Are Natural Beauty Products Better? | Lab Muffin Beauty Science

Are Natural Beauty Products Better? | Lab Muffin Beauty Science

Hi it’s me Michelle from Lab Muffin
again with more beauty and science! Today I’m going to be talking about one of the
most common questions I get asked: Are natural beauty products safer? Or the
variations: Are the ingredients in my products toxic? Should I avoid chemicals
in my products? It’s not surprising that this question is so common. Walk into any
store and you’ll see products declaring themselves to be “natural”. All over the
internet you’ll run into loads of bloggers and celebrities talking about
how they’re “going all natural” and “detoxing” from the synthetic chemicals in
their lives. Since I have a PhD in chemistry and I worked on natural
products during my research, I’m pretty qualified to talk about both nature and
chemicals. Let’s start with chemicals. If you believe what Natural News and the
Environmental Working Group say you’d think chemicals are man-made toxic
substances that are going to kill you, probably by giving you cancer. You might
even be convinced to start looking for chemical-free products. But the truth is,
everything is a chemical: the water you drink, the food you eat, the oxygen you
breathe. Even an all-natural pineapple contains thousands of chemicals – this is
just a selection of them. In fact the only thing that’s truly chemical-free is
outer space, because there’s nothing there, not even air. As humans we have a
bias to think that things that are natural are good, and things that are
man-made or synthetic are bad. Unfortunately a lot of natural brands
try to take advantage of this unfounded bias to make their product sound better.
Let’s have a look at some of the most common misconceptions around natural and
man-made products. The idea that safety is based on where
something comes from, whether it’s natural or man-made, is very widespread. But
here’s the truth. While not all chemicals are the same in terms of safety, the idea
that a chemical is safer just because it comes from nature is a lie. This graph
compares the most toxic natural and man-made substances – the higher the
column, the more toxic it is. It turns out that natural substances are way way more
toxic than man-made ones. They’re so toxic they had to cut the graph off to
fit them in. If it wasn’t cut off and you’re watching this video on a
five-inch phone screen, the one on the far left would be three times the height
of Mount Everest! Let’s go back to a chemical we’re all familiar with: water,
also known as dihydrogen monoxide. Scientists have gotten really good at
making things to the point where we can synthesize a lot of the natural
chemicals we come across. Water is pretty easy. We can make a water molecule in a
lab; we can get a water molecule from the cleanest glacier in the world. But if you
gave the two molecules to the smartest scientist with the best instruments and
all the time in the world, she wouldn’t be able to tell you which was which! So
where something comes from doesn’t tell you much. A related argument you’ll often
hear go something like this: Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of
petroleum! You’re rubbing petrol on your face! Again this might seem to make sense
at first, but it makes less sense when you think about it. Do you know what else
comes from petroleum? Plastic. And carbon dioxide and water when you
burn it. And if that isn’t enough to convince you, do you know where petroleum
comes from? Nature – ancient plants and animals which were around way way
earlier than humans, and so by this natural is better logic, petroleum is
super super safe and we should all do petroleum cleanses. The reason petroleum jelly is fine is
that it’s purified to take out the potentially unsafe chemicals before it
gets put into cosmetic products. The same thing happens to natural castor oil
before it gets sold. Castor beans are poisonous and contain ricin, one of the
most toxic chemicals on earth. But because it’s been purified, the oil is
fine and you can even drink it – though not too much. “If you can’t pronounce it don’t eat it
or put it on your face” is another idea that sounds sensible when you first hear
it. But the only reason pineapple extract is easier to pronounce is because they
didn’t put the full ingredients of the pineapple in the ingredients list. Here
are some of the proper names for the chemicals in pineapple:
methionine, octadecadienoic acid, ethyl 3-methylthiopropanoate,
2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone, ethyl 2-methylbutane, sesquiterpenes.
They’re just as hard to pronounce! Sometimes you’ll see scary statistics
like: Women apply an average of 168 chemicals to their skin every day. But
here’s another interesting fact: did you know that natural things usually contain
more chemicals than synthetic, “chemical- laden” things? Here’s that list of
pineapple ingredients again. When was the last time you saw a beauty product with
an ingredients list that long? And here’s the ingredients list for Vaseline.
Surprisingly short! The thing you might not have expected about natural and
synthetic things is that almost everything in nature is a mixture of
chemicals. Synthetic chemicals tend to be pure because the mixtures have been
separated or the ingredient might have been made from scratch. It might make you
feel better to see “pineapple” on a label rather than “ethyl 3-methyl thiopropanoate”. But the truth is, ethyl 3-methyl thiopropanoate is only one of the
many different chemicals in a pineapple. And yes, it’s a very safe ingredient! So
what matters isn’t the number of chemicals you’re exposed to. What does
matter is how harmful those chemicals are, how much you’re exposed to, and how
you’re exposed to it. For example I’d rather be exposed to these 10
ingredients than this one single ingredient, even though arsenic is a 100% pure and natural ingredient. Unfortunately there’s no easy shortcut
or blanket rule that we can use to decide which products are the safest and
most effective. Wven though going “all natural” might be tempting on a gut level,
the reality is far more complicated. We have to look at each ingredient and
decide based on its own merits. Both natural and synthetic chemicals can
be safe; both natural and synthetic chemicals can be dangerous.
Oatmeal is natural and fantastic for irritated skin; poison ivy is natural and
the exact opposite. Vitamin C in beauty products is usually synthetic and great
for skin, but sodium lauryl sulfate is a well-known irritant. Sometimes even the
same ingredient is safer from a particular source. For example, iron oxide
pigments are found in nature but they have to be synthetically produced to be
used in beauty products because the natural versions contain higher levels
of toxic heavy metals. In summary, don’t get sucked in by marketing. Natural
ingredients aren’t safer. Synthetic ingredients aren’t more toxic. And pretty
much everything is made of chemicals, including everything you find in nature.
I hoped you liked this video! You can subscribe if you want to see more from
me, or you can go through the 830 blog posts
on my website. You can also find me on Instagram
Twitter and Facebook. See you next time!

