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What’s Best For Your Skin – Natural Or Synthetic Skincare?

What’s Best For Your Skin – Natural Or Synthetic Skincare?

Synthetic-based products backed by science or clean, green, natural formulations? Which are better for your skin? And do you even need to make the choice? Here’s what we know.

Being more planet-conscious about what you eat, drink, wear and do is great and we salute all of you trying to do your bit to better the world we live in – no matter how small. But it’s not always easy to live a clean, eco-friendly life. 

And this is especially true when it comes to what you put on your skin. The natural and organic skincare market is expected to double in the next ten years, but nailing a clean, green skincare routine is a feat in itself. How so? Because terms like 'clean,' 'green,' 'natural' and 'organic' often mean different things to different people and, most importantly, they’re unregulated which means that some products claiming to be such things often aren't quite what they seem...

Then there’s the question of do these products even work or are you better off choosing synthetic, lab-created formulations that are supposedly more powerful and effective… but could potentially harm your skin and/or the planet? Oh. My.

Read on for the complete lowdown on the natural vs synthetic debate, plus how you can get the best of both worlds.

And breathe!

What Does ‘Natural’ Mean In Skincare?

This is the 64 thousand dollar question because there’s no real set definition in the skincare industry or, in fact, the beauty industry as a whole. For us, however, we think of ‘natural’ in its simplest form – meaning that anything termed as such should be derived from nature. Whether this is a plant extract like aloe vera or an botanical oil like tea tree or ylang ylang, if an ingredient is found in nature, it’s natural. Makes sense, right?

The important thing to note here, however, is that just because a formulation contains a number of natural ingredients, this doesn’t make the entire product natural. You’ll often see certain brands claiming their products are ‘natural’ even if they contain synthetic ingredients. We won’t name names but that’s called ‘pulling the wool over your eyes’ and we don’t subscribe to that.

OK, So What About Synthetic Ingredients?

Synthetic ingredients are basically chemicals that have been created in a laboratory. Now, if that strikes fear into your very core, think about this. The water you drink contains a whole host of chemicals. As does much of the food you eat. Even the air you breathe. The truth is, chemicals are not necessarily the enemy. In fact, some of the most effective and highly regarded ingredients in skincare are chemicals. Here’s looking at you vitamin C and retinol.

The Cases For & Against…

If 100 percent natural skincare brands are to believe, the only ingredients you should ever put near your face are natural. Because chemicals are bad news for both humans and the planet. Meanwhile, synthetic-based skincare brands will have you convinced that natural ingredients don’t work, whereas chemicals are the only choice if you care about the health of your skin.

So, is any of this true? Yes. And no.

Yes, there are some sketchy chemicals around like oxybenzone, phthalates and parabens which have the potential to harm things like marine life, your skin and even your health. But most chemical ingredients used in skincare have been tested to exceptional standards and are proven to be safe and sustainable. What’s more, not every natural ingredient is great for your skin. There are plenty of essential oils, for example, that can be extremely drying and irritating, and when you think about the poison oaks of the world, well, this proves that nature is not always such an innocent party.

Are chemicals more effective than natural ingredients? Again, some are, but others aren’t. With today’s sophisticated technologies, certain natural ingredients can be very effective for moisturizing, hydrating, brightening or toning the skin – especially when they’re formulated to high industry standards. In fact, some of the hardest-working ingredients in skincare are natural. Green tea, aloe vera, salicylic acid and rosehip oil are just a few examples of effective, natural ingredients that have been used in skincare for decades.

Because they work.

So, Which Offers The Best Results: Synthetic or Natural Skincare?

There’s no real right or wrong answer here, but we believe that responsibly combining science with nature is the best, most balanced solution. Plants offer powerful benefits to the skin, so we strengthen all of our formulations with trusted, natural ingredients that have been clinically tested to improve the health of your skin. Simply put, nature is at the core of every TruSkin product.

However, we know that certain synthetically-produced ingredients like sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), d-alpha tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E) and retinol are pretty much the gold-standard of skin rejuvenation so they mustn’t be ignored either. What's more, as well as their undoubted efficacy, these are some of the safest ingredients in skincare thanks to their compatibility with the skin and years' worth of clinical research.

Take our fan favorite Vitamin C Facial Serum, for example, which might be packed with natural ingredients like aloe, witch hazel and jojoba oil but similarly relies on the extraordinary powers of lab-created ingredients like vitamin C and vitamin E. As we said before, it's all about balance.

Of course, we would never add unnecessary chemicals, additives and fragrances to any of our products and rest assured, we’re free of PEGs, phthalates, parabens and sulfates which are up there as four of the biggest no-nos in skincare. But chemicals that are non-toxic, skin-friendly and extremely effective? Count us in. And when they can be powered by nature’s very best? Even better.

Seems like a no brainer, right?

More About This Article

Georgia Gould

Georgia Gould

Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.