What's the Big Deal With "Natural"
Updated: Mar 11
No matter where you're at with the natural product kick, you've probably seen the surge of essential oils and natural deodorants creep into your local grocery store. I'll be honest, the aesthetic of the natural products drew me in, but I didn't actually know the importance of using them. Besides, what does "natural" even mean?
After a few months of research and trying natural products, I decided to slowly make the switch. Even though I'm a strong proponent of the natural product world, I don't think the switch should be made without thought. You certainly don't need to be a scientist but knowing why you are making the switch is important.
So friend, if you are one of the many confused people at the store wondering why deodorant is $13, let me help you out.
What is "natural" anyway?
There is technically no legal definition of the word "natural," though it commonly refers to a chemical compound coming from a living organism (ex. wood, plants, silk, soil). Even though there is no definition of what natural is, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) accepts the word natural on any product if it doesn't contain components that have been proven to be harmful. The policy states that the term ‘natural’ can be used on food/product labels as long as it is used in a manner that is truthful and not misleading. So... it's a pretty broad definition. However, we have regulation we can trust from the NPA.
The NPA (Natural Products Association) is the major regulator of the natural product industry. To earn the label of "natural" on a product, the NPA requires that 95% of all ingredients in the product are derived from natural sources. This certification wasn't a requirement until 2010! Since the NPA requires this certification for all natural products, we can have faith that these products are safe for consumer use.
Learn more at: https://www.npanational.org
Parabens and phthalates
Parabens and phthalates are the most common hazard in products, so you'll probably hear about these chemicals sooner or later. Once you start looking for them, they're easy to find. Here's a quick explanation of each:
Simply put, parabens are additives that preserve the shelf-life of your product. Although it's helpful for your face wash and cleaners to have an extremely long shelf-life, it comes with a price. The chemical structure of parabens mimic the estrogen hormone, which send false signals to your body. This high estrogenic activity can be linked to cancer, especially breast cancer. A study by Reproductive Toxicology found a probable correlation between parabens and decreased cell health. Breast cancer and male infertility seem to be the most obvious correlations to excessive paraben exposure.
Learn more about parabens here:
Phthalates (pronounced THA-lates) is another class of chemical found in everything from cosmetics and nail polish to household cleaner and lotions. Although there is no long-term records of the effects of this chemical, recent research shows they may increase risk of cancer, stunt reproductive health, and, like parabens, are endocrine disruptors. Due to the serious risks of phthalates, most are already banned in the EU.
If you want more info on the research behind phthalates, check out: https://themodcabin.com/what-are-parabens-and-phthalates-and-why-you-should-avoid-them/ or https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates
So, what does all this mean for your prized bath and body works or Clorox wipes? Well, there's a few things. There could be a lot of harmful additives to products that we are just now discovering the consequences of. If you see the ingredient "fragrance" on your product, that could contain, phthalates, neurotoxicants, synthetic chemicals, and hundreds of other unregulated ingredients. There probably isn't any long-term harm in spritzing on some perfume before a date, but there could potentially be negative effects on your body in the long run.
Why is natural so expensive?
There are a few reasons natural shampoo, cleaning products, and deodorant are pricier than we're used to. Here are a few reasons that natural products have a higher price tag:
1. The cost of organic materials is typically higher because without pesticides, more labor is needed to produce natural products.
2. Natural products cannot be mass produced at the same cost as synthetic products.
3. The shelf life is shorter because botanical ingredients don't last as long.
What if I want the benefits of natural products without the price?
DIY it! Making your own gives you the benefit of clean products while saving you money. Be on the lookout for my next blog about how I make diy natural products. (face wash, makeup remover, body wash, laundry detergent, room spray, and more!)
Hope you learned a thing or two for your natural journey.