Natural vs. Chemical

"Natural" is a commonly used word that leads to tremendous misunderstanding. In the general thinking of many consumers, natural is synonymous with healthy and good, while the term “chemical” is associated with toxicity and danger to health. There is even a moral value assigned to these two words.

This quickly becomes a cautionary tale; one in which estheticians and other spa professionals should study so that they can educate their clients. Consider all of the things that are purely 100% natural, defined as “coming from nature”: poison oak; bee stings; rattlesnake bites; malaria, spread by mosquitoes; bubonic plague, spread by fleas; or Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks. Nothing could be more natural. The fact is that the natural world is filled with peril.

The bias against the word chemical is equally misguided, because the entire world depends upon chemical interaction. Chemistry is like physics—there is no denying its presence, and it has no inherent moral value judgment attached. Chemistry is what allows for fertilization and photosynthesis in plants, the metamorphosis of insects, the reproduction of animals, and a million other processes that are defined, correctly in this case, as natural.

Of course, what most people mean when they use the word chemical is a substance synthesized in a laboratory. The real issue—from a health standpoint—is the safety of substances instead of their place of origin.