We all know the adverts that tell us they will give us flawless glowing skin and claim to offer us the next great miracle. The countless anti-aging creams that claim to restore that now lost youthful glow to women's faces. Do we really believe these claims? And more importantly, should we?
Natural skincare is now a highly publicized and sought after commodity. From high priced brands to low cost own brand products, all are promising us the most pure, natural, clean product. Many do contain natural ingredients like Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter and natural oils that do themselves benefit the skin greatly. New York City based dermatologist Fredric Brandt, M.D., says "[What is] just as important as what the natural formulas contain is what they leave out. Ideally, it's a long list of potential irritants, including synthetic fragrance compounds and dyes that can aggravate sensitive skin." However, don't be too gullible. While some brands are healthier than most forms of skin care many brands claim their products are natural and aren't. It is important to remember that the "all-natural" label on skincare brands is not always accurate. Their version of what may be natural is not always in accordance with what the public deems as natural, so beware of labels that claim to be 'Shea Butter', 'all-natural' or 'pure'.
Anti-aging moisturizers have also joined the list of doubtful beauty products. Consumers are promised youthful, rejuvenated skin with a dramatic difference in fine lines and wrinkles. "When [skincare] is loaded with proven wrinkle-reducing ingredients like retinol and peptides, it can be effective," says Patricia Farris, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. However, Farris adds that in order to see difference in one's appearance, the concentration of these chemicals must be very high, and most drug store brand moisturizers do not succeed in the drastic differences shown in before and after pictures on the adverts.
The beauty industry is creating healthier and more effective skincare for customers, but consumers must be aware of ingredients and makeup myths. There are in fact much better alternatives to certain kinds of skincare and consumers must be readily equipped with such knowledge.
My advice is to look at the labels on your skincare products; do you know what's in there? If you don't it might be time to start making your own of looking for a true natural alternative.
Avoid these toxins:
The four paraben sisters - Methyl, Ethyl, Butyl, and Propyl. Used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of a product. These ingredients contain highly effective anti-microbial properties. For this reason, they are widely used in the beauty industry. Unfortunately, they are also toxic. Not much effort is required to uncover the mountains of information regarding the toxicity of these synthetic preservatives. Do not use any product that contains any ingredient ending with the word "paraben."
2. Tetrasodium EDTA:
A preservative made from the known carcinogen - formaldehyde and sodium cyanide. Also used as a 'penetration enhancer' in the beauty industry. This means it actually breaks down the skin's protective barrier, going right into your bloodstream. How lovely.
3. Urea (Diazolidinyl and Imidazolidinyl):
Another synthetic preservative. As the ingredient starts to break down sitting on the shelf, it releases formaldehyde. Research has shown the ingredient to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis. Growing evidence of links to other diseases.
4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS):
Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a great detergent. It really is. In fact it is so good that it is used in laundry detergent, dishwasher powder, pipe cleaners, car wash liquid, and many other commercial cleansing products. We wonder though, why anyone would use it to clean their skin? It causes eye irritations, skin rashes, hair loss, and allergic reactions, among many other issues. In research studies, SLS has been used to determine if someone has skin allergies by rubbing it on the skin and waiting for a reaction. Avoid this ingredient if you want healthy, rash free skin. Also beware that some companies try to convince consumers that their SLS is 'coconut derived' and somehow safe. Not true. It is used for one reason, it is very inexpensive. We don't use it because we don't need it, and our customers are worth the extra cost and effort in formulating great products without it.
5. Fragrance (Parfum):
Our current favorite toxin. We enjoy reading about this 'loophole' of a word. You see, legally you can create the most toxic sludge on the planet, label it 'fragrance' and that is it for labeling requirements. One word covers it all. Ever come across a cologne or perfume and suddenly start sneezing, or worse your skin develops a rash? It's because in that scent, there is a toxin that you are reacting to at that moment. Who knows what it is. So when you see the word 'Parfum' on the label, avoid the product.
Petrolatum is a mineral oil based jelly. Use often leads to dryness and chapping of skin. This ingredient causes the very problem it claims to treat. Another ingredient used because it is cheap.
7. Propylene Glycol:
A tricky one here. Can actually be made from vegetable glycerine and grain alcohol, but more often than not is a synthetic petrochemical mix. This is used as a penetration enhancer, which accelerates penetration and leads the product directly into your bloodstream. Avoid.
8. Stearalkonium Chloride:
A chemical often used in hair conditioners and creams. Stearakonium Chloride was originally developed by the chemical industry as a fabric softener. It can cause rash and allergic reactions.
The truth about colorants. There are very few natural colorants that are available for use in beauty products. And those that are available are not the bright, vibrant colours you see on the shelf. They tend to be earthy type colours of brown and green shades. So, where do the pretty colours come from? They are synthetic, often petrochemical toxins. Look for FD&C or D&C followed by a number. For example - FD&C Blue No. 8. Avoid any product with these toxins.
10. Triethanolamine (TEA):
A long list of reactions can occur from exposure to this chemical. Often used to balance out the pH of a product, sort of a short cut ingredient. Look for it mainly in skin cleansers.
A chemical preservative. We were actually told by a factory that Phenoxyethanol has been used for decades and is a safe ingredient. When we replied that the tobacco industry used the exact same arguement in favor of cigarettes, the conversation ended abruptly. This is a widely used preservative in the beauty industry. Also known under the brand names; Dowanol, Arosol, Emery 6705, Phenoxetol, Rose ether, Phenoxyethanol alcohol, and Glycol Monophenyl Ether. It is toxic. But don't take our word for it. The FDA itself has warned against the ingredient as being potentially harmful to infants. Here is a quote directly from the FDA website: "Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants." Avoid. Enough said.
12. Petrochemical Ingredients:
We have singled out some of the worst offenders, but clearly all petrochemicals should be avoided. Petrochemical distillates are banned in Europe. They are cheap to make and use and are often irritating to the skin and in some cases toxic.
13. Phthalates (Diethyl Phthalate):
Commonly found in fragrance, nail polish, deodorant, and body lotions. Industrial chemical. Research has linked to potential birth defects in male reproductive system. This chemical is used inside and outside of the beauty industry. This chemical has been found in urine samples and remains in the bloodstream and tissue. Avoid whenever possible.