Sunday, 24 April 2022

The truth about phthalates and sulfates

In recent years, the use of parabens, phthalates and sulfates in self care products has become increasingly taboo. It seems that these chemicals have been permanently put on the skin care ingredient blacklist of many companies. But why? While you may have seen some negative press about these ingredients, very few truly understand why it is so important to rid our daily routines of these chemicals. In this post, I will  be discussing the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind two of these so called  'chemical nasties': phthalates and sulfate and examine their potential health risks if indeed they exist. I have already written at length about parabens.

What are they?


Phthalates, other than being difficult to pronounce, are a large group of chemicals often added to plastics to increase their flexibility and durability. They are used to make plastic soft and flexible, and they may be found in cosmetics and personal care products (perfume, shampoo, soap, moisturisers, nail polish, etc.), food, wood finishes, detergents, plastic plumbing pipes, vinyl flooring, and many more products we use every day. What are phthalates?

Unfortunately, some chemicals in this group have been found to have harmful effects on human health, particularly on the reproductive and hormone systems. Certain phthalates have been restricted to various degrees but the results of a test this week by the Danish Consumer Council show that even banned phthalates are still in products consumers can buy off the shelves.

Phthalates everywhere?

Investigating 30 different types of products made from soft plastic, the Danish Consumer Council found that nearly 1 in 4 contained phthalates that the EU restricted last year. The known endocrine disruptors, DEHP, DBP, DIBP are on the EU’s official list of unwanted chemicals due in particular to their effects on male fertility. However, these chemicals were some of the ones that the researchers found in a huge range of products they tested, from footballs to door mats and bathmats and even children’s toys, which are meant to have more stringent phthalate restrictions.

Products made before the restriction on these chemicals came into force are still allowed to be sold. Other phthalates suspected of being endocrine disruptors remain unrestricted and were also detected in the products tested by the council. Although the research was carried out in Denmark, it is not unreasonable to suspect a similarly broad range of products on the market in other European countries also contain restricted phthalates

Reducing your risk

Avoiding buying soft plastic products or looking for products that say they are ‘phthalate free’ is a good step towards reducing your exposure.


Sulfates derived from petroleum are often controversial due to their origin. The biggest concern is the long-term side effects of sulfate production. Petroleum products are associated with climate change, pollution, and greenhouse gases. Sulfates can also be found in some plant products.

Sulfate concerns

  • Health: SLS and SLES can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, especially with long-term use. SLES may also be contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which is known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. This contamination occurs during the manufacturing process.
  • Environment: Palm oil is controversial due to the destruction of tropical rainforests for palm tree plantations. Products with sulfates that get washed down the drain may also be toxic to aquatic animals. Many people and manufacturers opt for more environmentally friendly alternatives.
  • Testing on animals: Many products with sulfates are tested on animals to measure the level of irritation to people’s skin, lungs, and eyes. For this reason, many oppose using consumer products that contain SLS and SLES.

Are sulfates safe?

There is no direct evidence linking SLS and SLES to cancer, infertility, or development issues. These chemicals may slowly build up in your body over long-term use, but the amounts are small.

The highest risk of using products with SLS and SLES is irritation to your eyes, skin, mouth, and lungs. For people with sensitive skin, sulfates may also clog pores and cause acne.

Many products have a lower concentration of SLS or SLES in their formulation. But the longer the products stay in contact with your skin or eyes, the higher the risk of irritation. Rinsing off the product immediately after use reduces risk of irritation.

To help you visualise, sulfates are responsible for the sudsy lather you get out of most shampoos. If you’ve ever used a sulfate free shampoo, you’ll immediately notice that the wash is less foamy and bubbly. Sulfates are a large group of chemicals that are used as cleansing agents in a variety of beauty and personal care products.

Why are they considered harmful?

Similar to parabens, phthalates can also be potentially harmful to our endocrine systems as they may cause reproductive and developmental concerns. The European Union has banned cosmetic companies from incorporating phthalates into their products, but their use is still widespread in the U.S. 

