“All natural” is a phrase infecting every corner we turn to. Thanks to the likes of Goop enthusiasts around the globe, the label has blossomed from a niche trend into a symbol of eco-consciousness—and more recently, luxury. Brands like Youth To The People and Herbivore Botanicals have become household names, and can easily be spotted at the forefront of every influencer’s #shelfies.
By now, we get it: It’s cool to delve into the best that Mother Nature has to offer for our skin. But there is one question that plagues everyone’s mind: does it actually work?
“‘All natural’ beauty products differ from the average beauty product in the integrity of their ingredients,” says Semra Tanrikulu. owner and lead esthetician of Semra Skin Care. “There is a surge of interest in non-toxic, natural beauty and many are running away from the more conventional beauty products we’ve known for many years.”
We’ve all heard the claims surrounding aloe vera, coconut oil, and other veteran natural ingredients. But, both Google Trends and Pinterest note that the intrigue for more complex natural ingredients like bakuchiol has grown exponentially, especially over the past year. Due to the heavy demand in cleaner alternatives, there are brands popping up constantly—like The Ranch Beauty, a new line created by the elite celebrity wellness retreat The Ranch Malibu—happily providing more options for green beauty enthusiasts.
“Healthy skin can be achieved through simple practices and clean products,” says Sue Glasscock, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director of The Ranch. “There are so many products available now that make claims of perfecting your complexion through ingredients that are nearly impossible to pronounce so people don’t even know what they’re putting on their skin. People are so conscientious about what they eat and keeping all-natural and organic, so why shouldn’t the same care go into your skin care routine? With all-natural, clean beauty, you can feel better about your skincare routine knowing that you’re not exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals.”
“Natural skin care products can be an excellent switch If your skin is extremely sensitive to the chemically manufactured products that are on the market,” adds Aishe Balic, co-founder of GLO Spa. “If you fall into this category, ‘all natural’ might be the right way to go for your skin. Plus, you are also doing the environment a big favor.”
While going green has its benefits, it unfortunately comes with its drawbacks. One of the biggest concerns with natural beauty is its lack of regulation, allowing a variety of sketchy companies to claim their products are free of chemicals, when in fact they’re packed with them.
“Buyers must be do their due diligence when looking as many products that are labeled ‘organic’ can do more harm to your skin than good,” says Tankirulu. “Just because a product is labeled a certain way does not make it truly ‘clean.’ You must look at the ingredient list. Be especially wary of products who claim to be formulated without a laundry list of things: No SLS, No Parabens, etc. More often than not, they are trying to distract you from what is actually included in the product.”
Another obstacle people face with their botanically derived beauty products is allergens. According to our experts, “natural” and “organic” ingredients like essential oils can still cause flares of allergic reactions. “Organic skin care products may not be suitable to persons with certain allergies to natural ingredients,” Balic says.
“Essential oils often replace the more elusive ‘fragrance’ ingredient in natural products,” Tanrikulu adds. “Some skin isn’t bothered at all by essential oils, but many people will see a negative reaction to these essential oils being used in skin care- redness, inflammation, even breakouts in some instances.”
Despite these issues, Glasscock still believes a natural beauty regimen triumphs all, and just requires a bit of trial and error. “There is a misconception that all-natural products aren’t as effective, but that simply isn’t true,” she says. “As with any skincare regimen, it’s important to find what all-natural ingredients work for your skin to produce the best results!”
So, the final ruling: is natural beauty truly better than the rest? Unfortunately, it’s not a straight “yes” or “no” answer. According to our experts, there are tons of natural and synthetic ingredients that can help clarify and replenish your skin, you just need to find the sweet spot between the two that works for you.
“Determining whether or not natural beauty is better really depends on your preferences and personal beliefs. It could take a lifetime to sift through all the studies done on ingredients in our personal care products,” says Tanrikulu. “As I mentioned earlier, there are some brands coming out with really innovative products in the ‘natural’ beauty space, so it’s certainly nothing to ignore. As with everything in this day and age, people want to be all-or-nothing, but when it comes to beauty products, I would say to embrace the grey area.”
However, if you’re desire to have a cleaner lifestyle strays from the superficial affects, using all-natural beauty with sustainable packaging can help lower your carbon footprint. If you’re going to make the switch into a fully clean beauty, don’t go cold turkey on your products. “I would suggest switching one product at a time. Whatever you run out of first, start looking for a clean alternative while keeping the rest of your routine the same,” Tanrikulu advises. “This makes the switch easier on your wallet and less likely to cause adverse reactions. It also gives you an opportunity to see what works for you.”
Also, Glasscock recommends ditching the DIY approach to natural beauty products. “People tend to think that because the ingredients in these products can be found in their kitchens, they can do it themselves,” she says. “We spent years testing and perfecting each formula to produce the best results, so creating all-natural isn’t as simple as people think! Sure,the ingredients are, but the ways in which they react take someone that really understands the ins and outs of these ingredients to master.”
If you want to try a greener skincare routine, check out some of our favorite all-natural beauty products, below.