If you've started to make changes to your buying habits by choosing natural personal care products, chances are you've come across terms you're not familiar with, such as "naturally sourced" and "naturally derived." While they sound like a good thing, they might leave you wondering—what does naturally sourced mean versus naturally derived? Understanding how Tom's of Maine defines these terms and how their ingredients are processed can help you feel confident in your buying decisions.
What Does Naturally Sourced Mean?
When you hear the words "naturally sourced" used to describe ingredients in a tube of toothpaste or bottle of soap, it typically means that the particular ingredient it refers to hasn't changed much from how it occurs in the identified source material.
One example is naturally sourced peppermint oil. The oil is extracted from the peppermint plant's leaves and is concentrated for use in products, but otherwise, it remains unchanged from how it is found naturally in the plant.
Fruit juice is another example of a naturally sourced ingredient that is used in a variety of personal care products for flavor, such as toothpaste. The juice comes directly from its respective fruit. After the fruit is harvested and cleaned, it is squeezed to obtain the fruit juice, which is then concentrated and filtered.
When an ingredient is listed as being naturally sourced, you can feel assured knowing that the ingredient occurs in the natural world and has undergone minimal processing. This helps you know exactly what's in the product you're using.
Naturally Sourced vs. Naturally Derived
You might also hear the words "naturally derived" to describe ingredients. While it sounds similar to naturally sourced, there is a distinction between them. Both types of ingredients originate from a naturally occurring source, but while an ingredient that is naturally sourced is nearly identical to its natural state, naturally derived ingredients have been modified from their original state and gone through additional processing.
A great example of a naturally derived ingredient is silica. As the Encyclopedia Britannica explains, silica is the second-most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust. To be used in personal care products, such as toothpaste, silica must first undergo processing. Whether the silica comes from naturally occurring sand or obsidian (which are the most common forms), it is heated and dissolved in water to create liquid sodium silicate. The liquid is combined with acid and precipitated, which turns it into a white powder. The finished result is a fine sand or small granule called hydrated silica, which can be used in toothpaste.
Charcoal powder is another example of a naturally derived ingredient. The ingredient comes from an organic material, such as wood, peat, bamboo, or coconut husk. The naturally occurring substance is burned then steam activated, purified, and milled to create the final result. The powder can be used as an ingredient in products such as charcoal toothpaste.
Benefits of Natural Personal Care Products
Choosing products made with naturally sourced or naturally derived ingredients has multiple benefits for both yourself and the environment. Whether you just want to feel comfortable with what's in a product or you're looking to avoid certain ingredients, selecting personal care products made with naturally sourced or naturally derived ingredients can give you peace of mind in your selection.
When you're seeking out natural products for personal care, it's not just the ingredients themselves that are important but also how they are made. In addition to choosing naturally derived and naturally sourced ingredients, you should also take a look at how companies process those ingredients. When it is done in a way that supports environmental health, you'll know you're making a purchase with the planet in mind.
Want to learn more about what goes into natural products? Visit the Ingredients from Nature board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest to learn more about the ingredients in natural personal care products.
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Why It's Good
It can feel daunting to make the switch to natural products, but once you learn more about reading labels and what naturally sourced ingredients are, you'll feel more confident in your shopping choices.