100 thoughts on “Are Natural Beauty Products Better? | Lab Muffin Beauty Science

  1. What about the 'if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin' argument? Since you absorb a lot and eat lipstick and such. Synthetics are not meant to go into our bodies right? And I don't mean the synthetic ingredients that are exact copies of something natural.

  2. Even though natural isn't better by definition, I feel like natural companies are more concerned with the health impact of their products and research safety a lot more. Also when I 'research' the ingredients used in cosmetics and skincare online, a lot more safety issues pop up regarding synthetic ingredients..

  3. One question that you didn't touch on that I'm curious about was: I thought the "natural" label wasn't about synthetic/natural chemicals but that the chemicals were extracted and have the ability to be discarded with a minimal environmental impact. Doesn't the natural label more mean that the company makes an extra effort to dispose of the chemical byproduct and not just dump it in the waterways or a landfill without neutralizing it first? Also that when the product is used properly it includes materials that won't harm the environment? How do I find out which companies are environmentally conscious?

  4. YES!!! This is so, so wonderful—thank you so much for making this and explaining it so well! I've shared this on my Facebook page and it'll definitely be getting more links from me in the future 😀 You rock!

  5. Can you talk about essential oils in skincare? A lot of people are fond of essential oils, but I'm cautious with them. I fully believe now in the power of oils (Thank your friend Liah Yoo) but I'm skeptical that Lavender etc essential oils are doing good to your skin.
    I have sensitive skin, & a lot of natural stuff breaks out my skin. Rose derivatives (oil, water, petals) , Calamine, ghee, fresh unpasteurized milk, & cream to name some. I'm always so irritated that people harp on about natural stuff & when I tell them exactly how much their natural stuff is bad for me, they have no answers. Btw, loved that drinking petrol from petrol part : you're my soul mate Michelle 😜😍

  6. I LOVED THIS🌴❤️ This nonsense controversy also makes chemists look like they're evil demons making carcinogenic chemicals to kill every human being…. I mean.. 😶 my kind of natural ingredients are the chemicals that are naturally found in our skin 😅

  7. I'm so confused now because ever since i started using natural skincare my skin has been better…I have very sensitive skin so

  8. Thanks for such an entertaining and informative video. I recently went to a work event to hear the Vice President of Research and Development explain how our products work so well and found it really interesting.

