Skincare: science vs nature


I often get asked regarding ingredients on products: what are the benefits and disadvantages of science and technology-based brands, versus natural and organic creations.

Firstly, it is entirely individual. On a 1-to-1 basis it’s not about what product you choose, but understanding how your skin responds to these families of ingredients.  For example, some people’s skin, especially if they are sensitive, reactive or prone to spots, can find scientific ingredients too stimulating and irritating. However, on the flip side of this, while a skin that suffers with advanced ageing can get comfort and condition from natural ingredients, it will benefit more from the scientific formulations. They are the hard-hitters on wrinkles and often can deliver more dramatic results.IMG_6976

Of course, you can combine the two. For example, using natural oils on the skin to maintain or add condition, comfort and plumpness layered underneath or mixed in with scientific serums or moisturising routines to give you your overall result that you are looking for. There are also some brands that mix science and nature. The most famous of these would be Decleor, where they have some 100% natural ingredient products such as their Aromessence and night balms. But even here they take a scientific approach in their research of the extraction and use of a natural ingredient, because each essential oil can have hundreds of chemical components. So instead of just using the whole extract which is what a natural brand would do; if it increases proven efficiency Decleor will sub-extract only parts of these natural ingredients and use them to deliver a superior result. Other brands that combine science and nature include Elemis, Flora Mare and Liz Earle. You could also check out hybrid companies, where some of their products are naturally-based, then go too scientific ingredients and products for their anti-ageing ranges such as Judith Williams.

If we go to complete pure science and technology, often these are our doctor-led brands and/or direct from the lab such as Perricone, Beauty Bioscience, Gatineau and Algenist, and these can give extremely quick results on stubborn skin problems resulting from the ageing process.  We also have some very effective and potent brands that use some of the stronger natural ingredients which specialise often in glycolic acids, peels and AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and these, whilst still in a naturally-based ingredient can have quite a dramatic effect on the ski. Brands include the Alpha-H and Murad.


To know what suits you, try and work out what category of product you are using at the moment, and ask:  are you getting enough results and are you happy with your skin? If you are, stick with that category of product. However, if you either now or at the change of the seasons require more results, swapping to a completely different philosophy of ingredients can often give you the results you are looking for.

While everyone can be allergic to any ingredient, including a natural one, it’s often a drier, older and tougher skin type that prefers the scientific approach because their skin needs the stimulation. Scientific ingredients and brands can often give quick and more dramatic result, however they do carry contradiction, can give side effects, and do not suit everyone. I find oilier, younger, or sensitive, dry skin often prefers the more natural-based ingredients which have a gentler effect. Natural-based products take longer to work in the skin and have a gentler effect with less risk of irritation and side effects.

The choice is up to you – visit our beauty department, and browse The Beauty Edit for more ingredients information and inspiration.

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