So, here’s a short summary of the common terms you may come across when seeing skincare advertised to help you make informed decisions.
Certified organic ingredients are natural with a rich nutrient content, but have also been certified by a third party to prove no pesticides or solvents have been used when producing the ingredients.
This means there is nothing artificial or synthetic, and that it is free from harmful chemicals. It is 100% natural and obtained completely from its original plant source. The way it is processed will determine the concentration of naturally occurring nutrients.
The efficacy of natural is often overlooked, however natural ingredients are concentrated extracts of nutrients and when formulated correctly can change and improve the skin.
This is when an ingredient comes from a natural source and has been converted into a useful form, using green chemistry to serve a new purpose.
For example, coconut contains natural fatty acids, but you can’t squeeze them from the coconut. You need to use a green chemistry method of extraction such as esterification, where you change the molecule to extract those components.
The ingredient could even be a compound of components from a variety of plant sources in nature, that once combined create a new ingredient that serves a new purpose.
As the name suggests, this is where nutrition and pharmaceuticals collide. They are nutrient rich, natural actives.
These ingredients do have efficacy data to support their claims, however the required dosage needs to be used in any formula to be effective. They are not legally recognised as a therapeutic good (see Cosmeceutical). This term will cover the use of macronutrients, micronutrients and nutritional supplements.
Be careful as naturally derived can be a broad term and how closely ingredients have been derived from a natural source can differ. Sometimes other products will use naturally derived to describe ingredients in their formulations that have been over processed or potentially combined with synthetic components.
This one is a little more complex. These ingredients or formulas are also known as actives, and are promoted or claim to have a drug-like effect on the skin.
They are described as a combination of cosmetic and pharmaceutical. However, the term ‘cosmeceutical’ is currently only a marketing phrase and is not legally recognised or regulated. If a skincare product claims to fix or solve a problem, then it needs to be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The active pharmaceutical grade ingredients used in these formulations do have efficacy testing with data to back up their claims when used at a certain percent. However, there is no guarantee skin care companies use them at this potency.
This term is less common as it’s used more in the professional beauty industry. These products claim to be able to drastically or medically improve or change the skin without a prescription.
Again, this is a non-regulated classification unless they have been lodged through TGA. These products claim to use a combination of active ingredient technology with the data, however professional prescription would be required before administering skin care that claims to change the skin to this degree.
Did you know a banana contains over 50 chemicals? A chemical is any distinct compound or substance – so even water is a chemical. No product is chemical free, but they may be toxin free or free from harmful chemicals – but that’s a topic for another day.