  9. This video helps a lot! I've learned so much within 7.56 mins in my whole life. And I just got to shove this video to anyone that tells me I'm using more than 100+ chemicals on my face! Thank you so much!

  10. I am a fan of natural, non-toxic beauty but I think this is a good video. It brings up an important point which is that the risk of an ingredient hurting you is based on toxicity, dose and how you're exposed to it (as you mentioned in your video). I know that most green beauty bloggers and followers see the importance of toxicity in their ingredients. Afterall we call it natural, non-toxic beauty not just "natural beauty" because nature can create toxic ingredients. However I think this video shouldn't be seen as a stab to green beauty or natural, nontoxic beauty as I see people assuming in the comments. There is more to green beauty like issues with sustainability and the active choice to avoid synthetic ingredients because they don't understand them and don't all have a PhD in this space. Also it's based on a mistrust of corporations not listing ingredients that are toxic behind ingredients like fragrance that isn't inheritly toxic on its own. So I'm glad to really focus on the idea that we should make informed decisions. I know that I wouldn't just trust a label that says "natural" because it's not a regulated word in the beauty or food space. Thanks for your video!

  11. I really appreciate this video , although I will admit I'm even more confused now about what is and isn't safe in the long term lol. I would like you to clarify though : do you believe the majority of "non natural" skin care products are safe? It seems like many commenters have interpreted it that way.

  12. Absolutely loved this video! I can't roll my eyes enough when people bash me for putting on chemicals on my face, and insist on doing juice cleanses. Please please make more of these videos! Scientists with the ability to communicate in lay terms are so needed! 🙂

  13. Can you please reference some scientific articles about safety of certain natural or "chemical" products? I am biology student and really interested in topic and j would be very grateful if you reference some 🙂

  14. Love your videos.
    Sobwhat causes diseases such as cancer?
    We have been told by the media, that processed foods and manipulated products in general do. This inclundes personal higiene, house cleaning products, etc.
    It is overwelming.

  15. This is amazing 🙂 I'm studying natural medicine atm, and I love how much science and research is backed up behind every subject. We're always told to remember that natural products/medicine are not "safe and risk free" as they are lead to believe
    The dose makes the poison!!

  16. How about using flour(to replace loose powder), straightly using any type of oil(to replace moisturizer), vinegar(to treat acne or to replave toner) etc on the skin?
    I don't know why they feel like using commercial cosmetic or skincare is toxic and dangerous, and I also don't know why they trust that using "natural" ingredients is safe. I personally don't know if it safer that commercial skincare
    In this video you're talking about brands that claiming "natural" in their product, soo how about the one I ask above?
    Could you please make a video about it(using vinegar etc on to your skin)? 😄

  17. Thanks, Michelle. Good info. I agree with you, not all that is "natural" is without harm. I like what you said about poison ivy! There are good studies on toxic ingredients like phthalates, sulfates, and other chemicals that are most definitely problematic.

  18. You are my new hero. I’m a Registered Dietitian and get equally frustrated with YouTube folks who don’t know food, food science touting diet information and that only vegan diets (for example) are the only healthy diets. Love your videos, information.

  19. Amazing. Everything is a chemical. Its a logical slap one can give to anyone boasting natural, organic and blah blah.

  20. Why do I only see your videos so late? I've been telling this to my friends that nature creates both good and bad effects on human. Meanwhile synthetic products such as in pharmaceuticals are often much safer because they undergo through purification and clinical trials unlike those herbal products which often relies on anecdotal evidences. that's the end of my rants. Great video. Im looking forward to check your channel ^?^

  21. I don't think wanting "natural" is anti-synthetics or anti-science. It is just that we as consumers have no trust in business practices of skincare and makeup brands. We don't believe that companies will invest their money in what is good for (skin) health of the consumer, they invest their money for making money. All the rest is just marketing. Plus, big business does not care for the environment, or even their human workers. How all these hundreds of chemicals are sourced seems to not come up very often in discussions by beauty bloggers. Nor what does it mean for the workers who help produce, package and transport the raw ingredients. The natural movement is about what is good for the environment, the workers, and the consumers. Or perhaps it is just that we don't believe that under capitalism businesses can do good at all.

