'Natural' Skin Care Products - Do They Work?

Most dermatologists agree that the 'green' and 'natural' hype is ahead of the science. There simply isn't enough published work and reputable studies that support some of the claims that many skin care companies are making.

Natural vs. Synthetic: What does each one mean?

The dictionary definition of natural is rather simple. It is simply described as, "existing or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind" while the word synthetic is described as being "made by chemical synthesis, especially to mimic a natural product." In the skincare industry, things can get quite a bit more complicated, however.

In the world of skin care products, people often assume that natural products contain only or mostly plant based minerals as per its definition. Unfortunately, North American labeling restrictions often don't include herbal or natural skin products, allowing many companies to write natural on their product despite the product being mostly made up of synthetic materials.

Health Canada have been quoted saying that "Some products normally thought of as cosmetics are not covered by the Cosmetic Regulations" while the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate the use of natural as they don't have a definition for the word nor see defining it as very pressing.

*The word 'organic' is much more stringently regulated with USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and ACO (Australian Certified Organic) being the biggest players in the certification process.

Despite all this, false advertising is not the most important thing to know when it comes to natural skin products.

Are natural products better for people who have sensitive skin?

Natural and synthetic describe a particular quality in the ingredients, but one is not necessarily better than the other. People can be allergic to all kinds of ingredients, both synthetic and natural. While strong chemicals take a heavy toll on sensitive skin, not all synthetic products are harmful to skin. Many synthetic products are actually made from a combination of natural ingredients. Natural ingredients do not make a product any more or less likely to cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. In fact, many completely natural oils like rosemary, bergamot and peppermint are actually known to irritate sensitive skin.

Should I trust those Farmer's market finds?

Homemade concoctions are most often very hit-and-miss. Rarely do these products produce miracles, but the lack of controlled studies also makes it very difficult to properly evaluate them as either positive or negative. Some homemade creams can be very useful and it is up to you whether you want to take the risk or not.

What ingredients should I look for?

Leslie S. Baumann, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami suggests:

For Dry Skin... Argan Oil
To fade Brown Spots... Soy
For Rosacea and Face redness... Maitake Mushrooms
For Sensitive Skin... Rhodiala
To Soften Wrinkles... CoffeeBerry
To lessen UV damage... White Tea and Green Tea

This list is by no means comprehensive, nor exclusive, but simply outlines a few products that have been researched and tested and have seen some good results. It is also important to understand that many homemade skin creams do not have a sufficient concentration of an ingredient to make a difference.

Natural remedies and homemade natural skin care ingredients have shown to be much more effective in condition prevention than they are in treatment.

Related video: