The Reality of Chemical Free Skincare - Is That A Thing?

If you're looking for chemical-free skincare products, you're not alone in your quest. However, the reality is that there are no chemical-free cosmetics and skincare products available. For the sake of being a little scientific for a second, every form of matter has a chemical composition. In other words, chemical compounds are found in virtually everything we encounter in daily life.


 Many people want to know if our products are “free of chemicals”. The short answer is no, of course not; without chemicals, our products would not exist. However, we recognise the reason for the question. After all, we want to make sure that our products reflect our ideals. We focus on natural, sustainable, organic, and vegan skincare, while the word 'chemical' has a (unfairly) poor reputation and we understand that the question is more about where the chemicals come from and how they got into your skincare product in the first place. 

It doesn't help when companies employ blatantly misleading words in their marketing, such as "chemical-free." It's no surprise that consumers are left confused. 

We are continually pushing the beauty industry to come up with answers. We admire how knowledgeable you are about the products you use on your skin. Conscious skincare users are making wise decisions for their own well-being and that of Mother Nature's.  

Understanding the jargon of skincare chemicals 

Don't worry, we're not about to give you a lecture on the English language. Nonetheless, it is important to be conscious that the chemical compounds in skincare products are sometimes described in overly technical jargon. Let's look at a simple example. 

Would you like to use 'vitellaria paradoxa' to treat your skin? Probably not, because it's a tongue twister to say, and who knows what chemical nasties it might contain. 

If we reveal that vitellaria paradoxa is the scientific name for the chemical composition of shea butter, everything becomes considerably less frightening. Shea butter's palmitic, stearic, and oleic fatty acids maintain and nourish your skin, but its chemical components make it sound like you should wear a lab coat and safety goggles before handling them! 

L-Ascorbic Acid is another component that may look really terrifying on the list of ingredients on a bottle; however, it is a naturally occurring chemical substance with antioxidant qualities. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and green vegetables are examples of foods that contain l-ascorbic acid. Known by its popular name, Vitamin C, it is a wonderful natural ingredient used in skincare, which is why you will find it in most of our products and why we love it. 

Water - Dihydrogen monoxid? This class of dihydrogen chalcogenides (a name that sounds scary, but isn't) is the most important and plentiful molecule in the entire class, and it provides the basis of practically everything we consume. What is the fundamental building block of all organic matter? Carbon. That, too, is a chemical.  

We realise that this may seem like an extremely simplified explanation, but at the end of the day, everything is made up of chemical compounds. 

There would be no skincare products without chemicals. The problem is that the terminology is being misused. We've been taught that chemicals are bad, yet in reality, everything is made up of chemicals; the difference is between natural and synthetic.  

Natural vs chemical skincare  

When the words 'chemical-free' appear on a moisturizer's label, it's easy to assume that the product includes only natural ingredients and is fully chemical-free, just as the label claims. 

However, is it truly chemical-free? No. You'd just be buying an empty jar if that was the case. 

According to statistics, 83% of Gen Z beauty buyers want natural skincare products. We are so happy to see that shift, mostly because the idea of pushing the skincare industry to be transparent about chemicals in skincare, is applaudable. You want to know if the ingredients in your skincare products are natural chemicals with well-documented advantages or synthetic compounds with unknown effects on your skin or the environment.  

There is a significant difference between natural and chemical skincare products if we use the term "chemical" in the way it has come to be used rather than its dictionary definition. Natural products are typically obtained ethically and responsibly, are cruelty-free, and come in recyclable or recycled packaging. It is all these things that we, as a brand promote, and we walk in line with these beliefs.  

Chemicals to avoid in skincare 

Even though it is impossible to prove the extent to which any cosmetic or skincare product is actually absorbed by the skin and enters our bloodstream, there is considerable research to indicate that traces of certain ingredients in the serums and creams we use on our skin are absorbed into our bodies. While many chemical compounds (remember vitellaria paradoxa?) are beneficial, there are also many that should be avoided.  

Parabens, for example, are used to preserve skincare products, but these chemicals penetrate our skin and remain in the tissue. Parabens are hormone disruptors because they have a weak oestrogen effect on the body. Many studies have been done on the link between parabens and breast cancer, and the Breast has some helpful suggestions on decreasing your paraben exposure if this is something you're concerned about. Using paraben-free solutions in our line of skincare is a priority for us.  

Propylene glycol is another substance that has a negative reputation, as it can irritate sensitive skin. Glycerine (yes, it's still a chemical!) is a plant-based option that is considerably gentler on easily irritated skin. 

Get chemical ingredient savvy 

We're all a lot more conscious of what we put into our bodies and how it affects our health. We eat kale because it's high in Vitamin C, and we eat leafy greens like spinach to receive a dose of iron – it is time to learn about the components in our favourite skincare products. 

By learning about your skincare ingredients and what each one can do for your skin, you'll be on the right track to selecting products with 'good' chemicals and building a skincare routine that works for you. 

And, just like the food you eat, ask the same questions about the beauty products you use. When it comes to your skincare products, you want to know exactly what goes into them, where do they come from, how they're created, and what effect they have on your skin's health. 

The Takeaway 

Rather than searching for the elusive 'chemical-free skincare,' examine the labels of your favourite beauty products to confirm that the chemicals in them are the right ones

The problem is that the term "chemical-free" has no meaning. It provides no valuable information regarding the product. Is the product free of Phthalates? Parabens? Detail is everything.  

Join us in our mission to promote sustainable beauty by using ingredients that are ethically produced, vegan, and free of parabens, palm oil, silicones, mineral oils, parfum, and sulphates.  

We promise that we'll only use things we'd be happy to put on our own skin.