Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Third Installment

Cosmetics companies want you to believe that they have the answer to fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and stretch marks. Just put this cream on and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be visibly reduced! Technically- that statement is true. If you moisturize your skin, the fine lines and wrinkles will plump up and they will appear to fill in. This does not mean that you will have any real reduction in wrinkles. It just means that if you use this product (and continue to use it) your wrinkles will look better.

Sadly, most consumers expect that a wrinkle cream will make their wrinkles fade away and disappear. Unfortunately there is no lotion, serum, cream, or oil that can reverse the effects of age and gravity on our bodies. The only thing that can do this is plastic surgery. A cream that says it will "help" tighten and tone your sagging skin may have and ingredient in it that tingles or feels tight so that you know its "working". Wrinkle serums frequently contain plumpers like pepper extracts which are really just irritant to your skin. They cause inflammation and swelling, or plumping. There is nothing that can penetrate the skin layers all the way down to the snapped elastin fibers and make them grow back together to heal your stretch marks. (I sure wish there were!!) The best any cream can do for you is have skin lightening ingredients to help the redness fade away- which time will eventually do by itself.

Women spend a lot of money on products that claim to be "Better than Botox!" but you should really just save that money for the real thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Second Installment


Which brings us to Number 2 on my list of misleading cosmetic claims: Chemical-free.
First let me reiterate what I have said many times: everything in this world is a chemical, even you, even water. We are all just complicated combinations of chemicals. So that said- no cosmetics are chemical free. When you see this claim you should immediately dismiss the product- it's an outright lie.

Along the same lines as "chemical-free" products, products that have a "Free From:" and a long list of supposedly "bad" chemicals are almost as bad. A good example of a company that does this is Origins. Their "purity" statement says "Our products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, DEA and animal ingredients. Why is it so important to know all of the things that the are NOT putting in their products instead of telling you what they DO put in their products?
1) Ginger Extract- data shows taking ginger orally has anti-oxidant and anti-carcinogenic benefits. Applied topically- it's a major skin irritant.
2) Lemon (and all citrus) oils- classified as irritants and potentially phototoxic (cell death with light exposure)
3) Mint- irritant
I could go on and on with the number of irritating essential oils included in the Origins line. Their tagline is using all natural plant oils but not all plant oils are good for your skin! Many are downright bad for it! Besides all of this, after a lot of digging I found an ingredient statement for their Have A Nice Day Supercharged Moisture Sunscreen SPF15 and found that they did indeed use parabens! There is nothing wrong with parabens (they are a much vilified ingredient as I explained in a previous post) but Origins made a specific statement that they DO NOT use them. 

I've also seen products that have a "free from" section a mile long with ingredients that would never be included in that type of product. For example, a facial moisturizer claiming to be free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). What formulator in their right mind would put a detergent in a lotion?!

I think it is far more important to be aware of what is IN your products than what is not. I can make a preservative free product too. In another month you'll get the added ingredients of bacteria and mold! Enjoy smearing that on your face!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetics Claims: First in a Series

Let's talk about "All Natural" products.

First of all, there is no specific definition of what is required to label a product as "all natural". Any company can use this term on any product. It's a marketing tool- plain and simple. The company wants you to believe that this product is some how better for you that it's "non-natural" counterpart. It's not true.

Here is a good example of an "All Natural" product from Burt's Bees. This is the INCI ingredient statement from their Natural Acne Solutions Daily Moisturizing Lotion:

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (1.0%), Other: Water, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (Sunflower), Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Sucrose Distearate, Salix Nigra Bark Extract (Willow), Sucrose Stearate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Extract (Lemongrass), Hamamelis Virginiana Water (Witch Hazel), Humulus Lupulus Extract (Hops), Equisetum Hiemale Leaf Extract (Horsetail), Hydrastis Canadensis Extract (Golden Seal), Epilobium Fleischeri Extract (Gravel Willow), Lecithin, Chrondrus Crispus Extract (Carrageenan), Fragrance, Glucose, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Borate, Sodium Chloride, Glucose Oxidase, Lactoperoxidase

Burt's Bee's will tell you that this is an all natural product because their salicylic acid is derived from white willow bark extract. Salicylic acid is salicylic acid- where it was "derived" from makes no difference. What about all of the other ingredients in this product? The product claims to be 100% Natural but I don't know how glycerin, fragrance, or stearic acid can be considered natural. While there is nothing harmful in this product, as an acne sufferer for my whole adult life, this would not be a product I would use to treat my face. It's main ingredient is Sunflower Oil. For oily skin? Why would I want to add more oil to my oil plagued skin? It also leaves a tacky, waxy feeling on the skin (due to the choice of emulsifiers). Finally the product is well above the pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient. These are things that make my skin break out more. 

By contrast here is the INCI Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA lotion:

Water, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20 , Salicylic Acid , Phytosphingosine , Hydroxyethylcellulose , Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract , Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract Epilobium, Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract,  Bisabolol , Sodium Hydroxide , Tetrasodium EDTA 

Paula's Choice does not claim that this product is all natural. It contains the same active ingredient, four naturally derived anti-irritants, two glycol solvents that aid penetration of the actives, a pH adjuster, an emulsifier, a plant derived thickener and preservative and a chelating agent. Nothing in here is bad for you in any way. This lotion is lightweight and absorbs quickly. It's formulated in the correct pH range for the salicylic acid to function as an exfoillient.

I have no aim to villainize Burt's Bee's or promote Paula's Choice. My mission here was to point out that an "all natural" claim:

1) Means nothing as there are no regulations on labeling something "all natural"
2) Natural does not mean good for your skin. Arsenic is natural. Lead is natural. Both of these were used in the Middle Ages and poisoned and killed many women.

Again I would like to point out that there are ZERO "chemical-free" products as EVERYTHING is a chemical, even water. Cosmetics and personal care companies are not looking to poison their customers. If we killed everyone who would buy our products? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On holidays

Fair warning- quite a few of you won't like post. If you are easily offended just stop reading now.

I am an atheist. I have been for about 8 years now. I do not believe in any kind of god nor do I believe in souls or ghosts. I try to live my life as a good person because it's the right thing to do not because I fear eternal damnation. That being said- I don't have any problem with what you believe. I am not trying to convert you, please don't try to convert me. We all make our own decisions and I think that's great.

I still celebrate all of the Christian holidays I grew up celebrating. They just have different meaning for me now. Mostly I think of holidays as a time to get together with family and friends and relax. What I am sick to death of is being accosted by Christians who think it's their duty to tell me the ONLY way to celebrate the holiday. For example throughout the entire Christmas season I have to try to ignore the people who insist on telling me to REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! Well, Jesus is the reason for YOUR season. There are actually a lot of winter holidays celebrated at the same time as Christmas. MY reason for the season is to give gifts to my family and friends to show them how much I love and appreciate them. Santa Claus comes to my little girl and we spend time with our family. Why is it your business to tell me how to celebrate? I don't tell you that everything you believe is wrong.

Easter is another bad one for me. Every year I have people "reminding" me to "remember what the day is all about". Jesus' execution and subsequent rise from the grave may be what the day is all about to you. Not me. The easter bunny showed up here and we are heading over to my parents today for a good dinner. That's it.

There is a difference between simply proclaiming your beliefs (which is fine) and telling others what they should believe (which is not). So today I wish everyone a Happy Easter- may you celebrate it how you see fit.