The concern around sulfates is that they are skin irritants that can strip skin of its natural oils - leading to dryness and irritation. For some, continued use of sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) can set off a reaction as it can penetrate the skin’s barrier, making it more vulnerable to the absorption of other irritants. In skin care, natural alternatives to sulfates include gentle foaming agents such as sugar or coconut.

How to avoid them?

Read product labels! The best way to determine whether or not a product contains these harmful agents is to carefully observe ingredient lists. Phthalates, if identified on a label, are usually listed with an acronym like DHEP or DiBP. In personal care and beauty products, the sulfates that are commonly used are sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. With the wave of natural beauty companies pledging to never use these chemicals, avoiding phthalates and sulfates has become easier. 


In their current form phthalates and sulfates are still considered safe as cosmetic companies only use a very small concentration of these ingredients. Despite being able to legally include these ingredients in products, the concern around them is reason enough to seek alternative skin care products that will not pose a threat to our health and bodily function.

Reference: Adapted from 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Steam inhalation

Steam inhalation with essential oils is great! It's one of the most common home uses in aromatherapy, and it can be remarkably effective.
Many common essential oils, particularly those from the eucalyptus species (shown opposite) and many conifers, have components which are particularly helpful against common respiratory disorders, and it is often possible to see tangible benefits from steam inhalation within a very short period of time.

The normal procedure is to add a couple of drops to hot water and inhale the vapour. It's better if you can lift the water mixture up to your nose rather than bending down, as this allows you to really open the chest in the process.

*Lower doses are more effective* 
However note that lower doses are actually more effective. High
concentrations of inhaled essential oils can dry or irritate the nasal
membranes leading to further inflammation. They may also temporarily
paralyse the action of the membrane, preventing the body's natural
defences from getting to work to expel unwanted material.

So, as with many things to do with aromatherapy, the advice is to be
gentle, simple, and generally to err on the side of caution. Remember
that when essential oils are produced, the plant material and 'plant
energy' becomes highly concentrated and very powerful. A little goes a
long way. Also realise that the deeper into the respiratory tract that
the infection is, the longer it may take to notice results.

Room diffusion with suitable oils can also be helpful, but again it has
been found that intermittent exposure is more effective than continuous

*Essential oils for Steam Inhalation*
The oils most commonly used for inhalation are eucalyptus conifers (pine, spruce and firs) and some citrus oils. Note that there are other essential oils with components which provide good support the respiratory system but which should be used only sparingly (if at all) for steam inhalation because
they will irritate the mucus membranes.

*A tip from Ayurveda*
Finally Ayurvedic practitioners frequently recommend a daily 'nasya'.
This involves, as part of your morning routine, the introduction of a
very small amount of a vegetable oil into each nostril followed by a big
sniff. It is said to provide protection against infection. Sesame oil is
generally recommended for this, but be sure to use the cold-pressed
unroasted sesame which is a lovely nutty brown colour, rather than the
oil made from the roasted seeds which is black.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Putting the 'natural' in natural skincare

How do you know if a skincare product is natural? Understanding the word ‘natural’ is one of the hardest tasks of all in the skincare & green beauty business. Here is some practical advice on how to research ingredients and decide what natural means to you.  

With global organic beauty market trends showing the green beauty sector reaching $22bn by 2024 with yearly growth of 8-10%, it is little wonder that the word ‘natural’ has serious marketing power. Browse cosmetics’ products anywhere from supermarket aisles to niche beauty stores and you’ll see terms like ‘natural’, ‘100% natural’ and ‘all-natural’ liberally applied to product labels.

The beauty industry is using them as shorthand to imply that the product has attributes we would associate with nature. That single word can evoke a product packed with fresh botanical ingredients virtually untampered with by chemical labs and manufacturing processes. Of course, that’s often far from the case.

As you train in organic skincare formulation, you soon realise that natural is a very complex word and, even more frustratingly, that it has no legal definition.  A cosmetic product may say it is natural even if it contains only a small percentage of what consumers and natural skincare formulators would deem truly natural ingredients. For example, a product can be described as natural even if it has just 1% naturally-sourced, plant-based or natural mineral ingredients.


