Controversial Ingredients in Skincare
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
9 July 2020 - Parabens, sulphates, mineral oils and silicone, the ingredients that are causing a debate in the beauty and cosmetic industry and for good reason. Let?s look into these contentious and conscious substances and maybe you can decide what?s best for you rather than having to make an uninformed decision. Parabens Parabens are preservatives useful in preservation, longevity of the product and to prevent bacteria and fungi from developing in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Now, if these chemical preservatives are not added, the product would not last at all, hence, shorter shelf life, storage and handling instructions are all affected.
Preservatives are also made as safe and trusty as possible because why else would people have been able to use them for so long?
However, they contain components that, when mixed with others, may affect the hormonal balance and sensitivity but the studies have been widely inconclusive. Meaning, nobody knows if the effects are a result of parabens. They generally are known to not remain in the skin or body and they are also used in a minuscule amount. One might say that it can affect someone in the long run but this is where we need to balance and educate ourselves about the quantity, sensitivity and knowledge of products we put in/on our body. Balance is key. Mineral Oils: If it?s one thing skin of all ages needs, is hydration and moisture. But it is important to mention that mineral oils do not penetrate the skin, instead, they sit on the surface and prevent water or products underneath from leaving your body. Found in lotions, balms, skincare and all the factors that make the skin feel hydrated and moisturised. Not all products have mineral oil in them but it has been a necessary additive for centuries. When we think that if it?s oil, it will sit on top of the skin, does that also mean that it is comedogenic or does not allow the skin to breathe or clogs your pores? Possibly. People with acne-prone skin or oily skin have found it irritating and inconvenient when a product has mineral oil. Again, the quantity of mineral oil also plays a vital role as every skin needs hydration. Some environmentalists think that since mineral oil as a substance is a derivative of petroleum, it is not wrong to care for the environment too! Alcohol One type is the alcohol that is good for your skin, the fatty alcohol is an emulsifier that is beneficial to your skin and acts as a good solvent for the products and is made from vegetables. They help in keeping the composition of the product intact and maintaining their nature. So, alcohol is good, in this case. For eg. Cetearyl, Stearyl and the kinds. Ethanol, isopropyl, methanol are mainly those that help the product seep into the skin, but can excessively be drying because they are creating space and moving things about on the skin to let it absorb the chemicals. Silicone Although silicone has no beneficial value to the skin, meaning it does not add anything to the skin. There?s no nutritional value. Nor does it harm a lot of people, sensitivity is relative but there has not been a health hazard to silicone. Again, the same concept like silicone sitting on top of the skin for longer, or if it is not cleansed properly can lead to irritation and acne. Sunscreens, lotions, primers, waterproof foundations, or mattifying products or high-gloss nature of products generally have this component and if the quantity of silicone is high, it also prevents other chemicals or ingredients from getting absorbed into the skin and suffocates pores if not removed properly, ultimately making the skin dull and lacklustre. Sulphates Sulphates are surfactants or cleaning agents; meaning that their detergent nature gives it their foamy soapy texture whilst doing their job ie, cleaning. It has only been a few recent years since people have started becoming sensitive and mindful of the foam stripping natural oils and colour from their hair, skin or scalp that sulphates do. It causes premature dullness, dryness, acne, breakouts and skin irritation in many. The milder the number of surfactants, combining them with moisturising agents, lesser the lather and the less harm. Today, there are plenty of products that have gone the ?sulphate-free? route. To conclude, previously skincare companies would add ingredients and focus on the business side of selling their product. With the change in the informed customer, companies are conscious and answerable for the chemicals they use. Customers now notice the difference when a certain ingredient is removed/added to their skincare and prefer a more customised skincare line. Vegan, organic, natural ingredients are available in the market and proper research and development have led them to better solutions and results. Lastly, many ingredients work for some consumers and some, that do not. Please consult your aesthetician/dermatologist before experimenting with skincare.
- Maryam Syed