Plant-based or chemical-based skincare: Which is better for acne-prone skin?


Caring for acne-prone skin can feel like a full-time job. As if finding the right products was not hard enough, you must also navigate questions around plant-based and chemical-based skincare. Are plant products safer? Are chemical formulations more effective? Let’s dive in to figure out the answers once and for all!



Get the lingo right

Plant-based or chemical-based? Natural or synthetic? The first step to ending the plant-versus-chemical debate calls for decoding the jargon. Here are the basics:

  • Plant-based skincare: Plant-based products are made with ingredients that are sourced from nature. The ingredients come from plants or substances derived from plants.
  • While that’s clear enough, words like ‘natural skincare’ tend to muddy the waters. ‘Natural’ does not necessarily mean ‘chemical-free’. Even an essential oil derived from a plant source is a chemical. In effect, no skincare product is free of chemicals.

    What about the term ‘organic’? Technically speaking, ‘organic’ ingredients are those that have been farmed without the use of pesticides and other artificial chemicals. So, organic skincare does not imply that the products contain no preservatives.


  • Chemical-based skincare: When people talk about ‘chemical-based
    skincare’, they are thinking of ‘synthetic’ ingredients and formulas. 
  • A ‘synthetic ingredient’ has been molecularly replicated in a laboratory. Consider ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid. The naturally occurring versions of these substances cannot be used topically. So, these compounds are specially synthesised in the lab for use in skincare formulas.

    (Read up on natural remedies to keep pimples away.)



    Plant-based vs lab-made ingredients: Myths and facts

    Before you get embroiled in debates about natural and synthetic ingredients, let’s bust some myths and unpack the facts about skincare!

    • Myth 1: Synthetic formulations are harsher.

    Fact: Lab-made ingredients are not inherently harmful. Even natural acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil can irritate the skin. Skincare products that are formulated in the laboratory and put through trials and testing are often gentle on acne-prone complexions.


    • Myth 2: Natural ingredients are more ethical.

    Fact: Ingredients sourced from plants do not automatically become organic, eco-friendly, or cruelty-free. Synthetic ingredients may even be more sustainable in some cases. For example, a ‘natural’ skincare line may not be vegan. But what if you could synthesise non-vegan elements in a laboratory setting? The resulting lab-made formulas could qualify for a ‘vegan’ tag.


    • Myth 3: Plant-based products are less effective.

    Fact: Plant-based ingredients can be just as powerful as those that come out of a lab. All that matters is that the skincare products have been formulated properly. Today, research into plant sources has become very high-tech, and these ingredients can keep up with their lab-grown counterparts.




    • Myth 4: Plant-based and synthetic skincare cannot be mixed.

    Fact: There is no such rule. If you want to combine plant-based and synthetic-based products, go ahead and do so. Just ensure that the products suit your skin type and complement each other. The only reason to discontinue a product is if it irritates the skin and causes you to break out.


    Selecting your skincare products

    1. Identify your skin type: Although people with oily skin are the most acne-prone, other skin types can also break out from time to time. Do you have oily, normal, combination, or dry skin? Knowing where you stand on the spectrum is the first step to selecting the right skincare products.
    2. Pick your skin concerns: Do you want help with recurring acne? Are pesky blackheads and whiteheads the problem? Maybe you are dealing with acne-related pigmentation and scarring. Or maybe you just have uber-sensitive skin. Zero in on your skin woes before you go shopping.
    3. Check the ingredients: Product packages usually list ingredients based on their share in the composition. Ingredients with the highest percentages appear at the top of the list. Those with lower percentages show up lower down. Go through the list to check whether plant-based or synthetic ingredients are more prominent.



    Enjoy the best of both worlds with Clearica


    Why choose at all? If it were up to us, you would never have to pick between plant-based and synthetic-based skincare. Clearica combines the best of plant-based ingredients and lab-based formulations.


    We use the unique, patent-pending Pentaphyto process to extract active ingredients from plants in their purest and healthiest form. Our Anti-Acne Cleanser and Anti-Acne Cream contain high-performance plant-based ingredients that are partially upcycled and responsibly sourced:

    • Green tea reduces lesions and redness.
    • Eucalyptus leaves fight acne-causing bacteria.
    • Guava leaves stimulate collagen production.
    • Phragmites kharka control inflammation.

    Backed by the power of plant science, Clearica products are non-toxic, free of parabens and phthalates, and gentle enough for all skin types. We do the work so that you never have to choose between natural ingredients and the latest in skincare tech. 





    Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.