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The importance of natural ingredients in cosmetics

You and me, we are probably the luckiest and unluckiest consumers at the same time. We have a huge variety of beauty products to choose from, but still, struggle to make the best choices.

 

You and me, we are probably the luckiest and unluckiest consumers at the same time. We have a huge variety of beauty products to choose from, but still, struggle to make the best choices.

The information about beauty product ingredients is abundant, but difficult to make sense of. What are the good and bad ingredients? How important are natural components in cosmetics? How to make the best choice for you?

It’s time to debunk some of the most popular myths about ingredients in beauty products!

 

 

Top 5 facts every cosmetics products consumer needs to know

You can own only one hand cream or dozens of beauty products in your arsenal, but the point of cosmetics remains same — making us feel better about ourselves.

There are several key things you should know as a beauty product consumer:

1.   Cosmetic ingredient blacklists will make anyone paranoid, but won’t teach anything

I’ll be brutally honest here: NONE of the lists of harmful cosmetic ingredients you find online will actually inform you about the benefits and risks of every substance. The reason is simple: these lists don’t take into account several crucial things, such as:

  • quantity of ingredients (i.e. the amount of product determines its effect)
  • ingredient quality (ingredients come from different sources and have different properties)
  • ingredient combos in the product (e.g. benzoyl peroxide and retinol can cause irritation when used together, vitamin C and retinol can cause dryness)
  • area of application (e.g. foot creams can be thick, heavy, and do their job of skin softening, but they aren’t a good choice for the face),
  • way of use (e.g. some potential irritants can be used in face wash because they don’t stay on the skin for long enough to cause irritation, but are unacceptable in face creams that are left to absorb),
  • frequency of use (beauty products can be used rarely or frequently, which determines their long-term effect)
  • who uses it (e.g. you need to take into account your skin type and your own needs — to each their own).

2.   Price ≠ quality

That’s not to say that when you’re choosing to pay extra cash for a more expensive product, you won’t get better quality! However, the price of any beauty product, including natural beauty products, includes not only the value of ingredients but packaging costs and brand value as well. For instance, a pack of 2 pairs of paraben free and cruelty—free foot mask with 100% natural extracts and vitamins from Cosméty Paris is really affordable. At the same time, some foot mask brands may charge quite a lot for products with synthetic ingredients only. That means that you don’t need to pay a lot of money to get great quality products with natural ingredients.

3.   It’s all about the quantity

When it comes to cosmetics products, ingredients lists are so intimidatingly long that regular consumers don’t know where to start. The truth is, the ingredients are always sorted by their amount in the product.  Everything that the product includes is listed in descending order of predominance. Typically, ingredients that are present in a concentration of 1% or less can be listed in any order. So, if natural extracts are listed at the end of the ingredients list, it’s likely that their amounts are so small that it’ll have a very little effect.

4.   Watch out: greenwashing is real

Greenwashing in the cosmetics industry is a huge issue that isn’t widely discussed. Basically, this practice is a marketing trick that companies use to encourage consumers to buy their products. Brands put such labels as ‘eco—friendly,’ ‘organic products,’ and ‘green’ on the packaging, leading customers to believe that the value of the products is higher than it actually is. So it’ll be a smart decision to check the ingredient list and see if you’re actually getting a product with natural ingredients.

Keeping these facts in mind, let’s move on to making sense of natural ingredients in cosmetics!

Technology meets Nature: Natural ingredients in cosmetics

I admit it: when I see a beauty product that says ‘contains natural ingredients,’ I instantly want to get it, be it face cream, skin care, or a foot mask.

Why are natural ingredients in cosmetics important? The answer is actually pretty simple: we need the best things!

  • Natural products aren’t as foreign to our bodies as synthetic chemical compounds
  • They are Earth-friendly
  • Natural products are much more gentle in the long run than synthetic beauty products
  • They contain antioxidants (green tea, pawpaw), fatty acids (olive oil, avocado) and vitamins (argan oil) that are easily absorbed by the skin
  • Natural acids (like in grapefruit) are milder than synthetic chemicals
  • Natural products don’t tend to build up in internal organs and don’t cause health issues in the long run
  • You might not realize it, but you support agriculture by buying beauty products with natural ingredients.

