Natural -vs- Synthetic - Uncovering the Facts Part 1

September 16, 2020

Natural -vs- Synthetic - Uncovering the Facts Part 1

As consumers, people are washed in natural and organic advertising which influences us to think that "all-natural" products are possibly more healthy than synthetic ingredients and that synthetic means dangerous. This long lingering idea has been based on unsubstantiated data that has driven consumers fears of synthetic materials. The growing popularity of this topic shows some need for scientific clarification. The lack of knowledge and polarization surrounding synthetic materials is outdated and simply a matter of misinformation. A direct comparison between a natural and synthetic molecules and structures that make up these natural materials needs to be considered on an individual basis.

Everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical (H2O), vitamins are complex chemicals, simple, one ingredient herbal extracts are volatile complex chemicals, therefore there is no such thing as chemical-free products.  Although, there can be certified natural ingredients, those from plants are considered by scientists to be extremely volatile chemicals that are known allergens, disruptors and pose issues when formulating.

Natural chemicals are produced by nature (some agricultural) without using human intervention. Synthetic chemicals are made by human specialists using methods not found in nature, and these chemical structures may or may not be found in nature. This definition means a synthetic chemical can be made from a natural product (eg, naturally derived). Note that in the food industry, “artificial” is used instead of “synthetic”.

Natural materials borne of raw plant materials are prominent in the market, a rise in certified natural products have risen 13% according to The Soil Association UK. Natural ingredients can be considered those that are refined through science like retinol, hylauronic and lactic acids which are "plant actives" and only achievable with molecular reconstruction - synthesized, precisely, to be safe for the intended use and intended thing - for use by humans and sometimes for animals.

These ingredients are dominating the market with 70% of consumers whose choose to prioritize green products and 40% of those people who will pay more for those product options on the shelf according to Scientific American. Natural and green products have seen massive growth, 13% globally over the past 4 years in women's and men's cosmetics. But what exactly are you "buying" into? Natural products come from nature, synthesized products come from nature and are refined to be safe, non-allergenic and green.

This natural choice does not come without some sort of marketing influence that sways what consumers will believe is best for them or a perceived natural brand. This is not enough information for a well rounded choice in this situation. It can actually be dangerous and fickle in terms of what we are to believe is green when it comes to green products. Possibly volatile, ineffective leaving a large carbon footprint "natural ingredients   Is it good for personal use, non-bioaccumulative (collecting in the body or the environment over long periods of time), made with molecular efficiency (use less water, energy and natural resources to achieve the final product)? 

Now, let's talk about that term, "green". What does this refer to? Is is from a green plant, a "green" manufacturer? Rather, is it referring to a protocol to which formulators and scientists adhere according to when designing a product that follows the principles of green chemistry.

This makes science backed beauty brands ahead in the game and finding cult recognition for putting the science in the beauty and beauty in the science.

Savvy consumers know how to big up their beauty bucks and also want bang satisfaction from their beauty products while following the beauty ingredients trends around the world. By focussing on the natural actives, antioxidants and preservatives from plants, there can be balance and green standards. So, if it is all natural or a well developed lab-based product, shoppers are more switched on to which ones are on the top shelf, so to speak.

The sister existence of natural and manmade beauty has led to a kind of binary, meaning that consumers often fall into one of two streams. Are you buying into natural ingredients that may have little effect on your real active skin care needs? There is the creation of the binary effect that was encouraged by the mouth pieces for the natural movement that demonized synthetic products to move focus on to naturals. A large part of inaccurately educated consumers may miss out on widely successful synthesized products that do the hard work for skin and actually protect sensitive skin from irritants and toxins not removed from natural extracts. The polarization of natural vs synthetic is outdated and new beauty marries the two with chemical harmony and sound science.

When nature meets science and science defines nature, we can find a harmony with which to move forward in natural product development.

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