I never really thought of this before. It’s kind of logical to me. In a battle of best cosmetic ingredients between natural and chemical, natural is just better. If I can eat something, like coconut oil, and then also use it on my hair to moisturize, that’s a win win situation…I have always thought that if it is safe to go into our bodies, it is safe to put on our bodies…but I recently found out not everyone thinks this way…There is a point of view that cosmetics should remain a chemical science, and that putting food on ourselves is just well, kinda dirty. Where did I get this idea from? A man working at a hair supply shop told me this, when I mentioned I used a bit of coconut oil for my dry ends. He said the problem with food grade is that it mixes with microbes and such on our bodies and can easily become rancid and/dirty.
Hmm…Dirty? I never realized this point of view before, and while I think the shop guy might be right to some degree, I still think it’s an exaggeration at best. The outsides of our bodies can take a bit of dirt and microbes. Our own bodily oils are teaming with loads of bacteria and such, it’s all over us…adding food grade ingredients does not necessarily add to the microbial community…maybe it would if we never showered…but the average person in North America probably showers at least once a day; not enough time for coconut oil or any food grade oil to become rancid, and thus dangerous to our health. Advocating for chemicals and chemical preservatives to remain the standard for quality hair care, is a bit unfounded. Many of the chemicals in cosmetics are known to be drying, irritating to the skin, cause allergic reactions, and even have traces amounts of carcinogens. Yikes.
The trend to go natural is so strong actually, that many big cosmo companies now say they have squeezed natural ingredients into their formula. I’ve seen so many times the advertising and labeling of big brand products claiming to use honey, botanicals, fruits, natural oils and butters. The ironic thing is the natural inclusions are often very denatured/altered and it’s a very minute amount that’s used. Why moisturize with a vat of silicones and trace amounts of cocoa butter, if cocoa butter is the actual desirable ingredient? I have to toot my own horn when I say I make a solid lotion at Dream E that is a third made of cocoa butter and all natural other ingredients, except for a small amount of fragrances. But 95% natural is better than 1% natural any day in my opinion.
I think as a society, the culture is moving away from chemical dependencies as a whole in general. I do feel that people prefer food that hasn’t touched pesticides, and are organically grown without fertilizers…Society seems to want more natural things in bodies, so why not reflect this view when it comes to cosmetics, if possible? Don’t get me wrong I like my chemical stuffs too, I use at least a dozen different chemical make-ups everyday; I wrote an article singing the praises for a superstay lipcolour formula that has the lasting power of car paint enamel! But when I can, I readily choose natural: I remove make-up with coconut oil. I use olive oil to amp up my hair conditioner…Vitamin E capsules used externally for my face at night, sugar face scrub, glycerin setting spray…anything that is food for internal can be also be food for skin or hair…
In the end, I don’t think food grade ingredients at their purest, simplest form can ever be harmful. Think about in the past, before industrialization…people had to resort to what was around them to take care of their skin. Shea butter from the shea nut…is still used for cooking and moisturizing skin in many places of the world, with amazing healthy results…nut shells for exfoliation…cocoa butter, aloe vera…all of these plants derived food ingredients are still widely used on the body externally…and there is no scientific study or test needed to formulate and manufacture then truth that they work well. It just makes sense they do because sometimes Nature knows more about beauty, than chemical Science does.