A quick note before you continue, I have no professional background in science or chemistry. This post is meant to assist you in being able to make the most informed ingredient decisions you can by looking at the facts.
All substances are poisonous; there is none that is not a poison. The right dose differentiates between a poison and a remedy. Paracelsus (1493-1541)
Lately in the DIY community, there have been quite a number of blog posts about how chemicals and chemically sounding words that no one but a Latin major can understand can say, can actually be good for you. And yes, there will be a blog post about it all once I figure out how I want to say what I want to say.
But todays blog post is not about that. It is about a journey into DIY. When most people get into the DIY hobby, they do it because they want to ditch the chemicals, the parabens, the preservatives, the sulfates and all those “fun” things.
So you turn to Google and the blogging world and the black hole that is Pinterest, that tells you “all you need is coconut oil or olive oil” or “the best products are in your kitchen”! “Here! Try this “burning” face mask” made with so much cinnamon you are actually at risk for a chemical burn! But “here I’ve got a pore reducing face mask for you”, Elmers Glue and activated charcoal. Spirulina as a lovely green eyeshadow that really stays! Clove powder as a blush/eyeshadow! Or you go to the “green” beauty bloggers, mama bloggers, who actually really seem use scare tactics on their readers. OH OH OH! Or the “expert” doctors out there that talk about magical ingredients or again use scare tactics by giving the tiniest amount of facts, then BAM! Preach at you with fear.
While yes, a kitchen and house does have many amazing things that one can use to obtain amazing skin, a lot of people don’t realise that a lot of these kitchen ingredients need actual safe usage levels that are not the same for food and cosmetics. One also needs to use their brain and research the ingredients and how to use them, the possible interactions of using them if you have any allergies, sensitivities, the possible reactions of using them- just because some random yahoo with a few thousand (or millions) followers doesn’t always mean they know what they are talking about. Do your research. Be safe. Be skin safe!
So what’s the problem? I like wickedly spicy food. And that is good for me! But some people can’t handle the wickedly spicy vindaloo dishes that make you cry. So why do people assume your skin is going to be like someone else’s? What works for one person, might not work for another. My face loves loves loves coconut oil, but there are people out there that put it near their face, and their pores get blocked! And just for clarification? I didn’t always have a brain either. I do speak from experience on using various and questionable ingredients in my skin care routine. I tried everything to get rid of my acne short of sandblasting. I spent years and a lot of money on essential oils, exotic oils, various commercial products, imported from all over the planet. And nothing worked. I discovered soaping, and spent a fortune trying to make this or that recipe work. I tried tea tree, lavender and discovered my skin doesn’t like either. But was assured if I only kept at it, my acne would go away.
And all through this time I was referring to the natural bloggers and the mama’s and the babe’s and the Dr. Quacks out there that tried to tell me that practically anything made in a lab was terrible for me and causing me to have this or that problem. Thin hair? You must have leaky gut! Your nose is big! You need to eat more probiotic rich superfoods! Oh, you’ve got BO? Well look no further! Rub a pickle on your pits!
So what does this all mean to you? Let me take you on an example of what I mean. It’s a little on the lengthly side, but bear with me.
Here is one example of possibly millions. Propylene Glycol and a Jackass- let’s refer to him as Dr. Dumbass.
While I was doing some research for this post to make sure I had all my ducks in a row and my facts straight, I came across Dr Dumbass’s page about propylene glycol. And reading the page, he is really not necessarily wrong in what he is saying about propylene glycol and its various albeit possible health risks: possible skin irritant, potentially toxic to the kidneys and liver, potential heart issues.. and (airquote) potentially (air quote) so on. And my favourite? The whole antifreeze hype: “When propylene glycol is used in antifreeze products in place of ethylene glycol, it’s considered “non-toxic antifreeze.””
Which amounts is he referring too? These?
FDA has approved its use at concentrations as high as 98% in topical drugs and 92% in oral solutions.
And since he brought up the EU further along in the article, take a gander:
In 1994, the Cosmetics Industry Safety Panel (of CTFA, Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, known today as “The Personal Care Products Council”) confirmed propylene glycol to be safe for use in cosmetic articles, and at higher concentrations than those actually used in consumer products.
