When is Natural not Natural?

One of our favorite writers about cosmetic science, Dene Godfrey, asked and answered the question, “100% Natural?…Almost 100% Certainly Not.” His point? Many companies claim their products are “all-natural” or “100% natural.” But how many really are?

Says Dene:

It is no exaggeration to state that they are NOT 100% natural in well over 90% of cases. Whilst I must admit that I am talking about a fairly small sample size (tens, rather than thousands), it is clear that a large proportion of one sector of the market are making inaccurate claims.

His article got us thinking about all the product descriptions floating around out there: natural, naturally-derived, nature-identical, organic, certified organic, non-synthetic, no chemical additives, and many more. What do they all really mean? The truth is no one really knows. Are the companies that use these wonderful buzzwords in their promotions actually telling us anything of value? Even more importantly, are the companies careful and responsible about their use of earth-friendly and human-friendly ingredients?

For example, if products are truly “natural,” what would that mean? Again, Dene’s got 2 excellent questions and a great answer to this puzzle:

1) Does the substance exist in nature?

2) Is the substance extracted from nature without any chemical modification?

Only if the answer to both questions is yes, can the substance be truly described as “natural”.

Really when you think about it, any substance that comes from either a plant or an animal – flora or fauna – is “natural.” Are oil, gas and coal “natural”? Yes, by this definition – as those substances are formed from fossils.

As we at Paul Penders are utterly opposed to any cruelty to animals, we avoid the use of any animal-derived products. That leaves us with plants and rocks – beautiful tropical flowers, leaves, herbs, and roots that when gently crushed or bathed in oils give off lovely fragrances and a range of properties that can cleanse, refresh and beautify skin and hair.

To the botanicals, we can add minerals taken straight from the earth. Minerals have been a secret of great beauties for centuries, although not always the healthiest choices. Think of the lead-based skin whitening used by Mme. de Pompadour and other 18th century French ladies. We know our science and our chemists would never allow lead or other dangerous minerals to be included in our formulas.

For skin care and cosmetics, we believe freshness is a determiner of what makes an excellent natural beauty product. We need to choose the freshest ingredients and prepare them in small batches to preserve their inherent properties. We don’t want to over-process the ingredients so instead we use a cold-blending process rather than heating ingredients which would cause chemical bonds to break or reform and therefore change the basic natural chemistry.

What about “organic” and “certified organic”? As Dene reminds:

many people confuse “organic” and “natural” – a situation not discouraged by those involved in the market sector. These terms are NOT interchangeable. A high proportion of ingredients certified as “organic” (by one or more certification bodies) are NOT natural, as they don’t exist in nature and, therefore, a certified “organic” product cannot automatically be promoted as “all-natural”, unless it truly is, of course!

This is part of the problem we have with the certification agencies that get big bucks for their seals of approval. Just because a product is certified, that doesn’t mean that the consumer is not being misled or false claims are not being made. Was the product synthesized in huge batches in a factory or collected by hand in a rainforest and hand-blended? Certification won’t tell you the difference – but your body might.

Really, it all comes down to processing. Do we use the gifts of Nature in their most natural forms and gently blend them into creams, lotions, shampoos, and other skin and hair care products? As a small company, we vow never to take the route of “Big Business.” Our bigger brothers see no problem with processing huge quantities of ingredients in giant vats. But we want to do something different – something more beneficial to our customers and for our planet. Our aim is not quantity but quality.

As Dene says,

“…taking the definition of “nature-derived” to its logical conclusion, unless you actually create new matter, everything is “nature-derived”; the only question is to how many stages of processing has the substance been exposed.”

Dene Godfrey is one of the people in the cosmetics industry we most admire. He has been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles and holds a degree in chemistry. He speaks out often on cosmetic issues on the “Personal Care, Truth or Scare” site. See the article that inspired this blog at http://personalcaretruth.com/2012/06/100-natural-almost-100-certainly-not/comment-page-1/#comment-4961 .

By Teviot Fairservis.



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Did You Know That…

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It can be used as it is in its powder form. Use it as normal powder and just dot it on the affected area.
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Treat the affected skin area at bedtime, and by morning wake up to clear and radiant skin.
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Juniper & Yarrow 24 Hours Moisturizer may be the solution to your problems.

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Juniper & Yarrow 24 Hour Moisturizer is an all-day moisturizer, suitable for all skin types – from dry to oily skin.

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“Do not forget to wear your broccoli, or you will get sunburned!” might very well be a part of our language in the coming years.

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Nature’s own solution to the sun’s UV-radiation could very well be… broccoli.

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