As a realist and scientist, certain truths or doubts make themselves known in the quest to look at things as they really are. I question my beliefs from time to time and even though during these supposed down times, I do not see the benefits, in hindsight, I see how far challenging these ideologies has brought me. I may as well, still remain oblivious to some more of the benefits and drawbacks. For you to love a thing or person, you have to learn about everything, the good, bad and neither, in order to make an informed decision.
When it comes to natural cosmetics, sometimes I wonder if I (or we) really believe in it or if it is all a fad, trend or something that’s just passing. The quest for nature and natural things that fulfill the purpose of their counterparts in activity, texture, appearance, scent, etc seems to be the driving force of the natural movement these days. We come to only appreciate a product as a cleanser, only if it foams like those we have been used to, causing compounds and items found in nature to be modified to express this ability. Does foam really signify cleansing?
This has been extended to the need to have our hair natural (within the black community, at least). I went natural initially by force. I had to cut my medium length relaxed hair because the school required all students to have their hair short. When I was finally given a choice, I’m not entirely sure why I let it grow out. I did not have any moment of clarity (at least I didn’t notice it). Many people complain about the state of their hair before they had ‘the big chop’. Isn’t natural hair just a means of getting that which we truly truly want – long flowing hair? What if you were able to achieve that without going natural? Would you still do it? What is so appealing about it then? Do we really find it beautiful? Or is it just another niche created to add variety to the market? Perhaps, it serves a social purpose?
Without deviation, I wonder sometimes if we really believe at the bottom of our hearts that natural is always better. But we have all heard of poison ivy and other poisons found in nature. When natural products companies want to market their natural products, phrases and words like ‘free from chemicals’, ‘sourced from nature’ are used, as if the air and food (it doesn’t get more natural than this) are not made of chemicals. When it comes to the romanticism of anything natural, could it be that we are turning our backs on how far technology has brought us? We deem it perfectly fine to live in structures constructed out of synthetic materials, use said synthetics around our homes and automobile devices but still remain weary about having manufactured products being applied to our bodies. There are myths going about that our skin absorbs about 60% of all topical products? What makes us really revere nature and deem it better for our cosmetics (with this in mind) and not mind that items of our clothing come almost entirely from manufactured materials for example? Definitely somethings are more delicate than others and the degree to which different items affect us vary widely. But what really determines this? Their closeness to nature? Are we willing to accept that nature may fall short sometimes?
What exactly is nature? Are we taking it to mean things only emanating from the earth? Do we mean this same earth that is a collection of minerals and compounds? Could we really survive on just these? As we advance and age, we start to become more serious about finding solutions to our issues. Hence, the introduction of chemistry and synthesis of compounds, especially modifying the structure and hence, activity of those already found in nature. Are we ready to accept that certain synthetic compounds were created to deliver drastic changes to these issues that natural products simply take a milder, non-hurried approach to changing? Are we willing to sacrifice some of our ideals and ideas about beauty? Can we manage our expectations?
What does natural really mean to us? Unaltered? Unrefined? Used only as found in ‘nature’? In cosmetics, would it mean strictly edible or plant based? What if I told you that I included snake oil or lard in your product? Would you still find it appealing? What about fractionated oils, natural emulsifiers, essential oils, herbal extracts, cosmeceuticals? Where do we draw the line?
I believe that having some of these questions in mind and working towards better understanding is key to motivation, inspiration and marketing of my (your) natural cosmetics and raw materials. This will also help us stay fresh on new advances and see that we still have a lot to learn in order to hone the ability to understand the importance and impact of our home made natural cosmetics.
I would love to know your thoughts.