One question I get asked very often by younger customers is “when should they start using an eye cream?”. There seems to be a misconception that you only need to use and eye cream in your thirties or when the first fine lines begin to appear. The answer is, at that stage its already a bit late. The skin around the eyes is extremely thin and it also does not have the benefit of underlying muscle to hold it taught. Hence it needs all the help it can get. You need to use an eye cream from as early as possible. Choose a good organic eye cream that is nourishing but light in consistency. Thick and heavy eye creams can do more damage than good in this delicate area.
I met with a friend over the weekend who has battled with acne for over a decade. He had always maintained that he was acne prone due to his oily skin and hence used harsh cleansing and alcohol laced moisturisers to help dry up the oil. I had believed his skin to be quite dry and therefore producing excess oil to counter the severe dehydration.
Over the years I met many people with a similar problem. This only stressed the importance of using the correct organic moisturiser or face cream for your skin type.
How to know if your skin is dehydrated even though you have acne?
If your skin occasionally feels tight especially after cleansing. Your skin can also feel quite sensitive. Your skin also may feel tight after cleansing but have get oily and shiny after a few hours – this is the skins compensatory mechanism that aggravates the break outs.
What organic moisturiser should you use for dry skin that is acne prone?
You need to use a nourishing organic moisturiser or organic face cream. Seems strange in light of the acne. However when skins dehydrated the negative feedback system kicks in to produce oil. If you nourish and hydrate your skin efficiently, your skin rebalances itself and produces less oil, hence fewer clogged pores and breakouts. Give a moisturiser like the Rejuvenating Face Cream a try.
Organic moisturiser or organic face cream for Oily Skin
If your skin is genuinely oily, you still need to ensure that you do not use a product that dehydrates the skin, as this just encourages it to produce more oil. What you need is an alcohol free, gel like moisturiser as these have a high water content, which will keep skin well hydrated. The skin then does not have to produce excess oil to compensate. Stay away from alcohol and SLS based cleansers and moisturisers. Also use a moisturiser that contains ingredients like neem (Melia azadirachta leaf extract) which has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Make sure that the product is designed to balance sebum production and contains sebum balancing ingredients such as arginine.
Phenoxyethanol, glycol ether often derived from natural sources, is a popular antibacterial and preservative chemical, used by many so called natural and organic skin care brands. It is also used in many vaccines and bug repellants.
A few beauty brands marketed as the greenest in the industry use phenoxyethanol as a preservative, suggesting that it is derived from grapefruit. Well, cocamide DEA is derived from coconut but this doesn’t make it any less toxic!
Chemically known as ethylene glycol phenyl ether or ethylene glycol monophenyl ether, phenoxyethanol is an ethoxylated compound that may be contaminated with carcinogenic toxin 1,4-Dioxane.
According to Journal of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, phenoxyethanol affected brain and nervous system in animals at moderate doses. In 1990 Journal of the American College of Toxicology reported that phenoxyethanol also acts as an endocrine disruptor that also caused damage to bladder and acute pulmonary edema in animals. Early 1980s studies also suggest that phenoxyethanol can cause DNA mutations – again, only in animals, as it was not tested on humans.
Phenoxyethanol is a scientifically proven irritant to human skin and eyes (Comparison of objective and sensory skin irritations of several cosmetic preservatives. Lee E, An S, Choi D, Moon S, Chang I. Contact Dermatitis. 2007 Mar;56(3):131-6.) and it is classified as irritant in European Union. Phenoxyethanol is also restricted for use in Japan.
No matter what the studies say, phenoxyethanol is deemed perfectly safe for use in cosmetics in the U.S. and UK in concentrations of up to 1 percent. This means, a 200 ml bottle of shampoo contains a teaspoon of phenoxyethanol!
The most surprising it that the Soil Association, the organic certification body in the UK permits the use of phenoxyethanol in products that it certifies organic. Please read the organic ingredients on products.
All Organic Apoteke products are free of phenoxyethanol and phenoxyethanol residues.
Sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays. FDA’s failure to finalize its 1978 sunscreen safety standards both epitomizes and perpetuates this state of confusion. EWG’s review of the latest research unearthed troubling facts that might tempt you to give up on sunscreens altogether. That’s not the right answer – despite the unknowns about their efficacy, public health agencies still recommend using sunscreens, just not as your first line of defense against the sun. At EWG we use sunscreens, but we look for shade, wear protective clothing and avoid the noontime sun before we smear on the cream. Here are the surprising facts:
1. There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations say: “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” (FDA 2007). The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees. IARC recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation and writes that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a). Read more.
2. There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.
Some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. No one knows the cause, but scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorb more radiation overall, or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role. One other hunch: Inferior sunscreens with poor UVA protection that have dominated the market for 30 years may have led to this surprising outcome. All major public health agencies still advise using sunscreens, but they also stress the importance of shade, clothing and timing.
