What does NATURAL mean to you?

Now that the extended weekend is behind us and I will spend the rest of the week thinking it is the wrong day ( I HATE when that happens!), I thought I would start my new blog with a really important topic.   I thought this would be the perfect opportunity and the perfect place to start….”NATURAL” and what it means to you and more importantly what it means in relation to my products.  What you can expect when I say something is “ALL NATURAL”.

The word “natural” when used in realms of the food, cosmetic and skin care industries, quite frankly, doesn’t really amount to squat.  There are not really any regulations in place as to what exactly quantifies a product to be called natural.  Even the FDA has no definition or guidelines in place for the use of the term.  (see HERE )   So pretty much what it boils down to is that anyone can slap the word natural on the label and hope that you don’t actually read the label and notice the artificial colors or flavors they’ve added.  So what does that mean for you?  You need to read the labels!

CLASHERlemonsage
Our all natural soap with the fresh herbal scent of lemon and sage and the best part made with goat milk. Photo by Lasher Photography.

Let’s get back to some basics….by definition, natural means existing in or caused by nature.  So in reference to skin care product, one would think that the ingredients in their lip balm, lotions, soaps…or whatever the products would be found to be naturally occurring in nature.  Good wholesome ingredients like cocoa butter, coconut oil and shea butter.  But what about the scents that make the products smell SOOOOO good?

Well, if you follow the definition of natural…the scents should be derived from nature.  So that means ESSENTIAL OILS.  Essential oils are scents that are derived from plants by various different processes such as steam distillation or cold press.   But just because a particular scent is found in nature DOES NOT mean that it is an essential oil.  For instance, the tangy scent of green apple or the juicy ripe strawberry…those are fragrance oils…not essential oils.  They are man made in a lab (completely skin safe and I have nothing against using them).  But how can that be?  Why?  What do you mean?

Confused?

Let’s look at lavender essential oil…..it is collected by steam distillation.  The volatile elements (its essence) is steamed out of the plants.  The resulting steam is then collected and condensed. What is left behind is a liquid with the essential oil floating on the top.  So….the essence is something that is an actual part of the plant.  It is two things:  first, it is something that can be collected (by different methods) and secondly, it smells like the plant (or part of the plant) from which it is obtained.

Now let’s look at….oh, watermelon, for example.  It’s a plant that occurs in nature: CHECK.  Does it produce an essential oil?  NO.  It produces a juice that smells quite yummy….but a juice is not an essential oil.  For whatever reason watermelon (along with tons of other plants) does not contain an “essence” that can be collected that smells like watermelon.  But wait…you say…..I can SMELL watermelon.  Well….a scent or odor is the result of gaseous molecules that are not able to be collected.  So what you are smelling when you smell watermelon are the gaseous vapors being released.

So I hope that adds a little bit of insight….so let me wrap this up by telling you what to expect from me when I say one of my products is all natural.  For me…it means that ALL of the ingredients….not one, not two….ALL are derived from nature…..from its main components such as beeswax, cocoa butter…..to what is used to scent it….essential oils…..all the way to what is used to color it (if applicable)….such as clays and other naturally occurring colorants.

So what does NATURAL mean to you?  I’d love to hear different points of view on this topic.

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