OUTSIDE HELP: MIRACLE CURES
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean?
Know the score – before – you buy at the store!
As you begin to take control of your healing relationship with your skin – start to read labels of all of the stuff you slather all over it. Sometimes the names of potentially irritating ingredients are so long and confusing. Many commercial manufacturers will put the label ‘with natural ingredients’ on their label and bate you into buying their products. They will add organic or natural ingredients to their products to make the ingredient list seem friendly enough, yet they still may contain harsh chemicals. They will decorate their packages with floral pictures and the words “herbal” or “natural” to convince you that their products are down to earth. But you are smarter than that aren’t you? Aren’t you?
Sometimes nutritional products are incorporated into cosmetic products because of their beneficial things they can do for your skin.
You have my permission to gloss over his next section and jump to the bottom paragraphs. It is here basically if you have questions or concerns over the ingredients in a product you might be using. Below is a brief discussion of some of the terms you might want to be familiar with:
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Bases, Oils, and Other Lubricants:
Base oils can be either animal based, vegetable based, or mineral based and of these three your best line of defense against future skin issues is a vegetable based product. Cosmetic ingredients can be either whole ingredients or byproducts from other sources.
- Glycerin is a sweet tasting oily fluid which is a byproduct of soap manufacturing (derived from both plants and animal fats), but used for many purposes besides cleaning. It is produced by adding alkalis to fats and fixed oils and works as a solvent, emollient, humectant (helps to retain moisture in other products), and ‘gliding’ agent (improves products spreadability). Glycerine soaps are usually the least drying of all hard soaps. When glycerin is combined with alcohol it produces glycols which are used in makeup to improve adherence to skin. Sodium Lactate is a ‘glycerin-like’ oil free humectant.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Sodium Laureth Sulfate, SLS, or SLES) is a water soluble cleanser derived from coconut oil and minerals. It is a common ingredient in most cleansers and shampoos because of its foaming characteristics and can be irritating with higher concentrations. Please note the paragraph below, “Time To Pop Mr. Bubble!” to learn more about adding salt or sodium to cleansers.
- Plant oils are used as natural emollients and lubricants. These oils may include jojoba, sesame, safflower, castor oil (made from the castor bean), aloe vera, and possibly hydrogenated vegetable oils and wheatgerm oil. Wheatgerm oil is a natural antioxident and is rich in vitamin e and lecithin.
- Other plant oils include: Aulene is an essential oil that comes from chamomile and is used as an anti-inflamatory and analgesic. It show up in both shampoos and facial care products. Allantoin, which comes from comfrey root, is a healing and soothing agent for skin, burns, and rashes. Sorbitol is found in berries, fruit and seaweed and acts as a humectant, stabilizer and lubricant.
- Hyaluronic Acid is a very strong humectant which holds 1000 times its weight in water, This substance is found naturally all throughout the human body. It is cultured synthetically in laboratories for use in cosmetic products.
- Propylene Glycol is a humectant and solubilizer that is easily absorbed into the skin and helps to attract additional skin moisture. It is often used as a base for herbal extracts.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Emollients and Emulsifiers
Emulsifiers are used when ingredients which would not normally be mixed together need to be blended. They help to homogenize a product. Emollients are the substances that provide a products moisture.
- Lanolin or acetylated lanolin is a yellow, semi-solid, fatty secretion from sheep’s wool used as an emulsifier. It is very similar in its chemical structure to human skin oil. It is used as an emollient and gives that ‘velvety’ feeling to creams and moisturizers. It is comedogenic and can potentially cause contact dermatitis. Laneth-10 is a lanolin alcohol.
- Essential fatty acids are a basic component of skin. They act to reduce scaly skin surface and restore smoothness. In cosmetics they are produced from sources such as sunflower, borage, evening primrose and other plant oils. They can also be derived from animal fats. Myristic acid is a solid organic acid occurring naturally in butter acids. Arachidyl proprionate or Arachadonic acid are essential fatty acids which sometimes comes from peanuts. Linoleic acid and linolenic acid are other essential fatty acids which help to improve skin texture.
- Isopropyl Myristate or dry oil of IPM is a greaseless derivitive of myristic acid which helps to reduce an oily feeling in some cosmetics. This ingredient is comedogenic.
