What is Natural? - Naturally Derived Ingredients
In our last post, we discussed Certified Organic and natural ingredients, if you missed that post, make sure you read it here. Today we will discuss ingredients which have been derived from nature.
Ingredients are often labelled as being “derived from nature”. These ingredients are derived from a natural source, however may be produced either using minimal processing methods or with the use of synthetic chemicals. If an ingredient is derived from nature using minimal processing, it's production would not include any processing with synthetic chemicals, and in our opinion, is still suitable for limited use in natural products, provided it is allowed under the Australian Certified Organic standard. It would be impossible to produce, for example, creams and cleansers without using ingredients from this category as the emulsifiers and surfactants, which provide the characteristic creamy and foaming qualities of these products cannot be found in their raw state in nature.
Processing methods considered as being minimal processing include hydrolysis (the splitting of molecules), hydrogenation (the solidification of oils), esterification and transesterification (the joining of alcohols and acids). Ingredients that fall under this category include gentle surfactants such as coco glucoside and emulsifiers such as sorbitan olivate. These ingredients are biodegradable and are produced using renewable resources so are a much better choice for the environment than their synthetic counterparts.
Ingredients that are derived from nature using synthetic chemicals are often mislabelled as being natural, which is why “natural” has become such a confusing term in cosmetics. While the ingredient does start out being natural, it has either been extracted or modified using synthetic chemicals which, by our definition, renders it no longer natural. Processing methods under this category include sulphonation, ethoxylation and propoxylation. Ingredients included in this category include sodium laureth sulfate (derived from vegetable/palm oil) and cocoamidopropyl betaine (derived from coconut oil), both of which are common surfactants found in most shampoos and body washes.
In our next post, we will be discussing synthetic ingredients.