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Synthetic or natural ingredients - which is better?
We are often asked if we only use natural ingredients in our skin care products and if we avoid chemicals. All chemicals are bad for us, right? In fact, everything around us is chemicals. In this article, we want to explain and increase understanding of what is meant by the various concepts. For example, synthetic and natural substances are often used when it comes to skin care.

Chemicals and chemical substances are fundamental in our everyday life and for all life on earth. They can be divided into naturally occurring and synthetically produced, but it is also important to consider how they are manufactured and what specific properties they have. Natural substances can be produced synthetically in factories, and we can now use microorganisms to produce substances that previously did not exist naturally. The positive or negative properties of substances also do not depend solely on their origin, where both naturally and synthetically produced substances can have beneficial or harmful properties. It is important to evaluate the substances based on their specific nature and use instead of relying on the natural/synthetic division.

We think it is important to deepen the understanding of naturally and synthetically produced substances and clarify similarities and differences in how they are produced and what properties they have. Natural perfumes or essential oils, for example, are among the most allergenic substances used in skin care. Synthetically produced substances can also reduce the negative impact that chemicals have on the environment, so the choice of good substances is central, regardless of whether it is natural or synthetically produced.

Everything is chemicals and a prerequisite for life

Chemicals or chemical substances are everywhere around us and they are necessary for all life to function - they are in the food we eat, in the water we drink, in the air we breathe, even our own bodies are made up of them. The most common substances on earth, such as water and the oxygen in the air, are chemicals. Chemicals are also found in all the complex things that we humans have produced and that are needed in our technologically advanced world.

Chemical substances are traditionally divided into two main categories: naturally occurring and synthetically produced, where the latter group mainly consists of new substances that we humans have created and which did not exist in nature before.

But just as important as finding out whether the substances are naturally occurring or synthetically produced is to highlight how they have been manufactured and what properties they have. Naturally occurring substances can be produced synthetically and thus produced in a more resource-efficient way than if we extract them directly from nature. Even with today's knowledge and techniques, we can get, for example, bacteria or other microorganisms to produce substances that did not exist in nature before, i.e. synthetic substances are produced in an increasingly natural way.

The properties a substance has are not determined by whether it is naturally or synthetically produced. Naturally occurring substances can have bad properties for both humans and the environment, if they are spread in the wrong place, in the wrong concentration and at the wrong time. This also applies to synthetically produced substances, they can have both good and bad properties.

Naturally occurring chemicals

Naturally occurring chemicals are substances found in nature and found in everything from the human body to plants, animals and in our atmosphere. They are used widely and are incredibly important for many processes, for example water, proteins and various minerals are crucial for all life on earth. Naturally occurring chemicals used in skin care are water, glycerol, retinol, various minerals and oils, but also complex mixtures such as extracts from various plants and animals.

A naturally occurring or skin-specific substance in skin care can also be synthetically produced. The substances have also, even if they have a natural origin, always undergone various manufacturing steps to ensure the substance's purity and quality. This reduces the difference between a natural and synthetically produced substance, but the crucial thing is that both must be safe and effective when included in your skin care product.

Synthetically produced chemicals

Synthetically produced chemicals are those created by humans through chemical processes. These substances can be completely new, or be variations of naturally occurring substances. Synthetically produced chemicals can also be naturally occurring, i.e. it is exactly the same substance that exists naturally but has been produced artificially. Some examples of such substances are urea (urea), ceramides, lactic acid but also retinol and vitamin C, all of which are skin-identical substances but which can be produced synthetically.

Some naturally occurring chemicals can be used as raw materials in the production of synthetic substances. In skin care this is very common and many oils, emulsifiers and cleaning substances have a natural origin but they are more or less chemically modified.

Environmental impact and safety of chemicals, natural is not better than synthetic

Both naturally occurring and synthetically produced chemicals can affect the environment and human health. A natural substance does not have to have better properties than if it had been produced synthetically, and vice versa. It is therefore important to choose, handle and use all substances responsibly, regardless of origin or manufacturing method. In the end, if the substances are spread, they must be able to be taken care of and broken down, by the treatment plants or in the environment, have low toxicity, i.e. not have a negative impact on humans or the environment. The choice of good substances is central, regardless of whether it is natural or synthetically produced.

Want to learn more?

In the production of synthetic chemicals, different techniques or methods are used, which may be more or less resource-intensive and/or environmentally friendly. In this article we list some of the most common ones. Read the article here .