Licensed Esthetician + Acne Specialist

Skin Care

Natural Skincare Is the Most Profitable Beauty Myth Ever

February 11, 2018

Natural Skincare Is the Most Profitable Beauty Myth Ever

It’s All a Scam. Everything is a chemical.

Yes. I finally said it. And yes, I absolutely mean every word. Your au naturale skincare routine isn’t better than my acid filled routine–if anything, it’s exacerbating your skin concerns. Every single brand that claims their “natural” skincare products are significantly better for you than “chemicals” is a scam. They fail to mention that majority of these chemicals are in fact, natural, and these natural ingredients are also chemicals. They have…chemical compositions just as anything found in the earth does.

The only difference between using something straight off your shelf and using an ingredient derived from it is that one is pH stable and likely offers added benefits. If you’re a victim of this scam you know I’m right because it’s been years of slathering pure, cold-pressed coconut oil on your face and your volcano-sized pimples are still there, if not getting worse. (Related: Skincare Consultations)

I can’t promise to avoid being shady here. I’m not sure if I’ll even try to stop myself.

Natural skincare enthusiasts have grown a cult-like, multi-billion ($15 billion as of 2017 to be exact) dollar industry off of lies and fearmongering.

This post was triggered by two articles I read that spewed enormous amounts of misinformation (I would rather not be sued so I won’t name the articles or the writers). One made claims that store-bought skincare products can lead to hormonal imbalances and suggested that people should avoid the use of any harsh ingredients–specifically noting ingredients you are unable to pronounce. I’m sorry you struggle with multi-syllable words. No, I am not referring to anyone with a speech impediment. The author of this article is a board-certified physician who claimed you shouldn’t buy a product with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Surely if you passed the board exam you can pronounce multi-syllable chemicals.

The other article posted organic remedies that were allegedly plastic surgeon backed. Among them are a raw lemon and yeast spot treatment. Yes, your plastic surgeon wants you to get a 2nd-degree acid burn on your face. A perfect scam because you can then pay him/her to fix your face. LOL.

These articles never, ever name a single ingredient that is “harmful.”

One thing I’ve noticed with articles like this is that they never, ever name a single ingredient that is “harmful.” They just use big words to scare you without getting specific. Because if they got specific, they would be put on blast. So now they leave you thinking that anything that isn’t a natural oil derived from the prettiest plant is a plot from the government and #BigPharma to kill you. They refuse to mention that an ingredient such as glycolic acid is derived from sugar and lactic acid from milk (also found in our bodies). Ahem. Natural. How much more natural can something get than being found in your own body? If you can say hemoglobin you can say hyaluronic, and they’re both naturally found in our bodies.

The natural skincare hive is going to have your skin dehydrated and aging prematurely simply because they can’t pronounce sodium hydroxide (the salt form of hyaluronic acid, which they can’t pronounce either).

Let’s play a little game, natural skincare lovers. If you saw Butyrospermum Parkii on your ingredient list, it’s a little difficult to pronounce, right? I won’t lie. Well, this is the INCI name for your beloved shea butter. Do you plan on discontinuing your use of shea butter simply because you are unable to easily pronounce the chemical name for it? Don’t bother answering this because we both know you’d still use it.

Back to article 1, it then continued with a list of natural skincare products that they recommend using. Let’s take a wild guess what the first product was…

Coconut Oil.

Yup. You guessed it. Ya know, the oil that scores a 4/5 on the comedogenic scale and has absolutely no real benefit for the skin. Coconut oil is known to clog pores, exacerbate acne, irritate rosacea and SO much more. Contrary to popular belief, coconut oil cannot hydrate the skin. It actually does the complete opposite, it repels water from your skin with its anti-humectant properties.

I simply don’t understand people’s obsession with coconut oil when copious amounts of research show that it does more harm than good to the skin. There are SO many other oils out there that are significantly more beneficial. Sweet almond oil, rosehip, sunflower, evening primrose…I can continue but you get the point.

Coconut oil should simply never, ever be near your face.

Especially if you have acne, coconut oil isn’t helping you in any way. I’m not going to pry it out of your hands, if, well…you’re one of *those*. Keep using it. But I know after reading this the cognitive dissonance you’ll face when using your beloved coconut oil is going to force you to put it down, and I’ll be right here to help you create a new, coconut oil-free routine.

Natural skincare enthusiasts are destroying your skin.

After reading those two articles, I was further motivated to write this post when I saw on Snapchat that my cousin/best friend was creating a DIY scrub. The ingredients made my jaw literally drop. They were all organic, as you probably already guessed. Let’s take a look at them and discuss. I purposely cropped out her name. 

Ingredients: Raw brown sugar, coconut oil, turmeric, honey, raw lemon.

I know my cousin didn’t create this mask idea. Because I’ve seen it multiple times. She’s simply a victim of misinformation. “Create a cheap, all natural, and easy exfoliating scrub with sugar and honey!” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Shout out to farahdhukai, Instagram’s DIYikes queen. Natural skincare enthusiasts swear by this scrub. There’s just one slight problem. Raw, organic sugar has jagged edges that can cause microtears on your skin. I wrote an entire post on why microtears on your skin are extremely dangerous. (Related: Why America’s Number One Scrub Belongs In Your Trash) They compromise your skin’s barrier exposing it to bacteria that can cause acne. When your skin’s barrier is compromised, it also loses moisture easier and guess what? Dry skin ages quicker.

