With the trend for sustainable products on the rise, terms like 'naturally derived' are used to sell consumer goods to health-conscious buyers. But what do they actually mean?
The problem with ‘naturally derived’
Marketing buzz words like ‘naturally derived’ can be used to describe almost anything because technically everything - when broken down into the sum of its parts - comes from nature.
From car tyres to iPhones, every man-made substance and product is made up of components that, when traced back to their origin, have been taken from our natural environment. Even plastic can be termed ‘natural’ given its origins in crude oil and gas - two naturally occurring substances.
Similarly, the term ‘plant-based’ can be used to describe anything that has, at some point in its lifespan, been taken from plant material. The skincare and personal care industries are awash with products that contain coconut-derived and plant-based ingredients. While these claims are technically correct, they are often essentially meaningless. They don’t speak to the conditions under which the crops have been grown (ie. with the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides) and they don’t indicate the heavy processing required to turn them into shelf-stable products.
When it comes to personal care, products that are touted as ‘natural’ and ‘plant based’ are more often than not formulated with lab-made and synthetic ingredients. Given that there is very little regulation around claims made in the personal care industry, well-intentioned consumers can easily be misled by vague terminology and green washed brands promoting products as ‘natural’ and ‘naturally-derived’ in the name of economic self-interest.
The difference between natural and organic
One way for consumers wanting to avoid the ‘naturally derived’ minefield while making conscious choices is to opt for organic products. Certified organic crops are grown without chemical fertilisers, GMOs or pesticides, which safeguards human health and the long term sustainability of the land.
But certified organic is more than just chemical-free. It’s a wholistic approach to growing and harvesting crops that protects and benefits the soil, plants, animals and surrounding environment and waterways. The flow on effect is that the products produced from certified organic crops are healthy and sustainable, and those benefits are passed on to the consumers who use them.
Unlike ‘naturally derived’ products, the certified organic industry is rigorously regulated and audited to meet strict criteria and ensure standards are being upheld. This means consumers can feel safe and confident that the products they’re putting on their skin are truly ethical in terms of both human health and environmental impact.
WØRKS vegan and biodegradable products are formulated with certified organic raw materials, making them truly healthy and sustainable. Because ‘naturally derived’ is just marketing spin.