Skin Care and the Physiology of the Skin

The largest organ of the human body is the skin. It protects our bodies from the environment, maintains body temperature, excretes waste matter, gives sensory information to the brain and regulates body moisture. We think about our skin more than any other part of our bodies, and we manifest that attention by investing our emotions and about 6 to 20 % of our disposable income into our skin (Lappe, 1996). It is worthy to consider, then, how cosmetic products affect our skin. In this article the psycho-social impact of cosmetics will be examined as well as why cosmetics are deemed necessary. The physiology of skin, how cosmetics affect skin function and the effects of synthetic and natural cosmetic ingredients on the skin will also be considered.

The Psycho-Social Impact of Cosmetics

Our society is preoccupied with the “culture of beauty” (Lappe, 1996) which includes the notion that our skin must always look young and appear free from blemish. Our psychological well-being is often closely enmeshed with perceptions of how our skin appears to ourselves and others. We define our self-image to include the visible representation of our skin to others, so as a result, it has become the “primary canvas on which our cultural and personal identity is drawn” (Lappe, 1996). Cosmetic companies set aside concepts of natural beauty so that flaws such as large pores, fine lines and wrinkles are brought to the fore, influencing our spending habits in pursuit of flawless skin.

In the animal kingdom, most male species are endowed with colourful physical attributes so that a less colourful, but wisely camouflaged female mate will be attracted to it. Humans do not have equivalent ornamentation, so women use cosmetics, specifically make-up, to decorate their faces to attract prospective mates.

The Need for Cosmetics

A cosmetic is any substance which, when applied, results in a temporary, superficial change (Anctzak, 2001). We use a myriad of cosmetics on our skin, from moisturizers to lipstick. Make-up alters our visual appearance by enhancing our facial features through the artistic application of colour. It can beautify the face and be used to express our sense of self to others. Make-up can hide blemishes, scars, under-eye circles or even out our skin tone. It can boost self-esteem, make us feel more attractive and increase our social acceptability in some social situations. Using make-up can contribute to a well-groomed image, which positively influences our confidence, self-esteem, health and morale.

Skin care cosmetics treat the surface layer of the skin by providing better protection against the environment than skin left untreated. Creams treat the skin’s surface by imparting moisture to the skin cells on the outermost layer of the skin. It also forms a thin barrier which traps moisture underneath, thereby preventing the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface. Creams also accelerate the hydration of skin cells on the outer layer, giving the skin a temporarily smooth, plump appearance. Exfoliants improve the appearance of the skin by sloughing away flaky skin, blackheads and some dead skin cells. Astringents improve skin tone and texture by swelling the pore walls so dirt and debris do not collect within. Soaps loosen particles of dirt and grime by dissolving the greasy residue left on the skin from natural skin oils, creams and make-up.

The Physiology of the Skin and How Cosmetics Affect Skin Function

Skin is made up of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The epidermis is the only layer we can see with our eyes and as we age, remarkable changes occur which are hidden from our view. For instance, the skin gradually thins over time, especially around the eyes. Some cosmeceuticals can minimally re-thicken the skin, but the process of thinning is inevitable. Elastin and collagen, located in the dermis keep the skin resilient and moist, but with ageing these fibres break down to create lines and wrinkles. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation accelerates this process, and since few cosmetics can actually reach the dermis, the idea that a cosmetic can reverse this process is unfounded. The best way to prevent fine lines and wrinkles is to limit our exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation.

The skin is a highly complex, dynamic tissue system. One square inch of the skin is composed of 19 million cells, 625 sweat glands, 90 oil glands, 65 hair follicles, 19 000 sensory cells and 4 metres of blood vessels (Lappe, 1996). The outermost layer of the epidermis is called the cornified layer, and is made of sheets of keratin, a protein, and squames, dead, flat skin cells. It is our barrier against dehydration from the environment. It receives its primary supply of moisture from the underlying tissue, since constant contact from the external environment tends to dry out the skin’s surface. When the skin is exposed to dry conditions, the cornified layer can become dry, brittle, firm and if untreated, it can crack and lead to infection. Creams create a waxy barrier to prevent dehydration and keep the skin moist and supple. Underneath the cornified layer lie six more layers of the epidermis responsible for cell generation. The life cycle of skin cells within this layer takes approximately 28 days, so it may take three to four weeks to observe any changes at the skin’s surface from using a new cosmetic.

The skin surface is also home to millions of healthy micro-organisms which increase our immunity to pathogenic, or disease-causing bacteria. Thus, our desire to sterilize the skin also destroys beneficial bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans, and micrococcus luteus . Toners, for instance, are beneficial in keeping bacterial populations down, thus reducing acne flare-ups resulting from microbes which invade and proliferate in the pores. Overuse of anti-microbial agents can produce harmful results when too many beneficial bacteria are destroyed, allowing pathogenic bacteria to multiply unchecked on the skin. The skin also produces antimicrobial proteins, two of which are called defensins and cathelicidins, which increase when the skin is damaged. Perspiration, necessary for the maintenance of internal body temperature, also excretes a germicidal protein called dermicidin to combat bacteria producing body odour. Deodorants also assist in keeping the bacterial population down, thus decreasing the odours produced as they feed on the waste matter excreted by the sweat glands. Research has shown that people who wash excessively are more prone to infection and eczema as a result of ‘washing” away natural bacteria and germicides too frequently (Awake!, 2004).

The Effect of Natural and Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients on the Skin

A natural substance is any plant or animal extract, rock or mineral which is obtained from the earth (Antczak, 2001). An artificial or synthetic substance is a substance which has been modified through chemical reactions in an industrial process (Antczak, 2001). We use a myriad of cosmetics on our skin, but before we use these beauty aids, three essential questions should be asked:

– What is the composition of the cosmetic?

– Why is each ingredient used?

– Do the ingredients have positive or negative effects on the skin and body? (See glossary at http://www.organicmakeup.ca)

Many products claim to be safe or even may appear to be safe, but beyond the short-term benefits of using the cosmetic, are there any long term effects from daily absorption of its use? Skin used to be considered an impermeable barrier, but transdermal drugs have proven that the opposite is true; the skin allows many substances to pass through its layers into the bloodstream.

Several factors affect the rate with which the skin will absorb various cosmetic ingredients. The condition of the skin, such as whether it is dry or damaged will increase absorption. Cuts, acne or abrasions also increase absorption. Other ways to absorb cosmetic ingredients is to inhale them, such as with hairspray or talcum powder, or through the mucous membranes. Moist substances are most readily absorbed and powders are absorbed the least by the skin. Many products claim to address a skin issue, such as acne or dry skin, but contain ingredients which exacerbate these problems. For instance, acne treatments may contain comedogenic, or pore-clogging ingredients. Creams that are supposed to treat dry skin may actually strip the skin of its natural oils which are useful in preventing dryness. Some contain chemicals which seep through the skin and dissolve skin oils and defat the skin (Lappe, 1996). A growing trend is chemical sensitivity, which can develop at any time, even after long term use of the same product. The ingredients in many cosmetics cause 20% of the population (U.S. data, Erickson, 2002) to develop the symptoms of chemical sensitivity. Natural cosmetics emphasize more traditional skin treatments with few of these harsh effects, acknowledging that short term beauty does not balance with long term hazards to health.

The health of the skin is dependent on sound nutritional practices, healthy living and effective, safe protection on its surface. The organic make-up co. can help you achieve healthy, radiant skin by offering a complete line of cosmetics and makeup composed of all natural ingredients, with no animal, synthetic or petroleum-based ingredients. Our products are made fresh for you once we receive your order, and contain preservatives such as d-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and other plant oils with anti-microbial properties.

We invite you to give our natural products a try. Our cosmetics and make-up are developed on the basis of sound, scientific principles and the physiology of the skin. Our products will convince you on their own merit, since they are natural, vegan, and an excellent alternative to conventional make-up and cosmetics.

Please contact us at http://www.organicmakeup.ca for further information.

References:

– Anctzak, Gina & Stephen, Dr., (2001). Cosmetics Unmasked, Harper Collin, London.

