Monday, 24 August 2020

Good and Bad Alcohol in Skincare

When you see the word “alcohol” in your skincare product, what kind of image appears in your mind?

Most people would associate alcohol with the clear liquid that dries the skin and sometimes causes irritation. That is only part of the story, though, since “alcohols” are a large family of substances and some alcohols especially the fatty alcohols are very good for our skin.

The definition of alcohol: an alcohol is an organic compound in which the hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom and this carbon is saturated.

Alcohols That Are Bad for Our Skin

If you see the word “alcohol” alone in the ingredient list, it is the same alcohol contains in our beer, wine, and hard liquor. It is also called ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Many times, you see the word SD alcohol such as SD alcohol 40, SD alcohol 23-A. SD alcohol means specially denatured alcohol, and it means an additive called denaturant is added to the alcohol to make it undrinkable, serving to protect the public in cases of accidental ingestion and a deterrent to those wishing to drink it. This alcohol is bad for your skin since it is drying and irritating, even though it has antibacterial, antiseptic, and astringent properties.

Denatured alcohol is commonly used in skin care to ensure formula stability, emulsify ingredients, enhance skin absorption, or to preserve the product. This obviously means that in some cases, alcohol denat is crucial to the performance of the product.

Another liquid alcohol is isopropanol, or isopropyl alcohol, or IPA. Isopropanol is used similarly to ethanol, except it is more toxic than ethanol but less drying to skin.

A less commonly used alcohol in skincare products is methanol, or methyl alcohol. It is the lightest alcohol, quite toxic, and should be avoided.

Below is the “bad alcohol” list. Don’t buy a skincare product if one of these appears near the top of the ingredient list.

·        alcohol, ethanol, ethyl alcohol

·        isopropanol, isopropyl alcohol, IPA

·        methanol, methyl alcohol

·        benzyl alcohol (usually used as a preservative and acceptable if it appears towards the end of the ingredient list)

    Alcohols That Are Good for Our Skin                                            Emulsifiers | Aromantic Cosmetic Ingredients

A group of good alcohols is fatty alcohols, and they don’t look anything like the liquid alcohols above. Rather, most of them look like white pearls. They gave a slippery feel, and they protect and soften our skin. Most of these fatty alcohols are derived either from vegetable sources such as coconut oil or palm oil, or from petroleum.

Cetyl alcohol is usually extracted from coconut oil, although it was originally derived from whale oil, after it was discovered in 1817. Its name cetyl also comes from the Latin name for whale, cetus. Cetyl alcohol helps to form protective barrier on the skin so water cannot evaporate, thus locking in the moisture. Stearyl alcohol is another commonly found fatty alcohol in skincare products. It is derived from cocoa, shea butter, or from animal fat. Stearyl alcohol acts as a good emollient, and as an emulsifier — helping oils and water to form smooth mixtures.

Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol, usually derived from coconut oil. It acts as an emollient, keeping moisture in the skin.

Lanolin alcohol is another commonly used fatty alcohol, and it is derived from the oil glands of sheep’s wool. It is a great emollient, and a good emulsifier. However, some people find lanolin alcohol slightly irritating.

Below is the “good alcohol” list.

·        myristyl alcohol: emollient

·        cetyl alcohol: emollient – stearyl alcohol: emollient, emulsifier

·        cetearyl alcohol: mixture of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol: emollient, emulsifier

·        behenyl alcohol: emollient, emulsifier

·        lanolin alcohol: emollient, emulsifier. may cause allergic reaction in some people


About your Emulsifiers and Stabilisers

Beeswax (Emulsifier)

Beeswax is the major component of honeycomb. It is secreted in tiny flakes from the underside of the abdomens of worker bees, and moulded into honeycomb. Beeswax is obtained, after removal of the honey, by melting the honeycomb, straining the wax to remove impurities, and pressing the residue to extract any remaining wax. The purified wax is then poured into moulds to solidify. Colour and quality are preserved by melting the wax in water, avoiding direct heat. The wax may also be bleached. As an effective emulsifier, it is used for candles, for artificial fruit and flowers, and for modelling wax. It is also an ingredient in furniture and floor waxes, leather dressings, waxed paper, lithographic inks, cosmetics, and ointments.

Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier)

Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of naturally derived fatty alcohols consisting predominantly of cetyl and stearyl alcohol. Normally derived from coconut oil, the ingredient offers very efficient viscosity building properties to creams, lotions, and other personal care products, including anhydrous formulations such as body polishes or oil blends.  This fabulous ingredient can be utilized to create both oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions. In addition to enhanced viscosity, Cetearyl Alcohol also imparts its own emollient properties in the formulation. 

