Is it Natural Enough for You?


Natural ingredients could lead to extinction.


The label says “all natural”, the package has green leaves all over it and the plastic bottle or jar has those little arrows indicating that the bottle is recyclable. Then, you see ingredients with parenthetical statements:

  • glyceryl laurate  (botanical source)
  • sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (from palm)
  • sodium cocoyl glutamate (from coconut & sugar cane)

Yes, the parenthetical statements make you feel good, but laboratories extract and/or concentrate the ingredients listed. In other words, a laboratory is still manipulating the ingredients, regardless of source. Is that “all natural”?  While  purists feel that any laboratory involvement renders the product, and its ingredients, unnatural, I don’t mind the parenthetical “greenwashing” cosmetics companies engage in. Unless an ingredient is completely man-made, I consider an ingredient source “natural enough”, and here’s why…..

Without laboratory manipulation, cosmetics and skin care companies would consume millions of whole, living plants for access to one or two ingredients, driving many plant species into extinction.

On balance, I’d rather companies isolate the necessary compounds, then reproduce them without consuming more plants. As recycling paper is easier on forests than consuming complete trees for every single ream of paper produced,  a lab’s having synthesized nature’s compounds can be an act of conservation.

It would be nice to use ingredients directly from the plants that produce them, but I’d rather know that plant still grows, somewhere.


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