Are natural ingredients best?
Learning more about what is in your skin care products can help minimise the number of unwanted additives and preservatives you use.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to skincare ingredients.
As you can imagine, as a skincare professional, I’m very fussy about what I put on my skin, especially in the case of ‘leave on’ products, such as toners, serums, moisturisers and sun blocks.
Many substances at high concentrations can cause irritation if left on the skin for a prolonged period of time. This is further emphasised when there is a reduction in skin barrier function, such as if you have dry skin or dermatitis/eczema conditions.
But let’s face it; lists of ingredients on skincare products are bewildering! Even the natural and harmless inclusions can sound like something produced in a laboratory, so I’m here to help you understand what to try to avoid when choosing a skincare product that you are going to put onto your skin.
Firstly, is natural always best? This depends on a number of factors; Is the ingredient sustainable? What is the difference between the natural and synthetic ingredient? Do they have the same efficacy? Are they safe?
Palm oil is a very good example of an ingredient which is not sustainable. There are palm oil plantations which are producing sustainable oil and this is something we should be mindful of as consumers. At AWE Cosmeceuticals we aim to use alternatives to palm oil but if we do need to use palm oil, we will always source a sustainable option.
Some substances, such as synthetic Vitamin E (dl alpha-tocopherol) do not have the same antioxidant ability as the natural form (d alpha tocopherol), additionally they are cheaper for manufacturer’s to use and yet fool the consumer into believing they are using an effective form of Vitamin E.
Synthetic ingredients, such as peptides can be very useful as they are often designed to mimic physiological functions in the body. The specific name for these types of peptides is bio mimetic.
There are areas where a synthetic substance is desirable to be used due to its purity, for example there is little or no risk of contamination, as in naturally sourced substances. In fact most life saving drugs are synthetic. Additionally some very toxic substances are natural and are not considered safe, for example arsenic.
One of the main areas of unwanted ingredients in cosmetics is preservatives. These ingredients are required to ensure the product has a stable shelf life and does not allow the growth of yeast, moulds and bacteria in a formula.
A couple of preservatives we will never use are parabens and formaldehyde releasers. AWE Cosmeceuticals use a number of preservatives which have been derived from plants such as basil and coconut oil. We aim to use Ecocert preservatives in most of our formulations and are always on the look out for new natural preservative formulations. Fortunately due to the demand for more natural preservatives there have been many new innovations from personal care companies and the choice is improving.
We love natural ingredients here at AWE Cosmeceuticals, but thought it was also good to let you know that not all synthetic ingredients are necessarily bad, and many have extremely important functions. Learning more about what is in your skin care products can help minimise the number of unwanted additives and preservatives you use.
Keep a lookout for future posts on ingredients to avoid in skincare products.
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