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4 Important Things You Need To Know About Organic Skincare

It comes as no surprise that there’s been a real move towards Organic over the last few years. This has been especially noticeable in the food industry. The effects of pesticide sprays, chemicals and GMO’s have made people more aware than ever about what they put IN their body.

But what about what we put ON our body? Why don’t we take the same care with what we put on our largest organ on our body…..our skin!

It’s still surprising to me how many people don’t. They also don’t realize that up to 60% of what you put on your skin can be absorbed and enter your bloodstream. This means any toxic chemicals present have the ability to travel all around your body.

We’ve seen good examples of this in the past with chemicals like parabens. These preservatives are found in lots of products and build up in your body over time.

If you are still using non-organic products then it’s time to reconsider. Read on and learn the 4 most important things you need to know about Organic skincare.

Using organic products is better for your skin.

Compare the labels of non organic and organic skincare. You’ll notice a startling difference straight away. The main thing is it’s usually difficult to recognize a lot of the ingredients on a label of a non organic product. They tend to have lengthy scientific names typical of chemicals produced in a lab.

Ingredients Label 1

A typical label from a non – organic product.

Organic products tend to have much easier to read labels. They are plant based and because of this the ingredients are much easier to recognize. Often common names are used rather than scientific ones.

Ingredients label 2

A typical label from an Organic product.

Organic products are also free from pesticides, herbicides and artificial chemicals. They are naturally derived and not grown in synthetic fertilizers.

This means you can be confident that what you are using on your skin is as natural, clean and harmless as possible.

Natural is not necessarily Organic

Natural

It’s best here to define Natural and Organic so we can understand the differences.

Natural products are:

  1. Generally unregulated by any certification bodies
  2. Manufactured from ingredients that come from plants, flowers and minerals of natural origin.
  3. Free from harmful ingredients, Parabens, Sulphates etc
  4. Free from petrochemicals or mineral oils
  5. Free from animal testing
  6. Free from GMO ingredients
  7. Made from ingredients where the integrity of those ingredients are maintained during the manufacturing process

Organic products are:

  1. Formulated along guidelines laid down by a certification body
  2. Made from ingredients that are organically sourced, pesticide and herbicide free.
  3. Grown without using artificial fertilisers
  4. Free from artificial colours, odours or chemicals
  5. Preserved only by a preservative system allowable under the Organic certification boards guidelines.

As you can see the main difference is in the sourcing of the core ingredients. With Organic they are “clean” and uncontaminated by the environment or manufacturing process. Natural, on the other hand is a very loose term. It describes anything sourced from a natural environment but not necessarily a “clean” one.

For example, the ingredients in a “natural” product might be grown in contaminated soil. They might be fertilised using synthetic chemicals. This is not the case with Organic certified ingredients. They have to meet stringent growing guidelines.

One of the biggest problems is that people don’t read labels on products and understand them. Instead they rely on the messages sold to them by advertising and marketing slogans. These paint the word natural to mean that natural products are safe. This is generally not true and we see exactly the same problems in the food industry as well. We become victims of marketing spin!

Organic is better for the environment

Organic

Because Organic ingredients are grown in pristine conditions. They are free from pesticides, herbicides and toxic chemicals. This means the environmental impact is very low. Compare this to the farming methods used by the giant corporations of the world. Their motivation is large scale production and profit. They’ll use any farming methods they can to achieve their scale of production.

Most of the smaller companies involved in the Organic industry tend to be eco-friendly. This usually extends into their packaging if it’s possible.

There is also a push towards biodegradable solutions wherever possible as well.  A good example of this has been the use of biodegradable beads made from Jojoba Oil. A far better choice than the plastic microbeads used in many  non-organic products.

The Price Of Organic Skin Care Will Be Higher

If you’ve ever bought any Organic products you’ll know that they aren’t cheap. You have to bear in mind though that what you are paying for is a much higher quality and “clean” product. If something is cheap it is invariable made from cheaply sourced ingredients. These are usually mass produced with very little quality control involved.  Like they say, “you get what you pay for”

Certified Organic products also cost more because of the price of organic certification. Fees usually have to be paid for each individual product as well. This is a huge overhead for smaller businesses and so gets passed on to the consumer in the price of the product.

