As a continuance of the previous article to help teach consumers about the pitfalls of Cosmetic products, let’s talk about ingredients.
Cosmetic ingredients are scary. The names are long and unpronounceable and it is hard to know which are naturally occurring molecules, and which are manmade. Not everything manmade is “bad” for us; think of Asprin, which is a very old product, and just one of those under your tongue at the right time can save your life if you’re having a heart attack. In the same breath, not everything naturally occurring is good for us; think snake venom and oleander.
Common Cosmetic Ingredients and what they do:
Alcohol: the most common preservative, but it dried out skin. Read the labels of your products. Your toner will feel ‘cooling and refreshing’ due to the evaporating feel of alcohol but will dehydrate your skin. A moisturizer containing alcohol is an oxymoron – it is like driving your car with the parking brake on, with the same product drying out your skin while promising to moisturize it. None of our skincare products should contain any alcohol.
Parfum / Perfume vs Essential Oils: this is the same thing. Parfum is a French name for a mixture of essential oils to create a distinctive pleasing smell. Essential oils are extracts. Concentrated oils from plants – roses, lavender, thyme, citrus – the list is unending. Our skin has an oily outer layer (oil floats on water) that helps keep our skin hydrated – helps keep the water in. Essential oils are oil-based, obviously, and will be absorbed through the oily layer of our skin rapidly and very easily. Hence, the industry of using essential oils to produce a certain effect on the human body – they are very readily absorbed. The problem is that most of these plant extracts will affect and concentrate in the skin’s melanocytes. When UV light (tanning, sunlight) is added to the mixture, the melanocytes overproduce melanin with “sun spots” or hyperpigmentation as the result. The irony here is that most Sunscreens and SPF products are made to smell like heaven (or coconuts on a beach), meaning they are heavily perfumed and then we go lie in the sun with it and wonder how we get age spots when we are using a sunscreen. Again, an oxymoron in the construction of the product – read the labels and use your nose – the more perfumed a skincare product is, the more you want to avoid it. There are sunscreen products available that are scent –free, these are the ones you want to buy.
SPF and sunscreen: The definition of ‘sunscreen’ is that it contains a metal component. Do not be alarmed – this is either Titanium or Zinc as very large molecules that sit on the surface of the skin (it is not absorbed) and they act like tiny mirrors that reflect UV rays away from the skin. If the product does contain Ti (Titanium or ZN (Zinc), then it is not a sunscreen and it cannot legally have the name – it is just an ‘SPF’. Sun Protection Factor is very much a manmade product and buyer beware: SPF breaks down collagen in the skin; this means sagging, hanging lax skin. Whether the SPD is a level 15 or a level 30 or a level 60, they are all destroyed after 2 hours of UV exposure. That means the higher SPF number does not give you longer UV protection, it gives you more collagen damage. They all need to be re-applied after 2hr in the sun, so keep your SPF factor at maximum 30. Then my personal pet peeve: “Sunscreen for babies.” Read the labels, there is usually no Ti or NZ, so it is not a sunscreen, it is an SPF. Then we want to protect our tiny delicate children’s skin (like the good parents we are) and we can buy SPF 40, 45, 60 and we all think a higher SPF is better! Lastly, all these products smell divine. What is upsetting to me about Children’s Sun Protective products is that manufacturers use our deepest instincts as parents and use it against us – they give us higher and higher SPF levels (more must be better?), add perfume (increase the pigmentation problems for life) and leave out the biggest helpful component; metal reflectors. When manufacturers add perfume to sun protective products, they are either just giving in to consumer whim – it should smell good or else the consumer will not buy it and us as consumers are brainwashed to want our coconut smelling suntan lotions. The other option is that the manufacturer truly does not understand skin physiology and the harm caused by adding perfume to these products. Both of these reasons are unacceptable. As consumers, we need to avoid nice-smelling ‘sunscreen’ because we know better and push from our side that these companies leave out perfumes and are honest about their labelling; do not call it ‘sunscreen’ when it is just SPF. Not only that, but quit with the crazy high SPF numbers! We as consumers need to be educated to know how to read the labels and understand what the contents mean.
As always, we would be more than happy to help advise you re all your Beauty and Skincare concerns. Contact us at Hummingbird MediSpa 403 529 2006 to help reveal your Inner Beauty.