We already discussed the ineffectiveness of using coconut oil above, but mixed with other harmful ingredients? Just imagine the damage it’s doing to your skin. You’ve opened up a Pandora’s box of pustules and cysts. The raw brown sugar is going to cause your skin to become inflamed, meaning your skin will swell up and trap all the dirt, oil, and bacteria in your pores. Then to add insult to injury, you put coconut oil on which clogs your pores even more.

The next ingredient, turmeric, is an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic but it is also very drying. If you have oily skin, the last thing you want to do is dry it out as this will cause it to overproduce more oils to compensate for the lack of oils.

The penultimate ingredient, honey, might really be the only ‘safe’ ingredient here. Honey is a humectant meaning it attracts water from the air into your skin. This may help slightly to balance the drying effects of the turmeric, but the damage has already been done with the coconut oil and raw sugar.

Raw. Lemon.

I saved the best (read: worst) ingredient for last. If you follow my Twitter, you already know how I feel about this. Lemon and any variation of citrus fruits should be kept as far away as possible from your face. To keep it short, lemons have a pH of 2. Your skin has a pH of 4.5-5. Imagine what’ll happen when you put something with a super acidic, uncontrolled pH on your skin? If you guessed chemical burn, you are absolutely right. Putting raw lemon juice on your face will not lighten up your dark marks. It’ll cause a chemical burn which will then darken your hyperpigmentation. If you don’t believe me that raw lemons are entirely too acidic for your face, just remember that their acid content is strong enough to cook raw fish (ceviche) to the point of it being safe to eat.

Also, lemons are phototoxic meaning if you use them on your skin and expose your skin to sunlight after, you can develop second-degree burns that resemble boils. If this risk seems worth it to you while there are extremely effective hyperpigmentation treatments from brands like The Ordinary which will cost you well under $15, I truly can’t help you.

Overall, natural skincare is only going to get you so far.

Unless you have normal skin with absolutely no concerns, your skin needs chemicals. The chemicals you fear prevent premature aging, excessive dryness, acne, hyperpigmentation, sunburn and so much more. Of course, not one chemical fits all. Figuring out the right combination of chemicals and organics is key to achieving your best skin. My actives filled routine still has some organic products such as sweet almond oil, which, by the way, contains high amounts of vitamin A, the ingredient that retinol is derived from.

Swearing by organics only is a recipe for disaster on your face. Sure, there are some flat-out dangerous chemicals that should be left off your face. But acids such as salicylic, glycolic, lactic, mandelic and more aren’t your enemies. Hyaluronic acid isn’t your enemy, it’s your hydrating friend. Stop fearing ingredients you can’t pronounce and instead look them up and see what they really do. Cave of Beauty has a glossary of over 100 skincare terms you may not know, and we’re adding more ingredients daily.

I am not saying in any way or form that it’s impossible to create an effective routine from naturally derived ingredients. I AM saying that a lot of the information out there regarding natural skincare is harmful and ineffective. There are brands like Tata Harper who pride themselves on all naturally derived ingredients that actually work and are safe for your skin. Go with brands like Tata Harper, not your pantry.

Here’s proof of the wonders of chemical exfoliation on my oily, acne-prone skin.

Now that you’re abandoning your coconut oil and raw lemon juice, let’s work on creating a routine that will safely treat all your concerns and help you achieve the skin of your dreams. Schedule a consultation with me today!

You can continue to stick to your organic products, but as for me and my household, pass the acids, please!

Have a horror story from using all natural products? Do you feel a particular way about chemicals and/or organic products? Let’s chat in the comments!

Written by:

  1. S.L.

    Hello. Dr. Organic Tea Tree Face Wash infused with mandarins, lemon peel oil and witch hazel; cleanses and balances the PH*...How safe is it to use?

  2. Maria

    I scrolled down immediately to see if you were pushing a brand and lol I was not disappointed. Natural skincare that has been in use for centuries with no problems. I would take such articles seriously if they did not push a brand or consultation services

    • Rachel

      She didn’t push any brand here. She directed people who are interested in natural skin care to a safe and healthy option. You’re reaching but continue to destroy your face with food I guess 🤷🏻‍♀️

  3. Leslie | Lazy Girl

    I've been trying to get people to open their eyes about coconut oil and other comedogenic oils for a while now. I have yet to find a perfect soap that doesn't try to include comedogenic "natural" ingredients for the sake of appearing more natural. I just want products that work. Your thread on Twitter spilled the tea too and I'm glad to see that we're not alone!

  4. Emma

    I gotta say, when I first read your tweet and the title of the article I was taken aback by it. I worked at a “All Natural” skincare store a year ago, and ever since I’ve become incredibly passionate about skincare, and particularly natural skincare products. I’ve even decided to open up a business in the future where I sell natural beauty/skincare products. I’ve been doing an insane amount of research, and I can honestly say that I fully agree with what you’re saying. A big part of the marketing process in the natural skincare business is telling people to make sure they know how to pronounce the ingredients, and that’s how they know they’re natural. I absolutely hate it and fully disagree with that. When I first heard the name Hyaluronic acid I was like “I can’t read that, and it has the name acid in it so it must be toxic”, but after tons of research and personally trying it myself, it’s just about the best thing that’s happened to my face. If people are interested in natural skincare, I really encourage them to educate themselves and research the ingredients their products contain, what they do and where they come from. Just because it’s a chemical it doesn’t make it toxic and unsafe. And just because something is natural doesn’t make it safe either (LEMONS!!!)

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