Skin Sins: Beauty Products and Self Prescribing
The use of wrong, ill quality and abrasive products is the biggest contribution to an impaired barrier function. The majority of consumers with an impaired skin barrier, experiencing effects such as dryness, redness, irritation and sensitivity are almost always using the incorrect cleanser and stripping their skin of natural, protective oils.
A huge number of consumers are also treating a skin concern that they think they have with a product that may in fact be causing more harm than good. Most commonly, those who suffered with oily spotty skin as a teen tend to still be treating their skin for the same condition.
Harsh surfactants in cleansers can cause damage to skin proteins and oils, leading to after-wash tightness, dryness, barrier damage, irritation, and even itch. In order for cleansers to provide skin-care benefits, they first must minimise surfactant damage to skin proteins and lipids. Secondly, they must deposit and deliver beneficial agents such as skin oil and humectants (all of which help the skin to hold on to moisture) under wash conditions to improve skin hydration, as well as mechanical and visual properties.
Another factor that can aggravate surfactant-induced dryness and irritation is the pH of the cleanser. A full understanding of the skin, it is difficult to understand the importance of the skins acid mantle. The Acid Mantle is a thin, slightly acidic hydrolipidic film on the surface of the skin that acts as the very first line of protection. Any impairment of its function will have a knock-on effect to other cells and systems within the skin.
A neutral PH would be classed as 5.5 with anything higher being classed as an Alkaline and anything lower, being classed as an acid. A PH of over 5.5 may be potentially damaging to the skin barrier increase swelling of the Stratum Corneum and increase susceptibility of skin infections.
In order for a product to be able to sit on a shelf for a while, it needs to contain preservatives to help fight off any microbial or bacteria growth. It is not uncommon to find poorly formulated, mass produced and cheap products with higher concentrations of preservatives. The higher concentrations of preservatives in some products may well be responsible for the allergic reactions and other unsatisfactory consumer experiences, in fact it is reported that preservatives are the second highest cause of skin irritation in formulations. (Fragrance is the highest)
For many years the liberal use of emollients has been the recommended treatment for dry skin. An emollient is a cream formed by mixing oil and water together. For oil and water to blend, an emulsifier is necessary as it is attracted to both substances. Modern research is proving the harm emulsifiers can cause to certain skins. After the cream has been absorbed into the skin, the emulsifier remains on the surface of the skin. The trouble is only initiated when water is put onto the skin. The emulsifier reactivates, capturing any available natural oils it can connect to as well as the water you are putting on to your skin, creating what is known as The Wash Out Effect.
Where fragrance is concerned, consumers often are more inclined to buying a product that pleases their senses rather than the skin. A nice smelling product may be more enticing however fragrances are known to have a negative effect on the skin causing irritations and sensitivity. Did you know that over 200 individual ingredients may be used in a fragrance alone however product labels will still class the fragrance as a singular product. It then becomes incredibly difficult to define the allergens and non-allergens that may be irritating the skin.