There seems to be a common belief system among us that has many people believe that nature, in its raw state, does very little without the scientific manipulation of man. It is believed that science “modernizes” or “improves” one state to another. It is also commonly assumed that man-made chemicals are an improvement of what once was, could have been or should have been. So many people trust wholeheartedly the chemical compositions that make their skincare products, as they take it to mean “science” and then equate that with modernity, knowledge, and health.
However, this belief system—while it borders with some form of accuracy—is doing such a disservice to how we relate to the world and, in specific, to the cosmetic industry. Indeed, science is awesome. And I benefit from it every day. But that said, I think we need to be clear on what science is.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, science is:
“the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”
Science is the systemic study of an element, be it people, culture, microbes, earth, water etc. It is a study of what is, to help us understand the world around us, and its functions. Science helps us identify the wonders that exist. It is science that has helped us uncover the medicinal compounds that are found in flowers, leaves, twigs, seeds, berries, fruits, stalks and nuts. In other words, “science” does not render these elements beneficial, because they already are and for the most part, as is—science simply shows us that these exist. So to undermine the medicinal, and even nutritional value of nature’s elements, because they were not meddled with by science, is just plain ignorant. So let’s enjoy the huge strides we have made in science—and all that we have learned from it— and embrace nature’s gifts.
By not realizing this distinction, we end up forgetting or never knowing the extent to which we can actually benefit from flowers, leaves, twigs, seeds, berries, fruits, stalks and nuts in their closest -to-natural state. And instead, we end up relying on man-made chemical compositions as a false understanding of what science is and does. In awe of “science” many fill their shopping baskets high of products with long ingredient lists of unpronounceable words. These, my dear, are not botanical names. They are names of chemicals that serve to extend shelf life or mimic an effect. For instance, chemicals like Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS) are used to “cleanse” the skin by producing a polished feel—in reality what it does is strip your skin of natural oils and creates a stinging effect, which makes you feel fresh n’ zesty. The hidden chemical in these chemicals cocktails is 1.4 dioxane and ethylene oxide, which are both carcinogenic byproducts that have been rated “highly hazardous” by the Environmental Working Group. Upon entering your body through the mucous membrane of your eyes (i.e. shampoo, acne solutions, face wash etc.) they intoxicate your liver, brain, kidneys, the nervous system and and and, it’s a leading groundwater contaminant (EWG and Mercola Health Initiative). You may never consume any of these toxic chemicals in their purest form but, nevertheless, frequent use of products containing these ingredients for a significant length of time can cause toxic accumulation—according to Dr. Mercola, the daily use of conventional products can lead up to 5lbs of toxic accumulation in one year. A healthy diet and drinking lots of water will help your body eliminate some of these toxins.
It's all in Nature!