Your Skincare Product Ingredients - Friends or Foes?
Deciphering the effectiveness and safety of the ingredients label on the back of personal care products can sometimes seems as daunting as attempting to crack the cryptex in the Da Vinci Code.
If it looks like a foreign language it is. That's because the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, abbreviated INCI, is a system of names for waxes, oils, pigments, chemicals and other ingredients of soaps, cosmetics and the like, based on scientific names and other Latin and English words.
So which of these ingredients are friends and which ones are foes?
It requires some work to know.There are thousands of terms in the INCI library, so here are some quick tips and words to look for: Words with "-cone" or "meth" in them are emuslifiers. They bind the other ingredients together. Silicones belong to this category and should be avoided. The most common silicones are cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane. Preservatives are listed at the middle of the ingredients list. Not all preservatives are bad, but parabens are ones you should watch out for. Thickeners are listed toward the bottom, these typically have root words like “carbomer,” “gum" and “crosspolymer." Depending on on the percentage of concentration they are fillers. So are you paying for something you don't need? And as far as fragrance it's probably best to look for fragrances that are essential oil blends or naturally derived.
The FDA does very little to regulate ingredient safety, it has authorized the cosmetics industry to police itself through its Cosmetics Ingredient Review panel. In its more than 30-year history, the industry panel has declared only 11 ingredients or chemical groups to be unsafe and its recommendations on restricting ingredients are not binding on companies. And with the exception of color additives and a few prohibited substances, cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material in their products without government review or approval
Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies are rarely, if ever, required to back them up, even for children’s products. The FDA says descriptions such as “hypoallergenic” or “natural” can “mean anything or nothing at all,” and while most of these terms “have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers… dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning”
Since the industry is largely self-regulated, a lot of terms we're used to seeing are entirely up to the brand's discretion. They don't have to be "proven" to an independent board. Terms like are "Dermatologist Recommended," "Clinically Proven," and "Non-Comedogenic" are pure marketing terms and should be viewed as such.
That's why we like to keep it simple and natural.
- For Hair: Coconut milk make a great hair conditioner. It's effective in repairing hair damage caused by blow drying, curling, straightening, and sun exposure. The moisturizing effects of coconut milk also nourish the scalp, which can prevent dandruff. Massage 2 cups coconut milk with 2 T honey and olive oil into the scalp and strands, tuck hair into a shower cap, wait 30 minutes before rinsing, and continue with shampooing.
- For exfoliation: You can get rid of dead skin skills, exfoliate the skin, and moisturize your skin by combining ¼ cup of coconut milk with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 1 cup of sea salt. Rub the scrub on wet skin that is dry or flaky. Rinse the skin and pat dry and you'll feel the smoothness.
- For the Bath: Or how about adding 4 oz of coconut milk and a few drops of lavender to your bathwater and relaxing for 20-30 minutes. You'll emerge with skin that is soft and supple.
- For the Face: We also like using avocado oil as a facial moisturizer. We just don't think stripping the skin of its natural oils is good for it. The skin will produce more oil to compensate. For those with oily skin, that can mean more breakouts, blackheads, and aggravated skin. For those with dry skin or sensitive skin, it means the skin is going to get even drier and more irritated.
And that's why we started to make luxury soap. From coconut milk to olive oil to avocado oil to mango butter, there are reasons as to why it’s beneficial to seek out natural ingredients in your personal cleansing products and leave the more complicated labeled products on the shelf.