Cetyl Alcohol (Stabiliser)

Cetyl Alcohol is a, 95% pure and natural, fatty alcohol fromcoconut oil. It is usefully employed in emulsions and anhydrous formulas to increase viscosity (thicken) as well as to act as a stabiliser in order to prevent the oils and waters from separating in the final product.

To see what kind of ingredients are in botanical skincare products, please go to this link:

Centella Skincare - botanical skincare emporium

 Centella - botanical skincare emporium, Croydon | Skincare Product ...

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Common Skincare Myths

AHA, BHA or PHA - Which acid is right for you?

Acids — the basics 

I understand combining the words 'acid' and 'skin' can be intimidating. Don't be scared!

Acids are all about exfoliation, and are derived from professional chemical peels, but are now included in our everyday skincare routines. 

I originally coined the phrase 'acid toning' to allow readers to easily identify where it goes in their routine, i.e. after cleansing — the liquid acid stage replaces your traditional toner.

Try to buy two, preferably three, acid products: a strong one for evenings, a lighter one for daytime and one more to mix it up. 

Different strengths and different acids do different things to the skin, and you'll want to tweak which you use depending on how your skin's feeling.

All acids are available in a variety of strengths and come in many forms: liquids, pre-soaked pads and gels.

What they're for: 

  • LACTIC (AHA): resurfacing, great for dehydrated and dry skin.
  • GLYCOLIC (AHA): stimulating for better collagen production, resurfacing.
  • MALIC (AHA): resurfacing, good for boosting production of collagen.
  • SALICYLIC (BHA): best for spots/acne. Surprisingly gentle.
  • POLYHYDROXY ACIDS (PHAs): best for those in need of hydration and deep penetration of a product applied afterwards.

Overused, misused, confusing — and all over our faces 

NATURAL: The most over-used and abused word in the industry. If a product is labelled 'natural' you think you're doing yourself some good. But ALL products contain chemicals and the use of the word natural is not regulated. Read the label. Educate yourself.

Free Formula Calculators

ANTI-AGEING: We're all so used to this term we don't even question it. If a product says it is 'anti-ageing' on the box, it must be, right? Wrong. I don't like the term anti-ageing — if we're lucky enough, we all get older — but the industry is slow to catch up and still thinks youth is the dream. Few ingredients are indeed 'anti-ageing'— but some are entitled to be called 'ageing prevention'. They do not reverse signs of ageing, but they do help slow them down or prevent them from getting worse.

ORGANIC: This is marginally better than 'natural', as at least there are some standards. Eight certification bodies in the UK give organic accreditation, and many more worldwide. All have different requirements. Brands that are obsessively organic will tell you the how, why, when and where behind their products' creation.

DETOX: Despite what the 'clean and green' industry claim, we have our own built-in detox system. It's called your lungs, liver, kidneys and skin. Outside of the medically supervised detox treatment in a hospital or drug-dependency unit, any other use of the word 'detox' is disingenuous at best, nonsense at worst. And it has no business in the food world or in skincare. Detox products. Detox creams. Detox teas. Detox pads for your feet. Detox hair straighteners. Enough.

HYPO-ALLERGENIC: It means 'should not cause an allergy', which is fairly meaningless. There's no industry or legal standard to back it up, and there are different standards in the U.S. and EU. An extreme allergen to you may be perfectly fine for me.

SHRINKS PORES: Pores are not doors, they do not open and close. Nothing opens and closes pores. There is a big difference between 'closes pores' and 'minimises the appearance of pores'. One is rubbish, the other is possible.

Skincare facts revealed by a dermatologist - Skincare myths you ...

DERMATOLOGIST-TESTED: This has no legal standing or definition. It also does not mean the product tested 'positively' by a dermatologist, just that it was 'tested'. 'How was it tested?' you ask. Probably by rubbing a bit on their hand, or on a patient's face, to check for any reaction. It is a genuinely pointless term and I pay no attention to it.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Best oils for skin health

4 Types of Oil for Skin Health & Beauty | BlogFrom restorative rosehip to multi-talented lavender, there are numerous skin-saving botanicals that have been smoothing, plumping and healing skin for generations. Here’s how to incorporate plant oils into your daily skincare routine. And this is not restricted to those with dry skins as many skin types can benefit from soothing natural oils.

Natural oils, such as coconut oil, shea butter oil, and olive oil, have been used for skin care and hair care for centuries. Generation after generation have touted them for various moisturising, protective, and antibacterial qualities. With the growth of the modern cosmetic and wellness industries, these deceptively simple substances have often been overlooked, but they’ve had a bit of a resurgence in the public eye over the last decade, as people strive to find additive-free, affordable, and effective products.
But which oils should you use, how should they be used and what’s the difference between them?

1. Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)
MCT Oil For Weight Loss - Thyroid Advisor
Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin and is known to have many health benefits, including vitamins E and K, as well as its antifungal and antibacterial properties. The one big exception? Along with cocoa butter, coconut oil is likely to cause breakouts. In general, coconut oil is a great option for almost everybody, except if you have oily skin and you're acne prone, it's probably not advisable to use it on the face. In a study published in the journal Dermatitis, researchers found coconut oil was better than olive oil at moisturising skin when used in a carrier. Remember to look for cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil for your face or skin care.

2. Olive Oil (Olea europaea)
Olive oil doesn’t typically trigger allergic reactions but for the best results, be sure to opt for the extra-virgin variety. Olive oil contains vitamins A, D, E, and K, and some research, such as a study published in October 2016 in the journal Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology, it offers scientific evidence of its potential as a moisturiser. With its heavy consistency, it is a great choice for an all-body application. You may even want to try an olive oil cleanser or bar of soap for a clean that won’t dry out your skin. Olive oil for face can be particularly helpful in overnight masks designed to deliver intense moisture to skin while you sleep.

3. Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)
Sunflower seed oil is widely available, high in vitamin E, and absorbs easily into the skin, making it an excellent choice as a natural moisturizer. One study, published in January-February 2013 in the journal Paediatrics  and Dermatology, found that in infants sunflower oil better protected the skin’s barrier and didn’t cause or aggravate atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema), as compared with olive oil.

4. Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)
Derived from the nuts of the African shea tree, shea butter is a tallow-like substance that is commonly found in a solid form, but it melts at body temperature, and is sometimes used as a moisturiser and hair product, even patients with hyperallergenic conditions and sensitivies rarely have allergic reactions to it. Unrefined, organic shea butter can also be combined with olive oil or coconut oil to create a smoother texture for application.

5. Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)
Why Haitians Love Our Castor Oil (L'huile Palma Christi/Mascreti ...
Jojoba is native to Mexico and the American Southwest, where its oils have been extracted from its seeds and used medicinally by Native American tribes. There are very little reports of in the way of allergic reactions to [jojoba] as well which makes it an ideal choice for skin health. In a review published in December 2013 in the Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, researchers found jojoba oil may have anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effects, among other skin benefits.

6. Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis)
Made from pressed raw almonds, almond oil is full of health benefits, such as vitamin E, zinc, proteins, and potassium. It has a lighter texture than olive oil and shea butter, which many find appealing to use on the face. But sweet almond oil can result in allergic responses, so it is recommended that it be avoided if you have sensitive skin.

7. Grape Seed Face Oil (Vitus vinifera)
This non-fragrant, lightweight plant oil comes from grape seeds, typically those that are by-products of winemaking. Its very low saturated fat content gives this oil a lightweight, fluid texture. Grape seed oil has a high content of vitamin E, one of the reasons it’s such a good antioxidant. It also contains several phenolic antioxidants (like resveratrol). Grape seed oil’s benefits apply to all skin types, but its lighter texture makes it especially great for normal to slightly dry skin or dry areas of combination skin. Like most plant oils, grape seed oil delivers smoother, softer, more radiant skin. Its antioxidant content strengthens skin’s resilience to pollution and other environmental pollutants. Grape seed oil for face is a key player in many natural skin care products, as well as those designed for very dry skin.Containing vitamin E and essential fatty acids, grapeseed oil is lightweight compared with other natural oils. It also offers antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

8. Rosehip (Rosa rubiginosa)
The best face oils to add to your skin care routineThe benefits of rosehip oil for your skin are many and varied. It is famed for its restorative powers, which is due, in part, to its high fatty acid content: namely linoleic and (more unusually) alpha-linoleic acid. Perfect for ageing skin, these lipids play an essential role in the defence and regeneration of skin cells. Rosehip oil also contains anti-ageing vitamin A in the form of trans-retinoic acid. While less potent than prescription and over-the-counter retinoids, there is evidence to suggest that rosehip oil can help to reduce the appearance of scarring, age and sun pigmentation, and even soften fine lines. Look out for cold-pressed varieties: this means the rosehip’s goodness hasn’t been degraded by heat during the extraction process. optimistic about its potential use for this purpose. There have been no documented reports of allergic reactions to grapeseed oil and it definitely has a number of phytochemicals that have antioxidant benefits too.
How to use rosehip oil: To restore skin while you sleep, apply rosehip oil directly each night to fine lines, pigmentation and scarring.

9. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
Calendula’s skin-saving benefits are thanks, in part, to its high carotenoid content. Responsible for the calendula’s bright yellow flower, this pigment is also a potent antioxidant that helps prevent epidermal damage by reducing the effects of free radicals (or pollutants) from the environment, on our skin.
How to reap the benefits of calendula oil: As part of your skincare routine, add a drop of calendula oil to your morning moisturiser for a pollution-protective boost.

