In terms of MONAT products “naturally-based” means we strive to use ingredients that are “close to the source”. This means that we use high-quality botanical extracts, essential oils and vitamins in pleasing and effective formulations. That means we blend natural ingredients with surfactants (for cleansing products), emulsifiers (for creams and lotions) and preservatives (for a product that is free of contaminants and safe to use).

Is MONAT “all natural”? No. And it would serve you best not to use this term.

Let’s talk for a moment about the difference between “all natural” and “naturally-based”.

To fall into the all-natural category would mean that we would be either using natural preservatives whose safety has not been substantiated or the complete lack of preservatives all together. The absence of preservatives would also mean that our products would have a very limited shelf-life and would need to be refrigerated. That alone, would make it difficult for MONAT to exist. Items would have to been expressed shipped cold-packed and that would make the products quite cost prohibitive.

Let’s review the terms introduced in the beginning: surfactant, emulsifiers and preservatives.

Surfactants

One of the functions of a surfactant is to cleanse. A surfactant is any ingredient which reduces the surface tension between water and another liquid or between a liquid and a solid. There are good surfactants and bad surfactants. SLS has caused quite a controversy in recent years as a bad surfactant and linked to possible disease. You will never see SLS in any of MONAT’s products.

To cleanse, a surfactant interposes itself between dirt and the object being cleansed, thus separating the two and allowing for easy rinsing. It’s what makes your cleansers, body washes and bubble baths foam and bubble. Some surfactants are also known as detergents (remember “detergent” is not a dirty word!) There are mild cleansers and harsh cleansers. At MONAT, we use the gentlest and safest surfactant blends possible to effectively cleanse the skin, yet keep it moisturized and comfortable. Without surfactants, our products wouldn’t bubble and face it, most of us associate “foam” with “clean”.

Emulsifiers

Simply put, an emulsifier is what makes a cream a cream. It’s what “marries” oil and water. An emulsion is created when fine droplets of a liquid are dispersed in a second liquid; both liquids do not mix on their own and must be held together using an emulsifier. A great example of an emulsion is mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a mixture two liquids that normally can’t be combined. Oil and water is the classic example, but for mayo you are trying to “marry” lemon juice and oil. Emulsifying is done by slowly adding one ingredient to another while simultaneously mixing rapidly. This disperses and suspends tiny droplets of one liquid through another. However, the two liquids would quickly separate again if an emulsifier were not added. Emulsifiers are liaisons between the two liquids and serve to stabilize the mixture. In mayonnaise, the emulsifier is egg yolk, which naturally contains lecithin, a fat emulsifier.

Preservatives

Preservatives are a good thing, you want them to be in your beauty care products.

Preservatives are added to skin, hair and body care products to protect the product and the consumer from the many types of mold, bacteria, yeast and fungus that can grow in a product. These unwelcomed “critters” can compromise the integrity of a product (make it separate, make is smell bad) and can in some cases can hurt you (from skin rashes all the way to blindness).

Most companies use a blend of preservatives to protect against a wide range of contaminants (this is because some preservatives only protect against bacteria, some only get mold and fungus. These blends of preservatives provide us with broad spectrum protection.

It is fairly safe to say that the total preservative blend used in our products is less than 1% of the total formulation, are a natural alternative to synthetic, and are non-toxic to the consumer.

Is naturally based better? Yes! Naturally-based means you get the best of both worlds: a product with ingredients that are as close to the source as possible blended in effective and safe formulations. We will continue to use only high quality botanicals, essential oils and vitamins in MONAT formulations so that you get the most benefit of what the earth has to offer.

** Article originally posted on Monat.com