The Natural vs the Chemical

UPDATED: 26/3/20

What's the Difference Between Natural & Chemical Ingredients? 


A product that includes ingredients from natural sources within the product listing.

In my opinion, natural is a term that is overused and perhaps conjures a false image of "better than", "better for" or "must buy over product/brand x,y,z". Natural ingredients such as lavender, tea tree, and ylang-ylang have undeniable benefits and I rate them highly.

But are they natural to your skin… or to a tree?! What I’m suggesting is that I wouldn’t necessarily assume that something labeled “natural” is automatically the best option. In my experience, the irony is that many natural products can also irritate the skin, so it's not only synthetic ingredients that can cause reactions.  


A product that includes ingredients not derived from natural sources but made in a lab to mimic the functions of the skin.

Many skin care products, organic and alike, are endorsed by certain accrediting bodies for limiting the use of artificial chemicals. I say, hats off to a brand that searches for the title and prestige of paraben-free, mineral, oil-free etc. However, you are a human, so, therefore, you are a chemical.

In themselves, chemicals are not harmful but they can be if you consume too much. For example, water, or H2O, is necessary for survival, yet even too much of this essential resource is not ideal.

Before we go on any further, let it be known and placed on internet record that I do not dislike natural ingredients! Instead, I am all in favour of questioning the products we place in/on our body. We are increasingly careful when it comes to the ingredients that we put into our bodies and the sort of lifestyle factors which we subject ourselves, so it's definitely time that we start paying the same care to what products we put on our skin.

It's an organ, after all, and importantly, it gives as good as it gets. Whether natural or so-called chemical products are on the menu, it's all about the ingredients that make it onto our precious peau. 

So where do I stand?

As a Rock, I enjoy nature!

I believe the greener the food inside the better! Additionally, I personally believe in skincare brands that are clinically proven and blind-end tested (aka doctor proven in independent labs). I endorse these as I feel they mirror image and mimic the functional and natural capabilities of the skin.

For example, retinol is a topical irritant, but it’s found within our blood. So it’s natural, yet needs your skin needs to acclimatise to it.

Vitamins are natural and necessary, yet we don't make Vitamin C ourselves, and need to take it in through diet or apply it topically directly to our skin. 

For people with acne-prone skin looking for home remedies, I cannot find anything in nature that mops up my oil and dissolves spots like salicylic acid. Where is acid derived from? The willow bark tree, so I can effectively market it as natural! 

The purpose of this article is not to confuse or to sway you one way or another. Instead, I wanted to show both sides, and that it’s good to take each ingredient on its own merits rather than automatically assume that “natural” trumps “chemicals” and vice versa.

I'm off now to make and mix coconut oil and brown sugar together for my dry lips, while having a Voya seaweed bath with Skinceuticals hyaluronic (another ingredient found inside us humans but synthetically mirrored), and then apply an ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) mask. 

Moderation is everything, and the important part is always consideration of what your individual skin needs!