10. Argan (Argania spinosa)
While argan oil most commonly used in the UK as a hair oil, in its native Morocco, argan oil is relied upon to protect the skin from the dry desert winds. Rich in the hydrating and skin-smoothing natural form of vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), argan oil protects sensitive, redness-prone skin from the cooler elements of autumn.
How to use argan oil: From the face to the cuticles, liberally apply this lightweight oil to any areas of commonly exposed skin.

Dry Lavender Flowers Ustekhuddus at Rs 500/kilogram | ड्राइड ...
11. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
While lavender oil is most often cited for helping heal infections and inflammatory disorders, one of its most precious beauty benefits is its sleep-inducing properties. While we would never recommend putting lavender oil directly onto your skin (it stings!), the real trick to radiant skin is getting a good night’s beauty sleep – and this multi-functional oil can certainly help with that. Clinical studies have demonstrated that lavender oil can increase and decrease the percentage of slow-wave and REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep respectively. This not only results in vigour the next morning, but also in the brighter, plumper and more rested-looking skin.
How to use lavender oil for sleep: Sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil onto a tissue and tuck into your pillowcase for a restful night’s sleep.

12. Chia Seed Face Oil (Salvia hispanica)
Chia Seed Oil Market 2019 Size, Status and Global Outlook 2025 ...Chia seed oil comes from the tiny seeds of the chia plant. It’s primarily known as a nutritious food, but it has numerous benefits for skin, too. Chia oil delivers omega-3 fatty acids to skin along with phenolic acids and isoflavones, two potent sources of antioxidants. The omega-3 oils calm and hydrate while the antioxidants visibly reduce signs of aging and stress, all without a heavy, “coated” feel. Chia oil also contains proteins that can help bind moisture to skin. Chia seed oil is great for all skin types, even blemish-prone or reddened skin. Given the calming nature of the omega-3 fatty acids, you should see a more unified skin tone that becomes less reactive to external assaults. And, of course, your skin will feel softer and smoother, and look more vibrant.  Chia seed oil for face makes a great complement to many skin care products, including booster the soothing and hydrating properties of those containing omega fatty acids.

13. Evening Primrose Face Oil (Oenothera biennis)
Evening primrose oil is obtained from the seeds of a flowering plant. It has a fluid, silky texture thanks to a high concentration of the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The omega-6 fatty acid in evening primrose, plus other fatty acids and a range of antioxidants led by vitamin E, work to balance skin’s reactive tendencies, calming its surface to reveal a smooth, even, and younger appearance. Evening primrose oil is great for all skin types, but especially good if your skin is showing signs of aging and if you’re struggling with sensitivity. In a word—calm. Your skin will take to evening primrose oil’s GLA content and, in seemingly no time, begin to look and feel more like normal skin.
Because of its soothing properties, evening primrose oil for face can be a great additional to toners designed for dry to very dry skin.


  • Journal of Food Science and Technology, August 2016, pages 3206–3214
  • AAPS Pharm SciTech, August 2016, pages 863–871
  • Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, August 2016, pages 59–64
  • Indian Journal of Dermatology, May-June 2016, pages 279–287
  • Annals of Dermatology, December 2014, pages 706–712
  • International Journal of Dermatology, January 2014, pages 100–108
  • Journal of Italian Dermatology and Venereology, December 2013, pages 687–691
  • Pediatric Dermatology, January-February 2013, pages 42–50
  • International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 2009, issue 3, pages 152–165
  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 2008, pages 3945–3952
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2007, pages 113–118
  • Plant Physiology, September 2000, pages 243–252

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Is soap preferable to bleach in the fight against coronavirus?

Is soap better than hand sanitizer at killing coronavirus? | World ...For nearly 5,000 years, humans have concocted cleaning products – yet the simple combination of soap and water remains one of the strongest weapons against infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus. Even so, when outbreaks like COVID-19 occur and panic sets in, people rush to buy all sorts of chemical cleaners, many of which are unnecessary or ineffective against viruses.

The problem with bleach

Foam hand sanitisers are disappearing from store shelves, even though many lack the necessary amount of alcohol—at least 60 percent by volume—to kill viruses. In countries hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, photos show crews in hazmat suits spraying bleach solutions along public sidewalks or inside office buildings. Experts are dubious, however, of whether that’s necessary to neutralise the spread of the coronavirus.

Using bleach is like using a bludgeon to swat a fly. It can also corrode metal and lead to other respiratory health problems if inhaled too much over time.

With bleach, if you put it on a surface with a lot of dirt, that [dirt] will eat up the bleach. Experts instead recommend using milder acidic soaps, like dish soap, to easily sanitise a surface indoors and outdoors.

To fully understand why health officials keep coming back to soap, it helps to know how the coronavirus exists outside the body, and what early research is saying about how long the virus can linger on common surfaces.