3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better.
In 2007 the FDA published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than “SPF 50+.” The agency wrote that higher values were “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful…” (FDA 2007). Scientists are also worried that high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns (a late, key warning of overexposure) while upping the risks of other kinds of skin damage.
Flaunting FDA’s proposed regulation, companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010. Nearly one in six products now lists SPF values higher than 50, compared to only one in eight the year before, according to EWG’s analysis of nearly 500 beach and sport sunscreens. Neutrogena, with six products labeled “SPF 100,” and Banana Boat, with four, stand out among the offenders.
4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels.
Adding to the confusion is the fact that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — production of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D in the body is sunshine, and the compound is enormously important to health – it strengthens bones and the immune system, reduces the risk of various cancers (including breast, colon, kidney, and ovarian cancers) and regulates at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body. (Mead 2008) Over the last two decades, vitamin D levels in the U.S. population have been decreasing steadily, creating a “growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency” (Ginde 2009a). Seven of every 10 U.S. children now have low levels. Those most likely to be deficient include children who are obese or who spend more than four hours daily in front of the TV, computer or video games (Kumar 2009).
Experts disagree on the solution. The American Medical Association has recommended 10 minutes of direct sun (without sunscreen) several times a week (AMA 2008), while the American Academy of Dermatology holds that “there is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk” (AAD 2009). Vitamin D supplements are the alternative, but there is debate over the proper amount. The Institute of Medicine has launched new research to reassess the current guidelines. In the meantime, your doctor can test your vitamin D levels and give advice on sunshine versus supplements.
5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.
Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). This evidence is troubling because the sunscreen industry adds vitamin A to 41 percent of all sunscreens.
The industry puts vitamin A in its formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. That may be true for lotions and night creams used indoors, but FDA recently conducted a study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight. Scientists have known for some time that vitamin A can spur excess skin growth (hyperplasia), and that in sunlight it can form free radicals that damage DNA (NTP 2000).
In FDA’s one-year study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent sooner in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream (at a concentration of 0.5%) than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream. Both groups were exposed to the equivalent of just nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight each day.
It’s an ironic twist for an industry already battling studies on whether their products protect against skin cancer. The FDA data are preliminary, but if they hold up in the final assessment, the sunscreen industry has a big problem. In the meantime, EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol” on the label).
6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.
Both UV radiation and many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and cause skin cancer. An effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but sunscreens are far better at preventing sunburn than at limiting free radical damage. While typical SPF ratings for sunburn protection range from 15 to 50, equivalent “free radical protection factors” fall at only about 2. When consumers apply too little sunscreen or reapply it infrequently, behaviors that are more common than not, sunscreens can cause more free radical damage than UV rays on bare skin.
7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency.
Unsurprisingly, there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. The major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium), which often contain micronized- or nano-scale particles of those minerals.
After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns.
8. Europe’s better sunscreens.
Sunscreen makers and users in Europe have more options than in the United States. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the U.S. European sunscreens could earn FDA’s proposed four-star top rating for UVA protection, while the best U.S. products would earn only three stars. Sunscreen chemicals approved in Europe but not by the FDA provide up to five times more UVA protection; U.S. companies have been waiting five years for FDA approval to use the same compounds. Last but not least, Europeans will find many sunscreens with strong (mandatory) UVA protection if proposed regulations in Europe are finalized. Under FDA’s current proposal, Americans will not.
9. The 33rd summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.
In the United States, consumer protection has stalled because of the FDA’s 32-year effort to set enforceable guidelines for consumer protection. EWG has found a number of serious problems with existing products, including overstated claims about their perfomance and inadequate UVA protection. Many of these will be remedied when the FDA’s proposed sunscreen rule takes effect. But even after the rule is enacted, gaps will remain. FDA does not consider serious toxicity concerns such as hormone disruption when approving new sun filters, and the new rules would fail to measure sunscreen stability despite ample evidence that many products break down quickly in sunlight.
To read more, please link to EWG
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is highlighting a study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) alleging risks associated with the sunsceen ingredient oxybenzone.
The organisation estimates that 97 percent of Americans it tested for the study were contaminated by the ingredient, which has been linked to allergies such as hormone disruption and cell damage.
The organisation also says that a companion study published just a few days earlier also links the chemical to low birth weight in baby girls, whose mothers are exposed to the chemical during pregnancy.
However, concerns brought about by earlier scientific studies have led authorities in the EU to regulate that any sunscreen product containing a more than 5 percent dose of oxybenzone should be labelled accordingly.
This is because studies have shown that the oxybenzone can penetrate the skin’s dermal layer, where it can increase production of free radicals, leading to the production of photocarinogen.
Currently there are no such regulations in place in the United States.
Currently over 900 sunscreen products use the chemical
Please use this link to view the list of products containing oxybenzone.
