Wellness: Is Natural Skincare Actually Better?


Photo: The Locals

Here Fabricio Ormonde, New York Licensed Medical Aesthetician and Holistic Health Counselor, busts common myths about beauty products and helps us understand the difference between organic skincare and products that may not have the “natural” label but get the job done.

Natural skincare has become a huge industry. But as we know with food, a label that says “natural” doesn’t always stand for what we expect it to be. Can you speak to that? 

“Organic” and “natural” have become typical terms you find on everything from moisturizers to mascaras. You might be surprised to find out that there are no industry standards or regulations for these terms, and there are plenty of natural and organic ingredients that are not good for your skin. I understand how appealing natural and organic ingredients sound, but the reality is that these terms are practically meaningless on a cosmetic label.
The terms organic and all-natural are largely responsible for fueling the misconception that all synthetic ingredients are automatically bad and that all organic or natural ingredients are automatically good. Making you afraid of something, whether it is a single ingredient or an entire category of ingredients, is a large part of how natural and organic products are marketed.”

As a holistic aesthetician, what’s your take on natural versus beauty products with chemicals?

“I think there is no harm done using products with chemicals that are safe to use. Some people like supporting organic products or using natural products because they may be free of preservatives and use simpler ingredients. I am not against natural products themselves, but rather against the assumption that just because a product is natural or organic, it is somehow better. There is no guarantee that using natural products will improve your skin more than products with chemicals. Think about it: both tobacco and marijuana are natural, but it doesn’t mean everyone should use it. The point is, it’s a marketing term and it doesn’t mean anything.”

So how do we determine what’s good for our skin? 

“There is no published research anywhere proving that organic ingredients are better than non-organic or synthetic ingredients. There are good and bad ingredients in each category. Many organic and natural products include synthetic ingredients, and many are exactly the kinds of ingredients they proclaim they don’t include. An organic irritant is still an irritant to the skin.”

Natalie Portman beauty


Are there any benefits of going organic when it comes to skincare?

“Some organic skincare companies claim that companies that do not use organically grown plants contain pesticides. The fact is after a plant is harvested and processed to be included in a cosmetic product, no pesticides remain—not even a trace. The sterilization and manufacturing processes clean all that stuff away, including any pesticides.


What the Organic Label Means (source)

There are four levels of certification from the USDA.

100% Organic: The product contains only organically produced ingredients and is permitted to display the seal.

Organic: The product contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients and is permitted to display the seal.

Made With Organic Ingredients: The product contains at least 70% organic ingredients but is not permitted to display the seal.

Less than 70% Organic Ingredients: Products are not permitted to use the term “organic” anywhere on the packaging (and cannot display the seal) but are allowed to identify organically produced items in the ingredient list.


Bottom line is this: be smart when buying your skincare. If you’re going for natural and organic, go for products with stripped down ingredients that you can read, such as organic oils. If your skin needs more support, you can try stronger skincare, just make sure you consult an aesthetician to find the best products for you.


Here is our tested beauty edit — a combination of super stripped-down, organic products as well as some more complex skincare choices with commentary from our expert, Fabricio Ormonde.

HydroPeptide Exfoliating Cleanser is an excellent combination of a physical and chemical exfoliation.  The Glycolic acid along with jojoba beads polishes the skin giving an instant glow.  It also has 7 different peptides that rejuvenate and energize the skin.  For more sensitive skin types use the cleanser 2-3 times a week.

This all natural blemish serum is a miracle worker.  It reduces breakouts, unclogs pores and evens out skin tone with fruit acids and natural salicylic acid. Organic aloe vera, green and white tea hydrates and reduces inflammation.

In my practice, IS Clinical Active Serum is the #1 serum choice among celebrities. It combines glycolic acid, salicylic acid and arbutin making it a 3-in-1 product.  It’s anti-aging, anti-acneic and brightening.  You will be able to see results within a couple of days.  It will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, reduce pore size and increase collagen synthesis.

Argan oil is great to hydrate and soften skin. With it’s high vitamin E and fatty acid content, argan oil is the ideal product to give skin a natural boost. It absorbs easily and it is non-greasy and non-irritating, which makes it a great natural moisturizer.

I always tell my clients that you should be wearing sunscreen every day! Sun is the number one factor that causes skin aging, so it’s vital for keeping skin healthy and young. Elta MD sunscreen is optimal for more oily/ acne prone skin, as it helps calm and protect sensitive skin types. It contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid and lactic acid, ingredients that promote healthy glow. Bonus: it’s lightweight and silky, and may be worn with makeup or alone.

Hyaluronic acid and mushroom complex in this moisturizer hydrate and plump the skin. The anti-redness complex reduces redness while calming inflammation. It is also rich in antioxidants with Vitamins A, C and E. Great for all skin types.

Other favorite products:

We can’t live without this face oil. The blend contains passionfruit oil to heal breakouts, watermelon seed oil to detoxify, Acai, Blackberry, Red Raspberry and Cranberry Seed Oils protect skin from free radicals, and emollient Sacha Inchi Oil to deliver a potent dose of Vitamin E. It’s handcrafted in small batches in Boston.

Even though using oil to balance skin oil may seem counter-intuitive, it actually works miracles! Oils actually cleans oil. When you massage your skin with oil in the evening, it dissolves the oil that’s embedded in your face from a day out.

When we need a little extra exfoliation, this is our scrub of choice. It contains seaweed and organic red tea extracts. We use it about twice a month and it leaves our skin feeling illuminated and polished.

This gel-based makeup remover is light and non-irritating. I love it!

Every product in this line has no more than 5 ingredients, all of which could literally be eaten! Bonus: S.W. Basics is sustainable and supports small farms.