Organic products may also have a shorter shelf life than non-organic products. This is due to less preservatives in organic products to keep them “cleaner”. Because of this, organic companies tend to make smaller batches, more often. This can increase costs as well

As you can see there are a few factors that impact on making Organic products more expensive.

Conclusion.

Well I hope these 4 important points about organic skincare have helped. Organic is definitely the way to go if you can afford to do it.

By doing so you are:

1. Putting healthier, safer less toxic products onto your skin

2. Helping the environment through better farming practices.

3. Saying NO to animal testing and cruelty

4. Supporting companies that are trying to be more progressive.

So learn to read those labels and know your ingredients so that you know what to look for.

If you have any questions of comments, we’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below or through our contact page – we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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Everything You Need to Know About Preservatives in Skincare

One of the most talked about subjects in the skincare industry is preservatives. Which ones are safe, which are harmful? These are common questions asked by the public and as anyone who works in the industry knows, a lot of them aren’t great.

Using unpreserved products containing water is fraught with risk. It doesn’t take a jar of preservative free hand cream to become a bowl of bacterial soup. This can be very dangerous as you can imagine. In fact any risk posed by the use of a good preservative in the right measure is far lower than not using any preservative.

What are Preservatives? 

In this article I’m going to delve into exactly what preservatives are. Why there is such a poor perception of them. What products should always contain them. Which ones should be avoided and which ones are considered safe?

Preservatives are chemicals that prevent the decomposition of a product. This is usually due to the action of microbes or by chemical changes. There are 2 main types of preservation.

  • Chemical – adding chemical compounds to the product.
  • Physical – processes like pasteurization, dehydrating or refrigeration.

With skincare products we are only concerned with chemical preservation. This form of preservation consists of 2 distinct groups.

  • Synthetic – chemicals and compounds created in a laboratory
  • Natural – derived from natural sources

There has always been controversy surrounding which preservatives are acceptable in skincare products. Particularly when it comes to organic and natural branded skincare lines.

Lets attempt to demystify the controversy by understanding the differences between these 2 groups of preservatives.

Synthetic Preservatives

There are a lot of benefits associated with using synthetic preservatives. As a manufacturer though you can compromise natural or organic status by doing so. The regulatory bodies of each do allow small percentages of approved ones though. This is because they have a broad-spectrum of effectiveness at very low concentrations. You don’t need much to do an effective job.

Synthetic Preservatives

Synthetics tend to be less allergenic than natural preservatives as well. This is also because they are being used in much smaller amounts.

There are also a lot more options available when using synthetics.

Chemical firms that manufacture preservatives have to perform toxicity testing. Therefore there is a lot more information about their safety profiles. They also tend to be low cost and more consistent from batch to batch. Synthetics also don’t tend to change the characteristics of a formulation such as fragrance, lather, colour & odour

The biggest problem with synthetic preservatives is the negative perception of them. They are often made from bi-products of the petroleum industry. They can cause skin sensitization and may need a narrow pH band to work effectively.

Below is a list of some of the synthetics considered acceptable for use in skincare products.

There are many synthetics that are best avoided though and these are listed below.

Natural Preservatives

Due to the bad press surrounding synthetics consumers generally prefer natural preservatives. However, there is not actually much extra benefit to using natural preservatives. They do tend to function over a broader pH range and impart a natural fragrance. But that’s about it.

On the negative side, natural preservatives have limited options of usage. They don’t work as well on limiting microbial growth like synthetics do and don’t work across a broad spectrum. This means they may inhibit bacterial growth, but not mold.

Mold

You also need to use a lot more natural preservative than you would a synthetic. This can impact the formulation of the product and change its characteristics.  Feel, color, odour, etc in an undesirable way.

Consistency and potency of the preservative can also vary from batch to batch.  This can make consistency of formulation difficult for the manufacturer.

