Natural vs Synthetic Beauty: What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Hands up, if you love your kombucha, can’t deal when you’ve missed a sound healing class, and trying to embark on a raw food diet? Well, even if you’re not quite a hippy tree hugger, chances are you’re trying to go natural where it matters - your skin.
With every other beauty product stamped with the labels “natural”, “organic” and “eco” making skin care shopping less of a guilty pleasure, is going natural really much better for your skin?
Well… yes AND no.
Known for their natural healing powers, plant-based ingredients, oils and extracts offer myriad benefits for your skin, such as warding off free radicals, promoting the restoration and repairing of skin cells, and so on.
But just as we might combine a traditional herbal cough syrup with tried and tested paracetamol to treat a feverish bout of flu, the best skincare regimen could marry the best of Mother Nature with advances in modern science.
The trick is to avoid getting caught up in the massive greenwashing wave, and instead embrace lab-crafted, clinically tested products that combine science with natural ingredients for glowing skin.
Different levels of natural
To start off, there are varying degrees of “natural”, starting with “food grade” creamy avocado masks you whip up in the blender, to natural ingredients for skin that are finessed in a lab for safety, stability and maximum benefits.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are entirely chemical ingredients such as parabens or common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone ( banned in Hawaii and Europe), which are created and processed in laboratories and have no ties to nature or the natural world.
The reason why synthetic ingredients have gained a bad rap could be due to possible bioaccumulation effects - in other words, a buildup of these chemicals can be found in blood, breast milk and urine samples.
Natural vs synthetic ingredient face off
Having defined the varying types of “natural” ingredients, here comes the shocker - all-natural products might not be as good as they are made out to be!
As heavenly as they sound, products made of 100% natural ingredients may contain natural preservatives — if any at all — which are not strong enough to kill most bacterial growth and fungus. Especially when stored in containers and jars that require users to dip in with every application, or in humid environments like tropical countries or even a steamy bathroom, the product could be a hotbed for mould and bacteria. This, in turn, might lead to an infection or eczema flare up.
Besides the importance of preservatives, other synthetic ingredients like vitamins A and C have also been proven to be great skin saviours.
Conversely, the big “S” word in skin care — silicone — has a bad rap for allegedly clogging pores to causing skin irritation, silicone products are increasingly left on the shelf from the world-wide fear it has ingrained in users.
Silicones are mostly used to improve the feel, appearance and performance of skin care products and contrary to popular belief, silicones can benefit the skin and hair due to their conditioning properties. It creates a breathable barrier over the skin, locking in moisture and filling in lines and pores while helping the skin appear smoother and more radiant.
Due to these properties, silicones are ideal in many cream-based products and some common types of silicones such like dimethicone helps create a silky feel upon application, improving the spreadability of products like sunscreens for essential coverage and sun protection.
The science of natural skin care
While it’s impossible to determine the ultimate winner between natural and synthetic products, using science and technology to enhance the healing properties of natural ingredients might just be the solution that combines the best of both natural and synthetic ingredients.
Instead of relying on only all-natural, raw and unrefined ingredients, The Skin Firm believes in “biotech meets botanicals”, tapping on the advanced technologies of science to enhance naturally sourced ingredients. As a brand owned by a skin care laboratory, our dedicated chemists test and refine hundreds of formulations to concoct the perfect alchemy of skin transforming ingredients.
For example, rather than use pore-clogging coconut oil, we have handpicked a gentle cleansing ingredient that is safe for sensitive skin and eyes, in our Pure and Simple Gel Cleanser. Derived from coconut, the sulfate-free formulation gently cleanses and lathers your skin without feeling heavy, greasy or cloying.
A naturally-derived silicone is also used in our Long Wear Daily Sunscreen SPF70 PA+++, helping it with smoother product application and creating a barrier against UV rays and free radicals for all-round sun protection.
While neither natural nor synthetic products and ingredients have the upper hand over the other, The Skin Firm believes in extracting and enhancing the beneficial properties from both kinds of ingredients to achieve the most effective skin care products.