It pains me to write this but I feel that this has to be known. Unfortunately in todays world the area of Cosmetics and Skincare is a very unregulated body. By that I mean that companies can get away with excluding ingredients that are within their product on the ingredients label. These excluded ingredients could potentially be ones that consumers are trying to avoid, however not being on the ingredient list they assume that it is all good.
You may or may not know but it is not a legal requirement for a manufacturer to list an ingredient on the label if it is 0.2% or less. While you may think that 0.2% is nothing, think about this.
There is a lot of documented research over the years on the effects of chemicals and drugs in the body. Some say that what the body doesn’t want or need it eliminates however there is research and facts that show otherwise. Chemicals and drugs taken into the body can lodge themselves in the fatty tissues where they can accumulate over time, potentially wreaking their effect in later years unbeknownst to the consumer.
A case in point. You take a person who was a drug addict for many years and then effectively comes off the drugs. This person years later will still have traces of the drugs in their system and in some cases the person will dramatise drug related symptoms in the years to come such as hallucinations, sleep problems, depression, etc. This is because the drugs, while the person may have stopped “taking them”, have never actually been eliminated from where they were stored in his/her body.
So what are these so called hidden ingredients?
Let me give you some examples. So you know over 90% of the skincare products you see on the market today are produced by a skincare manufacturer, then bottled and labelled for the company that is selling them. There are two ways this can be done. The first is where a person works with a skincare manufacturer to design a personalised formula. The skincare manufacturer takes this persons idea and utilising their knowledge on formulating makes the ingredients for the company as a sample. It goes back and forth until the company that is wanting to design their own products is happy with what they have.
The next way is called private label in which a skincare manufacturer exists and has a catalogue of already formulated products in which the company picks which ones they like and receives the product either already packaged and labelled in their name or is received in bulk in which the company then bottles and labels themselves.
While there is nothing particularly wrong with either procedure in a lot of cases however the manufacturer is not honest and open about what is really put in the product.
This is something that I learned along my journey when formulating skincare and looking for someone to actually manufacture for me the formulas that I designed. I will give you an example.
At one point I was looking at formulating a Vitamin C Serum. After a long and hard search for a skincare manufacturer I found one that I felt met a lot of the standards of what I was hoping to portray in the products that I make. I ordered a sample of their Vitamin C Serum. Ingredients looked great, ticked all the boxes, etc. I tried the sample for a few days to only notice that there was a distinct smell of alcohol in the product however there was no such listing of any ingredient on the bottle. After a few enquiries I found that the so called “Aloe Vera” extract that was listed as the first item on the bottle, was in fact Aloe Vera but this extract was in a base of ethanol – A definite no no for skin in my books. As the Aloe Vera Extract (which was over 80% of the product total) was listed, it was supposedly not necessary to list “ethanol”.
This is an example of “hidden” ingredients.
I have a keen sense of smell and can definitely tell when there is an ingredient within a product that doesn’t seem right.
Here is another example. Practically every product you will see on the market today contains some form of extract. These are what is classified as “active ingredients” in a skincare product. These extracts come in various forms, powder, based in glycerin, based in water or alcohol. These are the various processes in which a plant has its actives extracts. One of the most common ones is glycerin in which a plant is left in a glycerin medium for some time allowing the glycerin to absorb the plant material and the actives that can come from it.
What some people do not know and what is not necessarily listed on the ingredients label are the preservatives that are put in these extracts. I am totally for preserving a product, but there are a number of preservatives which I do not agree with that have documented side effects, are chemicals and something I would never put on or in my body. Because by the time you formulate a product and put these active ingredients in it, the preservative count is less that 0.2% then they are not listed on the final product that is sold to the consumer.
If you have any questions looks up some of the companies that provide raw materials for cosmetic formulators and you will see what I am talking about. New Directions Australia, Essentials of Australia, Trulux and many more. Take a look at the extracts section of their website. In most cases they will list in the extract what is is preserved with. Some do and some don’t. Unfortunately for money sake the cheaper variety of preservatives is used and these are generally ones that are synthetic in origin.
Your stable datum is that anything that is preserved in water or glycerin will have some form of preservative system in place. Those that are powdered do not and those that are in alcohol do not in most cases as the alcohol acts as preservation system.
Okay so those are the extracts.
Now lets take some other examples of other products. One of the next big areas is the extraction process that takes place to produce some of the ingredients such as emulsifying waxes. This particular ingredient is what is used to combine water and oil in a product as it is a known datum that they do not co exist very well together. These are generally created in a lab through various processes. One of the things however that is used in a number of these extractions is a process called ethoxylstion.
This is a process which applies a chemical substance to help extract the part of the plant that is needed to create the final product. The unfortunate thing about this process is that traces of these chemicals can be left behind in the finished product, essentially putting that onto your skin. Again this is of course not listed on the bottle but does potentially exist due to how that ingredient was extracted.
Unless you are a cosmetic formulator, cosmetic chemist, these are things that you may never know nor see.
Now the last area I wanted to cover is the subject of various ingredients included in a product that are used at low percentages and not included on the final label that assist with absorption of a product, the feel of the product, the preservative system, etc, etc.
Sometimes you may see the difference in how a particular product glides on the skin as compared to a similar product which doesn’t do the same thing. That will most likely be because there are hidden ingredients within that product to help the product glide more easily over the skin, be absorbed better, etc, etc. In the main these types of ingredients are not listed and yet in my opinion they should be because a consumer should know what is exactly in that product no matter what the quantity of the product is.
I feel that as consumers it is important for you to understand these methods. Unfortunately unless you went and asked each company whether or not their “actives” contain other preservatives than what is listed or penetration enhancers, etc, etc, it is VERY hard to know.
But what I can tell you is that it does exist and you will be surprised at what rate. I do believe that there are many honest companies out there and know in the main that those that make their own products have generally listed to the best of their knowledge what is actually in them, but even sometimes they can miss it if they don’t ask.
When I formulated my products this was one of the major points that I specifically seeked out, that I asked about and hat I researched. I didn’t want my products to contain any form of hidden chemical or ingredient that I didn’t know about.
For example the emulsifying wax that I use. This one I specifically chose because it is not ethoxylated, is biodegradable and from my research I could not find any so called hidden ingredients.
The extracts that I use are from a company called Plant Extracts. These are actually quite revolutionary extracts in that they are extracted through a cold process, no chemicals, and thevextract is the exact duplicate of the inner workings of the plant itself. This is a patented process and the result is an extract unlike the common ones you find on the market today. They are extracted fresh when I order them and they are not preserved until they come to me. I preserve them with Aspen Bark, a power which comes from the Bark of the Aspen tree that is a completely natural, non chemical preservative, probably one of the most natural on the market today.
Any other extracts I use I have researched to make sure that they are not preserved with chemical preservatives and do in fact meet my standards for natural.
My intentions in this blog was to mainly educate you on the industry, some of the deception that can occur and that you as a consumer should be aware of.
As I said not all companies do this and there are some great brands out there that strive to really give you truely natural and organic products such as Anne Marie Skincare.
Try to be aware of what you put on your skin as what you do will have lasting effects in the long run. I feel there is no need to use chemicals in skincare. Nature has the answers. While some say that they don’t get an instant result with a natural product, one has the realize that the so called “instant result” they get from other skincare products, may be because of the hidden penetration enhancers, etc.
Nature does her job and if you give her time you will see the same results that you would see with any other type of skincare product that is not “natural”. But her effects will be longer lasting and there will be no compromise on your skin.