The hard surfaces made for coronavirus
The primary way people become infected with the coronavirus is from person-to-person transmission. This close contact in the form of a hug, handshake, or being in a packed public space enables infected individuals to easily spread their respiratory droplets, which are typically sneezed or coughed.

But because respiratory droplets are heavy, they typically fall to the ground easily. Depending on where they land, they could persist on a surface before being touched by a hand that carries the virus to a nose or mouth, leading to infection. 

3D visualisation of COVID-19 surface released for researchersAll viruses are bits of genetic code bundled inside a collection of lipids and proteins, which can include a fat-based casing known as a viral envelope. Destroying an enveloped virus takes less effort than their non-enveloped compatriots, such as the stomach-busting norovirus, which can last for months on a surface. Enveloped viruses typically survive outside of a body for only a matter of days and are considered among the easiest to kill, because once their fragile exterior is broken down, they begin to degrade.

Recent Studies
Yet every enveloped virus is different, and scientists around the world are aggressively researching SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the new coronavirus, to understand how it stacks up. A recent study published in March 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at how long it can be detected on various materials; the mission was to investigate which surfaces found in medical settings might serve as a potential cesspool for infecting patients.

On surfaces, they found SARS-CoV-2 lasted for 24 hours on cardboard, two days on stainless steel, and three days on a type of hard plastic called polypropylene. The virus could only be detected for four hours on copper, a material that naturally breaks down bacteria and viruses. The study also revealed the novel coronavirus and its cousin SARS, which caused a major outbreak in 2002 and 2003, last on surfaces for similar amounts of time. 

People ordering goods online to avoid crowds may conceivably come into contact with contaminated cardboard – though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasises that surfaces are not thought to be the primary way the virus is transmitted. It is best not to speculate too much on everyday surfaces, but general advice would be to carefully wash items and one’s own hands.

But this study has limitations. The team examined the virus in a highly controlled lab setting. Spaces that are commonly touched, like a stair rail or bus pole, would contain a higher amount of the virus and present a greater risk for infection. Environmental conditions can also influence how long the virus lasts. Humidity, for example, is thought to make it harder for respiratory droplets to travel through the air, and ultraviolet light is known to degrade viruses. Will warming spring temperatures slow the coronavirus outbreak?

The study also found the novel coronavirus could persist as aerosols—tiny airborne particles—for up to three hours, though Morris clarifies larger respiratory droplets are more likely to be infectious. Viral aerosols are primarily a concern in clinical settings where certain treatments like ventilation can produce these particles. It is unlikely that these coronavirus aerosols come into play in open-air settings or public places like supermarkets.

Additionally, the study also didn’t include commonly touched items like clothing or produce, but there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted via food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In studies of influenza viruses, porous items like clothes and wood didn’t contain the virus for longer than four hours. That’s because these items pull moisture away from the virus and cause it to degrade.

Traditional 'soap and water' still the best
No matter what you touch, soap and water is the best way to remove any potential coronavirus from your hands before it can lead to infection. The coronavirus does not penetrate through skin because your outermost layer is slightly acidic, which prevents most pathogens from entering the body.

Why does soap work so well on SARS-CoV-2? - Virology Down UnderSoap works so effectively because its chemistry prys open the coronavirus’s exterior envelope and cause it to degrade. These soap molecules then trap tiny fragments of the virus, which are washed away in water. Hand sanitisers work similarly by busting apart the proteins contained in a virus.

Tap water is also not a cause for concern, experts say, because any contamination would need to come via wastewater. Though the coronavirus has been found in faeces, the virus has yet to actually be detected in wastewater, according to the CDC. Even if that were the case, sanitary water filtration is likely enough to kill coronaviruses. 

Is it technically plausible that you could be exposed to the virus via a waterborne route? Yes. Is it realistic for a member of the public to worry? No. 

The last thing we need right now is people being afraid to drink tap water or wash their hands.


Sunday, 23 February 2020

Patchouli: The “Green Leaf” Oil with Power

One cannot be indifferent to the fragrance of this one-of-a-kind essential oil. Patchouli is an amazing oil that brings you to the depth of the earth, grounds you – and thereby leads you back to the body. The name “Patchouli” derives from Tamil language (South Indian), “patchai” meaning “green” and “ellai” denoting “leaf” . Yes, this “green leaf” oil – once so popular during the Hippie time – has many secrets and wonders waiting to be revealed or rediscovered…

Origin and processing
A species of the genus Pogostemon, Patchouli belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family, the same group to which Lavender, Basil, Sage etc. belong. It is a bushy, perennial, peppermint-leaf-like herb with erect, sturdy, hairy stems reaching about 0,75 meter in height and bearing large, slightly furry and surprisingly fragrant leaves. The lowers are greenish white, often with a lilac touch. The herb is native to tropical regions of Asia, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, and India, but today it is extensively cultivated also in China, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and even in West Africa. The plant gets cut two or three times per year with the leaves harvested during the rainfall period producing the best quality.

