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No one likes realizing they’ve run out of body wash. That means it’s time to take a trip to the local CVS or other equivalent local drugstore and get a new bottle of wash – what a pain! The sad truth is, most folks simply buy whatever big name-brand body wash is available without giving their selection a second thought. If only people did a little research! Instead of going for the big named brand or store brand, they’d decide to go and buy a more natural body wash instead. Maybe one that contains tea tree, argan
, or evening primrose oil. Some people think their body wash selection doesn’t make any difference, and they couldn’t be more wrong! Big name brands use lower-quality ingredients, and particularly oils, than natural brands do. There’s a big difference between natural and synthetic oils, as you are about to learn. Over the course of this article we will take a deeper look at the similarities and differences between natural and synthetic oils and you’ll understand just how important your body wash selection is.
What is Natural Oil?
Before we can effectively analyze the similarities and differences between natural and synthetic oils, we need to explain what exactly each of these oils are. Let’s start with natural oils. What are they exactly? In general, when we say natural oils we’re usually referring to essential oils, carrier oils, and other more natural oils that aren’t considered either essential or carrier oils. However, most of the time, when we talk about natural oils we mean the essential oils.
In general, essential oils refer to concentrated hydrophobic liquids which consist of volatile aroma compounds from plants. These oils tend to be extracted from different types of plants, which is why they’re usually referred to as the oil of the clove or the oil of the plant. The “essential” aspect of the oil refers to how all essential oils contain the essence of a plant’s fragrance or the characteristic fragrance of the specific plant that it was extracted from. Synthetic oils however, are a whole different ball game.
What is Synthetic Oil?
Synthetic oils are just a tad bit different than more natural, essential oils. A synthetic oil is a lubricant that contains artificially made chemical compounds.
There are two main categories of synthetic oils: Full synthetics and semi-synthetic oil. In the case of full synthetics, they extend from crude oil or byproducts. Chemical processes as opposed to the distillation process are used to make conventional oils. The resulting synthetic oil has more of a molecular composition and tends to have more uniform properties. Like their more natural counterparts, synthetic oils also can be found in a variety of cosmetic and healthcare products.
What’s the Difference between Natural and Synthetic Oils?
While both natural and synthetic oils may have some similarities, the two of them also have a lot of differences too. We will discuss these differences more later on in this article. In brief, however, the differences between natural and synthetic oils can be grouped into the following categories:
- How the ingredients affect your body. I.e., do they provide you with nutrients, cosmetic benefits, and improve your well-being or are they filled with toxins that could be harmful to your body?
Benefits of Natural Oil
The benefits of the more natural oils, specifically the essential oils, best fit into the third category we discussed in the last section. Why? Because their main benefits can affect your body in a number of positive ways. For example, some of the more natural oils may be able to help you in the treatment of acne, stimulation of hair growth, prevention of hair loss, aromatherapy benefits (i.e. an overall sense of feeling better mentally and physically), eczema, and other skin conditions.
Additionally these oils can also provide you with antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and anti-parasitic properties. Also, the more natural oils don’t cling to surfaces nor dissipate naturally and can be used to help you produce homemade non-toxic insect repellents and disinfectants.
Benefits of Synthetic Oil
Like their more natural counterparts, synthetic oils have their own unique benefits, too. At the end of the day though, the major benefit of synthetic oils is the financial one. Synthetic oils tend to not be as expensive as natural oils. Generally, buying synthetic oils or products containing these synthetic oils tend to also be a lot more convenient! All you have to do is walk into RiteAid or CVS and you’ll easily spot a number of different synthetic or synthetic-using products. Whereas a more natural brand of, for example, tea tree oil shampoo, may be a little harder to come by. Synthetic products are just easier to find. This is because synthetic scents are easier to create and use than the ones that actually already exist. Synthetic oils also tend to have a longer shelf life than the more natural oils, and can even duplicate the scent of natural oils. However, don’t let these benefits kid you. Both of these categories of oil, whether they be natural or synthetic, don’t just have their pros – they have some negative aspects to them as well.
Cons of Natural Oil
Like everything in this world, natural oils don’t only have their strengths but their weaknesses as well. First of all, unlike synthetic oil, natural oil can often fall on the expensive side. Additionally, when buying this type of oil, you need to make sure it’s diluted properly because it can cause burns and/or skin irritation. Natural oil can also suffer depending on the conditions or quality of the original crop that the oil was extracted from. A natural oil also has the potential to produce an unpleasant smell, color, texture, or even leave over oily residue when mistreated.
