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What does ‘Natural’ mean?

Natural means anything that is nature-made, not man-made.

In cosmetic terms, this is the Cosmos definition of ingredients from natural origin:

"The following are of natural origin:

  • water
  • minerals and ingredients of mineral origin
  • physically processed agro-ingredients
  • chemically processed agro-ingredients (and parts thereof) derived wholly from the above."

Cosmetic ingredients of natural origin often have to be processed. For example, almond oil has to be extracted from raw almond nuts. To do this it is physically pressed from the almonds, which is known as physical processing. Some natural ingredients require some minimal chemical processing in order to extract the ingredient from its raw plant form using processes that are, "clean and authorised, all under the umbrella of green chemistry." (Cosmos).

Therefore, natural ingredients in cosmetics may be in their raw form, or may have been physically or minimally chemically processed. In order to achieve organic certification, all non-organic ingredients must conform to these standards of clean processing. For example, the emulsifier Cetearyl olivate is derived from olive oil which has undergone minimal processing. The emulsifier allows the oil-based and water-based ingredients in a cream or lotion to blend together properly and not separate afterwards. This is essential when making a cream!

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