However, the lack of legal definition does not mean that skincare brands are immune to prosecution for misleading uses of ‘natural’ in their marketing and on labels. Some skincare brands, mostly in the United States so far, have faced legal suits as a result of using the terms ‘all-natural’ and 100% natural’. Soon, there may be little wriggle room between using the vaguer, standalone word ‘natural’ and claiming your product is 100% natural.

The fact that natural is coming under such intense scrutiny is at the same time both worrying and reassuring for the green skincare entrepreneur. It might pressurise those brands who are being less than transparent about their ingredients’ origins to remove misleading labeling and make only bona fide claims. If you are starting out on a skincare brand journey or already selling your cosmetics’ products, we recommend you read up on why 100% natural claims could get you into trouble.

However, we shouldn’t rush to judge companies that label products 100% natural when their products aren’t. There are more sides to the naturals story. 

This is because what is considered ‘natural’ to one skincare formulator or brand might not be to another. Natural has nuances which, depending on your approach to formulating and your ethos and mission, could all be considered ‘natural’. For example, would you consider a lab-synthesised ingredient that mimics the chemical structure of a natural ingredient to be natural? Some might.

Four Shades of natural

Depending on who you are talking to and what your own stance is natural takes on one or more of these shades. It is good to be armed with the knowledge to make your own decisions making sound choices when it comes to buying products that purport to be 'natural' as well as examining the labels.

Manufacturers of course rely on suppliers to tell them about the provenance and chemical makeup of their ingredients. Having open, clear lines of communication with suppliers is paramount in defining their products’ shade of natural.


Reputable suppliers have trusted third-parties, including growers and wholesalers, across the world and they do their utmost to track and trace the ingredients they sell. They should be able to provide you with Certificates of Analysis (COAs) and MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) to ensure you have full, transparent information on the chemical components in the ingredients you buy as well as their source of origin.

While cold-pressed carrier oils qualify as the most natural of ingredients, others in the formulators’ kit such as natural emulsifiers, preservatives, chelators and solubilisers need more research including the information on sourcing sustainable botanical ingredients.

Natural is just one such vague term you’ll find used liberally on labels and in skincare marketing. Pure, clean, ethical and sustainable are some of the other trending words you’ll need to unpack and take a stance on in your skincare formulating journey.


To find out if an ingredient is natural, it is recommend you do some research on the ingredients, and then deciding on your corner of the naturals’ world. Whether a skincare product is natural or not may still be a grey area, but the legal landscape is changing as we write. 


The word “natural” is used a lot in the green beauty movement. But what does it really mean in relation to cosmetic ingredients? What is the difference between natural and naturally derived? What is “nature identical”? When is an ingredient seen to be synthetic?


  1. The word ‘natural’ means different things to different people.
  2. Some cosmetic ingredients can be picked from a tree, while others have to undergo a degree of synthesis in the lab.
  3. You must choose what ‘natural’ means to you when you start formulating or buying green, clean and organic beauty products.
  4. This topic has often divides a crowd. 
  5. What one person defines as natural is very different to what another person defines as natural. This is OK, after all we all have differing opinions and scales by which we judge certain terms.
  6. But where does this leave the people who are new to natural and organic skincare or haircare? Where do you start figuring out what natural might mean to you and which ingredients you would consider acceptable in your skincare and haircare?


Sunday, 23 May 2021

How to achieve a natural makeup look

While it’s great fun to get glammed up everyone once in a while, many of us don’t want to put a full face of makeup on every single day. For our everyday look, we want more of a natural makeup look instead. But what are the essential components of achieving that? 

The key focus behind the natural (or “no-makeup”) makeup look is to pay attention to the application of the products and not the number of products. The idea is to use the minimum application to get maximum coverage that you want for a natural glow.

From mineral make-up to beauty products featuring natural ingredients, we are seeing a continued preference for more skin-friendly and eco-conscious cosmetics. Allowing your natural beauty to shine through, these products are perfectly poised to enhance what you already have rather than mask your true beauty. As such, the natural make-up look will always prove popular as it offers an honest reflection of your daily appearance and will help you to feel comfortable on the big day.


