The word ‘natural’ is something of a buzzword when it comes to healthy living. Many of us are trying to live healthier lives, and picking up products that are labeled ‘natural’ is a part of that – but does it really mean what we think it does? We would assume that ‘natural’ means free from artificial ingredients, chemical free, or perhaps made from things that are grown in nature. However, that is not always the case. Here is the untold truth of natural products.
What does natural really mean?
Well, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have an official definition of ‘natural,’ and it all depends on where you are living. Of course, from a marketing point of view, this gives companies free reign, however for those of us who want to know what is going on inside the products that we buy, it’s not so good. In the US, there are only 11 chemicals banned from personal care items, but over 1300 in Europe. So anything can be called ‘natural’ without any real meaning.
Preservatives can be an issue
If something is truly natural, it will likely have a shorter shelf life, as natural preservatives do not protect the product from bacteria, yeast or mold. The word ‘preservative’ is a catch-all term, so you can never be sure what it is you’re getting, and some types are known for causing skin irritation, or even for being carcinogenic.
Natural products may be carcinogenic
Carcinogens are anything that can cause cancer, which sadly includes a lot of natural products that have chemicals in them. For example, even sunscreen, which is supposed to protect against skin cancer, has been shown to contain nanoparticles of carcinogens – something that is not required to be shown on the labels. Some known carcinogens that may be found in products that are labeled ‘natural’ are fragrance, talc, sodium laureth sulfate and mineral oil – plus a whole bunch more!
Natural products can disrupt your hormones
There are several chemicals that are often found in so-called ‘natural’ products that have been shown to mimic estrogen and anything above 1% of this ingredient can cause some issues for your body. Most of the personal care and cleaning products (particularly those that foam) have been found to include these chemicals, which include: sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), parabens, petroleum, and fragrance.
Natural isn’t always vegan
A lot of people who are trying to live vegan or cruelty-free will gravitate towards products marked ‘natural’ as they assume these will cover all the bases, however, that is not the case. For example, squalane is a chemical that helps us to retain moisture. Squalane can come from a vegan source, such as sugarcane, or a non-vegan source, like shark liver. Both are natural, but only one can be classed as vegan.
Hopefully, this hasn’t put you off your quest for natural products and has just reminded you how important it is to look at the ingredients of what you are buying first. Do your research and try to support honest brands who are using the word natural in the way that it is intended.