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Natural remedies for skin care are both big business and VERY trendy.

Where did this all originate?

Natural = good?

Let’s get one thing cleared up fast.

The words “natural” and “beneficial” mean two very different things.

Natural Remedies for Skin Care

For thousands of years, people have been putting natural products onto their skins. Natural in that literal sense means pretty much ‘as found in nature’ with limited human intervention other than perhaps some mixing and preparation.

It’s important to remember though that some perfectly natural products historically were not only of zero benefit to the skin but they were actually downright dangerous.

For example, consider the Elizabethans’ use of lead, arsenic and mercury as skincare products. They’re all pretty natural but they’re also really well-worth avoiding if you’d like to live a longer and healthier life.

So, the use of the term ‘natural’ in itself doesn’t tell you much, other than the product probably isn’t a complex piece of chemical engineering that has resulted in something outside of nature.

Things change

By the 18th and 19th centuries, chemistry really starts to take off and it isn’t long before scientists start realising that they have a potentially very lucrative market on their hands. Skin care products!

For many years, scientists thought they could do better than mother nature and created new ranges of compounds and chemicals that could be applied to the skin. Many new products were developed and that process has continued ever since – right up until today.

One example from the 1930s involved using aniline dye around the eyes to help colour and improve eyelashes. This resulted in many cases of scarring, blindness and even death.

Things change again

During the 1950s, there was an increasing awareness of the dangers of artificial skincare products after various exposés and increased publicity.

By the 1960s, this awareness dovetailed into the ‘back to nature’ philosophy of Hippy culture and that in turn began over the next decades to find common ground with the growing environmental and holistic/homoeopathic medicine movements. There was a massive resurgence in the 1980s of interest in natural skin care products and we have never looked back since.

Where are we today?

In Australia, products of this type are categorised as either:

  • Cosmetic or;
  • The rules and regulations covering the two are significantly different and unfortunately, too complex to go into detail about here.

What can be said is that when looking at natural remedies for skin care, be sure that you know if the product is claiming to offer therapeutic properties of the “helps reduce acne” type or simply cosmetic “helps improve the appearance of skin”.

If the word ‘remedy’ is explicitly used, that would suggest the product is claiming therapeutic properties and as such, in theory, it should have undergone extensive testing to prove that it can work in an acceptable percentage of cases. Most manufacturers will be keen to show their evidence and you should be able to find it on their websites or via review sites.

There are fewer if any restrictions on the use of ‘cosmetic’. That’s because the cosmetic effect of something is often a matter of subjective perception and can’t be easily proven or disproven.

Then there is the question of ‘natural’.

Australian law is fairly precise in its definitions here.

Terms such as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ must meet strict criteria in advance. Companies must register with a government body if their product contains any man-made chemical products or even if a natural product occurring in nature may have been chemically changed due to the extraction process. Steam extraction of some oils is a good example, possibly excluding the product from being described as ‘natural’.

Finally, a word or two on safety.

Strangely, in Australia, there is no legal requirement to safety-test natural cosmetic remedies or skin care products prior to sale. However, the position for products described as therapeutic may be significantly different.

Even for cosmetic items, manufacturers are obliged to ensure that their product is safe for consumers to use.

However, these regulations are nightmarishly complex for the uninitiated. If you’re considering natural remedies for skin care, it probably would be sensible to

  • ask an expert for advice. Some companies specialise in these matters and have vast experience they’ll be happy to share with you;
  • check with your doctor in advance if the product is stated to be therapeutic;
  • read carefully the product’s labelling;
  • research online and on the manufacturer’s site..

Do you want to know the state of your skin? Take the skin care quiz, visit