What Do The Terms Natural, Organic, And Clean Mean In Skincare?

Let's understand these skincare terms

Today’s consumers recognize that what they put on the surface of their skin — be it makeup, skincare, or smeared food — has the potential to pass into their bloodstreams and create lasting effects in their own chemical composition. From hormone balance to allergic responses, what we put on our skin impacts our health. Consumers also realize they are powerful, that how they spend their money can change the course of events in our lives. Their spending will absolutely influence the future health of our world,” says Kim Walls, a clean skincare and beauty pioneer. 

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Most people today are becoming aware of the beauty products they use and the ingredients used in them, thanks to social media platforms. And slowly by surely, there have been discussions about environmental damage, non-recyclable packaging, and much more. These conversations are happening all over the world. And that’s why some skincare brands have started to shift their focus to creating beauty products that will be healthy for the planet and the people.  

You might have heard new terms like ‘clean skincare,’ ‘natural skincare,’ ‘organic skincare,‘ and most often, brands use them interchangeably. But as consumers, we need to be more aware of what these terms actually mean or whether brands are falsely marketing their products by greenwashing

Related: How To Tell If A Brand Is Ethical, Sustainable Or Greenwashing?

So what do these terms really mean? Let’s find out.

What is natural skincare?

clean beauty
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Natural skincare refers to beauty products containing naturally-derived ingredients extracted from plants, flowers, minerals, essential oils, beeswax, etc. But it is not necessary that these ingredients may not be organically produced. However, natural skincare products are free from harsh chemicals and are safe to use.

While it might seem relatively easy to understand, choosing natural skincare products might not be easy. That’s because a lot of naturally occurring ingredients might be synthetic as well. For example, sodium chloride is sea salt and citric acid derived from lemon and citrus fruits. So, the only key to practicing natural skincare is to learn more about natural ingredients.

What is organic skincare?

Organic skincare products contain natural ingredients, and those natural, plant-based ingredients are grown organically without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

A business must adhere to the USDA’s usage guidelines in order to utilize the label “organic” in the skincare sector. A product must have at least 95% organically produced ingredients for it to be labeled as “organic” or “certified organic.”

As a result, genuine organic skincare products use only natural and organically grown ingredients. Organic skincare products from a reliable brand will hydrate and nourish the skin, leaving it radiant and dewy.

What is clean skincare?

The term clean skincare refers to products that are “free of dangerous substances.” Clean skincare has recently grown in popularity. Manufacturers who make clean skincare products promise to utilize only synthetic substances that have been proven not to affect human health. They may have a blend of natural and synthetic ingredients.

While the phrase ‘clean skincare’ can make you feel warm and fuzzy, keep in mind that many synthetic substances that were initially thought to be safe for humans were subsequently discovered to be the exact opposite, when research dug deeper.

Other beauty industry-related words that you should know

Green beauty 

Green beauty is an umbrella term that indicates the ingredients used in a product do not harm the environment and people. Generally speaking, the ingredients in green beauty products are eco-friendly, natural, and sustainably sourced.  

Cruelty-free beauty

Cruelty-free beauty products are made without hurting or harming any animals in the process, which means that the products have not been tested on animals. To qualify as cruelty-free, brands cannot test their products on animals at any point during the manufacturing process. In addition, the finished products should not be tested on animals either.

Vegan beauty

Vegan cosmetic products don’t have animal by-products, e.g., beeswax, honey, snail mucin, etc. However, it is crucial to note that being a vegan product does not imply that they do not have any chemical ingredients in them. 

To sum it up, clean beauty isn’t perfect. Clean skincare products contain toxin-free ingredients. Natural skincare products are only made of natural ingredients, but not necessarily ingredients that are safe, toxin-free, or vegan. Likewise, organic skincare products have naturally derived ingredients that are produced organically.

The most important thing to focus on is what you’re putting on your skin, rather than how the brand tries to entice you. Of course, the choice is finally up to you. There are many factors to consider when deciding what skincare brand is good for you. And we hope this guide has helped steer you in the right direction!

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