The Problem with Natural Skincare Products

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*Disclaimer – This post is not meant to bash natural skincare products; rather clarify, from a pharmacist’s perspective, what one can expect when seeking out cosmetics marketed as being natural…

Although we describe Apothekari as “Scientific Skin Care”, we could easily justify calling it a natural skincare line. Our products are formulated with safety and efficacy in mind after all, and avoids many of the ingredients that individuals find problematic or wish to avoid in skin care treatments. However, when it comes to describing a cosmetics line as a natural one, consider that the term ‘natural’ isn’t regulated.

For the most part, the term is used as a marketing one to promote products as being safer or better for consumers and the earth, when that may or may not be the case. ANY company can market their products as being natural and if one isn’t sure about exactly what they are looking for, it’s easy to be misled. In this post, let’s get down to the nitty gritty about natural skincare.

When I’m asked if Apothekari offers natural skincare treatments, it’s important to know what precise features a customer is looking for. Natural skincare lines may be:

  • Paraben-free
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • Preservative free (not a good idea! Read why here).
  • Sulfate-free
  • Phthalate-free
  • Vegan/plant based
  • Silicone-free
  • Synthetic colourant-free
  • Cruelty-free, etc.

Apothekari is all of the above*, but just as important, it is also an effective line, incorporating ingredients that have demonstrated skin benefits in clinical trials. Some natural skincare lines do not share the same philosophy, emphasizing the safety aspect, while letting us down when it comes to efficacy.

In order to offer skin care treatments that are both safe and effective, it’s important to include specific concentrations of active ingredients and use manufacturing practices that respect the integrity of these ingredients. Ingredients must be compatible with one another, to both minimize the potential for side effects and to ensure that they don’t interact with one another. Lastly, a sound preservation system is essential.

Why Natural Skincare May Let Us Down

If you’re looking for cosmetics that deliver results, it’s not enough to focus on the fact that it is a natural skincare product. Safety can’t be disputed, but the following are important to keep in mind as well:

  1. A Lack of Synthetic Ingredients. Flowers and plants are a fantastic source of skin beneficial ingredients, but their composition can vary from batch to batch, depending on on the season, the geography and the climate. What you got a few months ago may not be the same as the lot you get now – think of summer tomatoes vs the ones we get in the dead of winter. Plus, it may be difficult to extract enough of the active ingredient from a plant. A lab allows for the controlled production of ingredients, with little variation from batch to batch.
  2. Preservative Free. All products formulated with water MUST contain a preservative. If you opt for a natural, preservative-free line, you may be limiting yourself to products formulated with oils only. There’s no doubt that oils offer many skin benefits, but your skin needs more.
  3. Natural isn’t Always Safe. Ingredients such as essential oils and citrus oils are as natural as can be. And while they can smell lovely, they can also be highly sensitizing and irritating for many individuals.

As I’ve written about the topic before; there are numerous safe and effective ‘natural’ ingredients and we include many in our brand. However, they’re not always the best or safest option for skin and problematic ones do exist. Brands can do it right by incorporating both natural and synthetic ingredients into their formulations.

By choosing wisely, it’s possible to offer products that deliver on efficacy while minimizing the potential for adverse effects. That’s natural skincare done right and it’s the philosophy we follow at Apothekari!

*not all our products are vegan, but many are. See individual product listings for more detailed information.