The group actually names key sunscreen brands, including Olay, L’oreal, Hawaiin Tropical, Coopertone and Banana Boat, which all contain the chemical.
“The Food and Drug Administration has failed miserably in its duty to protect the public from toxic chemicals like oxybenzone in personal care products,” the EWG said in a statement.
The statement also accused the FDA of delaying final sunscreen safety standards for nearly thirty years because of the interests of industry lobbyists.
Organic Apoteke products are free of oxybenzone.
As summer grows warmer and the sun beckons, we start heaping on the sunscreen. Wonderful all round.
Only think about your pores under the protective barrier of the sunscreen. Sunscreen in its very essence, provides a barrier between your skin and the harmful UVA and UVB rays. This barrier in as much as it functions to protect the skin also traps oils and sebum into the pores. This is especially so when you slather on multiple layers of sunscreen when tanning. In fact tanning is doubly disadvantageous for the pores as the sun stimulates higher levels of sebum production and the sunscreen prevents this sebum from exiting pores. This can result in spots and breakouts. The last thing you want to ruin your beautiful summer skin.
The secret is, to wash your face with a deep cleansing organic facial cleanser following the use of sunscreen. Use a cleanser that is designed to deep clean pores, thus removing all the trapped sebum and impurities. The Active Face Cleanse Gel is one such cleanser. However because these cleaners contain ingredients that stimulate pores to remove the impurities from deep within, they need to be followed with a great toner. Preferably one that contains healing and soothing ingredients.
Be sure to keep your flawless summer glow by cleansing with an organic facial cleanser.
It is the constituents found in herbs or plants that give them their main actions and make herbal skin care effective. Here is a brief introduction to an important plan constituent, the flavonoids.
This term refers to commonly occurring vitamin-like substances that are necessary for a wide range of functions in the body. They are present in many fruit and vegetable: lemons are a good source and give the fruit or vegetable their distinct flavor. Flavonoids are frequently found in remedies that help circulation.
Flavonoids are used in natural skincare to increase circulation for the same reasons given above. Some Flavonoids are also powerful anti-oxidants that reduce free radical damage in the skin cells.
Lauren Fornes is an esthetician and one of the most charming people we have met since bringing Organic Apoteke to the US in 2007. Lauren’s much loved blog Faceparlour is informative and smart, and is morphing into something new and exciting: The Skinny (a private sale site that offers luxury skin care at affordable prices).
We had a chat with Lauren as she gets ready to offer Organic Apoteke (from Nov 11th to the 18th).
What do you look for in a skin care products?
Right now I’m pregnant, so given that I look for a combination of safe and effective ingredients.
With winter coming up what type of product do you recommend?
Most people tend to have drier skin, so I recommend switching to more nourishing products. The easiest way to do this is usually with a cleanser. If you use a cleansing gel or a foaming cleanser, switch to a cleansing milk or cream. You could also consider switching to a richer moisturizer, if your skin feels tight immediately after application.
Are there any ingredients that you look for in your fall and winter skin care products?
In the fall and winter I like to feel cozy, so I am drawn to scents that are cozy like rose, and chamomile and mint. I find those charming in the winter.
Your first experience with Organic Apoteke was with our Buttermilk Cleanser, which you gave a very high score (the highest ever, I believe) what do you look for in a cleanser?
At the time I was rating products based on three criteria: safety, efficacy and sustainability. This product scored remarkably high in all three categories. Additionally, on the marketing side, it didn’t over-sell or over-promise, which is a common tendency is skin care.
Why did you give it (Buttermilk Cleanser) such a high rating?
It is not hard to create an effective cleanser. But many of the cleaning agents (surfactants and the like) are the same ingredients you use to clean your car or your dishes. Your skin is more sensitive. The ingredients may get absorbed into your bloodstream. It’s important to maintain the effectiveness but without the harshness. Your Buttermilk Cleanser was light and creamy, a very good natural, holistic alternative.
You’re pregnant, congratulations! How has this affected your approach to personal care products?
The moment I found out I was pregnant I cried with joy and panicked a little…it was one thing to expose myself toxic ingredients, but I couldn’t do that to this tiny person inside me. I went through the bathroom cabinet and got rid of all the junk, then headed to a local organic home store and bought all the safe and effective alternatives.
You recently started The Skinny. What is it and how does it work?
You (and possibly your readers) are familiar with the sample sale craze (Gilt Groupe, Hautelook, etc). We’re similar, except we’re focused exclusively on luxury skin care at affordable prices (up to 70% off retail). You can join at www.shoptheskinny.com. As a member, you receive weekly emails announcing a new brand shopping event. This week we’re featuring Organic Apoteke, so I’m sure your readers will be excited!
How is going?
It is going really well. We’ve been written up by Daily Candy, Cooking Light Magazine. Plus, we’re getting amazing feedback from our members – that is the most encouraging part.