Your skincare routine is a major component of your overall self-care. And when you’re opting for a natural makeup look, you definitely need to take care of your skin first and foremost. Not everyone is lucky enough to have naturally glowing skin like Jennifer Aniston.

Mineral make-up

Made from natural ingredients, it ensures the skin is kept clean and healthy, minimising breakouts and blemishes by allowing the skin to ‘breathe’. Mineral make-up like is light to wear and lasts all day and into the night yet still looks amazing.

Some amazing products on the market help you control your acne, even your skin tone and achieve that flawless, natural glow throughout the day. Always use a hydrating mask before applying makeup. Also, make sure to moisturize your skin before you put anything on your face.


If you are going for the no-makeup look, you need to prime your skin first. A primer helps to even out all the pores and gives you a perfectly smooth application surface. The type of primer that you choose depends on your skin type and the look you’re going for.

If you want a bit of glow, then adding the illuminating primer will produce the best results. Add a small amount on your face and enjoy the extra hydrated look that it gives to your entire skin. 


Never opt for full coverage foundations. Remember that the key focus of the entire look is to appear natural. Foundation is the basic product in your makeup routine that can make or break the entire look. If it’s full-coverage, you may end up clogging your pores and leave your face with bumps.

To get the light coverage, opt for tinted moisturizers, CC, and BB creams to even your skin tone. 

If you like cosmetics that are multifunctional BB, CC and DD creams could really work for you as they are part moisturiser, part makeup and even part primer. This means that they won’t only nourish your skin, they will also provide coverage - hurrah for double duty! It’s worth adding that the coverage in BB, CC and DD creams won’t be as opaque as in foundation or powder. Having said that, these products are perfect for days when you are keen on lighter coverage than foundation, and you are not fond of the idea of going bare faced either.

You can also use products that contain CBD distillate, as CBD can greatly reduce signs of aging. Such light coverage foundations allow you to enjoy minimum coverage and still let your natural features such as freckles shine through. You can also try airbrush makeup to get the minimum coverage faster.

At first, you might need to work on your technique if you aren’t used to light coverage. Eventually, with time, you will master the skills. Give yourself time and try out different techniques to get the right tactic that suits your needs.


Using a high coverage foundation to cover up your blemishes and dark circles isn’t necessarily the best way to go. Applying foundation to creased areas can leave spots and marks which appear unnatural. So instead, it is best to opt for a hydrating concealer.

Add a bit of concealer in the areas that you wish to conceal. Instead of going for a brush or a sponge, use your hands to blend in the mixture. The warmth generated from your skin will allow the mixture of the concealer to blend it faster and better onto your skin. It will give a more natural-looking glow and coverage to the areas you wish to cover.


Once you have figured out how to best use foundation and concealer, it is time for you to add the finishing touches. The best way of doing so is to go for a cream bronzer. You will be surprised to find out how easily and perfectly cream blends everything right in place.

The bronzer will add a touch of colour that your skin needs to appear more natural and hydrated. If you need your makeup to stay in place longer, then use a powder bronzer to set everything.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

The Art of Aroma

Our sense of smell is one of the most undervalued sense organs compared to our other senses and is by no means comparable to those of wild animals who are proficient masters at detection and hunting. In fact, their very survival depends on their sense of smell unlike humans - small wonder that we even know we have this capacity. However, over the centuries, we have moved away from using our sense of smell as a survival strategy and started using fragrances to enhance our sense of well-being, mood and a range of basic emotions but how this is achieved on a physiological level is still a mystery. Scientists are still eluded by the actual mechanisms, biochemical pathways as well as the nerve and synaptic connections in the brain that trigger these responses, particularly emotions. There is still a lack of total understanding of the links that exist between the nose (olfactory system) and the brain (limbic system which controls our emotional centres). Of course, the area of the brain responsible for smell is closely aligned to memory and could part explain why an aroma, fragrance or smell can almost instantaneously trigger an early childhood memory.