As with synthetics skin sensitization can also occur over time.

Below is a list of natural preservatives commonly used in skincare products.

Are antioxidants preservatives?

Antioxidants are often hailed on product labels as being a preservative. This just isn’t true and is a marketing ploy to make you believe the product is natural and safe. Antioxidants only help in preventing oils and fats from oxidising and turning rancid. They do ‘not’ kill microbes or prevent fungal growth.

Some common antioxidants found in formulations are

  • Grapefruit seed extract
  • Vitamin E
  • Oleoresin Extract
  • Rosemary extract
  • Vitamin C

When do preservatives need to be used?

Preservatives are absolutely essential in any product containing water (commonly labelled as Aqua). Water can also be ‘hidden” inside other ingredients like aloe vera, milks and hydrosols. It pays to read and understand product labels.

Reading skincare label

Remember, it doesn’t matter how sterile the products container or packaging is. If there is water in the formulation, or indirect contact with water, it needs a preservative.

Always check the product you use is protected by a broad spectrum preservative.

This kind of preservative system is one that kills and prevents the growth of microbes and mold. By their very nature organic and natural products provide an excellent food source. Microbes and molds thrive in this kind of environment given a chance.

Preservative free skincare

There is a big push these days towards preservative free skincare and a lot of brands are touting this. While it is true that skincare products containing only oils and no water are less susceptible to decomposition It is still possible for them to become contaminated.

Water and microbes can enter the product through damp fingers dipped into a tub of cream for example. Steam can even get into the product if it is kept in the bathroom. Once water is present it doesn’t take long to become a breeding ground for contamination.

Contamination can be very dangerous. There have been a lot of cases of contaminated products causing great harm and even death. so it’s something that should be taken extremely seriously.

One case at the Universitari del Mar Hospital in Barcelona in 2008 highlighted exactly this kind of contamination problem.

In 2008 five intensive care patients picked up a deadly B.cepacia infection on the ward. It was later found to be from contaminated moisturising milk. Three suffered blood poisoning and two others acquired urinary tract and lung infections.

If you see products saying they are preservative free but contain water, be very cautious. Personally I would avoid them at all costs.

The Bottom Line

If the preservatives in the skincare you use concern you then educate yourself about them. Do your own research. Decide for yourself if the potential risks to you are greater than you are prepared to accept. Very often there is a lot of disinformation about them and their actual properties too. These days with access to the internet, it doesn’t take long to find out the truth.

The other option is to choose products that are oil based with no preservative system. The only trouble with this is that they do behave differently to water based products. Moisturisers that do not include water for example are not very hydrating.

If you do decide to go preservative free. Make sure you keep the products in the fridge. This will at least slow down or inhibit microbial and fungal growth.

Remember the word natural on a product, doesn’t mean you are all clear and safe to go. You need to read and understand the label and what is in the product. Do your own research from reliable sources. Don’t believe the marketing spin.

Last but not least, If you are really worried about a product and its possible effects, do a skin patch test first. Apply a little of the product to a small area. Wait half an hour or so and see if there are any possible adverse skin reactions. If no reaction then at least you have ruled out any allergic reaction. In a lot of cases the preservative system can cause this.

Well I hope you’ve found this post informative. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you have below. We always look forward to hearing different points of view as well.

 

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Covid19 and why its important to moisturise your hands

As we all know, the current Covid19 pandemic has seen hand sanitiser flying off the shelves over the last few weeks. Everyone, to their credit, has been continually washing their hands with soap and using sanitiser. But did you know that this takes an incredible toll on the health of your skin? This is why it’s so important to moisturise your hands.

I’ve even noticed myself that my hands have become incredibly dry and even cracked from this new regime of cleanliness. This can actually present a few problems when it comes to maintaining good hand hygiene and the health of your skin.

