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Skin Care Ingredients

Love for Chemicals in Skin Care

Embrace, don't hate, the skin-changing periodic table.

Love heart coming out of chemical container

I’m going to start a new skin care range and call it “Love for Chemicals”. Yes yes we all love carrots, but chemicals are more deserving of your love because they actually do something for your skin. Carrots just help you see in the dark.

I’m bored of all the misinformed chemical hate. It’s just repetitive scaremongering. If you want results in skin care, embrace the chemicals!

You can keep applying smashed up blueberries to your face, but not even a slither of those antioxidants will effect your skin cells where they actually make a difference. It’s a (fun) waste of time, and a waste of perfectly good blueberries. Just eat them.

Chemicals just don’t deserve the hate

  • Our bodies are chemicals (gee, life is chemicals)
  • Nature is also chemicals. Don’t be fooled by “au natural” product promises. Some of the nastiest stuff around is natural. That painful poison ivy rash? Caused by a chemical in the plants sap called urushiol
  • Applying those smashed up blueberries to your face might feel safer than an unpronounceable lab ingredient—but the truth is labs create these chemical concoctions to be safe and helpful. That’s what cosmetic chemists do, and most of them know their stuff

The word “natural” is a misnomer anyway. Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski puts it best in his article about formulating natural cosmetics:

“Although there are not actually any cosmetics that I would consider natural (there is no lipstick bush) some things are seen as more natural than others. Ingredients that are obtained from plants or chemically modified from plants or chemically identical to plant ingredients are considered by some people ‘natural’.”

So… there’s that.

See: Me, Myself and Retin A: My Personal Experience With This Skin Care Miracle

Skin is the world’s most sophisticated shield

Shield around skin

There are things we don’t want getting into our skin/body.

But the wonderful thing about it is your skin is the world’s most sophisticated shield.  Even simple water can’t penetrate skin!

I read a “celebrity tips” article once, where some B celeb was going on about hydrating her skin by pressing water into her skin with a sponge. Obviously she hadn’t figured that this would do more to dehydrate her skin; and if hydrating skin was as easy as pressing water into its surface we would all turn into water-laden balloons in the bathtub.

Your skin care products should do something

But here’s the other side to that wonderful shield: we actually want products to do something. We actually want certain ingredients to get into skin where they can make a difference.

This is where our cosmetic chemists make an appearance again. The best product formulation has to:

  1. Include molecules small enough to be able to penetrate skin
  2. And the ingredients need to actually do something to skin to make the product worthwhile (speed up cell turnover, exfoliate, plump, etc.)
Injecting a strawberry

Love these chemicals in skin care

Two excellent examples of ingredients that deserve respect:

1. Retinol

Or retin A, which over-the-counter (OTC) retinol is a derivative of (see more about that here). It is one of the few scientifically proven skin care ingredients—it has actually been scientifically shown to improve skin.

Fear lives around retin A because it has side effects. Well, it has side effects because it is doing something! Yes, your skin will dry out and probably flake as cell turnover increases.

Yes, it will become more sensitive as newer cells are exposed and your skin gets used to the action. And this is what you want.

Yes it is strong, which is why you need a prescription and it needs to be applied carefully.

If you want to experience nothing, smear some carrot on your face (a food high in vitamin a). At least you’re applying something that “grew from the ground” rather than perfected in a lab…

2. Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid has such small molecules it can penetrate right into pores and dissolve dead skin cells. It also has an antibacterial and drying action which makes it amazing for acne—especially cystic.

Glycolic acid eats up the glue that holds dead skin cells together, kinda like Pacman, so this layer is sloughed off. This chemical gives you smoother, brighter, clearer skin. Its one of the best exfoliations you can get.

Think you can get these same benefits from applying a yoghurt mask to your face? (The myth that yoghurt can give you a decent exfoliation effect because it contains lactic acid is just that, a myth). Put those blueberries in that yoghurt and get the benefits from eating it instead.

Just using one or both of these chemical-ly ingredients (retinol/retin A, and glycolic acid or salicylic acid) can improve your skin so well you might be truly surprised; and become a convert forever.

You just shouldn’t worry about chemicals in skin care

What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Repetition doesn’t make something true—actual science does.

And while most “natural” or home remedies aren’t bad, if you want something more than temporary hydration from applying an expensive avocado to your face, use the right stuff.

So next time you see the “chemical-free” bandwagon rolling by: roll your eyes, apply your perfected-in-a-lab product, and enjoy better skin!

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