In recent years, the “natural” beauty industry has exploded.
As consumers become increasingly aware of how their choices impact on their health, they want to get their hands on cleaner, safer, and more natural ingredients – as opposed to the chemical-laden products that clutter many store shelves.
Many consumers believe that “natural” products are the answer to their health woes. They assume that the word implies safety and cleanliness – but we’ve learned that isn’t necessarily true.
Incidences like the 2022 dry shampoo recall triggered growing uncertainty in the efficacy and reliability of supposedly safe ingredients. These dry shampoos were found to contain Benzene, a Class 1 solvent that may result in cancer.
The problem? Benzene can occur naturally, allowing some of these dry shampoos to boast about their use of “natural” ingredients – even when they weren’t actually safe to be used.
That’s why we want to talk about the words “natural” and “safe” in the beauty industry. The two terms are not interchangeable, and in reality, many natural products aren’t actually safe for wide use.
Understanding “Natural” Beauty Products
Defining natural beauty products is tricky as the term “natural” isn’t uniformly defined or regulated. However, the general consensus is that natural beauty products consist of ingredients sourced from nature, devoid of artificial or man-made substances.
Healthy natural ingredients can include botanical extracts, minerals, oils, and other plant-based elements. Fruits and vegetables like apricot, apple, cucumber, and kale are also popular.
However, it’s important to note that containing natural ingredients doesn’t always make a product safer. Natural (but unsafe) beauty product ingredients can include allergenic components like limonene or linalool. Additionally, excess amounts of certain essential oils like peppermint, lavender, or tea tree can cause adverse reactions.
“Natural” product labels certainly appeal to our increasingly conscious society. Now more than ever, consumers try to make choices that better the environment and their health. In some cases, the label is accurate – but shoppers still need to evaluate the actual safety of every product they choose.
How Beauty Products Are Regulated
The 2022 Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA) enhanced the FDA’s authority to regulate cosmetic products. Manufacturers are now mandated to register their facilities, disclose all ingredients, and report serious adverse effects within fifteen days.
This new act promises greater transparency and safety, establishing a comprehensive review process for potentially harmful ingredients.
Despite advances like MoCRA, several areas in the cosmetics industry still remain unregulated. For instance, there's limited oversight of "green" or "natural" product claims and minimal regulation of manufacturing standards.
Since there are no clear criteria that determine what makes a product natural or clean, it leads to significant variation in products labeled as such. This lack of standardization can mislead consumers.
Therefore, labels with claims like “natural” or “eco-friendly” shouldn’t be taken at face value. It’s still up to us to research and understand what’s in the products we use.
Potential Safety Concerns With “Natural” Products
When a beauty product is marketed as “natural,” it gives the impression that the product is safe. After all, natural ingredients couldn’t be harmful. (Right?)
Well, that’s not necessarily the case. While there are a ton of beneficial natural ingredients, not all are optimal for human health. In fact, some can do more harm than good.
Some people can still be allergic or sensitive to natural ingredients. For instance, essential oils like lavender or peppermint can cause skin irritation or contact dermatitis. Even innocuous substances like pollen in natural products can provoke allergic responses.
Not to mention, natural beauty products are often devoid of preservatives. This makes them susceptible to contamination and microbial growth, posing health risks. Furthermore, natural ingredients can undergo oxidation, reducing product stability and leading to spoilage.
Assessing Safety: What to Look For
Becoming a cautious consumer can save you from future headaches. Begin by carefully reading labels and ingredient lists on potential beauty product purchases.
Look for nourishing and safe ingredients (that you aren’t sensitive to) like coconut oil, ginger, or shea oil. Avoid ingredients that have been proven to have adverse effects like parabens, nano-particles, formaldehyde, and sulfates.
Most importantly, research specific ingredients and their potential risks. The FDA has loose regulations, so investigate third-party testing to better understand a product’s safety. You should also ensure your favorite beauty brands are backed by the certifications you believe in like cruelty-free or vegan.
Debunking Myths and Misinformation
What's often implied by the term "chemical-free" is the absence of harmful synthetic compounds – but this can be misleading. Some synthetic ingredients are safe and beneficial, while certain natural ones can cause harm.
Understanding the science behind ingredients, rather than fearing the word "chemical," is the key to making informed choices about personal care products.
Furthermore, greenwashing and misleading marketing claims are becoming more common. Businesses know that consumers want eco-friendly or clean products, and they take advantage of that.
A product branded as “natural” can contain the exact same synthetic ingredients as any other product. Always do your research, and don’t let brands trick you with deceptive marketing.
Looking For Truly Safe, Effective Beauty Products?
“Natural” beauty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find healthy, clean, and most importantly, safe products for your skin. Get informed now and avoid falling for common marketing tactics and buying harmful, allergenic ingredients.
At Original Sprout, we are dedicated to making products for children and adults that are truly safe. With clean, nonallergenic ingredients we want you to feel glowing and beautiful, without any side effects or potential hazards.
Learn more about Original Sprout and browse our full list of family-friendly products today.