Holistic, Natural, And Organic Skincare: What Does It All Mean?
Natural and organic skincare has been in the limelight for a while now, as a growing number of people are becoming more aware of the harmful chemicals found in conventional skincare products. But “holistic skincare” has been getting a lot of buzz recently, and it’s generally associated with the previous two. Whether you’re completely new to the concept and only trying to find more natural alternatives for your skincare regimen or have been following the shifts in the skincare industry, keeping up with all the terms can get confusing.
Moreover, a lot of us who are determined to use only green skincare tend to approach it in an offhand manner, looking for labels that contain either one of these three words. But do we really understand what each one entails, and do our expectations meet the reality of these labels?
The holistic approach to health
Holistic medicine teaches us that as that health and wellbeing should be observed as a whole comprised of numerous, intimately intertwined parts. The ancient practice of Ayurveda is an example of a widely renowned holistic approach where the body is treated as a diverse garden that needs to be cultivated so that it can ultimately adopt self-healing qualities. Health and wellbeing are essentially two sides of the same coin, as the physical body, the mind, and the spirit are all parts of this garden that requires constant care through different aspects of life that affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally. That means that if one of the numerous parts of our wellbeing is somehow affected, the whole cannot function properly.
Now, how does that translate to skincare?
Quite simply, the holistic approach implies that the skin, which is the biggest organ in the body, cannot be treated as a separate entity from the rest. Both Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine emphasize that the skin is a reflection of our inner health. That’s why proper nutrition, exercise, proper organ function, and a well-maintained hormonal balance, among many other factors, are all important parts of skincare.
But there’s more: the skin requires external care as well, even more so in the polluted environment of the modern day.
The holistic approach to skincare seeks to align the use of universally beneficial skincare products with our values and inherent spiritual need to be in touch with nature. Oils such as hemp, argan, and jojoba are some of the most popular holistic skincare products, and they rely solely on natural plant extracts whose ingredients have powerful antioxidant properties to nourish the skin in more ways than one – from defending it against environmental factors to promoting a balanced skin condition. In short, holistic skincare puts the power of plants to use and chooses non-toxic ingredients for preservation rather than the commonly used parabens.
Most importantly, all holistic skincare products should be sourced from natural, organic, cruelty-free, and sustainably grown and processed ingredients if we intend for them to truly be what they’re aspiring to.
So, you get the picture – a holistic skincare product will automatically also be characterized as organic, among other things. “Organic” suggests that a product is obtained through approved and ethical methods which help conserve biodiversity, encourage the natural cycling of resources and strive to maintain the ecological balance. That clearly implies that a product is “natural”, which we’ll talk about in a bit. But here’s the thing: organic certifications apply to plants in their whole form, not their extracts. That means that skincare products labeled “organic” are actually only derived from an organic source, so we still need to be cautious that the entire process of producing and packaging the product relies on approved and ethical methods.
This is where things get a little vague. Similar to “organic” labeling, there are no FDA and USDA standards for labeling cosmetic products as natural. Again, you’re looking at ingredients derived from natural sources.
However, it is possible to artificially manufacture ingredients some ingredients which can be found in nature, ensuring even greater purity and consistency – for example, vitamin C (ascorbic acid). There are no laws that state manufacturers need to differentiate on their labels between natural sources and their bio-identical counterparts produced in laboratories. Moreover, an ingredient can undergo extensive processing which leaves its end structure significantly different from the organic plant it was derived from – but it can still be labeled as natural.
Overall, skincare products labeled as holistic, organic, and natural all aspire to the same thing – an ethical, consumer-conscious, and healthy approach to skincare. But the lack of regulations and requirements for labeling products as natural and organic leaves a lot of space for manufacturers to deceive or manipulate consumers. Hopefully, cosmetic labeling will be more regulated in the future, but what we can do for now is inform ourselves extensively about each product before buying. Find a manufacturer you trust and don’t hesitate to ask them questions about their labels – that way we can all be on the same page.
Image source: unsplash.com
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