While we tend to view science and technology as the antithesis of all that is “natural,” they are becoming more and more important to the future of nontoxic personal care. You’ve probably noticed natural beauty products work a lot better than they used to. Why? Manufacturers are wising up; so is the chemistry.
I got in touch with ingredient expert Kantha Shelke of Corvus Blue, LLC, to get her take on the future of personal care. Sure enough, she said its fate rests in the hands of the renewable, plant-based ingredients that result from advancements in green chemistry. If you see these on labels, don’t let their intimidating, at times unnatural-sounding names fool you. Shelke says these are the top five natural ingredients—popping up in everything from shampoo to face cream—that will shape the natural beauty industry.
Now tapped by most natural and mass skin care manufacturers, these ultranourishing ingredients are derived from fatty acids and double as your skin’s “moisture barrier.” Ceramides, found in topical skin care and nutricosmetics, are the most common.
If you just happen to be curious and look up “fructooligosaccharides” on the EWG’s Skin Deep database, you’ll come up with a big fat zero. Oligosaccharides are gentle natural alternatives to retinols (common skin care ingredients that can cause irritation), which may lend many of the same benefits, including collagen synthesis and UV protection. They’re also natural emulsufiers and conditioners.
These molecules that are made up of two or more amino acids help your body produce collagen and increase circulation. They can be either natural or synthetic, but you’ll increasingly find the natural versions in antiaging skin care.
You may recognize these ingredients from their role as low-cal sweeteners in food and beverages. But common polyols including erythritol and sorbitol also improve flavor in oral care products. Beauty companies even use them to maintain skin’s moisture and elasticity and improve skin's use of antiaging ingredient vitamin C.
These naturally occurring components from the cell walls of plants such as algae have a range of cosmetic uses including moisturizing skin and hair and even helping to heal wounds, according to recent research. Cellulose is one of the most common types used in personal care and also is a food additive.