- Fatty acids are a blend of two or more essential fatty acids or fatty alcohol materials and have many uses and are found everywhere in cosmetics. They have emollient and lubricating qualities and usually blend well with other ingredients making them also excellent emulsifiers. Types of fatty acids include: cetyl alcohol, caprylic acid, lauric acid (laurle), palmitic acid, and stearic acid. Capric or Caprylic Triglicerides are very similar to natural skin oils and are used in many creams and lotions.
- The name cetyl alcohol (also cetearyl or ceteraeth) is actually misleading, because it consists of white to yellow flakes derived from coconut oil. It is classified as a fatty acid and is used as an emollient and emulsifier. Cocamide DEA or MEA and cocamidopropyl betaine are other cleansing and conditioning ingredients also derived from coconut fatty acids. Ceteareth is another emulsifyer, lubricant and emollient derived from coconut oil.
- Stearic acid is a common waxy emulsifier typically made from coconut or palm kernel oil, but can also be sourced from animal fats. Stearic acid is a potential allergen. It is frequently combined with other ingredients such as glycerin (glyceryl stearate) or potassium to make soap foamy or with other other related emulsifiers.
- Cetyl lactate is a synthetic fatty acid that is used as an emollient
- Peg or Polyethylene Glycol is an organic alcohol which binds itself to oily substances to increase their water solubility. Peg-8 stearate (stearic acid-coconut/palm source) acts as a humectant and lubricant.
- Panthenol is another strong humectant which helps bind moisture to the skin. When it enters the skin it converts to vitamin b-5 or pantothenic acid and works to aid healing.
- Other miscellaneous emulsifiers and emollients include: Dextrine – a starchy substance that also thickens and helps to retain moisture in a product; Lecithin – an emulsifier, antioxidant, stabilizer, that also helps to restore texture to the skin’s surface; Octyldodecanol – an organic emollient; and Octyl Palmitate – a lubricant from palm kernel oil.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Texturers and Thickeners
Various additives are used to thicken and texturize cosmetics.
- Octyl hydroxystearate is a white waxy fatty acid with animal and vegetable sources. It is used as an emulsifyer and also to help firm up a product’s consistency. They tend to be greasy and can also cause allergic reactions especially in higher concentrations.
- Plant waxes are used to firm a product’s consistency without greasiness or allergic side effects. Among them are: candelilla wax from the candelilla plant, carnauba wax from the Brazillian wax palm trees, and paraffin wax.
- Plant gums are used not only to thicken, but as emulsifiers and preservatives as well. Gums include: Guar Gum, tragacanth gum, gum arabic, and benzoin.
- Carrageenan is a seaweed extract used to thicken and stabilize products. It also has a tremendous humectant capacity.
- Casein is a milk protein complex used both to thicken and emulsify.
- Clay may be added to add texture or absorbing capability to a product. Kaolin is a one such clay as is bentonite or volcanic ash.
- Ozokerite is a waxy petroleum byproduct used as an emulsifier or thickener.
- Triethanolamine or TEA is used to adjust pH by reducing alkalinity. It also helps to thicken or form gels.TEA may be combined with other substances such as TEA-Lauryl Sulfate.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Time To Pop Mr. Bubble!
I don’t know where it says anywhere that in order for a soap to clean it must be foamy? Modern day marketing has convinced us that we’re not fully clean until we’ve worked up some serious bubbles. Lather is not a sign of cleanliness, in fact, to make a product work up lather, unnecessary salts are added to the actual cleaning mixture. The salts effect the pH balance of products and upset the pH balance of your skin. Salt can also cause skin irritation. Some of the common lathering agents currently used are:
- Potassium stearate is simply potassium salt (a very basic soap compound of alkali and a fatty acid) combined with strearic acid.
- Potassium myristate – a type of potassium salt with myristic acid that encourages lather.
- Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate or sarcocines are sweet crystalline acids formed from caffeine and used to prevent tooth decay, but are also found in soaps and shampoos due to their excellent foaming quality. Sarcocines are also found in starfish and sea urchins.
- Other salt (sodium) related additives include: potassium palmitate, potassium laurate, pentasodium pentetate
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Colorants and Fragrance
Beware of synthetic fragrances which are added to most over-the-counter cosmetic ingredients. One synthetic fragrance can have as many as 200 of its own chemical ingredients and there is no way of tracking those ingredients or their allergenic properties successfully. Some of the side effects caused by synthetic fragrances include headache, rashes, respiratory and/or gastrointestinal tract irritation, as well as skin irritation.
