What does Natural mean?
To me and you it means things that are unadulterated. Things that are wild and free. It may conjure up images of forests and fields where the mark of man is missing. It means foods that have not been altered. It means (to you and me) things that are as close to the source as possible without having harmed the environment or its inhabitants to acquire it.
But legally that is not what it has to mean.
Unfortunately is doesn’t really mean anything as far as regulations and labels go.
What natural means on a label;
Whatever the manufacturer wants it to mean
This is an important point. The beauty industry is not heavily regulated. Which is crazy because 60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Essentially your skin drinks and eats what you put on it.
Two things are going on.
People, women especially, are turning more towards sustainable and natural products when it comes to body care and cosmetics.
The manufacturers know this.
The manufacturers also know when people think “natural” they think of all those things we just listed above and they also know there is no definition for natural.
The result is you have companies that truly are answering the call, and creating wonderful safe, eco friendly, sustainably harvested, products that contain natural ingredients.
The other result is companies that are merely giving the impression of being natural, eco-friendly, and sustainably harvested. This is commonly known as green washing. I know, I myself have fallen for it.
It happens so quick.
The eyes process images a great deal faster than words. So there you are in the store, in a hurry, and you grab the new product with the brown packaging and cute green leaves on it. Only later to find out it’s got MSG in it.
Skincare advertising is the exact same way.
We have to be detectives. We have to make choices that speak to what we are willing to spend our money on.
We have to be nature warriors.
We have to be wild women foraging through the fields of green beauty.
While what you and I think means natural is truly natural, there is no law or standard deeming what makes a product natural. The label can say natural and still contain questionable or known to be hazardous ingredients.
With the desire for green and clean beauty we need clarification on what is actually green. Where do we draw the line with the ingredients? Every product out there can be called natural because natural has no definition as far as labeling goes. Sometimes we may not even find an ingredient label on a beauty product and if we do we may not be able to recognize the ingredients.
It can be confusing trying to figure out what is actually a toxic chemical and what is an isolated plant compound in chemical form and of those which ones are safe, which ones are questionable, and which ones are toxic. And that is part of the problem, everything on this planet originated from a natural source, so technically it is all “natural”.
Thus it can be even more confusing. Just because it originated from a plant does not mean its safe or healing. Cocaine came from a plant, and yes it is a stimulant, but does that mean it is safe in place of coffee? Of course not.
What natural means to me and you;
Safe (as in not potentially harmful with short or long term use)
Close to the source
Was grown organically
Was grown in general (meaning not manufactured by a man in lab coat)
Was harvested sustainably
No one was harmed in the making (think animal testing/slave labor)
What can we do?
We have to do our homework and question ingredients (read labels!)
We can make our own products
We can look to other green beauty products that truly are green as green can be
We can decide for ourselves where we draw the line on ingredients
We can support organizations like EWG and look to them for safety information and regulation updates
We know there are products out there that are claiming to be natural and are not and these are giving a bad rap to the products that claim to be natural and are. For the health of yourself and the planet find a green beauty company selling earth friendly safe chemical free products or make them yourself.
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