– Erickson, Kim, (2002). Drop Dead Gorgeous, Contemporary Books, USA.

– Lappe, Marc Dr., (1996). The Body’s Edge, Henry Holt & Co., New York.

– Purvis, Debbie, (1989). The Business of Beauty, Wall & Thompson, Toronto.

– Awake! Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Canada, February 8 2004.

http://www.naturalcosmetics.ca

Natural Cosmetic Products – Redefine Yourself

Natural cosmetic products are made from roots, plants, minerals and herbs and not made from chemicals. These products are made from nature’s resources and enhance not only the outer beauty of a person, but are healthy for you as well. They not only reflect the physical beauty of a person but also help to enhance one’s spirituality and are psychologically and physically healthy. Natural skin care products are in no way harmful to your skin and play a viable role in healing skin ailments.

Having said all of the above, one must always keep in mind that the Cosmetic Industry is self-regulated. They are the best marketers in the world. After all, they have been selling a false dream for centuries and continue to grow with annual revenue estimated to be over 50 billion. As great marketers, it is only logical that they would want to capitalize on any growing trend, and the trend towards organic and/or natural cosmetic products is obvious. So, here is where consumers must be very careful as products will carry organic or natural claims because it might be in the cosmetic company’s best interest, but is it true? Is it in your best interest? The only way to know for sure is to read, copy and research the ingredients as many of the ingredients in cosmetic products are toxic. Toxins are poisons. They can damage the skin, but they can also cause serious damage to organs, some are carcinogens (linked directly to cancer), can cause respiratory problems, can cause birth defects, and this is just a small sample of the havoc harmful, toxic cosmetics, used daily, can wreak.

To prove the point, here are two startling statistics:

there are over 10,500 chemicals used in the manufacture of cosmetic products of which only 11% have been tested for safety here in the US;

the European Union has banned over 1100 chemicals used in cosmetics while the US has banned only 10.

I could go on and on about this subject, but let’s leave it here for now. If you want more detail, I have written extensively on the subject in other articles.

With this cautionary note we can get back to the subject of this article on how to redefine yourself with natural cosmetic products.

Natural cosmetics can be prepared from food as well as other nutritional ingredients. Natural oil imparts fragrance to these cosmetic products. These natural fragrances should be looked for on the ingredient labels. If synthetic fragrances (pthalates) are used, stay away from the product as Pthalates are highly toxic, carry the highest level of hazard with a 10 by the Cosmetic Database, the largest database of cosmetic ingredients in the world. They are carcinogens and therefore, linked to cancer. Think of it this way. If you would not even consider drinking a poisonous substance, why then would you place a poisonous substance on your skin, the largest organ of the body. Clinical studies indicate that over 70% of what is placed on the skin enters the body and invades our bloodstream.

Some of the ingredients that are commonly found in natural cosmetic products are as follows:

Candelila wax, Beeswax, Carnauba: These waxes are obtained from plants and are used as texturizers in cosmetics as well.

Biotin: It is prepared from yeast and used in hair conditioners and cosmetic creams.

Colorants/pigments: The iron oxide present here imparts a natural color to cosmetics such as mascara, lipstick, and eye shadow. The titanium oxide present in titanium ore is serves as a natural sunscreen. Carmine is derived from cochineal (the Mexican insect) and is used in lipsticks.

Essential oils: The essential oils are made of sandalwood, rose, peppermints as well as lavender and provide a nice fragrance. These oils do not irritate your skin but, again, synthetic fragrances are dangerous. Stay away from them.

Panthenol offers nourishment to your hair and is found in lotions and shampoos. The Panthenol comprises of, molasses yeast and rice.

Plant lichens and Sea weed: The sea weeds are used in the form of thickeners and serves best as hair conditioners and hair products.

Vitamin E: It is defined as an anti-oxidant and prepared by distilling the edible oils.

You can try out the below mentioned natural cosmetic products as per your skin type:

Normal Skin: Blend lavender oil and lemon extracts and apply it on your skin. You can also use cocoa butter and wheat germs for moisturizing your skin.