The History: Fragrances date back to ancient Egyptian civilisation when the earliest perfumes were made. Perfumers and perfumed materials were used for purification, personal adornment, daily hygiene and seduction! It was indeed the Egyptians who developed an extraction process for precious resins, frankincense and myrrh (both of which are still used today in modern Western Herbal Medicine). Perfume reached its zenith in Egypt during the time of Cleopatra and evidence of this rich history is still in existence today in the numerous outlets and shops that sell an extensive range of perfume oils. Many of these stores supply the larger international perfume houses across the world especially France which now dominates the European perfume industry.

However, an association between pleasant smells and good health was widespread so there was considerable overlap between perfumery and healing. This knowledge and skill was further enhanced through ancient Greek and Roman civilisations with much of it being principally used for religious ceremonies. From the 9th Century, there was extensive trade between Byzantium and Venice bringing perfumes into Europe. There was much trade also with Arabia bringing perfumes from Bagdad to muslim Spain. The great Persian physician and philosopher Avicenna (Abu Ali Sina) or Ibn Sina (980 -1037) discovered the process of distillation, heavily influencing the art of perfumery in Arabia. Ingredients were used from China, India and Africa producing perfumes on a large scale (they had been using distillation since before the 9th Century). The Arabs brought a highly developed perfume culture to Europe which flourished with the influx of aromatic spices, fragrant ointments, musks, essences and perfume oils.

Traditionally, the musks were derived from animal sources especially from deer but since determining the chemical formula of the aromatic ingredient in it, synthetic versions were possible which not only prevented animals being used (and abused) for this purpose but it was possible to mass produce it for large scale distribution as a perfume ingredient.

The introduction of alcohol (also produced by the distillation process) in the 13th Century expanded the perfume trade into mainland Europe, particularly France, Germany & Hungary which perpetuated the alignment of fragrances with royalty and nobility. Names such as Guerlain, Fougere, Eau de Cologne and Hungary Water have very long histories in the perfume business, some of which continue to this day in some form or another.Newer perfume houses such as Coco Chanel, Coty, Dior, Estee Lauder, Nina Ricci, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, Revlon and many others continue to be big names in the fashion and perfume industries.

Creating Perfumes: The art of aroma and creating perfumes is not easy. It takes an expert (known as the 'nose') , a true artist with many years of in-depth training and experience in the industry to compose a fragrance. Their abilty to distinguish between each of the thousands of ingredients (alone or in combination) is truly remarkable! There are 8 themes (accords or families) upon which a perfume is based and this is just one such classification system:

  • Floral eg. rose, lemon (citrus), jasmine, lavender, neroli
  • Chypre eg. patchouli, vetiver, bergamot
  • Oriental (masculine) eg. ginger, patchouli, bay oil, sandalwood
  • Oriental (feminine) eg. vanilla, amber
  • Woody eg. pine, cedarwood, sandalwood, oakmoss
  • Aromatic eg. frankincense, myrrh, musk, cinnamon
  • Hesperide (masculine) eg. lemon, orange, citronella
  • Hesperide (feminine) eg. citrus blend, neroli, lime, bergamot

All (cosmetic) perfumes have top, middle and base notes:

Top-provides the first scent impression of a fragrance once it has been applied to the skin. They are usually lighter, more volatile aromas that readily evaporate. The scents don't last for long (usually 5-30minutes)

Middle-sometimes referred to as 'heart notes', they make up the body of the fragrance. They make take up to 10-30minutes to fully develop on the skin. They are usually the notes that classify the family (eg. floral, chypre, oriental etc...)

Base-these are the heavier fragrances (of larger molecular weight) and last the longest on the skin. They are slow to evaporate and are fixatives and so give the fragrance a long-lasting effect/holding power that can linger for hours. Common ones are musks, woods, vanilla and patchouli amongst others....

