Nice to “see” you again 🙂 I am sorry to say that the month of May will be sparse in terms of blog posts. Not to get into details too much, but I am finally busy writing my final articles and my doctoral thesis. I have been waiting for this moment for close to 2 years now, so you can understand why my priorities lie with my PhD at the moment. There will also be quite some travelling this month…All in all, good things that distract me from the blog.
Today, however, I’d like to write about a topic that I have generally avoided so far, mainly because I wasn’t very into it: skin care…I wasn’t really using all that much until a year or two ago, the reason being I thought I was young and didn’t need it. Reality check => I am 31, so the last time I really could afford not using any skin care was about 10 years ago. And still then, I should have used waaay more SPF than I actually did. Age and stress have really caught up with me the last few years though. At some, point my skin was developing redness, dry spots and oily T zone, cystic acne…I make it sound more horrible than it was, but it just didn’t feel right.
One of the reasons I strayed from the realm of skin care cosmetics all this time, is that I dislike not knowing, or better said, not understanding, what I smear on my skin. The fear: making things worse… I did try a cream or two, but they always felt way too heavy and greasy, so I ended up using them as hand creams.
That has changed. I still don’t use a whole bunch of things, but the ones I do use have really helped, and they are what I am going to write about today and the following days (parts). Another reason for this change of heart is also my increasing knowledge of what goes into skin care products and what each ingredient is supposed to do. Speaking of that, I will very lightly touch upon a topic that is a bit sensitive and remains controversial…myths about certain components included in cosmetic products…and I’d like to stress already now, that this is my opinion. You do not have to agree with me, believe me, or change your routines based on my words. Everyone is free to follow their own beliefs! The only thing I urge you to do is be critical about your sources of information 😉
I was lucky enough to land on a great day cream already on my first try…a bit of serendipity I would say. I had vaguely heard of the brand Olaz (aka Olay), so when I found myself at the drugstore looking for a good day cream and Olaz was offering theirs at 50% off…well, that was an easy decision. I grabbed the Total Effects 7 in 1 day cream with SPF15 totally randomly, just because 7 sounds like a lot 😛
It looks like this:
The cream is fragrance-free...which is great because, I don’t know if you know that, but most of those nice smelly things they put in your skin care products, are actually skin irritants. They are perhaps one of the biggest problems for people with sensitive skin…together with colourants. The only purpose they serve is to make things attractive to our eyes and noses. These compounds have 0 benefit for the skin.
And this is what the Olaz 7 in 1 day cream contains:
The cream has light texture and sinks into the skin quickly. Personally, I use it both at night and during the day. I mean, my skin is the same 24 hours a day, so why waste money on a night cream?! A few months after I started using it, my skin looked considerably better: smaller pores, no redness, brighter and livelier. Less cystic acne breakouts too.
A quick glance at the ingredient list, now that I have an idea what’s what, makes me happy.
Why?, you may ask…
Ethylhexyl (= octyl) salicylate is UVB rays-protecitve sunscreen. One of the first ingredients is an SPF 🙂
Also, on the very top of the list are a few vitamins: niacinamide (vitB3), panthenol (alcohol form of vitB), tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol (vitE), sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitC). These guys are potent anti-oxidants, and what anti-oxidants do is counteract the damaging effect of UV light (aka the Sun!).
Another plus is that except for one (benzyl alcohol), all the alcohols in this formulation are the good kind: fatty alcohols, which unlike other alcohols ( such as denatured alcohol, ethanol) are not drying or irritating to the skin. Fatty alcohols are emollients – they moisturize.
Then of course, we have titanium dioxide and zinc oxide aka mineral sunscreen (they protect from both UVA and UVB rays), also SPF.
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room, in this case the 3 elephants:
-paraffin (aka mineral oil)
– dimethicone (aka a silicone) and
The highly purified and refined mineral oil used in cosmetics (cosmetics-grade) is safe…that’s it. It cannot cause breakouts, cancer (!?!?!), or clog your pores. These sort of hydrocarbons are generally, chemically speaking, pretty inert. Mineral oil is not comedogenic. The claim that it is, has been based on a study done in the 60s on rabbits (if my memory serves me well). Newer studies have proved otherwise. However, mineral oil can be a problem for people with oily skin because of its emollient properties. It basically “locks” your sebum at place…human sebum does contain comedogenic compounds. So, if you have oily skin, obviously, you will not enjoy mineral oil. People with dry skin should actually benefit from it.
Silicones…another group of extremely inert compounds, chemically speaking unable to clog pores. They make things…silky and slippery on the surface, which is also why a lot of hair products contain silicones. The only concern you should have about them is whether you like the feeling they provide. Think of primers, foundations…do you like that slippery feeling they give you? For the rest, no need to worry. Also, while we are at it, as far as you hair is concerned…how can silicones (a chemically inert bunch, as I said) damage those dead (no cells, no life), primarily keratin-containing things swinging around your shoulders?!?!?
And the best part, the icing of the cake, my personal fav among the myths: parabens! These guys are some of the oldest preservatives used in cosmetics. A recent study linked them, pretty vaguely at that, to breast cancer…and now all of a sudden, parabens = cancer. OMG! I have read the original paper and nowhere in it did anyone say that parabens cause cancer. If anything, the authors of the paper have rebuked such claims. Traces of parabens were found in tissue from breast cancer patients…That was it. Also, I wonder, if parabens do cause cancer, how come there isn’t an epidemic of cancer…since we have been using them ubiquitously, for a while now? And, why have blueberries not been banned from our diet yet, as those contain the methyl- version of paraben?
If you happen to be a smoker, and you dare tell me that the parabens in your deodorant are what will get you sick, I am going to unapologetically laugh your face. Smoking, a proven source of carcinogens and DNA mutagens (such as ROS = reactive oxygen species) VS parabens, a group of compounds with no proven carcinogenic affect…hmm, which one is more likely to cause cancer?!
Again, this is my opinion!!! Do not discuss, judge or believe me…..but please rely on good sources for this sort of info..not obscure dark corners of the Internet realm. I mean, even wikipedia provides you with links to scientific papers…
Phew, this blog post turned out different than expected…I didn’t touch upon it lightly, but heavily in fact! I must have felt strongly for the topic…
I promsie to tell you more about my fav skin products in PART 2, which will follow shortly 🙂