Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by the term ‘Natural Ingredient’. A Natural Ingredient is one that exists in nature and is extracted and purified through a sustainable process. In conjunction with this, its production avoids the use of harsh and potentially harmful chemicals. The alternative to such a product includes chemically synthesized ingredients, which, although may be effective at times, strike an uneasy chord with a potential consumer. In light of the growing awareness of some of the adverse effects of industrially produced ingredients, many consumers feel more at ease with natural ingredients.
The benefits of using natural ingredients
- Natural ingredients can be just as effective as their chemically synthesized counterparts: it’s down to a formulator to assess each ingredient based on the scientific data that corresponds, but there’s no reason to assume that a natural product would not be as effective, so the good news is that Julia Roberts skin is attainable for everyone.
- The growing concerns for the environment are hardly news to anyone: it’s now considered an ethical responsibility to reflect on the impact of the chemicals used in your products, so opting for natural ingredients (especially those with a regard for sustainability) makes complete sense.
- The consumer trend for natural ingredients is expanding: end consumers are more trusting of non-synthesized products, and furthermore are also becoming increasingly aware of their personal environmental impact; as such, they are more likely to opt for products constituting of natural ingredients.
- The trust placed in natural ingredients stems in part from the fact that un-synthesized chemicals are often perceived to be less likely to result in irritation or unwanted side effects.
How do I find natural ingredients?
So now we’ve established that such ingredients are great, but how are you really going to know if a chemical is natural or not? If at this point you still feel confused, like a chameleon in a bag of smarties, we’ve got an easy first way for you to identify natural ingredients: certifications.
An abundant number of chemical certifications currently exist, from confirmation that a chemical is vegan, to the leaping bunny certification. However, the difficulty of the moment is that demand for certification is still a somewhat recent topic: furthermore, this means that the relevant information is not always available.
For more than ten years, ECOCERT invested in the ‘harmonization project for cosmetic standards’, in collaboration with BDIH (Germany), the Soil Association (UK) ICEA (Italy) and COSMEBIO (France) and other national environmental entities. The outcome of this collaboration was the COSMOS standard for cosmetic products.
Products containing a COSMOS ‘stamp’ are confirmed to abide by the ECOCERT standards of:
- Promoting the use of organic ingredients
- Using manufacturing processes that are environmentally safe
- Abiding by the guidelines of ‘Green Chemistry’
ECOCERT is the world’s largest certification body for organic products. It performs 30% of farm inspections worldwide and is the most established organization for sustainable cosmetics. Furthermore, the COSMOS standard is the most widespread and thus a highly trustworthy certification to look for. As it was a unified effort from several rather large entities, the standard is also one of the more common certifications that is available to cosmetic products. In addition, ECOCERT highlights the importance of continuously surveilling chemical producers to ensure that they maintain such standards after receiving certification. Ultimately, it is one of the most identifiable and closest guarantees of the origin, safety and sustainability of products.
Already curious about COSMOS stamped products? Head over to www.covalo.com, select our COSMOS certification filter and find all the relevant products there.
Three Natural Ingredients to Keep an Eye On
At this stage, you’re probably convinced that natural ingredients are the way forward so let’s now dive into three that we think have great potential in personal care. The following products are all ECOCERT-COSMOS approved and so their extraction and purification are performed in line with the principles of “Green Chemistry”.
The Hallstar product Sensolene, known otherwise by its INCI name Ethylhexyl Olivate, is an emollient. Its long fatty acid chain structure (C98H184O10) provides it with the ability to mimic the skin’s hydrolipid layer, which in turn is the outermost protective film in humans. The product’s similar structure enables physiological compatibility with skin and furthermore, its presence as a lipid provides it with the ability to moisturize, minimizing water loss.
In conjunction with Sensolene’s above-described properties, its spreadability and compatibility with the skin make it a viable alternative to silicones. The latter are liked for their consistency and their lack of water solubility. Although the use of silicones is common, they are fully synthetic materials and so, they cannot be used in natural products, ultimately highlighting the need for other options, such as Sensolene.
Interested in other products like Sensolene? Check out Ecogel, by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics
Now moving on the second product : Xilogel by Indena. It has botanical origins and comes from the tamarind seed, Tamarindus indica L. Xilogel is a hydrophilic (water loving) polysaccharide. Its inclusion in skin care formulations provides hydrating properties. Experimental data has confirmed that it improved short-term and long-term skin hydration, thereby ensuring that water remained in the skin. Interestingly, further experiments have shown that in addition to its hydrating properties, Xilogel has been shown to reduce the activity of β-galactosidase. Why is this significant? β-galactosidase is an enzyme considered to be a marker of ageing. Its activity is evident in keratinocytes (skin cells that produce keratin), thus experimental data has confirmed the ability of Xilogel to inhibit this enzyme activity. Although claims that it is an anti-ageing compound require further investigation, this could be a subsequent potential benefit of its use, so keep an eye on it!
The final natural personal care chemical under the microscope today is Undeoat, by Sinerga. As a natural derivative from oats, its INCI name is Undecylenoyl Oat. Functionally classified as a surfactant, this chemical is used to change the surface tension in mixtures. Sinerga claims that it additionally helps to protect skin from damages caused by other surfactants. Ultimately, this is a versatile product that can easily be incorporated into a range of formulations.
Primarily though, this chemical is desired for its anti-bacterial and antifungal activity. In particular, it is the antifungal property that manifests itself as useful, particularly in hair care products. The fungus Malasessia Globosa is known for its presence in the scalp. It functions by breaking down oils in there known as sebum. The breakdown of such oils irritates the skin, causing the presence of dandruff. Since Undeoat can inhibit this fungus, it is employed to reduce sebum production and as an effective natural anti-dandruff agent.
Ultimately, the use of natural ingredients is becoming increasingly common and demanded. Their presence on the market is going to become increasingly well-marked, so keep your eyes open for ECOCERT and further information.
If you enjoyed this article, stay tuned to learn more about the hottest topics in personal care over the next few weeks.
You can easily find all the mentioned products (and 10 000+ more personal care ingredients) on covalo.com, the fastest chemical search engine.
Sources and further reading:
- The Hallstar product page by Sensolene
- The Xilogel product page by Indena
- The Undeoat product page by Sinerga
- The Ecocert official website
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