What is Natural? - Synthetic Ingredients
Synthetic ingredients are defined as being synthesised entirely from lab-produced chemicals or petroleum derivatives and include “nature-identical” ingredients. Due to the way they are manufactured, synthetic ingredients are much cheaper to produce than natural ingredients and can be consistently replicated, allowing for a purer and more consistent ingredient. So, naturally, these ingredients are more appealing to many cosmetic companies as they provide a larger profit margin while also ensuring consistency in each batch of the manufactured product.
However, our main concerns about the use of synthetic ingredients in personal care products are:
- they are usually produced using non-renewable resources, such as petroleum by-products which are in limited supply,
- they are often non-biodegradable and accumulate in our environment when we wash them down the drain, and
- they can be bio-accumulative and can accumulate within the fat cells of your body, potentially altering the delicate balance of the thousands of chemical reactions occurring within our bodies and ultimately impacting our health.
The biggest concern that most people have with synthetic chemicals is that given they are relatively new substances, the effects of long term exposure are still untested and unknown. For many of these substances, no long (or sometimes even short) term studies have been carried out on their safety prior to them being used in commercially available cosmetic products. So, by the time the toxicity of an ingredient is discovered, it can be too late. This is not to say that all synthetic ingredients are unsafe, as many are not. However, given that natural ingredients have a much longer history of use, it provides us with a greater insight into any potential long term effects, and gives us greater confidence in the integrity and safety of the ingredients we are using.
At Natural Wonders we avoid the use of synthetic ingredients, with the exception of Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate. These are two readily biodegradable, food-grade preservatives allowed under the Australian Certified Organic standard. At present, however, we are making the switch to a natural preservative system which has recently become available to us.