The term natural implies that a product is totally made up of natural ingredients, for example ingredients that can be found in nature and are not produced or forged by man. A natural ingredient, for example, is a plant derivative that preserves its original molecular structure without any external intervention to modify it. It has to be specified that there is not a formal and legal definition of the term ‘natural’ applied to cosmetics, so the use of the term in the cosmetic industry could be misleading.
Since the quantity of yield that is obtainable from completely natural ingredients is scarce, the cosmetic industry has been used to modify natural ingredients through a multiple-step process (for example, allowing to extract the ingredient with a solvent), in order to create a new molecular structure to increase performances. Naturally derived ingredients are obtained from raw materials that are available in nature such as in minerals or plants, and go through the least possible amount of processing.
A synthetic ingredient is anything that is not found or harvested directly from nature, so it is meant a raw material entirely created in a lab. It is important to notice that the term ‘synthetic’ does not implicitly involve the level of quality or safety of a product. Most synthetic ingredients are useful to preserve natural ones, keeping a long-term product effectivity to its maximum. Moreover, synthetic ingredients act as a filler to the lacks of natural ingredients, as their usage can cause damage to the environment, as well as not all natural ingredients can be beneficial for our skin.