Natural skin care is generally understood to refer to those products characterised by the lack of synthetic ingredients, such as preservatives, petrochemical derivatives, mineral oils, fragrances and harsh detergents.
Typically, natural skincare products are made using natural ingredients such as plant oils, essential oils, herbal and floral extracts (both aqueous and waxy), which were prepared in the “old fashion way”, without chemical processing or modification. Sometimes, ethically produced animal derivatives, such as beeswax, may also be present in natural skin care (1).
Natural skin care made with approved organically produced raw materials and practices can be organic certified by the relevant organic organizations.
Unfortunately, there are numerous products on the market that claim to be either natural or that are cleverly marketed for their singular botanical extract or vitamin, amongst a dense cocktail of synthetic ingredients. They are the “pseudo-natural” products (1). To greatly help clarify if a skincare product is really natural, it is recommended to read the ingredients section in the label.
Why is natural skincare better than synthetic?
Products that are created from ingredients that have been extracted naturally from sustainably maintained plants and crops manifest the essence, the energy, the qualities and the advantages of the source raw material, in ways that synthetics ingredients usually do not.
To put it simply, the geographical location, the soil and the water the plants are grown in, as well as the sun exposure, the times of year and harvesting times donate to the mature plants and crop yields in unique ways.
These factors cannot be mimicked in the laboratory or controlled nurseries, as the natural exposure to the environmental conditions facilitates development of subtle differences in the plants. These are then reflected in the grade of the extracted oils, in addition to on their specific composition, properties and benefits.
Besides, synthetic ingredients are stated in laboratories using scientific, yet often hazardous processes relating to the use of carbon dioxide, propylene glycol or hexane based methods. Although these chemical agents may only be there is trace amounts in the ultimate synthesised ingredients, it is unclear what effect they could have as they accumulate in our bodies, over a prolonged amount of exposure (2).
Of course, some of the natural extracts and oils may also be affected or destabilised by the natural extraction methods used in their preparation. For these reasons manufacturers of natural skin care products give great consideration to the sourcing of these raw materials and how natural ingredients are ready from the latter.
What’s Special About Plant Oils?
Plant oils are made of complex mixtures of different essential fatty acids (lipids). It’s the specific mix and ratio of the fatty acids that determines the initial character of any oil. As well as the main lipid fraction, additionally, there are other essential bioactive substances such as the phospholipids, phosphatides, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, isoflavones and vitamins. These bioactives are known as the unsaponifiable fraction of the oil. They normally can be found is small amounts and are unique signatures of the oils (3).
To demonstrate how the oil composition determines the difference in functional properties, the normal fatty acid profile of apricot kernel and borage oils as described in Kusmirek (3) are compared below.
1 – Apricot kernel oil is a combination of 58 – 74% of oleic acid, 25 – 30% of linoleic, with the rest 4 – 7% composed of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and alpha-linolenic acids. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 0.5 -0.75%.
2 – Borage oil is a mixture of 30 – 40% linoleic acid, 8 – 25% gamma linolenic acid, 15 – 20% oleic acid, 9 – 12% palmitic acid, 3 – 4% stearic acid, 2 – 6 % eicosenoic acid. The unsaponifiable content is approximately 1%.
Apricot kernel oil is an excellent nourishing and emollient oil that’s easily absorbed. These properties are attribute to the high percentages of oleic and linoleic acids. Furthermore, ネオちゅらびはだ can be an excellent source of vitamin A, present in the unsaponifiable matter.
Borage oil is known because of its nourishing and penetrating properties related to the current presence of linoleic and oleic acids, but additionally the high content of gamma-linolenic acid confers its regenerating and firming qualities.
The differences in the properties of apricot kernel and borage oils, together with those of other oils not discussed here, demonstrate the importance to blend various plant oils for optimal skin care, so that the skin is adequately fed, continuously hydrated, smooth feeling and equipped to regenerate efficiently. They are essential to promote a wholesome skin glow, no matter age.
But, even though the synthetics oils were to reproduce the precise mixes and ratios of plant derived essential fatty acids and unsaponifiables, it will be nearly impossible to mimic in to the synthetic oils the contribution from the power that’s held in the plant, that the equivalent oils were extracted. Thus, natural ingredients will vary from their synthetic equivalents.
What about essential oils along with other botanicals?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts of aromatic along with other volatile plant substances, sometimes containing growth factors known for their regenerative properties. They are the source of the scents of nature and may be used to include scent to natural products. Because of their concentrated nature and high cost to produce, only small amounts of essential oils are used in natural skin care. Besides, as essential oils may be irritating to the skin, they should never be used undiluted.
As opposed to oils, floral/herbal waters will be the aqueous extracts from flowers/plants. Naturally produced oils and aqueous extracts are made through distillation, steaming, or infusion techniques. These are slow and frequently inefficient processes that add to cost. But, the merchandise generated using non-synthetic approaches are much safer and healthier than those extracted with the use of artificial methods.