There is a massive shift to products that are natural, but the landscape is shrouded in confusion,
We are asked for advice on a regular basis about “natural skincare” That’s a pretty big ask because, as you’ll read, the goal posts are far from clear.
The questions often stump us, along with many other professionals we speak to.
And what to make of the key marketing prompts: Organic. Certified organic. Green. Eco. Sustainable. Cruelty free. No nasties …
Words like “chemicals” and “synthetic” are bandied about as ‘badies’, when in fact they are too often misrepresented. And going totally au naturel can actually be bad for skin, as you’ll discover.
Consumers often think that the Australian Government sets ingredient standards for “natural” products and requires tests to ensure that items meet those standards, but none of that is true,The Trade Practices (Consumer Product Information Standards) (Cosmetics) Regulations 1991 instead only requires ‘correct labelling’ of untested ingredients !
It becomes even trickier when there is still no recognised standard for what constitutes a natural beauty product in 2017.
Chemicals are widely reviled as the ‘badies’ of skincare. Yet our bodies are a composition of chemicals, as is the universe and everything in it.
Michelle Reeve, creator of Australia’s Waterlily , asks: “If I invited you to apply the following chemical cocktail to your skin, would you?:
WATER (75%); SUGARS (12%) GLUCOSE (48%), FRUCTOSE (40%), SUCROSE (2%), MALTOSE (<1%), STARCH (5%), FIBRE (3%), (E460, E461, E452, E464, E456, E467); AMINO ACIDS (GLUTAMIC ACID (19%), ASPARTIC ACID (15%), HISTONE (11%), LEUCINE (7%), LYSINE (5%), PHENALALANINE (4%), ARGININE (4%), VALINE (4%), ALANINE (4%), SERINE (4%), GLYCINE (3%), THREONINE (3%), ISOLEUCINE (3%), PROLINE (3%), TRYPTOPHAN (1%), CYSTINE (1%), TYROSINE (1%), METHONINE (1%); FATTY ACIDS (1%) (PALMITIC ACID (30%), OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID, LINOLEIC ACID (14%), PALMITOLEIC ACID (3%), STEARIC ACID (2%), LAURIC ACID (1%), MYRISTIC ACID (1%), CAPRIC ACID (<1%), ASH (<1%), PHYTOSTEROLS, COLALIC ACID, E300, E306 (TOCOPHEROL), PHYLLOQUINONE, THIAMIN; COLOURS (YELLOW-ORANGE E101) (RIBOFLAVIN) (YELLOW-BROWN e160a); FLAVOURS (ETHYL HEXANOATE, ETHYL BUTONOATE, 3-METHYLBUT-1-YLETHANNOATE, PENTYL ACETATE), E1510, ETHENE GAS.
I would! After all, it’s the chemical composition of a banana.
Chemicals are the inescapable building blocks of the world around us. Yet it appears that the unassuming periodic table is being used as leverage in marketing cosmetic warfare.
The skincare choices that the industry presents are irrational:
Chemical v Natural
Active v Botanical
Cosmeceutical v Aromatherapy
The aesthetics industry is approaching a crossroads where consumers are being asked to choose exclusively between ‘remedial’ cosmeceutical ranges or ‘natural’ organic alternatives.
Neither of these markets will deliver results unless the right combination of the right ingredients is delivered in the right concentration.
The general consensus is that the chemicals in cosmetics to avoid come under umbrella terms such as synthetic fragrances, artificial colours or ingredients from petrochemicals.
With petrochemicals, look out for terms like: paraffin wax; mineral oil; toluene; benzene; phenoxyethanol; anything with PEG (polyethylene glycol); anything ending in “eth” indicates that it required ethylene oxide (a petrochemical) to produce – eg. myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth; anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine); butanol and any word with “butyl” – butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol; ethanol and any word with “ethyl” – ethyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, ethylene dichloride, ethylhexylglycerin; cocamidopropyl betaine; methanol and any word with “methyl” – methyl alcohol, methylparaben, methylcellulose; parfum or fragrance – 95 percent of chemicals used in fragrance are from petroleum.
IS `SYNTHETIC’ A SIN?
“Synthetic” has also developed a bad reputation, but: “Sometimes it is necessary to use non-toxic synthetic ingredients when no equivalent can be found in nature,” says Dr Teri Dourmashkin, founder of La Vie Celeste skincare.
More and more naturally-based companies are using the `hottest’ anti-ageing ingredients in their products. Some are not 100 percent natural.
Are they safe? According to some research data that evaluates the safety of cosmetic ingredients, they are rated as non-toxic.
Among them are Matrixyl 3000, a synthetic pentapedtide, which is supposed to increase collagen production, hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant which occurs naturally in the human body, and R-Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant which mimics what our bodies naturally produce, but is synthesised in a lab because there is not enough of it found in nature.
In our opinion, there are really no safe and effective all-natural preservatives. While it is sometimes apparent that a product has gone `bad’ (eg. visible mould or product separation), bacteria may not always be visible to the naked eye.
HOW NATURAL IS TOO NATURAL?
Just like the confusion over the use of chemicals and synthetic ingredients in skincare, many preservatives are getting an unfair reputation.
Not all preservatives are “nasties” – and, indeed, skincare without any preservatives quickly becomes contaminated, posing risks of infection or inflammation.
Cosmetic products consist mainly of water, sugars and proteins
This is an environment that many microorganisms need as growing conditions. Actually, they can thrive in unpreserved cosmetic products and it does not take long for a cream to be spoiled by microbes.
This is not necessarily visible for the human eye and can impose a risk to the user’s health, especially if used close to mucous membranes (eyes, mouth) or if the skin has lesions or is very dry and the skin barrier is impaired.
Therefore careful preservation of cosmetic products is inevitable but there is no easy formulation guideline, or the ability to say what is the `best’ or `right’ preservative to use. Each and every product has to be tested individually for the right preservative system.
What can be used safely is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) under Australian Law. All preservatives listed have been tested intensively for their safety so that are all passed as safe.
All cosmetics on the market – have to follow these guidelines. So each and every cosmetic product sold in the Australia has to undergo a safety assessment by an expert scientist.
All ZO Skin Health Products (Formulated by the leading Dermatologist in the US) have undergone strict testing and passed by the Australian TGA.