Synthetic vs. Natural

Here’s a sad-but-important truth: not all beauty products are as safe as you might think. The FDA doesn’t regulate skincare brands all that closely (if you’ve seen its approach to CBD, this might sound familiar!), which means diligent consumers need to take it upon themselves to find products with pure ingredients.  


What Are Natural Skincare Products?

“Even if something is natural, oftentimes it's made with ingredients that have been sitting on the shelf for years—like, actual years,” aesthetician Britta Plug explains to Harper’s Bazaar. “[It could be made from] dried herbs that have been hanging out in a lab and no longer have that nutrient density.”

One more caveat: not all natural products are good for the environment, even if they’re good for you. For an example of this look no further than red palm oil. It’s loaded with healthy fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, but producing it requires the destruction of rainforests and the loss of natural habitats. How much destruction? 300 football fields’ worth for each hour of production time/


The Many Benefits of Natural Skincare

Here are some highlights:

Mushrooms, feverfew, green tea, licorice, olive oil, soy, and coffee berry have been shown to have antioxidant properties and may play a role in the treatment and prevention of photoaging. [1]

“Botanical ingredients, many of which have long histories of traditional or folk medicine usage [...]are touted for their dermatologic benefits.” [2]

Natural ingredients have been used traditionally for millennia and their application in topical creams, lotions and preparations within the traditional medicines and healing traditions of many cultures has been observed. [3]

“Colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera have been identified as beneficial in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis…” [3]
“For acne and rosacea, green tea, niacinamide and feverfew are considered efficacious.” [3]
“For hyperpigmentation and antioxidative capabilities, licorice, green tea, arbutin, soy, acai berry, turmeric and pomegranate are among those plants and compounds found to be most beneficial.” [3]

Suffice to say that natural skincare products and ingredients are increasingly well-studied; if anyone tells you otherwise, keep a healthy degree of skepticism. Those who claim that aloe vera or green tea or CBD don’t have enough data behind them likely haven't done enough research themselves. 

And while the available data is indeed impressive, don’t let it make you miss the forest for the trees. One of the incredible things about nature is that most of its plant compounds are inherently anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-bacterial. That means they can confer all sorts of skincare benefits when used judiciously. Most of hemp’s terpenes also have these types of effects. 


What Are Skincare Oils?

Oils are one of humankind’s most tried-and-true skincare products. The Hebrew Torah references “oil to make the face shine” as far back as 3,000 years ago; back then, people tended to use botanical-infused olive oils to keep their skin moisturized. Interestingly enough, the Hebraic anointing oil was likely also infused with cannabis!

Fast forward to modern times and skincare oils have retained every bit of their utility. Today’s oils are packed with antioxidant sources like jojoba oil or evening primrose.


What Are Skincare Lotions? 

If chicken noodle soup is food for your soul and CBD is food for your inner balance, think of facial lotions as food for your skin. 

Why? Well, they have high bioavailability, so they’re easily absorbed, and they contain all the vital nutrients needed to nourish your skin on the deepest level. Lotions are creamier and less, well, oily than the skincare oils mentioned above, which means their texture is perfect for a mess-free application.  


How to Use Lotions

Lotions do best when applied immediately after your skin is toned and clean; that’s when its outer layer, the stratum corneum, is most permeable and receptive to nutrients. Premium lotion can permeate your skin so fully that almost no residue is left behind.


How to Use Oils

Consider incorporating oils into your skincare routine after cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. Some of the most popular oils today include the retinol alternative bakuchiol and the shark-liver-derived squalene. Oils do best when used as the metaphorical icing on the cake! 


Balance Is Everything! 

“There isn’t a single person out there that should be using only oils on their skin,” licensed esthetician Sarah Payne tells A Sweat Life.

Instead, the best skincare approach tends to provide a nice balance of oils and lotions. Lotions tend to be so nutrient-dense that it’s easy to neglect other products — but try to avoid this temptation. After all, the natural approach usually pays off in the end.