What is Natural Skincare?
There are various standards for natural skincare, but no legally binding definition. Weleda quality goes even further, with its strict social, economic and environmental criteria.
Weleda's skincare products are certified natural skincare according to the NATRUE standard. And Weleda takes quality even further, by applying strict social, economic and ecological criteria. Wherever you look behind the scenes at Weleda – be it in our gardens, with our cultivation partners, in our plant processing or production departments – you can see how high our standards are.
It's not just a matter of whether a raw material or a plant has been organically cultivated. It's about responsibility and responsible trade, and strict social, economic and ecological criteria. It’s about sustainability. It’s about healthy soil where plants can thrive. And providing good conditions for those people who work with the soil and harvest the plants that form the basis of Weleda natural skincare.
Weleda’s skincare products are certified natural skincare according to the NATRUE standard.
Our skincare series were composed with all their active ingredients in consideration of the human being as a whole.
The unique quality shared by all of Weleda’s products can be traced back to its anthroposophical view of the human being. Skin type isn’t the only aspect that should be used to determine the most suitable skincare products. Our skincare series were composed with all their active ingredients in consideration of the human being as a whole.
How much nature is contained in a product? Dr. Dagmar Bässler is a biologist and responsible for scientific information on natural skincare at Weleda. “There is no legally binding definition of natural skincare. Not even for naturalness,” she says. To what extent can “naturalness” be expressed in numbers? The biologist believes that it’s time to clarify this issue. With Weleda body oils, such as the Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil, which is composed of jojoba, sesame, wheat germ and pomegranate seed oils, this question can be answered quickly and easily. Its only ingredients are pure plant oils, plant extracts and essential oils for the fragrance. The plant oils used by Weleda are extracted directly from plant seeds or pulp. These treasures are made from the most precious parts a plant has to offer. And one hundred percent natural.
Our goal is it offer products containing as high a proportion of nature as possible.
“If we don’t want to limit natural skincare to body oils, but also develop creams, shower gels, lotions and other products, we have to accept certain compromises with regard to purely natural’,” Bässler explains. “Our goal is to offer products containing as high a proportion of nature as possible. For emulsions and skin cleansers, roughly speaking we need raw materials that do not grow on trees or fields, but are derived from natural raw materials. Take soap, for example. A soap is the salt of a fatty acid,” says Bässler. The fatty acid is obtained from natural oils by means of “soap boiling” – a process in which the oil is heated with sodium hydroxide solution. “A soap is therefore a substance of natural origin, but no longer one hundred percent natural, says Bässler, noting, “It’s hard to clean yourself with a natural plant oil.”
Many products on the market advertising with ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ have no chance of being NATRUE-certified.
Weleda mainly uses plant extracts or plant oils as active ingredients. Are plant extracts always natural? After all, it’s not the plant as a whole which is used- it is broken down during extraction so that its constituents can be transferred to the extract. Bässler explains that it depends on the extracting agent. “Weleda mainly uses water, plant oils and ethanol.” A transformation that does not occur in nature- one might say. But how far should such changes go? “It’s about your own ideas and expectations. And it’s about drawing the line as a manufacturer,” says Bässler. The natural skincare standard NATRUE, according to which Weleda’s more than 100 natural skincare products are certified, has established strict criteria that define natural skincare in an increasingly confusing market. Weleda founded the label together with other companies in order to define natural skincare worldwide. “Many products on the market advertising with ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ have no chance of being NATRUE-certified, because they contain raw materials derived from mineral oil, silicones, genetically modified organisms, ionizing radiation or synthetic fats and fragrances, which the standard prohibits,” says the biologist. She also notes that NATRUE publishes its criteria on its website; more transparency is hardly imaginable.
Under no circumstances do those of us who are NATRUE-certified want to give the impression that a large proportion of the “naturalness” of a product is due to its high water content.
Additionally comes the question of organic or not organic. “Natural” is often equated with “organic” – consumers often confuse these two terms, which are actually quite different. At Weleda, 82 percent of the raw materials that can be organic-certified are sourced from controlled organic cultivation or biodynamic cultivation. However, this does not mean that 82 percent of all products are organic. Bässler explains that in order to understand this, one must go a bit further by giving an example that makes it clear how little meaningful percentages can sometimes be. Most skincare products consist of a high percentage of water. Is water classified as natural or organic-certifiable? Some natural skincare brands defines it that way. NATRUE defines it differently. “Water is water, it is neither classified as a natural substance nor as a modified natural substance. It is also not organic-certifiable” says Bässler. “Under no circumstances do those of us who are NATRUE-certified want to give the impression that a large proportion of the “naturalness” of a product is due to its high water content,” she says.
Weleda aims to unite these two aspects in its natural skincare: fast effects – the creams and lotions should spread easily and be quickly absorbed by the skin – with lasting impact.
Her personal conclusion is that, caution should be exercised with seemingly absolute claims, such as “100 percent natural” and simplistic classifications. Bässler expresses her great respect for all the knowledge that has been gathered for the production of Weleda natural skincare over the course of nearly 100 years. Time is important when Weleda experts are dealing with the characteristics and powers of plants. What they gain in understanding goes hand in hand with new results from research laboratories. When it comes to natural skincare, Weleda attaches particular importance both to that which can be measured, and that which can be experienced.
For Bässler, the field of natural skincare today must combine high effectiveness with the greatest possible naturalness. She often hears that customers want both “100 percent” natural and fast, clear effects. Weleda aims to unite these two aspects in its natural skincare: fast effects – the creams and lotions should spread easily and be quickly absorbed by the skin – with lasting effects. Ultimately, people should feel comfortable in their skin, regardless of their age. “It’s worth taking the step and trusting in nature,” says Dagmar Bässler. Or better said, trusting what a company has developed “in harmony with people and nature”. For her, this is the best answer: “There’s no better way to sum up what’s important to us.”
How much nature is in a product? With Weleda body oils this question can be answered quickly and easily. They are one hundred percent natural.
NATRUE is an international non-profit organisation that focuses on natural and organic skincare. In order to be NATRUE-certified, a product may contain only three categories of raw materials: natural substances, derived natural raw materials (modified natural substances) and nature-identical raw materials. There are three levels of certification: Natural Skincare, Natural Skincare with organic portion, and Organic Skincare. All NATRUE-certified products intentionally avoid the use of synthetic fragrances, silicones, paraffins, microplastics, mineral oil and synthetic fats. To ensure this, inspections are carried out by independent external certification bodies.
It’s about your own ideas and expectations. And it’s about drawing the line as a manufacturer.
The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) is a non-profit association, which aims to contribute to a world in which all people and biodiversity thrive. It works to regenerate nature and secure a better future for people through ethical sourcing of Ingredients from biodiversity. The UEBT standard promotes sustainable local development and the protection and mindful use of biodiversity. As part of the certification process, UEBT audits the supply chains for all natural raw materials used in our natural skincare products. With the UEBT seal we guarantee that we preserve and sustainably use biodiversity in the best possible way during plant cultivation, harvesting and further processing. We are also committed to treating all of our cultivation partners fairly and equitably, upholding human and labour rights, and supporting community development.
Dr. Dagmar Bässler
Dr. Dagmar Bässler holds a doctorate in biology and has been responsible for scientific support of Weleda cosmetic products for many years as its Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Natural Cosmetics.