Cons of Synthetic Oil
Like natural oil, the synthetic oils also have their downsides. First of all, synthetic oil do not have any of the great aromatherapy health benefits that their more natural counterparts do. Additionally, the synthetic nature can shine through in the odor, causing an obviously unnatural-smelling finished product.
On a more serious note, labeling laws allow producers of synthetic products to not label all of the ingredients included within their products. Even more importantly, synthetic oils have the potential to be harmful to both your skin and respiratory system. Materials used in synthetic oils may also contain carcinogens and other harmful chemicals which can trigger skin sensitization or an allergic reaction if used over a long period of time. The bottom line is, you are running a risk when using synthetics!
— BeyondPure (@BeyondPure_UK) November 9, 2016
Why is Natural Oil Preferred to Synthetic Oil?
So why would people choose natural oils over synthetic ones? Sure, the possible toxins contained within the more synthetic oils may not be the greatest for your body, but is that really enough of a reason to choose a more expensive and harder to find natural oil? So while the availability and price of synthetic oils make them a little bit more enticing to buy, there are those who feel that these benefits can’t beat what they are able to get from natural oils. As we pointed out earlier on in this article, natural oils, especially the essential oils, have so many health, cosmetic, and aromatherapy benefits that have the ability, if used correctly, to enhance your overall quality of life.
So yes, natural oils may be more expensive and harder to find, but they can still serve as a great investment. The benefits of natural oils may outweigh the cons and will tend to not include the same potentially hazardous ingredients which the synthetic oils can contain.
What are the Top Natural Oils?
If at this point you’re on Team Natural Oils, good for you! It is important to note, however, that even amongst natural oils there are oils that are superior to others. A lot of them happen to be part of one of the main categories of natural oils, the essential oils, which we’ve mentioned in this article. So of the essential oils, here is a list of the top 5 natural oils which I have came up with:
- Lavender Oil: This is one of the top natural oils out there! Used for home care and medicinal purposes, Lavender essential oil is one of the most versatile of the essential oils out there! When used for therapeutic purposes, lavender oil can be topically applied to help alleviate acne, insect bites, minor burns, and skin rashes, and serves as an effective disinfectant for scrapes and cuts. Other practical uses of lavender oil include headache relief, deodorant, and to clean your floors.
- Tea Tree Oil: This very practical essential oil is one of the greatest ones out there! While it can’t be consumed orally, tea tree oil can be used to topically treat a variety of different skin ailments including athlete’s foot, cold sores, nail fungus, insect bites, warts, dermatitis, eczema and many more. A few drops of this oil can also serve as a great flea repellant for your pets.
- Lemon Oil: This oil is especially great for use around the house. Lemon oil can be used as a great furniture polish, a great additional ingredient to any dish detergent, homemade laundry detergent, floor cleaners, and spray cleaners. Lemon oil also has some great therapeutic uses, too. When added to water and gargled, lemon essential oil works as a great mouth rinse. When added to shampoo, it can help alleviate dandruff. When added to a bath or diffuser, it can help you alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety. Finally, when blended with aloe gel, lemon oil can make a great anti-microbial sanitizer.
However, it’s important to note that lemon oil may make your skin more photosensitive. It’s important to make sure not to rub it on before more intense exposure to the sun (e.g. for sunbathing). You should instead wait 12 hours prior to exposing skin daubed with lemon oil to be exposed to sunshine. It’s probably a good idea to not apply it until nighttime when you aren’t planning on going out again.
- Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is great for relieving you of queasiness and stomach cramps. Additionally, if you or your pet find a tick under your skin, dabbing a little bit of undiluted peppermint oil will draw the insect and terminate it. When blended with eucalyptus and pine and added to a carrier oil, peppermint can be applied to your throat or chest to calm down any coughing fits and provide you with relief for bronchial congestion. When added to cold, water peppermint essential oil can also work as a great foot soak and be used to soothe overheated or tired feet. Peppermint oil can also be used to clean your floor or deter spiders and rodents from making their way into the walls of your house.
- Eucalyptus Oil: This essential oil does a great job at alleviating chest congestion both when it is and isn’t blended with other oils. When made with a salve, eucalyptus oil can also ease your asthma attacks when spread on your throat and chest. This same salve may also help you alleviate any pain of fibromyalgia you may have if rubbed into affected areas a few times per day. When added to an area of your skin, affected by shingles, eucalyptus oil can also help alleviate pain brought about by this condition.
In my mind, the pros of the more natural oils outweigh the cons, and I hope you agree! However, even if you feel that they do not, I hope reading this article will at least have given you the info you need to make a more educated decision of the different plusses and minuses of using both these two types of oils. A more educated consumer is a better consumer!