  22. I loved this video when she first uploaded it, I still love it today. Now whenever anyone tries to talk to me about how they 'only use natural, chemical free everything', I send them here. So much better than I could ever explain and I don't get as frustrated. THANK YOU!

  23. I'm sorry I just had to pause this video to say THANK YOU!!!! Thank you for so perfectly busting all these myths. For years, my response to "Of course it's safe, it's completely natural!" has been "So is arsenic." THANK YOOOOUUUUUUUUU! You are the voice of reason. Also, "The smartest scientist in the world…" "SHE wouldn't be able to…" <3

  24. YESSS to this 🙌🏻🙌🏻 i’m so happy you made this video. The amount of people that ask me what skin care products don’t contain any “chemicals” and I hit them with the facts and say well, ‘water is a chemical, alcohols are chemicals, what “chemicals” are you trying to avoid?’ then I get asked a follow up question of what products are “natural” then I tell them that peanuts are ALL NATURAL but if you have a peanut allergy that is quite dangerous to your health, isn’t it? It irks me so much how consumers try to avoid “chemicals” and go “all-natural” with cosmetic products without actually fully researching what these terms even mean. Thanks for shining light onto this! Love the attitude girl!

  25. YES from one Michelle to another I've totally fell for the "natural" marketing when my skin was at it's worse. But now being older and wiser, I know how to scan ingredients in products and figure out if the overall formulation (and effectiveness) is worth my money !

  26. While I agree that there is excessive "green-washing" nowadays, I feel that an important point needs to be added here. If a substance does not naturally exist/occur in nature, we can't possibly need it. People survived for thousands of years without manufactured products. Furthermore, introducing man-made chemicals into the environment is like introducing non-native species into an ecosystem – the delicate balance of life becomes disrupted. I don't care what is deemed "safe" by scientists…I'd rather not play God. I trust that he created this earth perfectly just the way it is and that he has given us everything we need.

  27. The thing about ingredients you can’t pronounce anew bad is some other worldly logic that I have never understood. Never stop making videos/blogs!

  28. Wow, I wish I had found this video ages ago. Thank you so much for breaking it down so simply and concisely. I do have a question though – what would you recommend for skin that always seems to react to conventional "chemical" products? I'm not trying to be combative at all, I'm just at a bit of a loss. I have extremely sensitive skin, and the "natural" products are some of the only ones I've found that don't cause an adverse reaction. Thanks so much 😊

  29. That was a great video, I would be interested to know if at some point you could talk to us about the problem of contaminants that come from the way they are extracted or synthesized, the risks and alternatives. 🤗

  30. @LabMuffinBeautyScience Dear Michelle. Firstly – great channel, you have a new subscriber here. And secondly, re. this video – FINALLY! Thank you! I've been getting allergic to words "natural" (although on its own it isn't a bad word), "non-toxic", "detox" (especially re. skincare​, there is no such a thing) and so and so. Thank you!

  31. I would just be concerned that, even though everything in this video is true of course, it could create an inaccurate understanding for some people: that they don't need to be concerned about the health risks of the ingredients in skincare and cosmetics (or elsewhere); that this concern is all marketing, or a myth.

  32. I just (sadly) discovered your channel a few hours ago and i have been marathon-ing your videos. I love informative and practical contents like these. I am currently in uni, a chemistry major. 😊 it just caught my attention when you said that "space is 100% chemical-free", i just thought…idk, i probably need to read more about this OR maybe i'm interpreting it wrong and by "space" in that context does not mean the outer space or sumth. I'm just a confused potato right now haha
    I'm sorry if it wasn't even in relation to the main topic. It just caught my attention. Anyway, i still have a lot of ur videos to watch so i'll get back to that. Cheers!

