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Natural Skin Care: What You Need to Know

by November 13, 2021 Beauty

Today’s beauty trend is finally shifting in a way that may benefit the planet after decades of powdering our faces with petrochemicals. One problem, though, is that natural skin care is so expensive. A growing number of products are now marketed as “natural”-even when they are not.

Certainly, “natural” has become one of the most controversial and overused terms in the beauty industry. Essentially, it consists of substances derived from plants instead of noxious chemicals. Even so, there are no rules governing the term in the U.S., and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is notoriously lax when it comes to cosmetic labeling.

There remains a minefield of misleading practices and questionable claims on the market, and one must have a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues before being able to sniff out the greenwashers.

Is ‘Natural’ a Legal Term?

As opposed to the term “organic,” which is governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s National Organic Program and requires certification, the term “natural” does not have a legal definition. Instead, beauty products are regulated by the FDA – the agency responsible for overseeing the safety of cosmetics under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

In comparison, the EU bans 1,328 ingredients in cosmetics, while the United States bans just 11.
To respond to the growing demand for “clean” ingredients, advocacy groups such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Environmental Working Group organize.

The survey by Stella Rising found that Gen Zers value products that are made from botanical ingredients, non-animal tested, and water-efficient. The survey found that 83% of them already purchase organic and natural products.

The Environmental Working Group has created the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which rates thousands of skin care ingredients (and products, and brands) on a scale of 0 to 10, until the government catches up with societal demands.

A scientist-curated Red List of “chemicals for concern” has also been developed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics based on their health ratings but not environmental effects.

What you should avoid when using skin care products

My Natural Skin Care Routine & Beauty Tips | Irena Macri

Because there is no standard for defining natural skincare products, consumers must choose which products meet their needs. It would ban “petroleum or petroleum-derived ingredients” from products marked as “natural” if passed (it has been stuck in the Senate since 2019). Crude oil has long been used by the beauty industry to source its ingredients.

Ingredients Commonly Derived from Petroleum

Petrochemicals serve a number of purposes in skin care, including moisturizing, preservative, creaminess, and odor protection.
Petrol-derived products are harmful to the environment, as are all petroleum-derived products. In addition to affecting coral reefs and ocean oxygen levels, petrochemicals also wash into drains when used in skin care products.

Novinoxate and Oxybenzone

The perfect example is conventional sunscreen. Approximately 70% to 80% of sunscreens contain the petroleum-based ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two chemicals have been shown to increase coral reefs’ vulnerability to bleaching, cause DNA damage, cause coral deformations, and severely disrupt growth and reproduction. A total of 3,500 SPF-providing skin care products contain the former. Hawaii banned oxybenzone and octinoxate completely at the beginning of 2021 because of their toxicity.

In addition to octocrylene, nano-zinc oxide, nano-titanium dioxide, and several benzophenone compounds, other common sunscreen chemicals can harm marine life, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.