The scent prole unfolds intense woody-balsamic, earthy, exotic and sometimes smoky features. There are notes of Amber, Vanilla and Rockrose (Cistus) which come with it. The fragrance of the essential oil improves progressively with age giving rise to a more well-rounded scent quality.

The essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the dried, slightly fermented leaves yielding 2-3% of essential oil. Due to the long duration of 8–11 hours of distillation this standard processing often causes so-called “thermal degradation“ of various compounds in the oil. Quality batch control “from the source“ is therefore an important factor when acquiring Patchouli oil. 

In our times Patchouli underwent an increase in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the USA and Europe. It is still a preferred scent among the members of the counterculture. Nowadays the essential oil is widely used in the perfume industry – also due to its “base note” character, meaning: its ability of slowing down or holding back evaporation of other essential oils in the perfume blends so that their scent can be kept for a longer period of time.

Rich compounds with rich curative effects
Due to its insect repellent properties Patchouli was used by silk traders travelling to the Middle East and Europe. They packed dried Patchouli leaves between their silk cloth to keep moths from depositing their eggs on the textiles. Thus, the fragrance of Patchouli was omnipresent in Indian fabric and clothes during the 18 and 19 century.

With its strong musky-spicy ground notes Patchouli oil sticks out from the panoply of essential oils. Certainly due to the large variety of heavier compounds (mainly molecules with 15 carbon atoms) its regenerative, purifying, and tonic effects on the skin (acne, herpes, cracked skin etc.) are remarkable and have been well described – also in folk medicine of Asia. 

Medicinal properties
Patchouli’s astringent effect helps to prevent premature ageing of the skin – it acts as an excellent tissue regenerator which makes it also useful against sagging skin, varicose veins, and even an interesting helper in case of hair-loss. The oil shows strong effects against inflammations, especially when resulting from fever. It is also often used in case of arthritis and gout – and, not unlike numerous other essential oils, Patchouli oil fights well certain fungal and bacterial infections. Moreover, the oil has good wound-healing and antiseptic properties, and is an excellent diuretic. 


Saturday, 19 October 2019

Clean cosmetics: The science behind the trend

Related imageWalking into the skin care aisle at the pharmacy, stepping up to a counter at a department store, or stopping by a cosmetics shop can be an overwhelming experience. Everywhere you look, you see products touting the ideal skin care ingredient. Who knew buying a moisturiser could be so difficult?

When exploring the vast world of beauty, skincare, and hygiene, there are so many labels and words you've probably heard you should look for on the packaging — and also ones you've heard you should avoid. Phrases like cruelty-free, organic, phthalates, natural, vegan, parabens, nontoxic, and non GMO are all over the place, but can get confusing. One word that's particularly vague is "clean." What exactly is clean makeup, and how important is it to buy clean products?

A basic definition of clean beauty is a product that is safe for human use, and does not include any toxic ingredients. The thing is, the meaning of words like clean, safe, and toxic are not easily defined. Not to mention, there aren't any regulations around the word clean, meaning a company can claim its products are clean, even if they are filled with ingredients that might be unsafe.

Lately, the coverage of “clean” cosmetics is everywhere — on national television and in best-selling books. It’s clear that clean is the newest beauty trend. But what is the clean cosmetics movement, and does the science support it?

Regulatory oversight of cosmetics: A brief history
The clean cosmetics movement seems to have arisen from frustration over regulatory oversight of cosmetics and personal care products (lotions, toothpastes, shampoos, etc). The FDA passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act back in 1938. Yet, ingredients used in cosmetics (with the exception of colour additives) are exempt from FDA regulatory practices. This includes the need for approval or product recall if an ingredient is found to be dangerous. Instead, most regulation of cosmetics comes from the Personal Care Products Council, which is a self-regulating body supported by the cosmetics industry.

Image result for non toxic cosmeticsSome took issue with this perceived conflict of interest. Activist groups, including the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, took matters into their own hands by classifying certain ingredients found in commercial cosmetic and personal care products as harmful and not suitable for topical use. Online and retail stores followed suit; some sell only clean products, while others have developed speciality lines of clean products.

Each proponent of this movement has developed their own short list of “bad” ingredients. The majority of these chemicals fall into one or more of three major categories: irritants or allergens; potential endocrine disruptors (substances that may imitate our body’s natural hormones and interfere with normal signalling of these chemical messengers); and potential carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

Irritants and allergens
Commonly avoided in clean cosmetics: Methylisothiazolinone (MI), methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), vitamin A derivatives, fragrance, phenoxyethanol, petroleum distillates, and formaldehydes.

