I have a dream… Well a mission really….
That one day teenage girls will value using a good SPF as much as they might value having a labelled lipstick or the latest “must have holy grail make up products” from the latest beauty guru…. I tell you what, your skin will be around longer then that expensive lippy you ‘have’ to have!
I belong to a few beauty forums where woman of all ages come together to discuss the latest in beauty trends and products. I, like most woman LOVE the latest lip stick shades and the beautiful packaging from some of the amazing cosmetic companies.
It was in one of these forums that I made two discoveries:
- How many young woman are concerned with their skin. They want to have nice skin, but they either don’t know where to start or what to use.
- How many woman would prefer to just cover up their skin with expensive make up, and don’t want to spend much (if any) money on skin care. This is often caused by the latest foundations they are recommended to use being extremely expensive, and they aren’t left with a lot of extra money at the end of the day…
You are born with only one skin. I want you to think about what you put on it, not only your face but more importantly, your whole body…. But for the sake of this article, lets concentrate on the face.
Good skin care is expensive… I know it is and I understand, I really do…. I began as a struggling student myself, living off a $150 student allowance. This had to stretch to cover rent, petrol, food… and fun!
So believe me I know…. But then again anything worth having is often expensive.
Most of you understand that when comparing … lets say a high end beauty product like lipstick, to a basic lipstick brand, (besides the packaging and the label) the function, lasting power and pigmentation of that product can vary dramatically… cant it? Some low end lipsticks may only last 5 minutes compared to high end brands that can last all day (just an example).
This is also true for the function of skin care products… But the part where they differ is a low end lipstick is highly unlikely to bring harm to the health of your skin (I would like to think not at all!)… unfortunately the same cannot be said for some low end skin care products….
The last thing I would ever want to do is scare you or to sell any products (which is why in this article you will find NO SPECIFIC BRANDS) but instead I want to teach you what ingredients to look out for… it will then be YOUR educated choice to either avoid or minimize these ingredients… or continue to use… the main thing is the choice is yours, my job is to educate you.
Since I have been studying beauty therapy and skin since 2007, I am lucky enough to know first hand how my skin works. I know what it needs to be able to do its job, how I can care for my skin, and what ingredients to avoid. I would like to share with you what I know; but first I think for you to value your skin, you need a basic understanding of it e.g. what it actually does and how it really works.
Basic function of skin: First line of defence for the body against injury and the invasion of bacteria, it also acts as a waterproof covering for the body.
How your skin works: The most important thing to understand about our skin and the products you use on it is to understand the pH scale.
What is a pH scale: pH is a chemistry term meaning “Potential of Hydrogen” and refers to the degree of acidity or alkalinity in our outer skin layers. It is measured on a scale ranging from 0 to 14 where the centre of the scale (7) is neutral, a reading below 7 indicates that the substance being measured is acidic and above 7 is alkaline.
A healthy skin sits at a pH of 5.5, so as you can see on the graph, its slightly acidic. The problem lies with when you apply a product containing alkaline ingredients to the skin. What this does is it strips the skin of its natural oily protection layer (known as the acid mantle) resulting in a skin that cant do its job anymore.
Using products below 5.5 are also not doing your skin ANY BENEFIT as discussed above but now the skin is allowing invasion of bacteria and other ingredients (ingredients we may not want to be absorbed into the skin). Doing this disturbs the waterproof coating of the skin and allows water to evaporate out of the deeper layers of the skin causing excessive dehydration.
How to read an ingredient list:
I'm going to teach you a little trick. Did you know that in every product the ingredients are listed in order of potency, meaning the ingredients listed at the top of the list are contained in larger amounts than the ingredients at the bottom of the list…
For example the first ingredient is always the most concentrated; so if you want to purchase a product for its Vitamin C benefit, you want to see those relevant ingredients appear in the first 5 names of the list, anything below that and its not the ingredient you are really paying for.
Ingredients to avoid or reduce:
Low end cheaper products (typically called drug store products in America) are more likely to contain these ingredients as they are inexpensive to use, but I recommend you check all your products. I recommend purchasing off a skin care professional that understands their products. They should be able to tell you the pH level of the product, the active ingredients including their percentages, and also how to use the product and any possible complications or things you need to know about that product.
You can almost guarantee any product that you can walk up to and self prescribe, aren’t going to have any ingredients at the right percentage that will actually be able to change or improve the skin. This is as much a safety pre-caution as it is good business… Think about this: cosmetic companies can’t afford for you to not enjoy their products, or worse, have a reaction from them, so most products are made to have little to no effect on the skin at all, except for the sneaky slow change to your skins pH every day…. taking your skin further and further away from the safe 5.5 pH.
These ingredients distress the skin - Avoid or reduce the following:
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
This is one of the most commonly found ingredients (90% of personal-care products that foam)
It is used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers. Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, laboured breathing, diarrhoea, severe skin irritation, and even death. SLS may also damage the skins immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. When combined with other chemicals, SLS can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. Your body may retain the SLS for up to five days, during which time it may enter and maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, the lungs, and the brain.
Other ingredients to avoid:
- Added colouring – If you take a look at your product label and you notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colours. These letters precede a colour and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1). These synthetic colours are derived from petroleum or coal tar sources
- Tricosan (petrochemicals)
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)
- Mineral oil
- Added Fragrance
- Propylene glycol
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40) – very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin’s moisture and natural immune barrier, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, molds and viruses
Tegan’s tips for great skin:
- Consult a beauty therapist who specialises in skin health.
We are beauty therapist’s for a reason, because we love people, we love to make them happy and importantly we love to care for your skin. If you are concerned with expense, talk to your therapist and ask her to create a cost effective skin care plan, she will be more then happy to help you achieve beautiful healthy skin, while keeping your wallet healthy and happy also.
- SPF everyday: my greatest tip is to apply a good quality SPF to your skin EVERYDAY, winter, summer, autumn and spring… yes 365 days a year! Containing physical ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide, this will keep your skin healthy and looking younger for longer…. Trust me.
- If you wear make up, you need to remove it safely so please invest in a good cleanser; something that is of course pH 5.5 or as close to it. Talk to a skin specialist who can match you with one to suit your needs. You can get beautiful cream cleansers for dryer sensitive skins and cream gel cleansers for skins that have more surface oil to help safely balance the excess oil without stripping the skin.
- Don’t trust marketing buzz words. Make sure you check the ingredients in your products and don’t trust a product simply by how it is marketed. So often less then satisfactory ingredients are hiding in products claiming to be “natural” or “for sensitive skin” especially in baby products so remember chemicals can be natural too. Like my friend Robyn McAlpine Expert Skin Therapist says #turnitover if you unsure of what your using.