  33. Good video, but another important point is that the term 'natural' doesn't have a regulated definition in marketing, so companies can put it on whatever they want

  34. Fantastic video! Although I am on the alert about PEG, PPG, acrylics and polyethylenes which are in sooo many products that I’d love to try. It can be a cream or cleanser where literally ALL the other ingredients are great (by my standards) but then there’s always at least a few of these plasticky ingredients (probably for viscosity reasons.) Won’t they contaminate the waterways? I can’t find any reliable sources discussing this topic.

  35. Beautiful !!!!! I would love for you to make a video about badly used terms, such as "detox" "toxins" "toxic" that beauty gurus and Gweneth Paltrow and Co. use, such as "this ingredient is toxic" "this removes toxins" etc.

  36. You assume that produced vasseline is 100% "sterile", but I've heard from another chemist that toxins containment depends on financial state of certain laboratory lab. For example incredibly cheap cosmetics brand may produce vaseline with tiny amount of toxins due to not having money for better, more safe, more expensive production process. WDYT?

  37. This is very interesting I really liked it :). But still I have a question, what about the pollution produced by no natural products?

  38. I uee both proclaimed "natural" and synthetic products in my skincare regime. What attracts me to the particular "natural" or vegan brands that I purchase is what they don't contain. Because I have no clue what 70% of the ingredients mean, a company who advertises their brand as having no sulphates, nitrosamines, DEA, MEA, Ethoxylates, PEGs, PPGs, Phthalates, GMOs, mineral oils, parabens and animal testing (yes I copied that off a proclaimed natural New Zealand brand), it's going to make me feel better about what I'm not putting on my skin, and how I can contribute to lessening my carbon footprint.

    There is no reason why synthetic products can't list potentially harmful substances or practices they don't contain — even aspects such as being cruelty free and using eco packaging. I wish more would.

    Skin care will continue to develop as time goes on. 50 years ago we were told smoking was ok, and now we know it's not. Cigarette packaging now contains information on how smoking can harm you.

  39. Your videos should be mandatory viewing for anyone just thinking about buying skincare. You soothe my inner being with science, and I feel absolved of all my past false beliefs about ingredients, and expensive "all natural" skincare indiscretions. The beauty community needs you to help fight the insanity.

  40. I hate reading or hearing something promoting "natural" beauty secrets that humans have used for a long time as if that is a positive. For example, saying that you should wash your face with apple cider vinegar because Cleopatra did so 2000 years ago. They also used to use lead based cosmetics and crocodile dung as contraceptives in Cleopatra's time. I think I'll stick with my evil, man made, scientifically proven face wash thank you very much

  41. I only prefer natural products because I have this extremely sensitive skin and am allergic to most base ingredients on "human" made chemicals. For example, fragrance… But my skin will also react bad to natural products of course, so yes, I choose the ones with less ingredients so I can know for sure what's messing my skin up and to try not to irritate my skin so much

  42. "drinking petrol out of petrol while breathing petrol" really made me laugh. I have no idea how I'm going to use the picture but I just had to screenshot it

  43. You know what would be cool? If you choose a specific product (moisturizer, or even a makeup product like an eyeshadow palette) and did a whole video reading through the ingredients list, breaking down the properties of each ingredient, what it’s purpose is in the product, and it’s effect on human skin.

  44. I often use "natural" lipbalm and skincare. What i mean by that is a product that is almost safe enough to be eaten and is less bad for the enviorement. I always try to check ingredients lists on safety on skindeep.

  45. Hi! I'm starting to watch your videos, and I love them! I am not a chemist so I want to ask you what kind of products should I use to be more "eco- friendly" on my skin. I started using "natural" products trying to be more conciouss with the environment, but I know that maybe it's no the smartest thing. So can you tell me what kind of ingredients should I avoid to be more "eco-friendly" ???… Thanks and sorry for my english btw 😅

  46. This is what I needed all my life. ♥ Well formulated arguments with logical explanations. I always try to educate people in this topic but because I am yet just a beginer in chemistry and biology, I did't know what arguments exactly to use…
    Now I am sitting in front of my laptop and writing down a summary of your video to learn and tell everyone who mentions anything about 'natural products' ever! 😉

  47. This video should be shared with everyone to finally dispel all of the misconceptions that companies get rich from and uneducated people end up believing.