Mica is a group of many different types of minerals which are ground up and used as a lubricant and colorant in many cosmetics. They can become an irritant to the upper respiratory tract if inhaled. Fairly safe colorants include iron oxides, titanium dioxide, carmine and other natural colors such as carotene which occurs naturally in plants and algae.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Antibacterials and Astringents
Astringents cause the skin cells to contract to assist the drawing out of impurities. Antibacterials inhibit the growth of bacteria
- Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) or Rubbing Alcohol is derived from petroleum and acts as an antibacterial. It also helps to degrease products and skin.
- Triclosan is a broad spectrum antibacterial agent found in facial cleansers, and deodorant soaps and sprays as well as in certain household products, that has been known to cause contact dermatitis particularly when used on the feet.
- Grapefruit juice or extract – has an antibacterial effect on the skin and supports natural skin pH with no known side effects.
- Sodium Borate or Borax is a salt which raises the skin’s pH level and helps to remove dead surface skin cells. It also acts as an astringent and antiseptic.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Sunscreens
Exposure to sun can cause skin irritation and lead to breakouts, so keep an eye on it. The best way to protect your skin from the sun is to avoid long term exposure from it altogether. If you find you are going to be outside for any period of time, wear sun protective clothing, i.e. long sleeves and a wide brimmed hat (at least 4″) that will completely shade your face and neck.
As far as sunscreens go, they should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 or more. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied after swimming or sweating or long term use. See individual product labels for the specific amount of time the product will last. The FDA requires most cosmetic products to contain sunscreen or at least recommend the use of them on the label.
- PABA or Para-Amino-Benzoic-Aicd is a natural sunscreen that absorbs ultraviolet rays derived from vitamin b complex. It may be a potential allergen.
- Benzophenone or Oxybenzone is a natural sunscreen that absorbs UVA and UVB rays. It is a possible skin irritant.
- Octyl Methoxycinnateis a natural sunscreen that absorbs UVB rays, is more effective and has less side effects than PABA.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Preservatives
Preservatives are essential to keep a commercial produced product safe and fresh for your usage as it may be sitting on the shelf at the store for some time before you buy and use it.
- Propylparaben is an acid ester (acid and alcohol compound) used as a preservative, but which may cause contact dermatitis.
- Tocopherol or oil soluble Vitamin E is used in natural cosmetics to prevent rancidity and also benefits the user with its antioxidant properties and ability to fight free radicals which cause scar formation. Tocopheryl acetate is synthetically produced tocopherol. Tocopheryl Linoleate combines tocopherol and linoleic acid and works to improve skin texture.
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is used to preserve cosmetics, contributes to product stability and helps to reduce redness in skin. Ascorbyl Palmitate or ‘salt of ascorbic acid’ works as a preservative, but also stabilizes color and works as an antioxidant.
- Citric acid is made from citrus fruit sugar or other fermented sugars and helps to stabilize the color, consistency of cosmetic product. It helps to adjust pH and is also commonly used in preserving canned foods.
- DEA Lauryl Sulfate is a semi synthetic derivitive of amonium chloride and is commonly used as a preservative. It is a possible allergen.
- Carbomer is an organic compound use to prolong shelf life of a product, but also helps to emulsify and thicken.
- Methylparaben is an organic preservative which works in water to prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus, mold and other contaminants.
- Dioctyl Adipate helps to preserve products by lowering humidity.
- Imadazolidinyl Urea is a broad-spectrum preservative which works on both bacteria and fungus.
- Polysorbate is an emulsifier which is added to products also to help preserve them.
- Sodium or salt is often used to preserve products. Some of the salts used to preserve cosmetics include: Potassium Sorbate – an organic salt which helps to prevent the growth of molds and yeasts. Sodium Benzoate or sodium salt of benzoic acid – an antiseptic and preservative.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Vitamin and Other Mineral Additives
In most cases, you are more likely to absorb vitamins through your natural digestive system. But there are instances where applying certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, to your skin may have a positive affect on it.
- Retinol or Vitamin A helps to restore skin texture and moisture. Retinyl Palmitate is the oli-soluble form of Vitamin A which acts as an antioxident. It can also act as a preservative. Retinoic Acid is also part of the vitamin a group, but is only included in prescribed cosmetic products. It is considered a powerful drug because of its concentrated ability to remove the upper layer of skin cells.
