Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
Making Sense of the Natural vs Synthetic Debate: Acceptability of Synthetic Ingredients in Cosmetic > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

Making Sense of the Natural vs Synthetic Debate: Acceptability of Synthetic Ingredients in Cosmetic

Ideas and perspectives as to what constitutes a natural product vary. Is bread natural? Is fruit natural? What about soap? Or nail polish? What criteria can an interested consumer use to distinguish between a natural or synthetic product? The answer is not as clear as some would have you believe. The world around us is composed of atoms, molecules, compounds and chemicals. We manipulate the natural world around us so that new substances can serve our needs in ways not even imagined fifty years ago. This article will clarify what is natural and what is synthetic, followed by a discussion of how we should view synthetics and their implications in our daily use of cosmetics and personal care products.

What is Natural?

Nature is composed of physical, chemical and biological elements, principles and laws which govern the known and unknown world and universe. The term 'natural' is used to describe a substance or condition which is:

- in harmony with nature

- belonging or connected to nature

- derived or obtained from nature

According the U.S. National Organics Program (NOP), a natural substance is derived from a plant, mineral or animal source, without having undergone a synthetic process (defined in the next section of the article). Physical and biological processes can still render a substance as natural. For instance, dried corn kernels can be removed from the cob, then milled to produce corn flour. The corn has undergone a physical change, but is still considered natural. Yeast is an example of a micro-organism which can be an agent for biological change in a substance. This micro-organism is used to facilitate the process of fermentation of plant extracts, such as grape juice. The process of fermentation yields carbon dioxide and ethanol, which converts the grape juice into wine. Natural substances can result from physical and biological processes, even when the resulting substance cannot be found in nature independent of these processes.

What is Synthetic?

A synthetic substance is a compound which is made artificially through chemical reactions. Natural substances have been chemically modified through human labour or skill to yield substances which are chemically different from the pre-reaction substances. The NOP definition of a synthetic is a substance which has been formulated or manufactured by a chemical process, and has chemically altered a substance which was derived from a naturally occurring plant, mineral or animal source. These definitions encompass two types of synthetic substances: those viewed as natural, and those considered un-natural.

Fig. 1

NATURAL -------------------->SYNTHETIC ----------------> FUTURE

technically synthetic still viewed as natural

SYNTHETICS

Why the intermeshing of two seemingly opposing concepts? Consider what occurs during a chemical reaction. A combination of reactants undergo a chemical change, which is a loss, gain or sharing of electrons between or among atoms. The chemical reaction changes the physical properties of the reactants involved. For example,

Na (sodium: a silvery, metal poison) + Cl (chlorine: a poisonous gas) ---> NaCl (table salt)

Table salt no longer carries the physical properties of sodium or chlorine. Table salt, then, could be considered synthetic if human labour set up the conditions for the two elements Na and Cl to react. However, we can also find NaCl that is naturally occurring, such as in sea salt or mined salt. Commercially available salt has the same chemical formula, NaCl, but has been obtained from salt beds or underground lakes and then purified. Products resulting from chemical reactions which occur independent of human interference can be considered as natural substances.

What is a Practical View of Natural and Synthetic Substances?

Synthetic substances can best be understood as existing on a continuum (see Fig.1). Some chemical reactions occur naturally after minimal human input, such as enzymatic browning. This chemical reaction turns the surface of a cut apple brown in a few minutes because of a chemical reaction called enzymatic oxidative browning:

Phenolic enzymes (phenolases) join with tannins -à oxidation of phenols found in the apples-à melanines formed (brown or grey-black pigments)

Who would claim, however, that the resulting chemical changes transformed the cut apple slice into a synthetic food or that melanin, a pigment, is as synthetic as artificial pigments like acrylic? Contrast this with the creation of artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin. These substances are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, and are created through chemical reactions. They have no similar counterpart in nature and should be placed on the upper range of the synthetic continuum. Saccharin, for instance, is made from petroleum products and aspartame is made by combining aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Whether or not a chemical reaction has occurred, then, is not a reliable indicator to separate synthetics from natural substances since chemical reactions are part of the natural realm.

Human labour or skill is also not a differentiating factor between a synthetic or natural substance, simply because we can re-create and set-up conditions for naturally occurring reactions to take place. Baking cookies is an example of a product which does not exist in nature unless human labour and skill set up the conditions for a series of chemical reactions to occur in the oven to yield cookies. For instance, baking soda is one of the oldest leavening agents used in baking:

baking soda + acid (lactic acid found in milk, benzoic acids from fruits, etc) ---water--> salt + carbonic acid

carbonic acid ----- dissociates --> water + carbon dioxide

This is an example of a chemical reaction which is technically synthetic because of the addition of human skill, but is clearly viewed as natural since it contributes to a product viewed as natural and because the final results of the reaction are naturally occurring substances.