  48. People have to check the ingredients rather than buy something with a label that says "natural". So many products claiming to be natural aren't natural at all.

  49. I send my nature loving friends into shock when I tell them I've been putting vasaline on my skin for decades. They're horrified when I tell them it's a natural product.

  50. Thank you!! I hate fear provoking words or phrases being used, and people falling for it, and panicking, instead of doing their own research. 👍🏾

  51. 💖
    Just discovered my potential future sun screen available local…after 5 years of surch trail and fails…
    Its called
    la shield visco spf50 pa+++
    It seems there are two versions….please can you fly over it and tell me if you see any reason to avoid…PLEASE 🤗 both contain 25% zinc oxide not sure if the 1st one is the new formulation or if its a differnt kind in general…
    1st version
    Zinc Oxide, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Isostearic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic acid, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Methicone, PEG-12 Dimethicone/PPG-20 Crosspolymer and DL-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate

    Second version

    Cyclopentasiloxane (and)Dimethocone Crosspolymer, Zinc oxide, Coco – caprylate/caprate, Polyglyceryl-3-polyricinoleate, Isostearic acid, Cyclopentasiloxane (and) PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Dimethicone and Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane (and) Dimethiconol, VP/Eicosene Copolymer& Vitamin E acetate.

    Ufff that was even hard to write..please kindly but light into the darkness🙈

    Its the best fragrance free mi eral option I did find here in india…recommended by dermatologists…but I trust you more….
    Thank you for sharing and caring

  52. I'm currently someone who is trying to transition from natural, non-toxic items to adding some more mainstream beauty items. My main worry about using items that aren't all-natural is that I will get cancer dues to some of the ingredients used in the formulation. There are some chemicals that have been shown to be possible human carcinogenic chemicals that can be found in things such a perfume. The main ones I question in perfume are Styrene and Acetaldehyde. The only info I can find shows that they are possibly carcinogenic chemicals. What I have a hard time understanding is if the item has an ingredient that has been suspected of causing cancer how is it allowed to be in a product meant for consumers? That to me is where the fear of using mainstream items lies.

  53. THANK YOU. I know so many people entwinned in this natural product propaganda.
    I want to tell a little story and add some observations and finish with a question about the perfume industry and perfume addiction. Any informed replies would be appreciated.

    Recently I have suffered from renting a room to 2 separate women who used copious amounts of perfume and literally stank the whole house out, this time, 6 months later, I still can not enter the room for the base chemicals impregnated in the walls. This happened twice….. I had no allergic reaction but I was, and still am, nauseated by these products. In fact I could not even distinguish a scent, it was like breathing bleach fumes.

    They both insisted that the perfumes were natural and could not understand the concept that this does not mean the ingredientes can not be toxic. As a side, both were long term users, late middle age and recently divorced. They used so much, A LOT, because they simply could not smell their brands anymore.

    In relation to your point on trusting this natural branding concept , one had recently had cardiac stenting but refused to take any medicines because she did not trust doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. However, I counted 25 bottle of opened perfume products on her shelf, her stock reply was that they are natural. She fully trusted the Brazilian perfume company who do not even publish the ingredientes

    Before the questions a couple of observations, I have read research that loss of appetite associated with depression can correspond to a dampening of sense of smell. Neither ate much so depression was a possibility and I will also speculate that both found the use of perfumes post divorce a comfort and identity boost.

    The questions,
    Has anyone found any information that might suggest the cosmetic industry is utilizing addictive ingredientes?
    When users with reduced abilities to smell the products saturate themselves, at what point do the aceptable levels of chemicals become dangerous to them and to others?

  54. Can you speak a bit more on the Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons and polyaromatics contained in mineral oil products, and the claims that they might be carcinogenic?

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