Just look on the beauty shelves and you’ll see the popularity of natural skincare is on the rise. Consumers are starting to realize it matters what you put onto your skin, just like how it matters what you put into your body. Healthy glowing skin is more than just throwing random skincare products onto your face. Informed consumers everywhere are starting to realize that products with synthetic ingredients often contain chemicals that can have negative effects on the skin.
Broadly, skincare can be categorized into two genres: natural and synthetic. Synthetic skincare is created in a lab and has chemicals that could cause allergies. Natural skincare is made with plant-based ingredients that are less likely to irritate your skin.
How Much Does What You Apply Actually Go Into Your Skin?
The skin has a built-in system called the lipid barrier that helps defend your body from environmental damage, but when the barrier is compromised it can lead to a range of problems. The lipid barrier is made up of lipids, or fatty acids that are larger molecules and creates a protective layer for your skin. The most common symptom associated with damaged lipid barrier is increased sensitivity to irritants like soaps, perfume or cosmetics.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research done on ingredients contained in skincare products. That’s why you should alays read the label before using a new product. If you see ingredients like PEG, Iodine, Titanium Dioxide, BPA, parabens or paraffin, chances are you’re going to break out or experience some sort of skin irritation.
With that said, let’s break down 5 common synthetic ingredients that can have damaging effects on your skin.
1. Chlorine: Known for the damaging effects on skin such as dryness, redness and itchiness.
2. Mineral oils: AKA Petroleum jelly. These are promoted as being an effective moisturiser but actually only creates a seal that suffocates skin. Gives the illusion of fighting dryness but can aggravate skin conditions like acne.
3. Parabens: Found in up to 85% of skincare products, paragons are a set of distinct chemicals that have been recognised as mimicking the effects of hormones in the body and is directly absorbed through the skin. Under the scanner for links to breast cancer.
4. Phosphates: Designed to help preserve products. However, when these end back in fresh-water systems it can create algae blooms which in turn use up the oxygen available for other aquatic life as well as blocking out viral sun from other plants beneath the surface.
5. Phenoxyethanol: A common preservative found in many skincare products. Exposure to skin has been linked to allergic skin reactions ranging from eczema and hives to anaphylaxis.
There are many ingredients that are known to be toxic and harmful, so it is important to know what you're putting on your skin from a cosmetic standpoint.
What Is Synthetic Skincare?
Synthetic skincare is the latest generation of products that contain ingredients which are not found in nature or made in a laboratory to replicate the effect of the natural ingredients. They consists of products that use various chemicals, and many of these chemicals can cause a wide variety of reactions in your skin. Some of the most common chemicals used in beauty products include sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laurate sulfate, glycolic acid, phenoxyethanol, and succinic acid. These are common ingredients in nearly all different types of synthetic skincare products. Phthalates are also a large concern with synthetic skincare products.
Why Are Synthetic Ingredients Harmful?
Synthetic chemicals can be great at removing impurities but can also be harmful if used on a regular basis. Many of these chemicals can cause skin rashes, itchiness and inflammation.
As research have shown, synthetic ingredients can either stay on your skin or can be absorbed into your bloodstream. While you may not see an immediate reaction, there have been studies that link long term exposure to chemicals leading to a range of health problems such as cancer, infertility, and developmental issues in children.
Another key ingredient in synthetic skincare is Silicone. It's a petrochemical that is classified as an endocrine disruptor. This means it can interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism or elimination of hormones that regulate important biological functions in the body. These hormones are responsible for regulating moods, reproduction, growth and development, as well as other important bodily functions.
Are All Synthetic Ingredients Bad?
Having said the above, not all synthetic ingredients are bad. Such ingredients provide convenience to consumers for its function, and the production process for manufacturers. They are often misunderstood because they do not occur in nature, but that does not mean that they definitely pose any kind of risk to consumers.
Synthetic cosmetics ingredients have been used for decades. These ingredients are much cheaper to produce and they do provide their claimed benefits.
The main problem with synthetic cosmetics is safety issues uncovered. For example, one of the most popular ingredients in makeup, lead acetate, has been found by the FDA to cause cancer. Just recently, Johnson and Johnson recalled five Neutrogena, Aveeno sunscreen products containing traces of benzene, a chemical linked to blood cancers such as leukemia.
Unfortunately, skin care is not regulated by the FDA so it's left to the discretion of the brands to self-regulate what does into their products.
Why Do Companies Still Use Synthetic Chemicals In Skincare?
A few facts about skincare you should be aware of: It takes roughly 70-80 mg of synthetic ingredients to make just one gram of a natural product. On average, each product contains 7.5 grams of artificial ingredients.
It's no secret that we use a lot of synthetic chemicals on our skin every day – we bathe with them, wash them off, put them onto our bodies, and absorb them through our skin. This is the first place these chemicals really effect us, mainly by causing dryness, irritation, redness, and breakout.
From a competitive point of view, synthetic ingredients are more cost efficient and less likely to fall out of vogue than their natural counterparts. Unlike natural ingredients, which can sometimes fall out of use over time, synthetic ingredients are unaffected by the passing of time.
Of course, every natural ingredient has its own problems, and they are generally more difficult to create. Synthetic ingredients, on the other hand, have been used for hundreds of years. Most synthetic ingredients can be synthesized or genetically modified at a laboratory and do not require labor intensive farming.
What Are Natural Ingredients and Why Should You Go For Natural Skincare
Why would you use products containing ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or irritation on your skin. Artificial ingredients tend to accumulate in your pores, and if you don’t clean them out you can cause your skin to become clogged with the product.
Many natural ingredients come from herbs, fruit, vegetables, or even insects like the sweet wormwood plant. Natural ingredients in skincare are excellent for the skin because they can have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Some natural ingredients that are used in skincare products are Jojoba Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Grapefruit Extract, Lavender and Aloe Vera. However, not all natural products are effective. In fact, not all natural products work as they don’t have the right proportions. That’s why some consumers are still relying on synthetic alternatives.
In recent years, there are increasingly many skincare brands with pure, natural, and non-irritating ingredients to choose from. At Kumuya, we researched thousands of ingredients to ascertain which ones actually work and will deliver the most effective results that consumers expect.
Natural skincare products may cost more due to the process of extraction from natural sources however, they are the better choice for your skin. Synthetic cosmetics are produced in large numbers so they may cost you less in the present time but they can cost you a lot in the long run as they are known to cause skin issues and other conditions including cancer.
Learn about skincare that contain only natural, proven and plant-derived actives here.