Natural skin care uses topical creams and lotions made of ingredients available in nature. Much of the recent literature reviews plant-derived ingredients, which may include herbs, roots, flowers and essential oils, but natural substances in skin care products include animal-derived products such as beeswax, and minerals.

There are no legal definitions in the U.S. for advertising terms “natural” or “organic” when applied to personal care products. Consumers often express a preference for skin products with organic and natural ingredients. The personal skin care market based on natural products has shown strong growth. Clinical and laboratory studies have identified activities in many natural ingredients that have potential beneficial activities for personal skin care, but there is a shortage of convincing evidence for natural product efficacy in medical problems. Some natural products and therapies may be harmful, either to the skin or systemically.

Many countries require that the ingredient composition of skin care products is listed on the product, using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) conventions. Ingredients are listed in the order of their percentage within the product; natural ingredients are listed in Latin and synthetic ingredients are listed by technical name. “The U.S. government has documented more than 10,500 ingredients in cosmetic products, but only a small percentage of those chemicals have been tested for safety. Of those that have been tested, some have been identified as carcinogens (causes cancer), teratogens (causes birth defects), and reproductive toxicants (damages the ability to reproduce).

The FDA surveyed 1,687 consumers ages 14 and older in 1994 about their use of cosmetics. Nearly half of these consumers felt that a product claiming to be “natural” should contain all natural ingredients. However, although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated within its certain requirements within its specific area of regulation for organic products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize a definition for natural products. Accordingly, there are no legal definitions in the U.S. for the advertising terms “natural” or “organic” in personal care products. The FDA prohibits certain ingredients in cosmetics.Some organic products which are designated organic may be intensely modified, sometimes considerably more so than conventional products.

Dermatological research suggests that the bioactive ingredients used in cosmeceuticals have benefits beyond the traditional moisturizer (e.g., Chen et al., 2005; Zettersten, Ghadially, Feingold, Crumrine, & Elias, 1997). However, despite reports of benefits from some cosmeceutical products, there are no formal requirements to prove that these products live up to their claims.Biocompatible and environmentally friendly natural compounds have the potential to provide materials with photoresistant and thermoresistant properties.

Dehydroabietic acid (DAA), a naturally occurring diterpene resin acid, “has lifespan extension effects in Caenorhabditis elegans, prevents lipofuscin accumulation, and prevents collagen secretion in human dermal fibroblasts. We found that these anti-aging effects are primarily mediated by SIRT1 activation.” DAA may activate SIRT1 enzymatic activity, which may have a preventive effect against the aging process.Validated use of these products awaits further assessment.