Are Natural & Organic Ingredients Better for Your Skin?

In This Article:

Many people believe natural and organic ingredients are better for the skin but the truth is this belief has no factual basis or scientific legitimacy.

Cosmetic companies either in blissful deception or outright ignorance sell products with ingredients that aren't really natural, or natural ingredients that are harmful for skin (yes, there are natural/organic ingredients that are bad for your skin). And just because an ingredient is synthetic doesn't make it a problem for skin. Let's set the record straight!
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Natural Problems

It is important to realize that many natural ingredients can cause allergies, irritation, and skin sensitivities. Irritation or inflammation of any kind causes collagen breakdown, impairs the skin's ability to heal, and reduces its ability to defend itself from environmental damage. What's particularly troubling is that your skin is very good at hiding the fact that it is being irritated. Just because you're using a product with irritating ingrediens but not seeing any signs of irritation doesn't mean it's not taking place beneath your skin.

All of the following common natural ingredients can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, skin sensitivity, and/or sun sensitivity:

  • Almond extract
  • Allspice
  • Angelica
  • Arnica
  • Balm mint oil
  • Balsam
  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Clove
  • Clover blossom
  • Coriander oil
  • Cypress
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Fennel
  • Fir needle
  • Geranium oil
  • Grapefruit
  • Horsetail
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemon
  • Lemon balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Marjoram
  • Oak bark
  • Papaya
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Witch hazel
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang ylang


Beneficial Natural Ingredients

We're not saying there aren't a large range of natural ingredients that are exceptional for the skin, because there are—lots and lots of them—but the idea that they are the "best" or only option for skin is just not reality. When formulating products for Paula's Choice, Paula and her team only select natural ingredients with a proven track record of beneficial results for skin and avoid any that are known irritants. Now that's natural done right!

Dr. Linda M. Katz, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors stated in 2007 that "Consumers should not necessarily assume that an 'organic' or 'natural' ingredient or product would possess greater inherent safety than another chemically identical version of the same ingredient. In fact, 'natural' ingredients may be harder to preserve against microbial contamination and growth than synthetic raw materials" (Source: New York Times, November 1, 2007).

Joan Shaffer, USDA spokeswoman stated that "…people should not interpret even the USDA Organic seal or any organic seal of approval on cosmetics as proof of health benefits or of efficacy," said. The National Organic Program is a marketing program, not a safety program. [Chocolate cake] may be [natural or organic] but that has no bearing on whether it is safe or nutritious to eat (Source:

Lastly, keep in mind that with natural ingredients, packaging matters! Think of how long a head of lettuce lasts in your refrigerator and you'll get an idea of how the wrong type of packaging (such as jars or clear bottles) will cause natural ingredients to break down. This occurs from repeated exposure to light and air, so be sure to look for opaque, non-jar packaging that minimizes exposure to these elements.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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