Organic or Natural Skincare Products – Are they always the best choice?

May 2, 2013

Most of us automatically assume that anything labeled “organic” or “natural” must certainly be better for us.  But is that always true?


You may be surprised to learn the word “natural” has no standards whatsoever with which it must comply.  In the skin care product industry, it could describe a product that contains two essential oils with the balance comprised of synthetic ingredients or, in another case it could mean the formula is completely without synthetic ingredients.  So how do you know what you’re really getting?


“Organic” is another term that is confusing.  To earn a USDA “Organic“ designation, a beauty product must have at least 95% of its ingredients certified “organic” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Organic Program.  In this case, “organic” means that plant-based ingredients are grown naturally without the use of pesticides or fertilizers.  That’s easy enough, but the rub in all this is that neither the government nor the beauty industry can substantiate metrics to prove any claim that plant-based skincare products are safer, healthier or more effective.


Just as with synthetic ingredients, many natural ingredients can trigger allergies, irritation, or skin sensitivities.  Irritation or inflammation of any type causes the breakdown of collagen, impairs the skin’s ability to repair itself and reduces its ability to defend against environmental damage.  We don’t want that!

Balancing ingredients

Bottom line; there are many natural ingredients that are terrific for your skin — but the idea that “natural” or “organic” products are unequivocally the best option for your skin is simply not a reality. Some Skincare companies are becoming much more diligent in managing their formulas.  For example, you may see products that are labeled “Paraben-Free”. Parabens are preservatives known to cause problems for some people.  But we do need preservatives in skincare to prevent the growth of bacteria that can lead to other health issues.  It is a balancing act for sure.

The skincare industry is aware of the consumers’ concerns and is making progress in eliminating ingredients that have the potential to cause us harm.  But in the meantime, don’t be influenced by slick marketing and clever advertising.

The best course of action is to ask our skin professional, Joan Mahon in Plymouth, Minnesota, what the ideal products are for your particular skin type, and experiment with different formulas to see what works for you.