The term “natural” has been flying around the skincare and wellness community with nearly reckless abandon, but what it natural anyway? In the United States the term can really be used by just about anyone as part of their labeling and marketing. There aren’t a lot of clear rules or regulation around this term, so what constitutes natural and what is natural to YOU?

I’ll tell you what is natural to me and what I’m committed to creating for you at Joyful Roots, but first let’s chat about why it is so important to choose wisely what you put on your skin.

Me at our gorgeous San Pedro River

It’s indisputable that the rate of chronic illness has risen drastically in the last 50 years, to the point where it is no longer just impacting adults and elderly, but our youth as well. Many of us are concerned about what we eat, but we should be just as concerned with what we put on our skin. Why? Our skin is porous and our largest organism. A large majority of what we put on our skin eventually enters our body and bloodstream, bypassing our digestive system (which is a natural filter) altogether and often ends up being stored in our organs and fatty tissue. With the incredible amount of synthetic chemicals and fragrances in the bath and beauty product industry these days, it’s no wonder that it’s wreaking havoc on our health!

What’s more, so many of our body products are literally designed to stop our body from performing its natural processes! Think deodorant, sunscreen, mouthwash, and tampons…plug it up and block it off. Did you know that in doing this we are also plugging up our elimination pathways, the very mechanisms our bodies have created to eliminate toxins and waste?

With the clear lack of chemical regulation and drastic oversight within the skincare industry, it’s up to each of us to decide what we want to put on our bodies and read labels. We need to educate ourselves and make a conscious decision to use products that benefit our health. Can skincare be helpful instead of harmful? Oh yes!! Read on.

To me, the term “natural” means that ingredients are derived directly from plants or animals and have not been adulterated beyond a normal process of cold pressing oils, grinding herbs, a little heat now and then, and possibly fermenting (think apple cider vinegar), or distilling (think essential oils). The product should not contain any petroleum products or synthetic chemicals, even during the extraction process. The ingredient should not be processed beyond its recognizable form. The ingredient should be pure. Think, was it something my great-great-grandmother could have acquired or created? Were people 200 years ago able to make this ingredient with their current technology? There are possibly a few exceptions to this, like CO2 extraction methods for essential oils, but those examples are very few and far between.

Here’s the thing, if you want to have truly natural products that are shelf stable and safe, there are only a few ways to accomplish this. If you don’t have one or all of these criteria, then the product is NOT shelf stable and/or NOT SAFE meaning it could contain harmful bacteria, mold, or yeasts.

None of these natural products will last forever, but in my opinion that’s a good thing. Does anything natural last forever? Joyful Roots makes our products as fresh as possible, sometimes coming directly from our garden to your face. The products may not last for years because they aren’t intended to! You can be sure though that they also haven’t sat in a warehouse somewhere for years before they arrive in your hands, and because of that, we don’t need to formulate for long-term storage (read: lots of preservatives and stabilizers).

The first way to be preservative-free is to be waterless. Waterless products can be oil based or non-oil based. Oil based products are things like massage oil, face oils, salves and balms. They do not need preservatives because harmful bacteria will not grow without moisture. Spores may land on the surface but they cannot germinate…water is life. Non-oil based products are things like glycerin extractions, dried powdered herbs and clays, salts, etc. These products require that the mixture stay completely dry to prevent any unwanted microbes from entering. Take our Sea Goddess Mask for instance. You add your own liquid to a small amount of the powder in a separate container for each use, to keep the rest of it dry and safe.

Sea Goddess Nutritive Face Mask Kelp and Chlorella

Another option is pH controlled formulas – think Apple Cider Vinegar. High levels of salt and sugar can also help to preserve a product, as can alcohol. This is what we use to prevent microbes from brewing in Mystic Mist, along with a closed spray container that helps to prevent contamination.

Most of Joyful Roots products are waterless and there are many good reasons for this. The first is obvious based on this conversation – we haven’t found a preservative we are comfortable using in our products. Bacteria need water to live, and we don’t want to sell you a product that contains harmful bacteria or harmful chemicals – simple as that.

Water is a cheap ingredient. Sure, it may be necessary for certain products, like sprays and mists, but beyond that it’s really not necessary. Waterless skincare means you are getting more concentrated products and more of the active ingredients that your skin and body love!! It’s definitely more bang for your buck.

Of course, we love playing around with botanicals and formulas to create products that you will adore. There are no hard-fast rules here other than that we are committed to providing you with the purest, most natural, most nourishing products we can, while always being transparent about what is in them and how they are created. That is the Joyful Roots commitment to you!