If you’re the kind of shopper who takes the time to read labels and searches for all “natural” skincare and beauty products thinking they’re better because they’re free of nasty chemicals, listen up. The makeup and beauty aisles are filled with the word “natural,” but it turns out, any company can slap a “natural” label on something. And just because it says “natural” doesn’t mean it’s good for our skin.
For one thing, there’s no legal or universal definition for the term “natural,” so what it means to you might not be the same as what it means to the manufacturer. Plus, the beauty industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, so companies can get away with labels that don’t match the ingredients. Dermatologist Jessica Krant explains that it’s actually “legal for companies to use the phrase “natural flavors” or “natural fragrances” when referring to chemical preservatives in their products. The Federal Trade Commission even filed complaints against four companies that marketed “all natural” or “100% natural” personal care products that actually contained synthetic ingredients.
“Natural” doesn’t mean something is healthier, safer, or better, either. As dermatologist George Skandamis points out, “poison ivy is ‘all natural,’ but you don’t want to find it as an ingredient in your skin care product.” Some natural, plant-based ingredients are skin allergy triggers and common causes of skin irritation. So what should we be buying instead of something labeled “natural?” Experts advise looking for products that are free of fragrances, dyes, parabens, and preservatives and buying from brands you know and trust.