- Carotene or beta carotene is in the Vitamin A family and may add a yellow tone to products, but is primarily added because of its antioxidant capabilities. Found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables as well as in egg yolks.
- Niacin is a vasodilator or in other words it helps to dilate or expand the skin’s blood vessels so that blood can move more freely to the area. Because of this action it can cause severe redness which is usually temporary.
- Riboflavin or Vitamin B-2 helps to repair skin and encourages cell growth.
- Ergocalciferol or Vitamin D-2 is a fat soluble vitamin normally produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight.
- Magnesium Sulfate or Epsom Salts help to relax the skin making penetration of other ingredients easier.
- Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound found in rocks and seashells and snail shells. It is commonly used as an antacid, but can also be a filler or thickener for cosmetic products. As far as I know it poses no serious threat to skin, but it is a funny thing to add rocks to a skin product isn’t it?
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Botanical Additives
Many natural ingredients are added to cosmetics. Some have more specific usages such as eucalyptus which is drawing antiseptic. More likely there are multiple benefits for using these ingredients.
- Aloe vera helps to retain moisture in the skin and in addition it is an antibacterial astringent that helps to detoxify the skin.
- Ginseng, Bergamot, Rosemary, Yarrow all assist healing by stimulating circulation thereby improving cellular metabolism. Peppermint also acts as an soothing anti-inflammatory. Mint contains tannin and iron.
- Witch hazel is helpful as an astringent. And St. John’s Wort, Calendula or Marigold are antiseptics and astringents that normalize blemished skin.
- Both Comfrey and Chamomile soothe, heal, and relieves inflammation. Comfrey contains allantoin, Vitamin A, B12 and tanin. Chamomile contains azulene, potassium, phosphorus, and lime.
- Echinecea has regenerative capabilities and is known to help resistance to infection.
- Almond oil which contains calcium, Vitamins A and B complex calms and moisturizes the skin
- Carrot contains Vitamins A,B, C, D, E and K and iron, iodine, magnesium, potassium and moisturizes and stimulates skin reproduction.
- Cucumber containing Vitamins A,B,C and soothes and heals skin
- Kelp has Vitamins B, C, and E iodine, iron helps the skin eliminate wastes and stimulates circulation.Fruits extracts are also commonly added to cosmetics:
- Apricot contains various minerals and vitamin a helps promote cell reproduction.
- Banana has Vitamins A,B,C,E, and iron and has natural astringent properties.
- Peach contains vitamins a and c and citric acid and is an anti-inflammatory.
- Strawberry naturally contains salicylic acid, line, iron, sodium, vitamin c, and tannin and also acts as an astringent.
- Avocado has been found to be extremely moisturizing
- And lastly lemon helps to dissolve excess oil and acts as an antibacterial and contains iron potassium, tannin, and citric acid.
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? Other Additives
- NaPCA is a substance which aids skin elasticity and naturally occurs on the skin’s surface. It is also synthetically manufactured from glutamic acid (a non-essential amino acid) and put into cosmetic products.
- Squalene or squalane is very similar to the lipids naturally occurring in the skin and helps to maintain skin’s natural texture. It is processed from shark liver, wheat germ, rice bran, and olives.
- Bisabolol is derived from chamomile and acts in a soothing capacity.
- Cyclomethicone is an inorganic deritive of silicon which protects the skin from environmental contaminents.
- Methyl Nicotinate is another vasodilator derived from nicotinic acid.More cosmetic definitions may be found on the web. Here was a rather comprehensive glossary I found.http://www.avro.co.za/misc/about_skincare/cosmetic_ingredients.html
What Do All of Those Long Names Mean? What Else?
Now that we have thoroughly examined habitual picking from a logical standpoint. We have talked about the histology (the why and how) of skin eruptions, and the various treatments available, let’s look at the other options you have to heal, namely, getting to the source of not just skin problems, but more importantly, the other factors that contribute.
As we have discussed skin problems are often caused by emotional problems, and conversely, skin problems cause emotional problems. While it is good to understand everything that has been discussed up to this point, what causes habitual picking lies way more beneath the surface than you ever imagined. We have talked about healing from a generalized standpoint. Now it is time for you to really look at yourself as an individual and see what is REALLY going on.