Every day – especially on social media – we’re inundated with different skincare advice. The result is many of us beelining to the shops for products that might not be right for our skin type, especially when it comes to active ingredients such as vitamin C and A, or chemical exfoliants AHAs and BHAs. And we might be ignoring a whole set of beneficial ingredients in the process: natural ingredients.
To help us understand what’s what, we turned to skincare expert Yads Cauchi, a beauty writer and dermal therapist with her own online skin consultation business. Cauchi sat down with Broadsheet to unpack the most common natural ingredients and how to find the right one for you.
What is a natural ingredient?
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“A true natural skincare product generally contains no artificial ingredients, or ingredients that are free of synthetic chemicals,” says Cauchi. “They might have a set of ingredients like natural oils, fruit extracts, fruit acids, [which are] all considered natural.
Cauchi says we can use both natural and active ingredients in our routine “depending on the concerns that we’re trying to treat”. But there are a few reasons we might opt for natural ingredients.
“If you're more of a sensitive skin, [natural ingredients] might be beneficial if you're finding some of the stronger actives don't agree with your skin,” she says. They might also suit anyone looking for vegan-based products or avoiding stronger active ingredients altogether.
“It comes down to finding the right products for your skin,” says Cauchi. If you’re not sure where to start, it’s always a good idea to speak to a dermal therapist. “I feel like a lot of people in the skincare world will just do it themselves blindly when there's lots of avenues for professional help when it comes to skincare.”
If you know what issue you’re wanting to tackle though, Cauchi has some advice.
Managing aging skin
Edelweiss – an antioxidant and the key ingredient in the Body Shop’s Edelweiss Daily Serum Concentrate – is known to be soothing and anti-inflammatory, making it a great choice for people with skin irritation or redness.
Edelweiss can also help with age management concerns. “It prevents the degradation of collagen in the skin and helps the skin stay firm, youthful and healthy, while fighting fine lines and wrinkles,” says Cauchi. “It’s also a good skin moisturiser for people that are a bit more on the drier or dull side and want to boost their complexion in the morning.”
Managing sensitive or irritated skin
Hemp seed oil is a lesser-known ingredient that has been shown to decrease irritation and inflammation in the skin. “I generally don’t recommend a lot of oils for a truly oily, acne-prone skin,” says Cauchi. “But if you get breakouts every now and then, and you are on the drier side, hemp seed oil can help.” For an intense dose of hydration, try The Body Shop’s Hemp Overnight Nourishing Rescue Mask.
Managing dry skin
Aloe vera can be used by any skin type according to Cauchi. Aloe vera-based cleansers – such as The Body Shop’s gentle Aloe Soothing Cream Cleanser – are suitable for anyone, but especially for drier skins who find cleansing to be harsh on their skin barriers.
Lesser-known natural ingredients
Seaweed can be found on the ingredients list of many toners, cleansers and exfoliators. Cauchi includes it in the list of appropriate products for age management concerns and for overall skin barrier health, too. “It’s packed with vitamins like K, B and E,” she says.
Is vitamin C a natural ingredient?
Yes and no, according to Cauchi. “It depends on the derivative that's used,” she says. “A natural vitamin C would be like a kakadu plum [which are] more of a natural derivative of a vitamin C.”
If you’re leaning towards a more natural route, something like The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Glow Revealing Serum could be a good pick.
Choosing products with natural ingredients
Just like active ingredients, if the natural ingredients you’ve chosen begin to irritate your skin – particularly if you’re sensitive to fragrance – they aren’t right for you.
“If you’re easily irritated or know that fragrance is an issue for you, obviously go for fragrance free options,” says Cauchi. “Make sure that you’re using the products that are right for your concerns.”
Ultimately, Cauchi says the most important thing is to think about “your concerns and what you’re trying to treat”, before finding a solution that is natural or not.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with The Body Shop.