What does the skin do? It’s the largest organ of the body and made up of three layers (epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer). The skin forms a protective barrier for the body and guards against moisture, debris, and UV rays from the sun. Cuts and open wounds on the skin can cause infection. The skin contains oil glands that secrete sebum, a substance that helps moisturize the skin.
The four most common skin types used in the cosmetic/skin care industry are:
1. Normal: This skin type displays a smooth texture and a rosy, clear surface, with fine pores. There are no visible blemishes, greasy patches or flaky areas. Sebum production, moisture content, keratinisation and desquamation are well-balanced. Normal skin is often found in young persons.
2. Oily: Skin of this type is characterised by an increased amount of lipids on the skin surface due to overactive sebaceous glands. It is shiny and thick, often with enlarged pores. Oily skin is prone to blackheads and other blemishes. It occurs more often in men than in women, and it predominantly affects adolescents and younger persons.
3. Dry: Characterised by a lack of moisture in its corneous layer, dry skin results in tightness and even flaking. The skin appears dull, especially on the cheeks and around the eyes. It may lack elasticity, with accentuated fine lines and wrinkles. In more severe cases, itching and burning may occur. Extremely dry skin shows signs of cracking and fissuring.
4. Combination: Combination skin is rather dry in some parts of the body and oily in other localisations. Mixed facial skin tends toward dryness on the cheeks and around the eyes while being oily in the t-zone (nose, forehead, chin). The dry parts and the oily parts require different skin care regimens.
Some Skin Problems
- Sun Damage/Hyperpigmentation
- Fine Lines and Wrinkles
because it is used to buffer the harshness of some sudsing agents, and trace amounts can be left behind. It is classified as a known human carcinogen and is one of 51 chemicals that the National Toxicology Program (NTP) identifies as mammary carcinogens in animals.
Harmful Chemicals in Skin Products
When it comes to beauty products, the effects of the ingredients they contain can be more than just skin deep. The cosmetics industry uses thousands of synthetic chemicals in its products, in everything from lipstick and lotion to shampoo and shaving cream.
Many of these substances are also used in industrial manufacturing processes to clean industrial equipment, stabilize pesticides and grease gears. And we can all agree that an ingredient that effectively scours a garage floor may not be the best choice for a facial cleanser.
Currently in many countries there is no clear regulation, it creates a loophole allowing the cosmetics industry to put thousands of synthetic chemicals into personal care products, even if those chemicals are linked to cancer, infertility or birth defects. At the same time as untested chemicals have been steadily introduced into our environment, breast cancer incidence has risen dramatically.
Following are some of the chemicals commonly found in cosmetics and what they do to us.
Phtalates and Parabens
Phtalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in cosmetics like nail polish and in synthetic fragrance—both perfumes and fragrance ingredients in other cosmetic products. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogen in cell culture systems.
DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
These three chemicals are hormone disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents – research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. It is commonly used in shampoos, soap, bubble bath and facial cleansers.
Triclosan is used in antibacterial soaps, deodorants and toothpastes to limit the growth of bacteria and mold. The chemical, which is classified as a pesticide, can affect the body’s hormone system—especially thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism—and may disrupt normal breast development. Widespread use of triclosan may also contribute to bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents.
Ethylene Oxide is used to sterilize surgical instruments. It can also be a contaminant of personal care products such as shampoos and body washes, because it is used to buffer the harshness of some sudsing agents, and trace amounts can be left behind. It is classified as a known human carcinogen and is one of 51 chemicals that the National Toxicology Program (NTP) identifies as mammary carcinogens in animals.
Shaving creams, spray sunscreens and foundations, and anti-fungal treatments that contain the propellant isobutene may be contaminated with the carcinogen 1,3 butadiene. Exposure occurs mainly through inhalation. This chemical has been found to increase mammary tumors in rodents.
Lead may be a contaminant in over 650 cosmetic products, including sunscreens, foundation, nail colors, lipsticks and whitening toothpaste. Lead is a proven neurotoxin, linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls.
Many sunscreen contain chemicals that exert significant estrogenic activity, as measured by the increase in rates of human breast cancer cells in vitro. Studies show these chemicals are accumulating in wildlife and humans.