Woman choosing cosmetics in a department store.

A growing trend has been the increasing use of products that contain natural ingredients. However, the actual meaning behind “natural ingredients” has remained vague as more and more companies jump onto the natural bandwagon. Today, OROGOLD will answer your questions about which is truly better, natural or synthetic ingredients.

Natural ingredients are considered those that are from natural sources with no synthetic/manmade material in them. Furthermore, organic ingredients are natural materials that only contain plant-sourced ingredients that are untouched by synthetic chemicals or pesticides. Some people prefer to buy organic products because they are better for the environment. However, regulation on organic and natural materials is fairly lenient, so it is hard to trust that the product matches the label.

Natural ingredients used for skin therapies at a spa.

There is no scientific evidence that natural ingredients are more efficient or safer than synthetic ones. In fact, many companies that advertise their natural products rely on a customer’s fear of unknown ingredients rather than on science to promote their company. Natural does not mean safe. In fact, synthetic substances are virtually unavoidable, and many have improved our quality of life. On the other hand, synthetic ingredients haven’t been around as long as natural ones, so there are less long-term studies of their effects over time.

One of the downsides to natural products is that they cannot include preservatives. Many natural oils that have beneficial qualities for the skin also have a short shelf life, often of only a few months. This means that after that time period, the oil will go rancid and be unusable. So far, there is no natural preservative able to adequately protect cosmetic products.

Skin care products in a container.

On to the more important question—do natural ingredients work better than synthetic ones? Because there is no standard for natural products, it is hard to differentiate what is natural and what is synthetic. Many natural products sill contain a small amount of synthetic materials, as well. It is also important to realize that a natural irritant is still an irritant. Plant extracts often have irritating properties that can clog pores, decrease collagen, and cause skin damage even though they are considered natural. The most important consideration should be if your product works like it should.

In short, there is no clear answer to which is better. Natural ingredients may be better for the environment and have more research on their long term effects, but they cannot be guaranteed as natural and cannot contain preservatives. Some can even be more irritating to the skin than synthetic products. On the other hand, synthetic products contain preservatives giving them long shelf lives and the overall products are usually more readily available and cheaper. Overall, both can be a perfect fit for you if you know what you want and do your research about what you are using.