Plants are the original inventors. Scientists look to plants when they are searching for new compounds that could benefit human health, and these compounds can be powerful. One survey found that of the top 150 prescription drugs in the United States 74% of these medicines were based on plants and 18% were based on fungi. If synthetics are made to mimic plant based ingredients, why not use natural ingredients in the first place?
Natural ingredients, when used by authentic and conscientious plant based skin care brands, are carefully chosen, harvested, and utilized in skin care formulas. This means money, time, and effort spent since seasonal crop variations can occur that affect availability. It takes effort to procure these valuable plant based ingredients and there is a big payoff!
Synthetic ingredients may be cheaper and have a much longer shelf life, but they just can't compare to the diversity, innovation, and long term safety of plant based ingredients. And who wants a face cream that can sit on a shelf for two years, anyway? Fresh is definitely not the name of the game in conventional beauty.
In the conversation surrounding natural versus synthetic skin care ingredients, take food as an example. A fresh, organic apple delivers a burst of sweet flavor from it's fiber-rich flesh. It's good for your teeth and your digestion, and provides healthy nutrition. A bottle of applesauce that contains artificial sweeteners, colorants, and preservatives will sit on your kitchen counter longer before needing to be thrown out and is cheaper quantity-wise, but has far fewer nutrients.
When you weigh the odds, it boils down to getting the real deal and the vitamins, minerals, and benefits that come with it.
Same goes for skin care. You want the highest benefits from the ingredients you apply to your skin, not a quick fix that will leave you and your skin looking and feeling worse in the long term.
What’s in Plant Based Skin Care
A single plant can contain dozens of different phytonutrients. This means you get an array of nutrient benefits in whole plant skincare rather than the handful of isolated chemicals from synthetic ingredients. Just the essential oils from Calendula have 27 different individual compounds! Plants are so complex and vary so much from one variety to another that it is virtually impossible and definitely impractical to try to duplicate their unique chemistry in a lab.
Phytonutrients, sometimes called phytochemicals, are compounds produced by plants that offer benefits to skin and body.
Nutrients you may find in plant based skin care:
1. Polyphenols including isoflavones, flavonoids, and tannins
11. Amino Acids
13. Fatty Acids
Just as a phytonutrient-rich diet makes your body feel healthy, phytonutrients in cosmetics deliver healthy looking skin. Phytonutrients lend a calming sensation, diminish the appearance of redness, and provide the appearance of even skin tone. These ingredients also help to improve the appearance of aging and make skin look rejuvenated and healthy. Plant based skin care is even well suited to use on skin that may have acne breakouts, eczema, hyperpigmentation, allergies and other problems.
Phytonutrients are found in fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains. Some phytonutrient-rich ingredients found in organic plant based skin care products range from the commonly used green tea extract and rosehip oil, to the more exotic uva ursi, a plant otherwise known as bearberry used which we used to create the appearance of even skin tone.
Plant Based Ingredients v Synthetics: Smarter Results, Less Risk
Plant based ingredients have a long list of advantages for skin.
- For starters, plant ingredients are well studied and have been for ages with one of the oldest written records on medicinal plants dating back to 1500 B.C. Humans have been using plants for self-care for thousands of years, so we know which are safe and effective for use which decreases the risk of harm.
- Synthetics have undergone little testing and research in comparison. A shockingly low 11% of the 10,000 plus ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products have undergone testing for safety in the U.S. Many of those ingredients are banned for use in cosmetics in other countries.
- Another perk of using plant based skin care? You get more bang for your bucks because plant based skin care has more active compounds in it! Synthetic skin care typically contains 80-90% neutral base ingredients, like water, oils, and waxes. Whole plant skin care flips this ratio and contains mostly active ingredients and few structural nutritionally neutral ingredients since each of the plant based oils, juices, and extracts is adding to the efficacy of the product. In fact, whole plant skin care can be made of 100% active ingredients, like an oil blend.
- Plant based skin care helps to support the skin microbiome too. Research suggests that synthetic ingredients strip the skin of essential bacteria and repress the skin microbiome with repeated exposure, while plant ingredients have the best effect, supporting the feeling of balanced moisture and skin health.
- Plant ingredients also support the skin barrier function. Studies show many botanicals, like aloe vera and St. John’s wort, reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and increase the feel of overall skin hydration.
- And last but not least, plant ingredients are better for our environment. Botanicals are biodegradable, undergo less harmful processing methods than synthetics, and come from renewable sources. Can petroleum based ingredients carry these claims? No way!
Tips For Choosing the Best Plant Based Skin Care Brands
Keep in mind the quality of the plant based ingredients matters a lot. In order to get the best benefits you should look for skin care with plant based ingredients that are fresh, minimally processed, and handled to maximize the amount of phytonutrients. That's where your results are coming from!
Plant based skin care ingredients that are also organic will be the most nutritious, and farmed ingredients prevent overharvesting of plant ingredients from the wild. Plus you get to know that your purchases support organic farmers from around the world. That feels way better than having skin care ingredients come from an oil well. Look for notation in the ingredients list for which ingredients are organic.
One way to tell if skin care is really plant based is that the plant ingredients should make up the bulk of the ingredients list and they should be listed first and foremost. Skin care ingredients are listed by concentration in a recipe so higher up means more of that ingredient. You can absolutely find skin care that is entirely plant based so don't settle for a tricky mixture of plants and synthetics when you can have the real deal.
The ingredients list of the skin care product should also be easy to find on the company's website. Some companies will just tell you the "hero" ingredients, but that makes it easy to make a skin care product look plant based even if it's mostly synthetic. Make sure you read the whole ingredients list so you know what you are getting.
Plant based ingredients will also often be listed by their Latin names, so don't be scared if you see something that looks complicated. Glycyrrhiza glabra may sound like the words to a magic spell but it's actually the scientific name for the licorice plant. It's the international standard for cosmetics labeling for plant based skin care ingredients to be shown this way since the common name may vary by language but the Latin name remains the same. The common plant name will often be listed in parentheses. If the common name is not listed you can always do a quick internet search to confirm what that ingredient is.
When searching out the safest skin care, choose plant based skin care brands. They're better for your skin, body, and the environment. Plant based skin care has become very popular, and with good reason! Now it's time for you to discover the results plants can give your skin.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is general in nature and for informational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. None of the statements on this site are a recommendation as to how to treat any particular disease or health-related condition. If you suspect you have a disease or health-related condition of any kind, you should contact your health care professional immediately. Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.