Natural cosmetics: Is it really effective?

I receive more and more patients in my practice asking me for skin care products that are as natural as possible. But what is true about the effectiveness of natural cosmetics? Is a natural product the same as an organic product? And is a product with organic ingredients the same as a product of natural origin?

I wanted to write this article to give you objective and exhaustive information about this new concept that is becoming more and more popular and that dermatologists are beginning to introduce in our daily practice. In addition, at the end of this article I will leave you my recommendations of natural cosmetics in creams and also nutraceuticals for the hair. 

illustration and cover of natural cosmetics

What will I talk about in this article?

What is natural cosmetics?

First of all, it is important for you to know that to date there is no regulation at European level The use of the concepts of natural cosmetics or organic cosmetics is regulated by a law that regulates the use of the concepts of natural cosmetics or organic cosmetics, therefore there will be a diversity of opinions on what is and when it is optimal to use these terms. Having made this first point, let's define what is currently understood by natural cosmetics: "Natural cosmetics is one whose ingredients are obtained directly from nature or are processed but its origin is natural".

Natural cosmetics are those whose ingredients are obtained directly from nature or are processed but are of natural origin.

However, to be sure that a product is natural, it must have a certificate on its label. This seal is not mandatory and therefore we must check the INCI of the product (i.e. the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) to see the amount of natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin contained in its formula.

Is natural cosmetics the same as organic cosmetics?

Organic cosmetics are those whose ingredients come from organic farming, i.e. no pesticides or fertilizers have been used in their production. In addition, they are usually extracted from the cold, ensuring that they maintain their properties almost intact. 

Therefore, the fundamental difference is that the ingredients of natural cosmetics are obtained directly from nature, and those of organic cosmetics from organic farming.

How does natural cosmetics differ from conventional cosmetics?

Before prescribing a cosmetic, dermatologists perform an exhaustive analysis of each skin type to know which product or products are the best for our patients and to achieve the desired efficacy. Conventional cosmetics have always been used because of their proven efficacy, and although they incorporate synthetic ingredients, in general they are optimal and have very good results for most skin types. However, natural cosmetics are characterized because their natural ingredients are usually compatible with the pH of the skin avoiding adverse reactions and we have more and more evidence of its effectiveness. 

In both cases, both in natural and conventional cosmetics, the formulations incorporate preservatives to ensure their stability and perfumes that enhance the product's odor. 

What are the regulations for natural products?

Like all cosmetics, natural cosmetic products must be regulated to avoid toxicity or skin irritation problems. There are currently 3 regulations that regulate the cosmetics sectorRegulation (EC) 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 30, 2009, the ISO 22716 standard and RD 85/2018 of February 23.


Likewise, the fact of using different terminology to name natural products has made necessary the ISO 16.128 standard on "Guide of technical definitions for natural and organic ingredients and products". Although it is not mandatory for companies that market natural cosmetic products, it is a guide that unifies the characteristics and indexes necessary to consider a cosmetic as natural or organic.

What are the most commonly used natural ingredients in natural cosmetic products?

We find a multitude of natural or organic ingredients in the formulations of natural products that are used on a regular basis. Among them, the most used in the products we can highlight:

Classic ingredients in natural cosmetics

  1. Aloe Vera: Shas been traditionally used to treat different skin lesions such as burns, cuts, insect bites and eczema. It has a high content of mucilage, unsaturated fats, vitamins, amino acids and polysaccharides that give it the ability to deeply nourish the skin.Quote
  2. Rose Hip Oil: Another classic component of natural cosmetics is rosehip oil, which is extracted from the rose hips of the rosa rubiginosa tree. It has been attributed attributes such as delaying the signs of premature aging and wrinkles. In addition, studies have shown it to improve stretch marks and scarring. Quote
  3. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in natural cosmeceuticals due to its numerous biological and antioxidant functions in maintaining and improving skin health by treating UV damage and increasing collagen production. Vitamin C has also been shown to be an inhibitor of "melanin," the substance that the skin produces in response to sunlight, improving the skin's ability to maintain and improve the skin's natural defenses against UV rays. discoloration or facial blemishes.Quote
  4. Argan oil: contains important vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants that provide important benefits to the skin, such as the prevention of premature aging, reduction of the signs of aging or hydration.Quote
  5. Bisabolol: Main component of many essential oils, especially chamomile, capable of calming skin irritation and redness of the skin, acting as a skin protector and anti-redness, especially in sensitive skin.

New formulations in natural cosmetics

Also, natural ingredients or ingredients of natural origin that are proving to be highly effective in preserving the health of the skin and delaying the appearance of the signs of aging are currently in vogue:

  1. Algae blue light dna-fix: Active ingredient from microalgae (cyanobacteria) whose enzymes, activated by visible light (blue) are capable of repairing the cellular DNA structure. These microalgae also contain an antioxidant substance called Phycocyanin, which prevents photoaging, 
  2. Probiotics: obtained from Lactobacillus ferment, integrates the natural microbiome as part of the skin's protective barrier.
  3. Biological hyaluronic acid: Biological polysaccharide (glycosaminoglycan) distributed in the extracellular matrix of most tissues. Thanks to its hydrophilic properties, it provides a hydrated medium between cells and protects them against abrasion and friction.
  4. Optical effect microspheres: It optically reduces fine wrinkles and fine lines and smoothes the skin's surface for a silkier feel.

My natural cosmetics recommendations

Now that you are experts in natural cosmetics, I would like to give you some recommendations of quality products that you can incorporate into your daily care routines. 


1- Masderm Dermatology

Masderm Dermatology is a brand that I really like because it has been developed with dermatologist advice and has certified products. 

My favorites:

2- Olistic for hair loss

Olistic is a state-of-the-art nutraceutical designed based on minerals, vitamins and nutrients of natural origin. It is a very good option of natural origin for the treatment of some types of alopecia such as telogen effluvium or as an adjuvant in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. 

Natural does not mean harmless

In some cases, the natural ingredients found in some natural cosmetics can be harmful if the concentration introduced in the formula is not adequate or approved by European regulations. They can even produce side effects on the skin, ranging from skin irritation to toxicity. 

For this reason it is important to know the INCI of the products and the amount of ingredients in the formulation.

And, is a natural cream also Vegan, ecological and organic or are they different things?

Although we often tend to put these concepts in the same bag, we must differentiate between natural, vegan and organic cosmetics.

Natural cosmetics are of natural origin and must be composed of a large percentage of natural raw materials (which need not necessarily be organic). They should not contain silicones, preservatives, artificial colorants, parabens or ingredients of animal origin.

We understand as organic products, those that contain 95% of organic raw materials, and that are free of pesticides or fertilizers.

And finally, vegan products are those that have no animal ingredients and cannot be tested on animals.

Conclusions on natural cosmetics

To use natural cosmetics safely it is necessary to select those with clear labeling, quality seals and that comply with regulations. If you have any doubts or do not know which products to use, I will always recommend you to make a visit to the dermatologist so that he/she can guide you. 

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Sebastian Podlipnik - Skin cancer

Sebastian Podlipnik

Dermatology Blog

I am a dermatologist and cum laude MD and author of multiple research studies. I specialize in skin cancer, laser technologies and cosmetic dermatology. The intention of this blog is to bring you closer to topics of interest in dermatology and research.

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