The price of a perfume depends on the quantity of perfume oil that it contains compared to the solvent used to dilute it (solvent being light-grade alcohol and/or water). Perfume oils are the most concentrated and therefore the most expensive. They can only really be bought from specialist stores/outlets but getting a good grade of oil very much depends on the brand, the reputation of the company as well as the source (origin), type of extraction process and storage conditions for importing/exporting. In Europe however, the Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum are the most popular and widely available product:

  • Perfume Oil (15-30% perfume oil - in oil rather than alcohol or water)
  • Parfum/Perfume (15-25% perfume oil - sometimes referred to as extract or extrait)
  • Soie de Parfum (15-18% perfume oil)
  • Eau de Parfum (8-15% perfume oil)
  • Eau de Toilette (4-10% perfume oil)
  • Eau de Cologne (2-5% perfume oil)
  • Eau Fraiche (usually 3% or less perfume oil)

Health Benefits of Perfumes: Whilst scientific evidence on the mechanisms that bring about postive changes in the body upon olfactory triggers and stimulation is insufficient, it is without doubt that perfumes and fragrances greatly influence mood, memory, emotions, anxiety, stress, arousal, sustained attention to problem solving, sexual attraction, the immune defences, hormonal (endocrine) system and the ability to communicate by smell without knowing it:

mood benefits-nerve links to our sense of smell mean that fragrances have a significantly measurable effect on mood states.

These include a beneficial effect on:

  • irritation
  • stress
  • depression
  • apathy

Fragrances also enhance:

  • happiness
  • sensuality
  • relaxation
  • stimulation

As a consequence of notable research evidence in this area, many toiletries & proprietary products regularly perfume their products to influence consumer choice.

  • hygiene-although difficult to prove scientifically, it is more likely that a perfumed cleaning product, hygiene product or simply a fragrant environment will result in a more frequent hygiene routine (which is always good!)
  • pain relief-the pain pathways (detection & sensory) is a complex and highly subjective process. Interfering with the sensation of pain can be achieved through use of pleasant smelling odours and fragrances which trigger other nerve pathways associated with natural painkillers/ analgesics (known as opioids). Another hypothesis suggests that because smells/fragrances influence moods and memory, it is possible for the power of association to be utilised to deflect the sensation of pain towards these other pathways
  • stress relief-a significant biological relationship between positive mood states and health is now emerging. Aromatherapy has long been known to exert a positive influence on stress effects but more recently, other benefits have been discussed eg. benefits on the cardiovascular system, immunity, positive mood states, reducing blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, reducing headaches, increasing skin barrier function and reduce startle reflex. The fact that all these are linked to the stress response may have something to do with such beneficial influences of fragrances
  • work performance-we all know that we are more productive in a pleasant-smelling environment. Recent studies have shown that periodic administration of pleasant fragrances during a sustained attention task improves performance. Fragrances such as muguet, peppermint, jasmine and lavender are among the many that have been studied. It is suggested that improvement in performance is due to the facilitation of nerve pathways that are stimulated in visual detection tasks or enhancement of the allocation of attention resources to visual detection
  • sexuality-manufacturers of fragrances continue to pursue the enhancement of sexuality through their products both overtly and subtly. The study of pheromones and their role in human attraction and animal behaviour is significant, being more established in animals than in humans. Immitating and reproducing pheromone-like fragrances to promote this notion of sexual atttraction is the ultimating manufacturing challenge and marketing drive for perfume-makers. There is ample evidence of human neuroendocrine responses to pheromone-like substances even though the mechanisms for processing such substances remains controversial. Further work is needed to demonstrate the link between feelings and behaviours such as mood, reduction in negative moods, effecting psychological state, increasing courtship display patterns in social settings and imparting feelings of confidence and attractiveness

Without our intricate knowledge of plants and their constituents gained through a rich

history of culture, art, tradition and trade, we will not be enjoying the many benefits that perfume products offer, not least of which is the promotion and enhancement of mood, well-being and balance. We owe a great deal of this to the numerous perfumers who were genuine masters of creation and incredibly talented artists of their generation.

For more information:

  • International Fragrance Association:
  • Fragrance Foundation UK:
  • Aromatherapy Council:
  • For Aromatic Waters:
  • For Essential Oils by Robert Tisserand:
  • Recommended Book: The Perfume Handbook by Nigel Groom (1992) Published by Chapman & Hall. ISBN 0 412 46320 2 Includes an A-Z of perfume ingredients plus receipes! Cost up to £50

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.