There are four main reasons why this can happen:

  1. If your hands become sore from repeated washing or sanitising you may become less likely to wash your hands as frequently. This then increases the chances of viral transmission.
  2. You can become more susceptible to bacterial skin infections
  3. Soaps and sanitisers don’t work as well if your skin is damaged
  4. It can increase the chance of developing an inflammatory skin condition.

All the experts agree that washing hands with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds still remains the best way to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. It removes oils from the hands which can be the perfect place for these microbes to reside and also washes away any that may be sitting on the surface of the skin.

Sanitising hands

Of course it’s not always possible to have immediate access to soap and water. This has led to a rise in the use of hand sanitisers because of the convenience of being able to use them anywhere. It’s a huge benefit if you don’t have to dry your hands after use. It’s also more sanitary because there is no need for towelling afterwards as you do when using soap and water. Towels actually increase the possibility of re-contamination.

The only problem is using sanitisers and continual hand washing continually can be very bad for your skin health.

Let’s have a look at exactly why this is.

Why hand sanitisers are bad for your skin?

There are 2 main types of sanitisers on the market and these are;

  1. Alcohol based – These have to have a minimum alcohol content of at least 60% to be effective. The range among most popular brands is usually 60 -95%. The alcohols generally used are isopropanol, ethanol, n-propanol or combinations of these.
  1. Non-Alcohol based  – These types of sanitisers typically contain Benzalkonium Chloride. There are toxicity issues, but used in small concentrations is considered safe. It appears less effective than alcohol based sanitisers when it comes to corona viruses. It is also non-flammable.

So let’s look at how the most commonly used Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers work and how they affect your skin.

Covid19 corona virus

The alcohols in ABHS’s kill bacteria and viruses by denaturing and coagulating proteins they are made from. This causes their cell walls to burst and their whole cellular metabolism is disrupted. This can also be a double edged sword as well in that beneficial bacteria on the skin’s surface also suffer. This leaves it open to colonization from staphylococci and various other bad bacteria. This can be a real problem if the skin is chapped or cracked and allows these pathogens to cross over the protective skin barrier.

The skin barrier when healthy has a certain amount of permeability and the oils known as ceramides that form part of its structure are essential to maintaining good skin integrity.

The problem with using ABHS’s it that the alcohol in them has a drying effect on the skin. It deteriorates the protective barrier by breaking down the ceramides in it.This compromises the whole structural integrity of the protective skin barrier. It also has an aging effect giving the skin a thin, dry and aged look and leads to more wrinkles and flakiness.

The first signs of this are skin conditions such as Irritant Contact Dermatitis and Eczema. The high incidence of nurses and people working in the healthcare industry with this condition is testament to the effects of constant hand sanitising and ineffective moisturisation of the skin in between use.

Why Moisturise?

In order to understand how moisturisers work and why it’s essential to moisturise regularly you need to understand exactly how they work. To do that you also need to understand the basic structure of the skin itself.

The skin is made up of three different layers: The Epidermis (outer layer), Dermis (middle later), Hypodermis (lower fatty layer).

Skin section

Blood vessels supply moisture and nutrients to the middle layer of the skin – the Dermis. Water then moves from this layer out through the outer Epidermis layer and evaporates into the atmosphere. This constant process causes the outer layers cells to dry, crack and flake off. New cells are formed in the Dermis and replace these dead skin cells that are constantly shed from the outer epidermal layer.

Moisturising is all about keeping moisture in this outer layer and slowing this decay of skin cells that occurs from this drying out process.

If your hands are showing signs of dryness or chapping from constant washing or sanitising, then you need to take heed of these warning signs and moisturise the skin. It means that the epidermal layer is drying out. This layer needs to retain at least 10 percent water in order to remain smooth and supple and maintain the health of the skin.

If this layer dries out then as stated above you run the risk of the skin cracking and becoming sore and it can even lead to inflammatory skin conditions such as Irritant Contact Dermatitis or Eczema.

Dermatitis on hands

For most people dry skin is just a minor irritation but if ignored and it becomes chronic, it can become a serious medical issue and make you vulnerable to systemic infection.