What does the science say? MI/MCI, fragrance, and formaldehyde are known causes of contact dermatitis, a poison ivy-like rash that can become chronic with repeated topical exposure. In fact, all three have been named “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society, due to their prevalence in commonly used products and frequent association with contact dermatitis.

Potential endocrine disruptors
Commonly avoided in clean cosmetics: Triclosan and triclocarban, toluene, resorcinol, petroleum distillates, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), boric acid and sodium borate, phthalates, placenta extract, parabens, and phenoxyethanol.

What does the science say? 
The jury is still out. Many of the studies showing a direct relationship between these compounds and hormonal dysregulation have been performed in animals rather than in humans, and at higher doses than people would typically be exposed to through a cosmetic or personal care product. Some human studies have related an increase in urinary or blood levels of these chemicals to endocrine disruption; however, it is difficult to interpret if or how individual measurements of these chemicals in bodily fluids relate to exposure from cosmetics or personal care products.

Potential carcinogens
Commonly avoided in clean cosmetics: 1,4-dioxane, formaldehydes, coal tar ingredients, petroleum distillates, and placenta extract.

What does the science say? 
Image result for non toxic cosmeticsFormaldehyde has been named by the National Cancer Institute as a potential carcinogen, and for good reason: it has been linked to cancer formation in both animals and humans at high doses. As if that isn’t enough reason to avoid this product, formaldehyde ranks among the top 10 most common contact allergens. Industrial use of coal tar products has been linked to cancer (for instance, in chimney sweeps); however, coal tar products have been used in dermatology topically, to treat psoriasis and eczema, for years without any increased rate of skin cancer or internal cancers. Petroleum distillates that are highly refined, like those in personal care products or cosmetics, do not appear to cause cancer. 1,4 dioxane has been linked to cancer in animals, while studies about placenta extract are lacking in both animals and humans.

The bottom line
The clean cosmetics movement definitely has us taking a closer look at what we put on our skin, which is a good thing. Scientific evidence appears to support avoiding at least a handful of ingredients that could be lurking in your personal care products, including MI/MCI, fragrance mix, and formaldehyde. Avoiding these ingredients is a good place to start, but you don’t need to toss out your whole makeup bag quite yet: more studies are needed to back up associations between low-dose topical exposure to many of these chemicals and human health.

Because the demand for cleaner, more natural beauty products has risen over the last few years, There are plenty of brands labelling their products as clean, natural, or non-toxic with little evidence to support those claims. 

Find brands you trust
Since every "clean" brand has different requirements, it can be helpful to do your research, and find a few brands whose regulations you agree with. That way, you can have a go-to source to use as a starting point when you need a new product.

Look up any unrecognisable ingredients
If you're in the market for a new product, but want to make sure it is safe, look up and research every ingredient on the label.

Make your own products
Buying all-natural ingredients and making things like makeup, lotion, bars of soap, and household cleaning products isn't as hard as it seems! The internet is full of easy-to-follow recipes, and making products from scratch will mean you know exactly what you're putting on your body.

In summary, a "clean" product is one that claims to be made up of safe, non-toxic, and natural ingredients. Whether or not the product is actually safe for your body is up to you to decide. If you only want to use products that meet your personal safety standards, you'll have to take some time to do the research. Your body will thank you.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Can natural skincare be zero waste?

assorted makeup brushesThe zero waste movement encompasses minimising the amount of waste we produce in general. Living a waste-free lifestyle is theoretically possible. In practice, it is easier said than done.

A zero waste lifestyle has picked up the pace in the last few years. More and more people are coming to realise the effect that their contribution to waste has on the environment. The concept is based on 5 main principles, also referred to as the 5R's:

  1. Refuse: This principle entails the conscious refusal of waste such as unnecessary packaging. In a broader spectrum, the principle is aimed towards reducing what we consume in general. The less we consume (or refuse), the less is produced that needs to be disposed of at a later stage.
  2. Reduce: Reducing what we consume and living a more minimalistic lifestyle is what one should be looking to aim at. How many pieces of clothing do we own that we have not worn in years, or ever? Resources were used for the production that went into the countless, unnecessary items that we own. Reducing what we own or do not require can easily be sold or donated to those that may find use in it.
  3. Reuse: In the last few years, the production of products that can only be used once-off has reached a peak. Such items are only beneficial for one party, and that is the producers, as these items require the consumer to repurchase the item when needed. More and more throwaway products are being produced than items being repaired.
  4. Recycle: Products and items that are left over after having exercised the first three principles, should definitely, be taken to a recycling branch. This also helps to save resources.
  5. Rot (Composting): This entails the composting any produce that is not being consumed to use as high-quality manure.

