One Doctor's Opinion: Skincare Showdown: Organic vs. Synthetic—Which Wins

In Skincare Advice & Articles by Dr Bollmann's 0 comments

The debate between organic and synthetic skincare is complex, with both types offering potential advantages and disadvantages.

In my former life as chief of obstetrics and gynecology at the US Public Health Service hospital in Oklahoma, I was responsible for many Native American tribes, being the only OB/GYN specialist for 200 miles.

One thing I learned was if they had pneumonia, they would see their medicine man for treatment, but then come to the hospital for penicillin.

In my opinion, in making an informed decision all available information should be evaluated before the decision is made.

Consequently, when I started on my journey to develop a skincare line, I started with natural ingredients. It did not take me long to realize that most of them were not effective, so I reverted back to my learning from the Native Americans - use the best treatment available for the problem.

When I compared natural ingredients to products with synthetic ingredients, there was no comparison as to efficacy. For me, the answer was obvious, and this resulted in my developing BARE Skin Care, using chiral, cosmeceutical ingredients for the best effect. This is what I was aiming for. And in the 25 years since I developed BARE SkinCare, we have had many improvements in eliminating the dangerous ingredients in synthetic products, making them even more effective and safer.

According to, both organic and synthetic ingredients can be beneficial for skincare formulas. However, synthetic skincare products can contain artificial fragrances, dyes, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, which can be harmful to human health.

Here's a breakdown of how they compare:


  • Organic:
    • Can contain potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds derived from plants.
    • May be better suited for sensitive skin due to fewer potential irritants.
    • Effectiveness sometimes depends on the quality of ingredients, the specific formulation, and your individual skin needs.
  • Synthetic:
    • Often created with standardized concentrations of active ingredients for more predictable results.
    • Can offer highly effective solutions for specific skin concerns (like retinol for acne or hyaluronic acid for hydration).
    • May have longer shelf-lives and greater stability due to laboratory formulation.


  • Organic:
    • Generally perceived as safer due to the absence of harsh chemicals.
    • May have a lower risk of allergies or irritation for some people.
    • "Organic" certification standards vary, so it's important to look for reputable brands.
    • Lack of preservatives can sometimes lead to bacterial contamination.
  • Synthetic:
    • Well-regulated ingredients generally undergo extensive safety testing.
    • Can include potential irritants, allergens, or harsh chemicals (e.g., some parabens, sulfates, fragrances).
    • Long-term effects of some newer synthetic ingredients might not be fully understood.

Other factors to consider:

  • Environmental Impact: Organic skincare often has a smaller environmental footprint due to its natural ingredients and sustainable production methods.
  • Personal Preference: Many people have strong preferences for either natural or synthetic skincare based on their values and experiences.
  • Price: Organic products can be more expensive than some synthetic counterparts.

It's NOT about Organic vs. Synthetic

The most important thing is not whether a product is organic or synthetic, but rather the overall quality of its ingredients and formulation. Here's what to do:

  1. Focus on ingredients: Read ingredient lists carefully, regardless of whether a product is labeled organic or synthetic. Look for beneficial ingredients and avoid those known to be harsh or irritating.
  2. Research brands: Choose companies with a focus on transparency, safety, and quality, whether they focus on organic or synthetic ingredients.
  3. Patch test: Always patch test new products on a small area of skin before full use, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Bottom Line: The best skincare products are those that work for your individual skin type and needs. There are excellent options in both the organic and synthetic categories.

Specific examples of effective ingredients in either category:

Here's a breakdown of some effective ingredients found in both organic and synthetic skincare:

Organic Ingredients

  • Aloe Vera: Soothing, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory. Great for calming sunburns, irritation, and general skin hydration.
  • Green Tea Extract: Rich in antioxidants that protect against free radical damage and can help reduce inflammation.
  • Rosehip Oil: Contains high levels of Vitamin A and fatty acids, promoting cell regeneration and addressing signs of aging or discoloration.
  • Chamomile Extract: Calming and anti-inflammatory, beneficial for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
  • Shea Butter: Extremely moisturizing and nourishing, helps with dryness, flakiness, and can improve skin barrier function.

Synthetic Ingredients

  • Hyaluronic Acid: A powerful humectant that draws and retains moisture in the skin, resulting in plumpness and hydration.
  • Retinoids (Retinol, Retinaldehyde): Derivatives of vitamin A that promote cell turnover, reduce wrinkles, address acne, and brighten skin tone.
  • Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid): A potent antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals, boosts collagen production, and brightens complexion.
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Multi-tasking ingredient that reduces inflammation, minimizes pores, regulates oil production, and improves hyperpigmentation.
  • Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid (AHAs): Exfoliate the skin's surface, improving texture, brightness, and helping other products penetrate better.

Important Notes:

  • "Natural" doesn't always mean safe. Some natural ingredients can still be irritating or allergenic for certain people (think essential oils).
  • Concentration matters. The effectiveness of an ingredient, natural or synthetic, depends on its concentration and the overall formulation of the product.
  • Balance is key. Many great skincare products combine both natural and synthetic ingredients for optimal results.

Don't settle for skincare that underwhelms—unlock your best skin yet with BARE SkinCare. Experience the difference today and embark on a journey to radiant, youthful-looking skin that lasts a lifetime.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published