Dry Skin: Blend rose oil and chamomile oil together with glycerin and apply it on your dry skin so as to hydrate it. To retain the softness of your skin you can apply a mix of mango, papaya and coconut on your skin. Red clay also helps in revitalizing your skin.

Oily Skin: Before you moisturize your skin, apply grapefruit on it. For cleansing oily skin, green clay could be used. However, you need to keep in mind that natural cosmetic products do not lower the natural oil content of your skin.

Use only products that do not contain irritants as well as chemically harmful materials. They should be devoid of petrolatum, mineral oils, drying alcohol as well as pore-clogging ingredients.

So, to conclude, before you purchase any cosmetic product that makes an organic or natural claim be sure that:
They are devoid of petroleum derivatives;

They do not contain synthetic fragrances as these are considered toxic;

They do not contain any other ingredients that are considered to be toxic, and are therefore, dangerous to your general health and well being;

They moisturize and retain the texture of your skin

Natural cosmetic products, used daily, simply stated, are healthy for you, thus saving you from the adverse effects of the toxins found in chemically made cosmetic products.

Natural Skin Care Basics

Natural cosmetics have been making a big boom in the market lately. While you might be skeptical that they’re just another gimmick, the reason behind the trend is a true concern for health. Traditional cosmetics contain all sorts of unnatural chemicals that build up in your skin, seep into your pores, and sometimes build up in your body. By using natural products you can avoid this.

Another benefit to natural cosmetics is they won’t irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Often, acne and other skin conditions are actually an allergic reaction to chemicals in your make up and other skin care products.

Keep in mind, however, that unlike “certified organic”, the word natural is not regulated. Natural cosmetic labeling is not regulated. There are no laws in the U.S. that oversee products that claim they use ‘natural’ ingredients. This is because there are not yet any clear standards about what the term ‘natural’ really means.

In order for there to be laws, there needs to be a generally accepted and quantifiable meaning for the word ‘natural’. That way there can be a clear determination of whether a cosmetic fits the description or not. Until that happens, there won’t be any laws affecting the term ‘natural’.

In the meantime, some manufacturers and trade associations are developing their own definitions for the term and issuing ‘certifications’ of their own. For example, The Green Products Alliance has a logo for natural products. Guidelines have been developed that those products must adhere to in order to display the logo. Following those guidelines is strictly voluntary, so are shows that the companies which participate in the program are doing more than they have to by law.

To find real natural products, you should look to see if an independent company has verified that the product is natural. But again, anyone can “certify” a product because there is no government regulation. Some companies even create their own “certification” to say they have a natural product. Research different companies that verify natural products to find certifications that you know you can trust.

The best way to tell a quality natural cosmetic is by looking at the first ingredient. Believe it or not, if water is the first ingredient, that’s a sign to stay away. Water dilutes the product, meaning you have to use a lot more to get the same effect. But don’t stop looking there, keep reading the list. If there’s a long and unpronounceable word, that’s a good sign that you should keep looking. If it sounds like an artificial chemical, it probably is.

If you’ve tried natural cosmetics before and didn’t like them, that doesn’t mean you need to give up. It used to be, there were only a few products that were really natural. Now the internet has provided us with an outlet to get all kinds of different products from different retailers. That means not only are prices lower due to competition (many online retailers will even send free samples if you pay shipping), but you can always try a different product if one doesn’t work for you.

If you want real benefit, opt for multiple brands of natural skin care products for your skin and hair. Just like regular drugstore brands, you’ll find that you have favorite lines that work better for your particular issues.

Keep in mind – it’s likely safe to assume that cosmetics that carry The Green Products Alliance logo are reputable – and that’s exactly why companies are taking the extra step; however, there are also outfit s that are not so reputable that are setting up non-profit organizations which grant awards based on nothing more than paying a membership fee.

As a consumer, you have to make sure that the organization that is awarding the seal is reputable and not using it as just another marketing technique. Just because a cosmetic line got seal of approval from ‘The Alliance of Best Natural Products on the Planet”, it may not mean anything more than they paid a fee to display the seal.