In the cosmetics industry, hundreds of ingredients are used to impose various effects on the skin. These ingredients range from purely natural ingredients extracted from nature in their original condition, to purely synthetic ingredients which have been created from synthetics through a complex series of chemical reactions and have no connection to nature any longer. So how is a consumer to decide which ingredients are natural and which are synthetic?

Every chemical reaction has three parts, and each prompts a series of questions to help us decide:

reactants ----- + -------- catalyst/energy process ----------> products

Reactants:

- Are these naturally occurring, i.e. taken from the earth in its original state or modified physically through grinding, melting, sifting, etc.?

- Are these the result of biological processes?

Catalyst:

- Is this a natural substance?

- Is this natural but toxic i.e. harmful to humans or the environment?

- Is this environmentally damaging to obtain or use?

- Is this re-usable?

- Is this synthetic? If so, where does it belong on the synthetic continuum?

- Is this a petrochemical?

Energy Process:

- Is the process externally imposed on the reaction?

- What is the source of energy being imposed and is it from a non-renewable or renewable source?

- Is the amount of energy needed to conduct the reaction minimal or energy intensive? This must be weighed against the benefit of the products resulting from the process i.e. is it worth the energy cost when compared to human benefit?

Products:

- Are these naturally occurring in the reactants but now separated out?

- Are these chemically different than the reactants in part or in whole?

- Are these toxic or non-toxic to humans and the environment?

- Are these biodegradable without impact to the earth through normal micro-biological or decay processes?

Implications for Daily Use of Cosmetics

There is a vast array of cosmetic products at our disposal. Why does the natural versus synthetic debate matter? Our personal health and well-being, as well as our environment locally and globally, are in question by the widespread use of synthetic substances. We cannot avoid all synthetic substances, and not all synthetics are bad for us. Many of these materials have improved the quality of our lives, but many have also deteriorated it. We do not know what will result from our use of certain synthetics in the long run. Cosmetics are products which we have a direct physical and emotional relationship with, as we wear them daily on our skin and bodies. The environment can be sustained or systematically destroyed by our choices. As consumers we can participate in the sustaining of eco-friendly organic farming practices, wise waste disposal, clean manufacturing processes and biodegradeability of ingredients. The choices are many, and the freedom to choose is ours. Where do you stand on the natural vs synthetic debate? The answer can make a difference to your health and our ecosystem.

The Organic Make-up Company considers synthetic ingredients to be those which:

- do not have natural reactants

- use petroleum derived reactants

- use catalysts which are petroleum derived or on the upper end of the synthetic range

- use processes which require pressure and/or heat which cannot be achieved with simple technology

- yield products through chemical reactions that have properties which are chemically (not physically) different from the reactants

- yield chemically produced substances which are not biodegradable through normal biological processes

The Organic Make-up Company considers natural ingredients to be those which:

- are derived, obtained or drawn from plants, minerals or animal sources such as beeswax (please refer to our policies on animal testing and use of animal part ingredients).

- have not undergone a synthetic process as defined under our criteria above of a synthetic substance

- are refined through physical processing

- result from biological processes

- result from simple chemical processes where the reactants and catalysts are natural as defined in this article and the statements above

- have been changed or created through the use of simple technologies such as those that can be found in a conventional kitchen

References:

- Freeland-Graves, Jeanne & Peckham, Gladys. Foundations of Food Preparation 5ed, Macmillan Publishing Co; New York:1987

- http://www.naturalmakeup.ca

Lori Stryker has been researching and developing all natural skin care and make-up for the purpose of offering men and women safe, natural cosmetics for everyday use. She brings to her research a specialist in human biology from the University of Toronto, coupled with a professional home economics degree and an education degree from the University of British Columbia, fusing chemical and biological knowledge with food, family and textile sciences.

You may use this article but any modification or publication of this article for fiancial gain must be approved of by the author. The author's name, Lori Stryker and her company's name, The Organic Make-up Company, needs to by noted when used.

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

Glossy

Don't call Charlotte Cho's new beauty line a wellness brand
Glossy
Ever since starting her K-beauty e-commerce website Soko Glam in 2012, Charlotte Cho has been asked when she was going to create her own beauty brand, she said. Six years later, that day has finally arrived. The new line, called Then I Met You ...

and more »

The Decatur Daily

Phillips, 99, a 'landmark' who operated Decatur's oldest beauty salon
The Decatur Daily
Billie Phillips was an entrepreneur, a child of segregation and a friend to everyone she met, friends and family say. “She was a good person, a church worker and she loved everybody,” niece Tina Jones said. Phillips, who operated the oldest beauty ...


Robb Report

Abhati Suisse: A Beauty Brand That Feels Good and Does Good
Robb Report
Ever heard of an “aesthetic activist”? It's a term often used to describe Anju Rupal, the social worker and environmentalist-turned-entrepreneur behind ethically minded, charitably driven beauty brand Abhati Suisse. Before launching the line, Rupal ...