Moisturisers work in one of two ways, they either trap moisture into the skin by creating a barrier to stop it escaping or they deliver moisture to the outer layer of the skin that has previously been lost.

There are a million different brands of moisturisers on the market and it can be very hard to know what kinds to choose. For this reason it is best to have some understanding of the types of ingredients moisturisers contain.

Ingredients in Moisturisers

A typical list of ingredients found in most good moisturisers would include:

  1. Water
  2. Humectants
  3. Occlusives
  4. Emollients
  5. Vitamins
  6. Preservative

So let’s look at each of these typical ingredients and what role they perform.

Water

Moisturisers on the whole tend to contain water and are mostly oil-in-water emulsions. These are your typical skin creams and lotions and if you look at the ingredients list you’ll find water is the first ingredient (ingredients have to be listed by largest quantity first).

In order to achieve good hydration of the skin you obviously need water, however even though the skin can absorb it, it’s not very good at holding it in. This is where the emollients and occlusives come in. They help to hold the water into the skin and prevent evaporation.

Humectants

Humectants are hydrophilic (water attracting) compounds that attract and bond to the water molecules around them. This means that on humid days they are able to pull some water out of the air but they mainly draw it up from the underlying Dermis layer.

Humectants are widely used in moisturising formulations because of their ability to penetrate the outer layer of the skin, draw moisture into it, and lock it in.

The only problem with them is that in drier conditions they tend to pull moisture up from the dermis layer and this can leave the skin even dryer. This is known as TEWL or Trans Epidermal Water Loss. It’s a measure of the amount of moisture lost that escapes through the different layers of the skin and out into the atmosphere. This is why humectants are often paired with occlusives which seal moisture in.

Common humectants used in skincare are Glycerin and Hyaluronic acid.

Occlusives

Occlusives are moisturising agents that form a protective barrier on the surface of the skin. They work by trapping water in the skin’s layers and preventing evaporation.

These types of moisturisers usually have a thick heavy consistency and can be a bit sticky. They are great at reducing TEWL (by upto about 98%) but at the same time can be messy to use as well. Some may even be a bit waxy.

Olive oil

Common occlusives include carnauba and beeswax, oils (olive, ricebran, soybean, castor), Shea butter, silicone, lanolin, mineral oils and petroleum gels.

Emollients

These types of moisturisers come in the form of creams, lotions, gels, and ointments, and tend to be less sticky than occlusives. They are easily spread and tend to penetrate the skin rather than just sitting on top of it like occlusives do. Because they make the skin feel soft and flexible they are widely used and preferred over the use of occlusives.

Common emollients include oils (argan, avocado, sweet almond), shea butter, cocoa butter and squalene.

Vitamins

The most commonly found vitamins in moisturisers tend to be Vitamin C because it is so beneficial to the health of the skin and has good anti-aging and antioxidant properties. Vitamin A because it stimulates the production of collagen helping with fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the most commonly found vitamin in skin care though because it is a powerful antioxidant, has skin repairing properties and can fight off the effects of UV damage to the skin as well.

Preservatives

Preservatives in skincare are essential if there is water present. There are many different types and you can read more about them in detail here.

Suffice to say, without an effective preservative system, dangerous bacteria and fungal growth will occur within the product. Moisturisers without a preservative can be health threatening if applied to the skin and it happens to be dry or cracked. This can lead to serious skin infections.

Conclusion

In these unprecedented times where everyone’s health is dependent on good hygiene, we’re seeing a lot more washing and sanitizing of hands than we have ever seen before. The chemicals in the soaps and sanitisers as explained, readily strip the protective oils out and dehydrate the skin.

If you don’t want to end up with dry, chapped or cracked skin that may even lead to an inflammatory skin condition like dermatitis and eczema, then it is very important to moisturise regularly.  It doesn’t take long for the outer layer of the skin – the epidermis to become damaged and start breaking down.

Remember..looking after your skin properly means that you can continue to take the precautions needed to maintain good hygiene and reduce the chances of infection.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this article and now understand everything you need to know about the importance of moisturisation.

 

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