Natural is one of the most searched terms for skincare and beauty products. Understandably so, people want to buy things that they believe are better for themselves and the environment.
However, natural beauty products are not necessarily better for the environment than lab-derived synthetic ingredients are. Natural is associated with being less processed, non-toxic, and good for the environment while synthetic is lab derived, highly processed, and full of chemicals.
Natural may sound like the better option, but synthetic ingredients may be better for the environment if that is what you are aiming for.
Natural Ingredients vs. Synthetic Ingredients
The term natural, like many other terms in the eco-friendly world, is not defined but is widely known for being non-toxic, minimally processed, chemical free, etc. But what people may not think about is that these natural ingredients need to be grown from the Earth, which may sound like a good thing, but it’s the reason why it’s not environmentally friendly in some cases. Things like palm oil, vanilla, argan oil, floral extracts, etc. all require a lot of land, water, and time to grow. Nature has a finite amount of resources, so invading animal habitats, chopping down trees, and clearing out land to grow these ingredients are not sustainable, especially on a large scale. Also, how is it being harvested? Do the workers have the right equipment and are being treated fairly? What about carbon emissions when it gets transported? There is more to consider than the ingredient being chemical free.
Lab-derived synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, are not supposed to sound scary. Everything is a chemical. The age of not using something because you can’t pronounce it is unrealistic. Synthetic ingredients have a good track record, they’ve been researched, they’ve been around for a long time, we know where it comes from and we know it is safe. Scientists innovate things like oleochemicals and they develop derivatives of ingredients that are not readily available and use preservatives to prolong the life of the products.
A Greener Beauty Routine
All that being said, there are pros and cons to each. The eco world is a spectrum so you pick and choose what level you want to support. Look at labels and do your research. Reflect on what you want and what’s important to you. Minimize your routine, evaluate all the skincare and makeup you already have, and how can you cut back. Even if they are all responsibly sourced, without any recycling plan, they end up in landfills anyways. Remember that beauty companies are selling to you, so ask yourself if you really need it.