than stellar ingredients, but that's not what we're talking about.
Vitamin E is one of the most well-known antioxidants used in skin care. While it is common knowledge that Vitamin E is useful for the skin, many people are unaware of why it is beneficial. On the Seed blog today, we are sharing the clinical science behind Vitamin E and skin care, as well as ways it will help improve the appearance of your skin.
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that can help repair damaged cells. Naturally occurring Vitamin E includes eight different isoforms. These include alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- tocotienol.
Vitamin E is one of the most studied skin vitamins because it was discovered so long ago. In fact, it was back in the early 1920s when Berkeley biologists Dr. Herbert Evans and Dr. Katherine Bishop made the discovery.
In the field of skin care, Vitamin E has been used for more than half a century -- and with good reason.
The leaves are changing and it's getting darker earlier and earlier. Fall is officially here. With the changing seasons comes a need to adjust your skin care routine a bit.
Autumn is a time of transition and it is the ideal time to repair and renew your skin. The recent summer temperatures -- and extra sun exposure -- likely did a bit of damage to your skin, so now is your opportunity to do a bit of repair and prep your complexion for the upcoming winter.
1. Exfoliate your skin.
Lift dead skin cells, which make your skin look ashy and dry, with a gentle exfoliant. Exfoliation is one of the most important steps in any skin care routine, yet it continues to be one of the most overlooked. Everyone needs to exfoliate.
Why? When dead skin cells are sitting on top of your skin, pores become clogged. You will likely either experience acne or your skin will just look dull and flaky (or both). Helping your skin slough off dead skin cells is essential because those clear pores will more readily absorb your other facial care products, helping them to work more effectively.
Use a gentle facial scrub or facial brush to manually exfoliate, or choose a chemical exfoliant such as AHA (alpha hydroxy acids). If you are oily or prone to blackheads, look for an exfoliant with salicylic acid (BHA).