... And the backside with the ingredient list:
In this product, there are a whole assortment of "natural" ingredients. The manufacturer went to great length to include even their 'latin' name to specify plant species. Before I move onto another "natural" product from this manufacturer -- "Lush" -- I thought that a closer examination of the ingredients might be of use. In the last post, I show an ingredient list. Some of the ingredients have little to none information regarding the function (of the ingredient relative to the skin care product) which causes skepticism in my mind.
After all, a manufacturer should be able to list an ingredient with a proven or known function. Otherwise, the ingredient could be included just for show or to indicate that a number of "natural" ingredients make up the facial moisturizer. As I mentioned, the major driving force behind the sales and success of any cosmetic product is the customer's opinion/experience. Meaning, regardless of what sound science can be illustrated about the skin care product, the driving force behind sales/use is the customer experience. Unfortunately, as a result, the customer is given a tremendous amount of misinformation about a product which results in money spent and improving the corporate 'bottom line' - i.e. company sales.
Not all manufacturers aim at sales with this intent. There are legitimate skin care product companies which aim to give the customer a scientifically sound experience along with moist - soft - skin. An example of this is my colleague and friend's company 'C&T Organics'. I am not just saying this because she is a friend. I scrutinize her products just as much as any other. I ask the reasons (with a scientific basis) for adding various ingredients. She has produced scientific journal articles with data as a result of our discussions. Why do I bring her up at this time?
Minimum Number Of Ingredients?
The minimum number of ingredients needed to make a "natural moisturizer" are: emulsifier, water, oil, and a preservative. This makes sense from the standpoint of the fact that in order to keep good and healthy skin - a protective layer (i.e. oil) is needed along with the hydration layer (water). The preservative is needed or the product will deteriorate after a short amount of time...why? Because, natural pathogens and dirt will accumulate inside of the product and cause degradation. Either by the accumulation of dirt or the growth of a microbial community.
Now that the minimum number of ingredients are known to be around 4, we can revisit the number of ingredients listed on the backside of the "Lush" facial moisturizer cream. According to the last post which listed the functions of each ingredient in the product, there were 24 different ingredients. To start with, lets list the four ingredients that are the minimum in the paragraph above as categories: water, oil, emulsifier, and preservative.
Since, water is only a single molecule, water will not have any other molecules listed underneath it.
Next are the preservatives that are included in moisturizers. The purpose of which is to preserve the formulation from attack by foreign entities (microbes) or degradation by impurities. The preservatives that are contained in the formulation are listed below:
1) Methyl Paraben
2) Methyl Paraben
3) Benzyl Benzoate
Some of the ingredients above have a variety of uses. Providing stability in the form of preserving the initial formulation is extremely important. Although, if you cannot provide long term preservation, the next step is to add a perfume to mask the growth of microbes or the impurities which will inevitably collect inside of the formulation.
An easy category which is not necessarily required but added to mask the onset of degradation early in use of the product is 'fragrance' or 'perfume'. The following ingredients are molecules that serve as perfume molecules in the formulation:
6) Cocoa butter
In an earlier post, I introduced the "hydrophobic" concept for molecules which are 'non-polar' and incorporated into skin care formulations. Feel free to go back and read before proceeding. Here is a list of the oils contained in the facial moisturizer explored in this blog post:
1) Almond Oil
2) Wheat Oil
3) Coconut Oil
4) Jajoba Oil
5) Cocoa Butter
Ingredients which are used commonly across formulations usually are synthetic. They are not naturally made, but synthesized and have been found to have the necessary functions needed to incorporate into a skin care formulation. Of course, the list is constantly changing (or being updated). Here is a list of the 'common ingredients' of products deconstructed in the series:
2) Cetearyl Alcohol
3) Stearic Acid
How do you get two distinct phases of chemicals (oils and water) to merge into a single layer? The answer is to use an 'emulsifying agent' -- a molecule which is composed of both properties. If we think of detergents used to wash clothes, emulsifiers are built into the molecular structure in order to attach water to fatty molecules. Hydrophobic molecules can be removed with the Hydrophobic portion of the emulsifier -- while water (which is hydrophilic) will attach to the corresponding hydrophilic end of the detergent molecule. Chemistry is amazing. Here is a list of the ingredients that emulsify the two separate phases -- hydrophobic and hydrophilic:
1) Cocoa Butter
2) Bladderwrack Seaweed (Alginates)
These are the ingredients (all 24 of them) which are contained in the "Lush" 'natural facial moisturizer'. As you can see, certain molecules (ingredients) have multiple functions in the formulation. Upon inspection, there will be certain ingredients which might be perceived as "extra" or "non-essential". In the section below, I examine the "extra" ingredients in a little more detail.
