Skin Care Products: How to Decode the Ingredient List
Jul 15, 2013 - 3:57:07 PM
Dr. Tick states that, "Understandably, to protect their formulas, skin care companies don't reveal the exact percentage of each ingredient in their products. However, you can find some clues by reading the ingredient label. The FDA requires that skin care ingredients on the product label be listed in the order of highest to lowest concentration. For example, if hyaluronic acid is the fifth item in the ingredient list for a moisturizer, it is the fifth most concentrated ingredient in the product. You want to be certain that the active ingredients - the ones you are paying for to improve your skin - are listed near the beginning of the list. Ingredients listed near the end of the list product typically comprise less than one percent of the total and if so, can be listed in any order."
The following are some tips from Dr. Tick
1. Read from Top to Bottom
Ingredients are always listed in proportional order with highest quantities at the top of the list.
So if an ingredient you don't like the sound of features somewhere in the top half, it's probably best to leave that product on the shelf.
2. Understand your ingredients
The Cosmetics Safety Database is a useful tool for getting to know your ingredients.
It's an online directory of cosmetic ingredients that gives each a toxicity hazard score (0 being least harmful and 10 being most harmful).
3. Know your Organic Kitemarks
Not all organic standards are equal.
Look for the Soil Association or USDA kitemarks as these demand the cleanest ingredients - with 70% of their non-water ingredients having to be organically grown, harvested and extracted.
Standards such as ECOCERT allow companies to use as little as 10% organic ingredients in products that carry their ‘organic' kitemark.
4. Seek out Organic Stars
A product claiming to be organic should have its organic ingredients clearly marked, usually with a star ‘*'.If 70% of its non-water ingredients are organic then you'll expect to see quite a few stars. If there are just a couple then you'll know that its organic credentials are, at best, tenuous.
5. Know your irritants
Customers don't just want to know that their products are organic; they want to ensure they are sensitive skin friendly too. The following ingredients tend to be most irritating. This is by no means an exhaustive list and everyone's skin is different, so it's important to isolate your personal triggers:
I. Detergents - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine
II. Preservatives - Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.
III. Fragrance - ‘Parfum' the term can signify artificial fragrance which is a bad irritant. With natural essential oils - care must always be taken as in high dosages they can be irritating. Some, such as lemongrass, are irritating even at concentrations as low as 0.1%.
If you know you are allergic to a specific ingredient, it helps reading the list before buying. If you don't know what you are allergic to, do a patch test before using the product regularly. Verify what the product claims to do and know why you are paying money. Is it really worth it? Or can you get the same for less?
Quickly read what the product claims to do and find the ingredients that are in the description. In general, the list starts with the most concentrated ingredient and ends with the least concentrated one. With some exceptions:
Should we believe what the product claims to do when the good ingredients are at the bottom of the list? It may be a good cleanser, but you are probably paying too much for it.
Here are some potentially harmful ingredients to watch for:
This is also known as Methylparaben, Propylparaben, IIsoparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben. Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. They have been linked to possible carcinogenicity, as well as an estrogenic effect from being exposed to the continued use of parabens as preservatives. Parabens are used in over the counter personal products as a preservative to extend the shelf life of the product. These chemicals can be found in face, body moisturizers, body wash, and cleansers.
A truly toxic skin care ingredient. Dibutylphthalate (DBP, DEP, also butyl ester) helps skin care absorb into skin. DEHP has been classified as a "probable human carcinogen" by the EPA. The Department of Health and Human Services has also classified DEHP as a potential carcinogen. Dr. Tick points out that, "skin care that may take longer to absorb is preferable to a product that absorbs rapidly, while injecting phthalates into our skin cells. Do not use it." However, there are a few natural ingredients, herbs and botanicals that do help with faster absorption without causing undue stress to the skin or the body.
You also want to look at the total number of unique ingredients in a product. Products with an extensive number of skin care ingredients (more than 15-20), probably contain fillers. Basic arithmetic will tell you that products with a large number of ingredients have lower concentrations of any given active ingredient.
Since government regulations are inconsistent (and, in this case, relatively nonexistent), it's ultimately up to consumers to make the call as to when a product has expired. Luckily, the basics of determining this are somewhat intuitive. If a product seems unusually discolored, runny or lumpy, has separated, has a strange odor, or feels different on the skin, then it should absolutely be thrown away. Packaging that has expanded or has signs of deterioration is definitely a warning that something is wrong inside. A product doesn't have to be old to have gone bad or have been exposed to bacteria, so you should always pay attention to how your products are holding up every time you use them.
Making Your Products Last
Here are some easy tips for prolonging the shelf life of your products, while keeping your skin and body as healthy as possible:
DO store products in air conditioned homes or even refrigerators in hot climates
Now that you have bought the products, know when to toss them!
Dr. Tick offers that, "As a rule, products that contain water as one of the first ingredients have the shortest shelf life after opening because water encourages the growth of bacteria and other microbes. Also susceptible to bacterial contamination are products that are mostly waxes with minimal water, but that also contain plant extracts. Think about how long produce lasts in your refrigerator-not very long! Products made up of almost no water (such as powders) last the longest, because almost nothing can grow in these kinds of products. Lastly, if your product is labeled "preservative-free" you should definitely take extra caution, because without some kind of preservative system bacteria can flourish easily."
Though products vary greatly, as do the conditions of consumer usage and storage, the following is a helpful guide for assessing what needs to go or how long it has left:
1.Mascara, liquid or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months (always toss out dry mascara-never add water to extend its life)
2. Moisturizers, Serums, & Foundations: 6 months to 1 year
3.Powder-based products: 2-3 years
4.Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years
About the Institute for Skin Sciences
The Institute for Skin Sciences (ISS) is a thirty-five year old private Skin research facility based in the United States. Dr. Michael Tick, an internationally renowned research Scientist, whose life-long objective has been to bring good health and wellness to the people through the Skin, directs the Institute.
Originally, the ISS was created for the purpose of defining, diagnosing and treating Skin diseases. The ISS became aware, shortly into its ‘mission,' that the Skin was much more than just the largest organ of the body. We noted that while both the medical and scientific communities had previously agreed that dealing with the Skin was a ‘one-way street', our research proved otherwise. With this new-found knowledge, the ISS set out on a new course, and for the last twenty years, has been developing protocols using the Trans-Skin technology to promote health & wellness. It is this culmination of research that we bring to you today, Trans-Dermal Infusion Technology or TDI-38. www.edimi.com
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