Safety over source
Since there are no official guidelines on what constitutes clean skin care vs natural skin care, all we can do is tell you how WE use those terms and leave it up to you to decide what you think.
Most natural skin care brands are instead choosing source over safety, meaning, that as long as something is in its most natural unadulterated form, it is safer for you to use. That could not be further from the truth as anyone with a peanut or shell fish allergy knows.
Most clean brands are choosing safe ingredients that can be all natural, naturally derived, or nature identical, and well known for being safe. Typical naturally derived or nature identical ingredients are found all over the food, supplement and pharmaceutical industry. Vitamin C can be taken in the form of ascorbic acid which is synthetic, and folate can be taken as the synthetic form folic acid. They are considered safe enough to ingest even though they are technically not natural.
In the same way, there are ingredients that sound like scary chemicals in skin care but are in fact nature identical (aka synthetic). If they are proven to be safe and efficient to use, do not penetrate the skin’s protective layer, and offer a way to enhance the product, we will use them. How else would you find a natural viscosity adjuster? They don’t exist in nature. These types of ingredients not only make products better, they are a lot kinder to the environment since they don’t have to be grown. And they are safe.
We have our own higher standards in pursuit of clean beauty. It has to be safe. It has to have a natural preservative system. It has to look good, smell good and feel good to use. Most importantly it has to work!