All of this is true. But! There’s always a ‘but’ that you should be concerned about as a smart consumer (4 to be precise):

  1. Natural ≠ zero risks. Natural ingredients can be equally potent irritants for skin as synthetic chemical ingredients. For instance, essential oils have been used for thousands of years and are known for antibacterial and antioxidant properties. However, in larger quantities, they can be toxic.
  2. Short shelf life. Just like natural vegetables, fruits, and dairy goes bad quickly, cosmetics products with natural ingredients in them also don’t have a very long shelf life.
  3. “Natural” doesn’t mean chemical-free. Beauty products can contain both natural and synthetic chemical ingredients. A label “natural” doesn’t mean that you’ll get a 100% natural product. Instead, chemicals are added to extend the shelf life of natural and organic beauty products, giving them the right consistency, and preventing from clumping and separating over time.
  4. Have allergies? Think twice. Natural products are often very strong irritants. While beauty companies develop innovative ingredients that are hypoallergenic to reduce the risk of allergies, natural ingredients remain risky whatever the amount is.

Now that you know the basics of natural ingredients in cosmetics, let’s proceed to the list of ingredients you need to know about.

How to pick beauty products like a cosmetologist

 

If there’s one thing we all want, it is spending our hard earned money on something that will truly satisfy our needs and make our lives better. If you want to get a good bang for your buck while shopping for cosmetics, you’ve gotta learn how to be a smart customer!

Figure your needs out

While choosing cosmetics products, you need to think first about what you and your skin need instead of advertised properties of any cream or lotion. Determine your skin type and the issues you have, and only after that start searching for products that will cater to your need.

Be curious about ingredients

To know what you buy is easy — just take a look at the ingredient list. If you’re wondering what you’re buying, check an online database for detailed info on what the ingredients are and whether they are safe.

Here are some common ingredients that you need to know about right away:

  • Glycerin (or glycerol) — humectant added in skincare products to prevent moisture loss.
  • Parabens (butylparaben, methylparaben, etc) — preservatives that are added to extend the shelf life of cosmetics products. Currently, parabens are the safest preservatives available, there’s no solid evidence that suggests their long-term negative effects
  • Sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate) — detergents that create lathering effect and help remove dirt from skin and hair. However, they can cause irritation and skin dryness, which is why it’s better not to use products with sulfates on a daily basis
  • Fragrance — common allergens and hormone disruptors
  • Silicones (cyclomethicone, dimethicone) — used widely in skincare and haircare, make products feel smooth and emollient. Products with silicones make hair appear shiny and healthy and skin appear smoother (silicones are typically the main ingredient of many face primers and hair treatments, such as the ever-popular Moroccanoil Treatment). However, silicones can clog pores and make hair dry, dull, and lifeless in the long run
  • BHA — commonly used in exfoliants, can cause skin depigmentation
  • Synthetic colors — can be strong allergens
  • Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide — physical sunscreens, sits on top of the skin
  • Oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate — chemical sunscreen ingredients that absorb into the skin.

Be mindful, but don’t panic!

Surely, there’s a lot of buzz going on about different ingredients. The truth is, if you take a look at the ingredients list of any of beauty products you have, you’re likely to find at least one of these ‘dangerous’ ingredients. Don’t panic! Instead, do more research and make sure that there’s real academic research behind all those blacklists.

Choose cosmetic products with natural ingredients when possible

In an ideal world, we’d have access to amazing natural beauty products that contain no harsh chemicals and don’t cost a fortune. So, the only way is to make the best of what we have.

 

In fact, you do have access to 100% natural products. Natural ingredients have been used for generations, so feel free to explore them. Who knows, maybe simple coconut oil will become your holy grail beauty secret!


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