Want healthier skin? (Of course – why else would you be reading this blog?!) Take a look through your cosmetics and ruthlessly chuck out anything that's past its prime.
Old makeup runs the risk of contamination.
To clear up a misconception: Bacteria aren't the problem. The real enemy is mold and fungus, according to Dr. Louise Hidinger.
Dr. Hidinger has a PhD in biological chemistry and also holds a post-graduate certificate in cosmetic science. (If you haven't already discovered her awesome blog Ingredients of Style
, go! Now!)
Via email, she explains for us what happens as cosmetic products age:
Bacteria gets into cosmetics and skincare products as soon as the container is opened and the product comes in contact with skin (e.g. when using fingers to scoop cream out of a jar). This is because all people have bacteria residing on their skin. The more important concern is actually fungal contamination, not bacterial contamination. Certain funguses and molds can infect the skin, which presents a risk to people with compromised skin or a weakened immune system. If a cosmetic product gets moldy, it’s time to throw it away.
Packaging can make a big difference here. Dr. Hidinger also says:
Contamination can be reduced by having the product in a pump container that excludes air and water. However, this type of packaging is not always possible, as it depends on the type of formulation, as well as the cost of the packaging itself.
In our view, getting rid of older products may have a sneaky side benefit. Nobody likes to waste, and so you may find you want to simplify your beauty routine, buying and using fewer products overall – as we pointed out in our last skincare tip, that can have a positive impact all by itself.
Allergies can make life really difficult. If you suffer from allergies – whether to food, cosmetics, dust or something else – a product labeled "hypoallergenic" might sound like it will make your life easier.
And it might. Hypoallergenic products claim to cause fewer allergic reactions, and often they are created without use of specific allergens.
However, there is no standard, regulation or requirement that companies must meet in order to use this word in product labeling. It's like the word "noncomedogenic" in this way.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tried off-and-on to regulate use of the word hypoallergenic, but cosmetic companies have blocked that effort so far.
What ingredients do cause allegic reactions?
So what common cosmetic and skincare ingredients should you avoid? Marie Claire and OrganicConsumers.org have useful lists, which include parabens (such as methyl, butyl, and ethyl hydroxybenzoate), Germall I and II (which are trade names for Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea), petrolatum, and retinoids.
- Parabens are used to preserve shelf life of cosmetics, but they can cause rashes.
- Germalls are also a preservative but the American Academy of Dermatologists finds they can cause contact dermatitis.
- Petrolatum is a cheap ingredient found in many lip balms – it contains mineral oil, which makes you more sensitive to sun damage and interferes with your skin's ability to moisturize itself.
- Retinol is very popular. Check out this quote from the Marie Claire article: "Most dermatologists will concur that despite a laundry list of antiaging and acne-fighting benefits, retinoids are also a classic irritant."
A sneaky cause of allergic reactions can be found in nail polish ingredients like phthalates and formaldehyde – the tougher skin of your hands may not show a reaction, but touching your fingers to your sensitive face can cause skin irritation.
And if you have nut allergies, shea butter can cause a reaction as well!
As you would expect, Cor Silver Skincare products don't contain any of those allergy-causing ingredients.
What is your skin's pH?
The skin of your face has a pH of around 7.
Remember that pH is a measure of how acid or alkaline something is. The scale goes from zero (extremely acidic) to 14 (extremely basic).
As you'd guess, a score of 7 is neutral. Water has a pH of 7. So does milk.
Lemon juice is around 2 – acidic. Very alkaline or basic substances (the opposite of acidic) include ammonia, lye, and sodium hydroxide.
And as you'd also guess, these are not things you want on your face. Substances at either end of the scale are highly reactive, meaning they tend to have a chemical reaction with anything else they come in contact with.
Cor Silver Soap has a pH around 7. Yes, we did that on purpose. We love your face.
If you are curious about one of our ingredients, hyaluronic acid – this is a very safe substance that is made naturally by the human body. It helps your body grow new cells, and is fantastic at retaining moisture.
Here's a slightly more detailed explanation of pH, and here is a short list of pH ratings of common substances.
(Back-to-school moment: The H in pH stands for Hydrogen, and pH is a measurement of the activity or concentration of hydronium ions. Now you know.)