KTLA

Preview of Sephoria – House of Beauty With Sephora Beauty Director Jeffrey English
KTLA
Sephora Beauty Director Jeffrey English joined us live with a preview of Sephoria- House of Beauty. Sephoria is a new kind of beauty event where every room reveals a new experience - with masterclasses with industry icons to creating customized product.


Glossy

Free People launches in-house fragrance to test market opportunities in beauty
Glossy
The three fragrances, called 1809: S; 1809: Z; and 1809: C, are inspired by the sea, zen meditation and camping, respectively, and are the first in-house beauty products ever launched since Free People debuted its beauty and wellness category in July 2016.


Essence

Maxwell Says New Video Is An 'Absolute Celebration Of Black Beauty'
Essence
R&B singer Maxwell is out with a new music video for his latest single, “Shame.” The video, which stars a variety of actors and models who are draped in a sheer black cloth covering up their features, is “an absolute celebration of Black beauty,” the ...
Maxwell Drops 'Shame,' New Song and Video 'Celebrating Black Beauty' (Watch)Variety
Maxwell's 'Shame' Video is a 'Love Letter to My Women of Color'Rolling Stone
Maxwell - Shame (Official Video)YouTube

all 11 news articles »

Refinery29

5 Beauty Lessons We Learned From Practical Magic
Refinery29
Before Netflix made cult movies their own subcategory on the streaming service, niche films like Heathers, The Room, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail had no place in your queue. Back then, you were a part of a small, passionate fanbase that would ...

and more »

WWD

Influence Peddler: Chemist Confessions, the Instagram Duo Busting Beauty Myths
WWD
Influence Peddler: Chemist Confessions, the Instagram Duo Busting Beauty Myths. Victoria Fu and Gloria Lu of Chemist Confessions talk transparency, clean beauty and their newly launched skin-care line. By Alexa Tietjen on October 18, 2018. Victoria Fu ...


Consumer Beauty Unit Hits Coty, Luxury Offers Some Breather
Zacks.com
Nonetheless, Coty's Luxury and Professional Beauty segments have been performing impressively for quite some time now, mainly backed by solid brand performances in key markets. In fact, these units continued to deliver impressive results in the fourth ...


E! Online

Here's What Happens When You Stop Looking to Others to Validate Your Beauty
E! Online
According to a recent Ulta Beauty study, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have judged someone else for how they look, but 7 out of every 10 Americans admit that they've misjudged someone based on their appearance. Think about it: Have you ever seen ...

Google News

Indoor Versus Outdoor Tanning

The benefits of indoor tanning versus outdoor tanning are widely... Read More

The 3 Things You are Doing Right Now that are Causing Your Dark Eyes Circles

When I started searching for a solution for dark circles... Read More

Your #1 Ally to Promote Lucid, Clear-Looking, Supple Skin

Specifically, for longevity and looking and feeling younger, healthier and... Read More

The Many Faces Of Mascara

After finding the right foundation shade, choosing mascara is probably... Read More

Lens Materials Found On Sunglasses

Did you know that there are multiple types of lens... Read More

Cosmetics ? The Practical Way To Beauty!

Want that healthy, tanned look without that elusive Spanish holiday?... Read More

5 Sunless Tanning Lotion Tips For Summer

If you use sunless tanning products it's probably because your... Read More

Beauty Tip: How to Cover Dark Circles and Blemishes

Unless your skin is absolutely flawless, concealer is a must.... Read More

Spray Tan Basics

I miss summer! I think I suffer from season depression... Read More

Mineral Cosmetics from the Dead Sea

Does the idea of using chemicals and preservatives on your... Read More

Create a Spa Retreat at Home!

In today's high-stress world, a visit to a spa can... Read More

Beauty Tips for Luscious Lips

The last step in your makeup regime is lipstick application.... Read More

Cosmetics & Toiletries - Global Outsourcing & Private Label Manufacturing

Hi, My name is Rasik Botadra, am currently working as... Read More

When Clear Skin becomes an Obsession

Billions of people around the world experience acne over their... Read More

LipoSelection? by Vaser®

Vaser® LipoSelection? is a revolutionary advance in ultra-sonic liposuction. People... Read More

Soft Hair And Skin Au Naturelle

Just picture this, your walking down the beach front, its... Read More

The Secrets of Becoming More Beautiful

Like every organ in your body, our skin requires adequate... Read More

An Alternative to Liposuction. Lipoliquidation or Lipodialysis

Even though liposuction methods have been greatly refined and simplified... Read More

What The Heck Are Crowns, Veneers and Implants Anyway?

Dentistry has become a hot topic, as writers across the... Read More

Fake a Tan with Sunless Tanning Lotion

A great tan is associated with health and beauty. While... Read More

Should You Get Hair Extensions?

Are you sick and tired of your current hair style... Read More

Want Healthy Glowing Skin?

Are you struggling with skin problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis... Read More

Tips For A Glowing Skin

Do you know how and where to moisturize? Here are... Read More

Homemade Beauty Recipes

Do you want to look stunning with out wasting too... Read More

Face Off

The other day, I indulged in one of my many... Read More