By Judith Tovey
Your face is part of your body's largest organ--your skin
and the skin is a living, breathing organ that is constantly
renewing itself. You wouldn't expose an organ like your
heart to harsh chemicals, right? Why expose your face?
You probably didn't even know that many of the skin care
products you use on your face every day have harsh
chemicals that erode your skin.
The average turn around for skin cells is about 28 days.
A skin cell starts its life deep in the inner layers of our skin
It is round and plump and full of moisture. As it ages it
migrates to the outer layer, flattens out a bit and
eventually sloughs off naturally. While it is a part of the
outer layer it helps form a protective moisture barrier for
its younger brothers still in their infancy and adolescence.
Baby boomers are reaching middle age and are starting
to notice the signs of aging in their faces. What to do?
Reach for that miracle cream you purchased that promises
you'll look years younger. Unfortunately, as with many
cosmetics, these miracles in a jar have slipped past the
rigorous testing procedures afforded to drugs and food
additives when, in fact, if they actually did what they
claimed they should have by definition been regulated
For example, Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a vitamin derivative. It
was used as a prescription drug for the treatment of acne.
Later it was found to plump up the skin and eliminate
small wrinkles. Several manufactures began promoting
the inclusion of vitamin A in their formulations claiming it
was producing similar effects as Retin-A. Studies in the
1980's showed there were some subtle changes to skin
with Tretinoin. (Allure magazine, Nov. 1991, Journal of
American Academy of Dermatology, August, 1991)
Others disagreed with findings saying that the reason it
seemed to work was because it literally irritates the outer
layer of the skin to such a degree that it swells or puff's up,
When fruit acids or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) hit the
market, in 1990 there were 5 AHA products on the market,
one was by prescription. By 1993, there were 50 and by
1994 over 200 new products were on the market. In
January and February of 1995 alone there were 32 new
products containing AHA introduced into the marketplace.
AHA's claims that by gently removing the dead skin cells
our skin will look healthier and feel smoother. When Dr.
John Bailey, acting director of FDA's office of Cosmetics
and Colors, spoke at the Sixth Annual Spring Seminary of
Society of Cosmetic Chemists in New York, in April, 1994,
he warned that AHA had clearly stepped over the
boundary line between what is considered a drug as
opposed to a cosmetic. His concerns were with the
application of the higher percentage solutions being
used today, as much as 50% by non-professionals and
people with less than adequate training.
As of 1993, the FDA didn't require companies to list
percentages of concentrations of fruit acids in their
products. What the AHA proponents are saying is remove
the outer layer of the skin to decrease signs of aging and
to give skin a general appearance of smoothness, right?
But what about the people that say that very same outer
layer of skin is what protects us from moisture loss and
signs of aging. If you are confused about this you're
certainly not alone. In an article in Self magazine on
moisturizers and your skin, the first part of the article
states that new moisturizers with lipids that mimic your
own skin's lipids are beneficial because they build up
and bind skin together forming a protective barrier against
moisture loss. Lipids are actually described as the "glue
that holds the skin together." Next comes a section on
AHA's that say they're beneficial because they act as an
exfoliant and dissolve the "intercellular glue" between
dead cells, peeling them away to real softer, smoother
skin. (Self, August, 1995, page 107-108) Wait a minute!
Isn't that the same protective barrier we just glued
together to prevent moisture loss? It seems everywhere
we look a different group is telling us to do something
different to our skin.
Some of the worst things in your moisturizer may include
petrolatum, mineral oil, isopropyl myristate, trietholamine,
glycerin and propylene glycol. All of these ingredients
may clog your pores and smother your skin's respiration:
and in no way do these ingredients benefit your skin.
PROPYLENE GLYCOL - This is the most common moisture
carrying vehicle in use in cosmetics. It's cheap and
available. It has also been suspected of causing sensitivity
reactions. It in fact absorbs moisture from your skin.
Propylene glycol is also used extensively in industry as a
component of brake fluids and anti-freeze preparations.
It's also used in the production of varnishes.
EXFOLIANTS disrupt the natural order of things when
they remove adult skin cells and leave those below open
to premature exposure to the environment. Without the
adult cells the immature cells can dry out and age more
rapidly than is natural.
The BENTONITE MINERAL AND KAOLIN CLAY in facial
masks dries out your skin and forms an impenetrable
barrier. This barrier traps toxins, including carbon dioxide,
in your skin and keeps oxygen out. If your skin can't
breathe, it can't stay healthy.
ALCOHOL, the main ingredient in astringents and several
other facial cleansers, makes your face feel cool and
refreshed, but it is really damaging your skin. As it cleans,
it strips away the natural oils protecting your face. After
the skin's surface has been stripped, it takes almost twenty-
four hours for it to repair itself. Your face needs moisture
to stay healthy and young-looking, not harsh chemicals.
Liquid foundations often contain MINERAL OIL, a substance
that suffocates and dries out your face. They usually also
have PETROLATUM AND ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE in them.
Petrolatum can't be absorbed by the skin and it clogs pores.
Isopropyl myristate is a fatty compound that has been
shown to clog pores and cause blackheads and pimples
also has a more sinister hidden danger. When it comes in
contact with either a Di-or Triethanolamine the result is a
nitrate compound such as n-nitrosodiethanolamine, a
suspected carcinogen. Moisturizers for the face and body
are applied over a large portion of the skin and remain
there for several hours. This exposure is significant. Many
powder foundations have talc and zinc stearate, both of
which are carcinogenic (cause cancer). Most blushes
contain mineral oil, talc, and zinc stearate.
GLYCERIN, although this ingredient is used in moisturizers
to help the cream glide, it is detrimental in that it draws
moisture from the skin and holds it on the surface,
effectively drying the skin from the inside out.
Have you ever wondered why men seem to age more
gracefully than women. Their skin is less likely to suffer
from over cleansing and drying because they do not as a
rule buy into these skin care fads. Perhaps it is not just
the so-called thicker skin. Perhaps it is what we have
been doing to our skin that is making the biggest
difference in both its structure and ability to stay healthy
and young looking.
When it comes right down to it, the giant skin care and
cosmetic companies are charging you big bucks to ruin
your face. Don't let them keep selling you treatments for
problems their own products cause. Become aware of the
ingredients in their products and their side effects. Don't
let big business take advantage of you.