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The Truth About Natural Ingredients

Aug 27, 2008
These days, most skincare and bath and body lines boast of natural plant extracts in their beauty products.

Supermarket shelves are packed with beauty products that contain alove vera, chamomile, lavender and other common plant extracts.

Luxury beauty brands boast of plant extracts from less known sources like crowberry as well as expensive ingredients like caviar extracts and rose essential oil. Some go so far as to use only organic plant extracts and forgo synthetics altogether.

Then there are the mid-range beauty brands that use a wider range of plant extracts but avoid the prohibitively expensive items. They may be green companies that care for the environment and avoid animal testing altogether. They may even have organic ingredients at still affordable prices.

The common denominator is that the focus on natural ingredients.

In ancient times up to the invention of modern cosmetics, beauty was derived from nature. Flowers, herbs, clay, vegetable oils, honey and beeswax are common ingredients in home made beauty products. The problem with these home made concoctions is that they cannot keep. Bacteria and mould breed happily in these nourishing creams and face packs. You have to use them immediately and they do not have the shelf life necessary to make them commercially viable. Leave them out too long before you use them and you can get a nasty rash, outbreak of acne from the mould or bacteria that has proliferated in your beauty treat.

Along came petroleum by products. While in the past, vegetable oils which go rancid with time, were used to make creams and lotions, we now have cheap synthetic oils that do not go bad.These form the base of moisturizers and other beauty products for the mass market. On top of that, modern science has provided us with a myriad of cheap synthetic preservatives that inhibit bacterial growth and fungal growth. Now beauty products can be left on the shelf for years, hence the modern cosmetic industry was born.

Modern science has developed new molecules that can deliver active ingredients deeper into the skin, isolated chemicals that can help the skin regenerate itself and do so many modern miracles in the beauty arena.No doubt, the starting point is some discovery in nature, like a herb with some medical property. The labs would then isolate the chemical responsible for that effect and duplicate it synthetically, or just extract it straight from the source and patent that chemical for that sole use in that cosmetic house's products.

Then why are natural ingredients so popular?

For one thing, some of the synthetics, especially the petroleum by-products clog up skin pores leading to acne outbreaks. Artificial colors and scents and many of these chemicals can irritate sensitive skin. Some people find that natural skincare which do not contain the particular offending synthetics give them less problems.

Also, even the beauty products that have lab extracted components of herbs, plants and natural ingredients give credit back to nature, telling you what plants, herbs and other sources the active ingredients came from, so in a sense, these too can be considered having natural ingredients

Not all natural skincare is equal. A jar of aloe vera cream from one brand may contain 1% aloe vera while a tube of aloe vera gel form another brand may contain 99.7% aloe vera. Both are labelled aloe vera products since they do contain aloe vera. Look at the list of the ingredients. The ones listed on top of the list are what this product is made mostly of. The ones at the end of the list make up the smallest percentage of the product.

Clarins skincare products typically contain as much as 30% plant extracts as compared to 10% in most good skincare lines. Clarins uses interesting plants in their beauty products.
About the Author
Clarins super restorative skincare range contains pueraria lobata, an asian plant known as forever young. Dr. Hauschka Skincare goes a step further by excluding synthetic ingredients in their skincare line, making them ideal for anyone who has problems with synthetics. The author writes for http://www.cosmeticsonline.info
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