“Natural” and “organic”, still largely misunderstood by people, existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality
I am just guessing, you are one of the millions people who are concerned about toxins, cancerogenic substances, harmful chemicals etc., in our everyday life; 24/7. The number of people who are concerned about toxins in our environment and everyday life substantially grows (which is a good fact, right), however as a consequence more and more skin care manufacturers are jumping on the “natural” and “organic” wagon for cosmetics, cosmeceuticals and also for other apothecary products including toiletries so invaluable in our everyday life. Well, it is a multibillion business, but what about us! The natural and organic apothecary is still largely misunderstood by people and customers, existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality. I hope you would agree with my opinion.
However, here I do not want to talk about the natural and ancient Egyptian apothecary where some components of the cosmetics were (for example) the pure lion’s fat, donkey’s hoof or one paw of female greyhound and the seed of date palm for one hair care formula. Or about every woman in the 16th and 17th century with a good knowledge and skills in preparation of a good food as well as cosmetics and toiletries, or about the fact that each royal family have had a special dry rooms for herbs, flowers and own labs where their apothecary masters were manufacturing their own apothecary products, cosmetics, perfumes or even remedies. This is not my intention, not at all, at least not in this blog. Simply, here my intention is to clarify what does mean “natural” and “organic” apothecary products, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. When? Today!
Probably you are wondering what does “natural” and “organic” mean today when we see them on a manufacturer’s cosmetic or toiletry product label? Probably, you have some additional questions as well. Here are some questions that you would like to know as well as clear answers!
How do we know what we are buying is REALLY “natural and organic”? Is a wise step to make consultations with apothecary master? How about to try sample products first?
How do we actually know if the cosmetic products are SAFE and non-toxic and what are potential side effects and toxicity in so called “natural” and “organic” formulas? Even they are so called “natural” and /or “organic” topical formulation some of them have noxious side effects (I am talking objectively and professionally).
What are the natural ALTERNATIVES to synthetic and mostly toxic chemicals? Are there any, and how skilled apothecary masters make complete and effective formulas?
Is natural and organic really ANY BETTER for us compared with commercially available brands? What is the truth and what does exist in our reality?
So called apothecary masters for “natural” and “organic” skin care products are growing like mushrooms after the rain, it reminds more on growing trend of psychics or clairvoyants. What is behind that trend?
Let’s start from the beginning and in some following blogs we can answer all the questions!
What products are truly natural and organic?
The skin is an outer organ of the body that protects underlying muscles and organs. It is not so simple organ as it looks like; it is a multilayered sheath of tissue, heavy about 10 kg and having a surface of about 2m2. It sounds amazing, the biggest organ in our body. There are three layers, the epidermis, providing waterproofing and serving as a barrier to infections; the dermis which holds hair bulbs and skin glands and the hypodermis, actually adipose tissue covering the muscles, bones and ligaments. Well, I think the best idea to talk about that in details, who does what, how and when in the next blog. Certainly it worth to explain what our skin can do, what cannot and what could do if we properly offer in the skin care products.
Skin care manufacturers are not supposed to claim that their products penetrate the skin completely. Not at all! Please do not get confused! If they did, the products would then be labelled as “drugs” and would be governed by much stricter regulations of the FDA. However, it is now recognized that the skin actually does absorb many ingredients in skin care formulas, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals; thanks to developed modern chemical analysis, technology and modern laboratory technology of testing. However, this is both good and bad. Good, because it means our skin can be really somehow nourished from the outside with some wonderful natural apothecary products. Bad, because some skin care manufacturers can still use harmful ingredients that would never be allowed to be taken orally, but are still absorbed into our system, how, simply through our skin. All of us like natural, as my good friend said your products sound like a food. Actually she is right. It is like a good food.
Please bear in mind that each good and complete apothecary formula, cosmetic formula and cosmeceutical formula must contains the following ingredients such as appropriate and potent vehicles, surfactants, emollients, thickening agents, penetration enhancers, and preservatives. It does not matter is it a natural/organic formula or so called “synthetic” formula. So, additionally we have a very fuzzy line between actives and vehicles in most of apothecary formulas, and the biggest problem what I can see in reality is the formulation of the complete, functional and good formula(s). Let’s take as an example the argan oil. By itself, it is simply not enough for our skin, but currently it is one of most selling product (cosmeceutical) in the world. It is derived from seeds of argan tree (Argania spinose L.), the plant is native to the glorious Mediterranean country Morocco. Originally, argan oil has been used for centuries in the traditional apothecary and traditional medicine of Morocco and other Mediterranean countries primarily to heal skin diseases and as a vehicle oil only for massage. Actually, argan oil properties make it a useful remedy for psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, furuncles or acne; primarily. Yes, it is more skin remedy for alleviating the symptoms of serious skin diseases and alterations. However, by itself it is not enough in the formulation, the oil is indicated to contrast skin dehydration and for treatment of wrinkles. It can probably protect your skin only against UV-B radiations? That is not enough; however the argan oil in the combination with other compounds such as good surfactants, penetration enhancers, preservatives, and some additional vehicle would be simply the complete and effective formula and would have the full impact on your facial and/or body skin. Always look for the most complete formula or close to complete and effective formula. One more thing, order samples, some natural and organic products will work for you but not for others or vice versa.
WHAT DOES “NATURAL” AND “ORGANIC” MEAN ON PRODUCT LABELS?
Nowhere does the idea of “natural” or “organic” take a more gratuitous bruising than in the skin/body care industry.
If we first take the word “natural” and look it up in the dictionary we would find this description of natural thus; “existing in, or caused by nature; not artificial; uncultivated; wild existing in natural state; not disguised or altered” or “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind”. It seems pretty clear what “natural” actually means to me! Does it to you? However when vested interests get hold of the word natural they put a whole new slant on it. It may seem pretty clear to you and me exactly what we mean by natural but for the marketing men they obviously have not read the dictionary and start bending the interpretation of natural to suit themselves.
Many labels have long lists of chemical (ingredients) names; some followed by the phrase “derived from …” (some natural substance). This is grossly misleading for consumers who are looking for genuine natural products.
( Part 2 in 2 weeks)
Dr. Isidor Apothecary