“Natural beauty” — the term gets thrown around often, but what does it really mean?
“She’s a natural beauty.”
“I only use natural beauty products.”
“Is it all-natural?”
I’d wager a guess that we’ve all likely used and abused phrases such as these from time to time, but what do we actually mean when we refer to “natural beauty”? When strung together, the two words call to mind one-ingredient beauty secrets, gardens filled with healing and beautifying herbs, and ethereal humans who manage to leave the house with — seemingly — nothing but some coconut oil and a smile smeared across their faces. It sounds simple enough, but when you unpack it, natural beauty is a far more complicated concept. Thinking of going chemical-free — ridding those nasty chemicals from your home and beauty routine? Hate to break it to you, but water is a chemical and so is sea salt….
You can see how there could be some confusion.
To help get some answers, we turned to FP fave, skincare brand Dr. Alkaitis, purveyors of the gorgeous organic products you see below. Meet Trish Alkaitis and the real Dr. Saulius Alkaitis below, and be prepared to get schooled on what it really means to be natural:
Hi Trish, could you please introduce yourself and Dr. Alkaitis to our readers?
My name is Trish Alkaitis. I am the marketing director and daughter of Dr. Alkaitis.
Today I would like to introduce you to Dr. Saulius Alkaitis who founded our family-run business 20 years ago. He has a Ph.D in Physical Chemistry and is an Ethnopharmacologist, which is a person who is trained in traditional plant-based healing medicines from various ethnic groups, especially with indigenous people.
From the very beginning Dr. Alkaitis was inspired and manufactured by this guideline: “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin” TM
Through this principle he crafted a vibrant living, raw, vegan, therapeutic and organic skin line that is not only efficacious, but supports the health of our body (externally and internally), while deeply respecting the planet.
I often affectionately refer to our products as “high vibration skincare” because they are just that –nature at its fullest potential, harnessed in a bottle.
Without further ado, here is Dr. Saulius Alkaitis….
‘Natural beauty’ – the term gets thrown around so often that it begins to lose its meaning. What does natural beauty mean to you?
Natural beauty, to me, is someone who is conscious and makes healthy choices. Natural beauty is aging gracefully with health and vivaciousness at any age. If you live well, your body will radiate with ‘natural beauty’ — you will have a twinkle in the eye and a clear mind. Natural beauty is the mind, body and spirit connection.
We hear a lot about the importance of going chemical-free, but even natural sea salt is a chemical! What’s the difference between natural chemicals, like salt and citric acid, and synthetic chemicals?
These are good questions but rather difficult to answer because terms such as natural, chemical and synthetic, when used in today’s normal discourse, have a very fuzzy meaning, if any at all. Here I’ll give a very broad overview of the world that we all live in to create a picture in which these terms begin to have some meaning and start to lay the foundations for a meaningful discourse.
The physical world that we live in is composed of 90 different types of elemental particles called atoms (each different atom constituting its element) each having its own unique personality. All of these elements just love to socialize (a fundamental characteristic of the universe); they form strong bonds, weak bonds, simple associations, complex associations, with the sum of all of these interactions resulting in planet earth. Earth is composed of two general categories of associations – the organic (or living part) and the inorganic (or mineral part). Keep in mind that the living part is intimately dependent on the mineral part whereas the mineral part is shaped by the living part. So the physical earth is made up of two major processes – the chemistry of life and the chemistry of minerals.
So basically everything on earth is chemistry. Over hundreds of millions of years the harmful associations have been weeded out, leaving beneficial associations as the basis of life. This is the definition of natural.
Now man comes into the picture. He has the capacity of abstract thought, making machines, taking apart what is found in nature and putting the pieces back together into constructs which in outline exist on earth or that earth has never seen. This is synthetic chemistry, or what is usually referred to as chemicals.
Natural chemicals come from living processes; synthetic chemicals come from machines.
Look at the answer to the next question for a continuation of the discussion.
Why choose one over the other? What’s so bad about synthetic chemicals?
A molecule that is not modified but extracted from a living source by physical (not chemical) processes is referred to “nature identical”.
A molecule made from components via chemical reactions is simply referred to by its name or, infrequently, will have “synthetic” as a qualifier.
Now, the difference between these two is important. A living creature such as you yourself, or a plant, etc. responds quite differently to the two. For example, let’s look at hormones. The “nature identical” hormones are much more body-friendly and cause fewer side effects than the synthetic ones. Just because we have no acceptable explanation for this does not mean that the phenomenon does not exist – your body can certainly tell the difference. This will be the case with everything – citric acid, sea salt, oils, any ingredient used in cosmetics. Once synthetic chemistry is used the “life force” goes out of the substance. Our bodies evolved eating complex living food brimming with life force. Feeding it dead machine “food” certainly is not the path to optimal health.
How do we know whether an ingredient listed is indeed natural?
Well it’s actually very difficult, if not impossible, for the typical consumer to accurately determine that. They would have to go into great detail as to how each ingredient was sourced and manufactured. The web services evaluating cosmetics are certainly better than nothing, but the basis of their evaluations just seems to add to the confusion. Whether by design or out of ignorance, their approach seems to support the marketing and promotional agenda of the “natural” cosmetics industry.
A suggestion to make choosing a natural cosmetic or ingredient easier for the consumer:
1. One must read the ingredient label.
2. What to watch for are the catch words “derived from” and/or “from”.
When this qualifier comes after an ingredient, what it really means is that the raw
material for that ingredient came from a living creature, usually a plant, and that it
was subsequently chemically modified. In actuality, this ingredient is not a natural one
but a synthetic one.
The one area that the web services are really wanting is in the use of GMO ingredients, whether from GMO sources or processed by GMO organisms. They essentially don’t recognize or accept this new synthetic player on the block. It’s now gone way beyond chemicals. What we have now is synthetic biology masquerading as natural.
The only certification that I find least fault with is the GMO certification. That certainly helps the consumer greatly, but it still leaves the world of “natural” to muddle through.
What’s your favorite ‘natural beauty’ product?
I am always trying brands that I consider worthy of attention, but I invariably come back to my own, Dr. Alkaitis.
Thank you Trish & Dr. Alkaitis!
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