Is natural cosmetics better for the environment?
The 5R's can also be used when it comes to cosmetics. The cosmetics' market produces mountains of plastic waste on an annual basis, but also the individual ingredients used plays an important role. Natural cosmetics do not contain any ingredients that may have adverse effects on the environment such as microplastics.

Microplastics are small plastic particles that are found in countless conventional cosmetic products such as scrubs and toothpaste, whereby many of these particles contain plasticisers and phthalates which can be hormonally active or even toxic. These tiny particles are set free in the environment via our drainage systems. Furthermore, environmental toxins accumulate on the surface of microplastics.

Today, the number of microplastic has increased to such a degree that they are now apparent in our food chain and, in some cases, our drinking water. This can only be put to an end when we refuse using products that contain them.

Plastic packaging - Alternatives?
Many natural cosmetic brands have started to avoid or use alternative, biodegradable packaging. There are also several natural cosmetics products on the market today that do not come wrapped up in packaging at all. Luckily, this trend is becoming increasingly more popular. At Ecco Verde, we offer a range of raw materials that can be used for homemade cosmetics and help minimise plastic waste. This concept has several benefits:

  • you save on unnecessary packaging
  • you create the cosmetics that suit your needs
  • it's fun!

It's safe to say we've never been more aware of the impact our lifestyles are having on the environment than we are now. Consequently, the idea of living a zero-waste lifestyle is something we're hearing bandied about the internet more and more. It's a radical concept that in it's most potent iteration will see you padlock your bin shut and vow never to throw anything away again.

It's also great for the planet. Why wouldn't you want to be apart of it?" Her enthusiasm is palpable and got us thinking: Considering the beauty industry plays its fair part in filling the nation's landfills, how can we be a little more responsible with our beauty regimens?

Even if a fully zero-waste lifestyle isn’t for you, keep scrolling for five simple swaps you can make to help reduce the environmental impact of your beauty regimen. Trust us—you won’t even notice anything different from your regular routine.

The easiest place to start when it comes to reducing your environmental impact is to buy from brands that use recycled and recyclable packaging. These aren't always easy to find, but as a rule of thumb, avoid plastics. Every piece of plastic ever created still exists. Plastic doesn't biodegrade; it photodegrades, which means it gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Ninety-four per cent of all water samples in the U.S., both bottled and tap, contain micro-plastic. We're drinking plastic.

assorted-color bar soap lot on white surfaceThat being said, glass jars are a good alternative, as they can either be recycled or repurposed into something else. And you'd be surprised—many products now have zero-waste packaging such as Earth-friendly glass packaging or 100% recycled glass. The movement toward a zero-waste lifestyle is really a no-brainer. It just makes sense and puts the power back into the hands of the consumer. We can make such an impact on our daily choices and purchases and living a zero waste life is easy, fun, and saves tons of money!

Switch to Reusable Cotton Pads
If you're a cotton pad user, it's likely you get through a good wedge of them every single day, taking your makeup off, applying toner and the like. They may be light, but they place a pretty massive weight on the country's landfill sites. Instead, arm yourself with a pack of reusable cotton rounds that you can simply throw in the wash once you've used it. And because they're a bit sturdier than their throwaway equivalents, they are much better equipped to peel every last scrap of makeup from the face—even mascara.

Then there are  those pesky face wipes which not only have questionable consequences for the complexion, but they can also take hundreds of years break down in landfill. Made from the Asian konjac plant, konjac sponges can be composted once their month-long lifespan comes to an end, and they're much more effective at trapping dirt and sebum from the skin's surface and lifting it away, so your face will reap the benefits too. Aptly named The Konjac Sponge Company, its range of sponges with added skincare benefits are particularly robust.

Going Zero Waste
two brown spray bottles on brown tableIt's pretty straightforward: Ditching the plastic bottles of traditional shampoo in favour of a packaging-free version has got to be advantageous for the environment. Thankfully, you needn't scrimp on hair-boosting formulas either. Many natural skincare companies now sell solid shampoo bars which come infused with ingredients that offer any and every hair benefit you could want—from root-lifting to shine-inducing, curl-defining to moisture-giving.

The concept of zero waste goes way beyond skincare packaging – it’s part of a wider philosophy on how a skincare brand manages the environmental footprint of its business. A zero waste beauty brand should run their entire operation to zero waste principles – that means their formulation lab, their manufacturing processes, their administration, their shipping warehouses, everything. If you want to buy from a truly zero waste beauty brand, look at the credentials on their website: do they talk about their carbon footprint, their environmental impact and how they manage their company’s waste management processes? We can use wind or solar energy, carbon offsets for carbon dioxide emissions, go digital with record-keeping, recycle, reuse, and reduce waste in virtually every area of the business. It is difficult to achieve but zero waste can be possible for the natural skincare and cosmetics industry.