It’s also safe to say, that if you want propylene glycol free cosmetic products, you should stop eating ice creams and ice lollies as it is usually one of the ingredients.
Now let’s take a look at some sciencey sites:
And for you lucky ladies with lovely curls, here is a link you might find familiar: naturallycurly.com
So you kind of understand what I am saying? That lots of people out there are going to do anything to get your traffic to their site with whacky titles about ingredients in this companies food also are also used as an additive to make yoga mats. Or don’t drink this because there is so much sugar in it! (But there is about the same amount of sugar in this beverage as in a more common one). Or this ingredient is used in antifreeze why would you want to put it on your face/body? If you stop eating this, your skin will be perfect! And you read a couple more blogs about the same topic, then you read some silly doctor man’s website about how yes! It is true! If you stop rubbing that pickle on your pits, your grandchildren will get ingrown toenails.
There are different grades of ingredients. But that doesn’t mean that they are the same. Surfactants are a good example here. We use surfactants in body washes, shampoos, toothpastes and such. Sound safe? Yes! That’s the cosmetic grade for surfactants. 100% perfectly safe for its intended purpose. Now if I were a mama, babe or a Dr. Dumbass, I would scream and tell you NO! Surfactants are not safe and bad for you because they are an ingredient in…. Round Up Mix! Do you want to be eating the same ingredient used in something to kill weeds and pests? But if you do the research, you will see that they use a different grade. And the surfactant is used to adhere the adhere the chemical to the plant and that’s its job.
When you set out to forumlate your own products, begin DIY, want to become ingredient savvy, or read someones blog to get an idea of a recipe to make your own products, look for facts. Take each and every ingredient and check it out from a science point of view. Not some random babe’s blog, or a mama blog, or a blog that tells you you can mix oils and water and not use a preservative.
Over the past few years, we seem to have turned our backs on science based facts and welcomingly embraced idiots who preach to us with their own agenda. When it comes to your body and your skin, do the fact based research and not the oh my sisters husbands friends kids cousins brothers dog doesn’t like this so I shouldn’t like it either. Or I read on this person’s blog that the dust ball under my bed would make a good ear plug. And yes, this is now my platform too and yes, we have our own agenda. But at the end of the day, science is what will be left behind. The more you hear something, the more our brains want to beleive it is true. Just because one person is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right. If everyone were to jump off a building, would you?
In case you were wondering, Proplyene Glycol is a humectant. Humectants are very important in the cosmetics and skin care industry. They are a material that pair with water molecules and boosts the water content in the skin. Humectants draw moisture to the skin in two ways. They can take moisture from the air and drops it onto the skin, and they promote water absorption from the outer layers of skin. Now while I don’t personally use Proplyene Glycol in Scrub Me Down- Happy Skin products, I wouldn’t say no to using it. It’s just not available to us in China, so we use vegetable glycerine as our humectant.
And now for a little something extra:
Dr Jackass goes on in his post to talk about how in the US cosmetics do not have to have their ingredients listed- wait. Let me show you what he said:
I call bullshite. I call massive bullshite. We just told you the other day we are thinking of moving from China to another country and opening a shop in a few years. And guess what? One of those countries is America. So we’ve been studying FDA Cosmetic Labelling Regulations which state VERY clearly on the FDA website:
The FDA has very precise and I’m talking precise, down to the font ratio for rules for labelling of skin care/cosmetic products. Ingredients MUST be listed and there is a very strict and precise rule for how you can list your ingredients too and where your ingredient list must be placed both on the container and on the packaging.
Need another link to help understand the labelling or just want a company to make yours?
And here are a few links to some great sites that help to understand various ingredients:
Personal Care– Information Based on Sciencific Facts
Skin Deep– ingredient sheet checker
An now for some laughs from around the web:
“FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market FDA.” (that is a quote from the FDA) Essential oils are usually the “natural” ingredients which actually have little to no scientific backing. Essential oils, coconut oil and other similar ingredients are not “natural” as they have been chemically, mechanically, or processed in some way, and have a lovely places on the periodic table of elements making them…. chemicals. Other chemicals that are dangerous if not properly tested: water, peppermint essential oil, cinnamon powder, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, olive oil, talc, and everything under the sun.
And lastly, TheOatmeal comic on why we do what we do. It’s cute!