A growing number of consumers are opting for "natural" skincare products. The media loudly and aggressively sends the message the "natural skincare products are good and synthetic products are bad". They imply that standard facial moisturizers and cleansers are filled with poisonous cancer-causing chemicals. As a result, many people understandably opt for "natural" skincare items that seem "better". In truth, the term "natural" found on skincare product labels is simply an example of brilliant marketing.
The term "natural" on personal care products has no specific definition. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not defined the term nor has it established any standards or regulatory guidelines for its use on skincare product labels. In addition, cosmetic companies are not required to prove these "natural" products live up to their claims. In fact, the FDA warns, "There is no basis in fact or scientific legitamcy to the notion that products containing natural ingredients are good for the skin."
"Natural" ingredients may imply where the ingredients come from but discloses nothing about the safety of the ingredient. A plant-based product is not necessarily healthy. While most consumers can apply personal care products that claim to be "all natural" without any ill effects, some plant-derived ingredients can cause severe reactions in those with allergies. Tea tree oil, lavender, chamomile and its related family plants, including daisies and ragweed, are commonly used in "natural" skincare products and may cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. Additionally, exposure to natural oils like bergamot, lavender, musk, and citrus compounds from lemons and limes also frequently used in natural products may cause an increased sensitivity to the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.
As for the claims that synthetic ingredients, those "bad" chemicals, cause cancer: poor scientific studies and the need to sell beauty magazines that rely on sensationalism consistently find cancer links that simply don't exist. Whether a chemical, "natural" or synthetic, causes cancer or any other toxic reaction depends on the dose of the chemical, not the chemical itself. Almost every chemical has a dose below which no adverse effect or harm can occur. (See DOSE VS TOXICITY)
Still, plant-based products remain popular. Whether just folklore, or the influence of the beauty industry and advertising media, many consumers definitely prefer to purchase "natural" skincare products formulated with plant-based ingredients. It's true, plants are a huge reservoir of potentially beneficial compounds. However, few studies, if any, demonstrate they are beneficial to humans. A plant-derived ingredient isn't necessarily good for you, nor is a synthetic ingredient necessarily toxic.