Function of Natural Ingredients
As I stated above, I usually wonder why a given ingredient is added to a product formulation. Why add unnecessary ingredients? Does the addition of 'natural' sounding names signify that the product is better than one formulated with synthetic names? Not necessarily. In some cases, adding 'natural' components together can make a formulation more toxic. Why? Because each ingredient might be tested individually, although, when combined with other natural ingredients, the intended action might not occur. In any instance, customer feedback will eventually shed light on these product formulations.
My job is to lay out for the reader the supposed health benefits with references or links to references for the ultimate decision on whether to continue or begin use with any given product. The decision is yours. Below is a list of ingredients with various links to search for more information regarding possible health benefits:
1) Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil: According to 'cosmeticsinfo.org', wheat germ oil contains small amounts of 'vitamin E' -- which can act as an 'anti-oxidant'. Of course, in order to act as an 'anti-oxidant' in the body, the vitamin E must get into the body. This means that in the current formulation, the vitamin E must diffuse through the various layers of skin into the body.
2) Viola Oderata: According to 'Wikipedia', there are supposed health benefits -- including sleep and breathing benefits from viola. There are skeptics, although a post on 'webmd' confirms health benefits.
3) Bladderwrack Seaweed (Alginates): The health benefits listed on WebMD is that Alginates lower the cholesterol entering the body. Whether the alginates actually enter the body through the skin is the question that resides in my mind. Although, Jojoba oil is known to diffuse deep into the skin and could carry chemicals with it into contact where absorption occurs. Which means that the stated health benefits might be useful. The main purpose behind alginates is that the main benefit within a skin cream is the action as an 'emulsifier' between hydrophillic and hydrophobic phases.
4) Primrose Oil: According to a few sources listed below, primrose oil seems to have a few benefits, including reducing pain with arthritis and the skin condition - eczema.
5) Beeswax (cera alba): WebMD states that the benefits of Bees Wax is "anti-inflammatory".
6) Aloe Vera: There are many benefits stated on WebMD for Aloe Vera. Check them out.
The "Lush" formulation seems to have a large amount of ingredients listed on the backside. Although, when the latin name is removed or the excessive naming (redundant), there appears to be 24 ingredients. As I mentioned above, 4 essential ingredients are required to make up a skin care moisturizer. The remaining should be accounted for. I have supplied the links and sources for you to run with and decide for yourself whether or not they should be incorporated into the formulation. There is one ingredient which is not natural which was incorporated into the product that must be mentioned -- shown below:
Benzyl Salicylate: One purpose of adding this ingredient is mainly to act as a UV Absorber -- to absorb various wavelengths in the Ultraviolet region. Although, certain cosmetic formulators warn that rashes might arise when exposed to sunlight -- which is counter intuitive to the first sentence. A fragrant smell is associated with this molecule and is oily which might help in stabilizing the product.
The products listed must be inspected by each consumer. Especially, when dealing with natural products. Just because the product is composed of natural ingredients does not mean that your body will not have an adverse reaction to the formulation. Check with your dermatologist if you have any questions before use or after a rash appears. Chemical safety is the utmost importance for chemists. Each consumer should strive to learn more about each product to ensure their own safety.
Last but not least, to access the previous blog posts in the "Anti-Aging Skin Series" - click here - to see a full list.
Until next time, have a great weekend.
1) WebMD -- online medical resources
3) Cosmetics Info.org
4) Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients