How safe are skin care products? What an interesting yet challenging question. Learn in this article why the safety of the formulations is a key topic when it comes to skin care products!
Why is the safety of skin care products an important topic?
According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit environmental research organization called the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and a coalition of public interest and environmental health organizations, the average adult uses 9 different personal care products daily, with 126 unique chemical ingredients. It is a lot of chemicals to put on our skin! Maybe too many, considering that what we put on our skin is also absorbed and enters our body through a process called “dermal absorption”.
Dermal absorption is according to the World Health Organisation : “a global term that describes the transport of chemicals from the outer surface of the skin both into the skin and into the systemic circulation (ie, the blood). Dermal absorption can occur from occupational, environmental, or consumer skin exposure to chemicals, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products.”
As your skin is our biggest organ, we really have to be careful about what we put on it because it can drastically affect our quality of life or health!
Why do skincare products have so many ingredients? How can they be dangerous?
As you have certainly noticed, skin care products generally contain a lot of ingredients. According to EWG, “personal care products are manufactured with 10,500 unique chemical ingredients”. Among these chemical ingredients, some are considered as human carcinogens, toxic for the reproductive system or suspected to disrupt the endocrine system.
It is the case of many phthalates and parabens that are often used in skin care products or cosmetics and are considered as “endocrine disruptors”. According to the Endocrine Society press release, endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure is connected to “infertility, hormone-related cancers, neurological issues” and to two of the main challenges of our society – diabetes and obesity.
Other heavily used ingredient with limitations, both for health and the environment are silicone (dimethicone) and mineral oils. These derivatives of petrol form a layer on top of the skin (similar to a plastic liquid glove) and thereby limit evaporation of water … but they also may allow bacteria to develop and prevent skin from breathing normally.
So why do manufacturers include so much ingredients? There are 3 main reasons. The first one is that it is easier: making stable products with nice texture with few ingredients is actually very difficult. The second one is because some ingredients are compulsory to have certain activities when one uses standard “technologies”: this is why scientific innovation remains so important! For instance, most manufacturers need both humectants like glycerine and petroleum-derived occlusive ingredients like dimethicone and mineral oils to make an efficient moisturizer. Only scientific innovation such as Skintifique breakthrough Activifique allows us to get rid of the need of petroleum-derived occlusive ingredients. And the third reason is that historically, consumers have not requested fewer ingredients; but they are more and more willing to know how safe are skin care products. The trend towards minimalist formulations is just now emerging.
How can we make safe skincare products?
Nowadays, skin care manufacturers may use many ingredients and as many as they want to formulate a new skin care. In the USA, a very limited number of ingredients are prohibited by FDA regulation and there is no premarket safety testing required for most chemical ingredients that go into personal care product. According to EWG, “The FDA does no systematic review safety, instead authorizing the cosmetics industry to self-police ingredient safety”. In Europe, the regulation is much tighter, and there are some significant safety tests that products have to pass (eg anti-irritation, ocular safety, anti-contamination tests…)
In this liberal context, it is largely up to the skin care manufacturers to choose which ingredients to put in their products. A laboratory like Skintifique integrates this need to develop the safest formulations while delivering maximum efficacy and tolerability. Only active ingredients that are proven to be effective and with exceptional safety profiles are used in their formulations. For instance, Skintifique products’ formulations are guaranteed with 0% paraben, silicone (dimethicone), mineral oil, fragrance, EDTA or lanolin. Of course, achieving such products requires strong commitment and scientific innovations. Such innovation allows, for instance, the Hydrating Gel to be an exceptionally efficient moisturizer although it contains no petroleum-derived ingredients such as dimethicone and mineral oils.Click here to learn more about Skintifique science.
How can you know which skincare products are safe?
Have you ever tried to decipher the endless ingredient lists on many self-claimed natural or non-allergenic skin care products? You certainly have and you probably need some help: two tools can help you!
The first one is a basic principle: the fewer ingredients in the product, the lower the chances to get ingredients that will have undesired effects on your skin or health. Skintifique, for instance, focuses on quality over quantity with formulations that contain the fewest possible ingredients. Indeed, the 4 products in the Skintifique skin care range contain between 5 and 13 ingredients (including water!), no more. It is easier to find how safe are skin care products if they contain fewer ingredients! But, of course, the number of active ingredients is not going to explain all the differences in the product safety.
So here comes the second tool: databases. SkinSAFE, EWG, GRAS or CPSC are among the most popular ones and their aims are the same: to establish and maintain a publicly available, searchable database on the safety of consumer products such as skin care products. These tools help us to know how safe are skin care products.
SkinSAFE, for instance, is a database of skin care products based on ingredients, that can help you avoid products which contain specific allergens. All the products are ranked based on how free they are from the top most common allergy causing ingredients. With SkinSAFE, everybody can find safe skin care, free from allergens and irritants. Skintifique products have been ranked in SkinSAFE, and all four of its products are ranked among the safest in the world!
Finally, there are also non-public tools that scientists have developed to very simply identify for any product whether their formulations create risks such as the presence of paraben, silicone (dimethicone), mineral oil, fragrance, lanolin etc…We do use such tools at Skintifique and we are happy to let other benefits from them.
In a recent study, it has been found that more than 80% of popular skincare products contain al least one, often several common risks linked to their ingredients… and that Skintifique products contain none…
Final note: of course, one should also keep in mind that every person is unique and may be allergic or ultrasensitive to any ingredient. Some people are even allergic to water! Therefore, always test a new skin care on a small part of your skin before using it broadly, especially if you have a sensitive skin.