You might be shocked to learn how many chemicals there are inside the beauty products you use every day. Flip over one of your beauty products and read the ingredients. All those words you can’t pronounce are probably different chemicals that get absorbed by your skin. You wouldn’t want to eat things like this in your food, so why would you want to put it on your skin?
Sure, these chemicals all have their purposes, and some are mostly harmless, but wouldn’t you rather use products that contain natural ingredients? Especially if these ingredients can help your skin without the harmful side effects. In general, this just makes sense.
Most skin care and cosmetic products are made up of five key parts: emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, surfactants, and preservatives. This article will discuss the function of humectants in common beauty products and what natural alternatives are available.
Humectants: Moisture Barriers For the Skin
The purpose of humectants in your beauty products is simple. These handy ingredients protect the skin from water loss and other external factors that cause dryness. They don’t add moisture, like emollients do, but they seal off the skin to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Sounds important, right?
It’s incredibly important, but also a very delicate balancing act. Some humectants are too strong, especially the chemical ones, and can almost suffocate the skin by creating a thick film over it. Other options—namely, natural ones—are compatible with the skin, working with it instead of against it.
Synthetic Humectants to Avoid
There are several artificial humectants to look for on the typical ingredient list of your skin care or cosmetic products. Some have minor side effects that occur quickly, while others might harm your skin over a much longer period of time. Here are a few of the more common chemicals to avoid:
- Propylene glycol and Ethylene/Diethylene Glycol. These have been shown to cause irritation and contact dermatitis, a skin condition present where the product makes contact with your skin.
- PEG compounds and Ethoxylated Surfactants. These can contain a toxic by-product called dioxane that can cause long-term damage to the skin.
- Synthetic alcohols, such as Glyceryl Coconate, Hydroxystearate, Myristate, and Oleate. These have been shown to cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and contact dermatitis.
Animal Proteins as Humectants: Good or Bad?
In the attempt to use “natural” ingredients, many skin care companies use animal proteins as humectants. In theory, these make sense as a substitute, since the collagen, elastin and keratin found inside do have some minor benefits. However, in reality, the molecules in these animal proteins cannot be broken down enough to penetrate human skin. If they did get in, the body would reject them as invaders, kicking the immune system into gear.
Natural Humectants: The Way to Go
The lesson here? Your skin needs beauty products to help it protect itself, and the only way to do that is by avoiding harmful, ineffective ingredients. Turn to plant-based natural alternatives, such as those used in Xtend-Life’s skin care products—a personal favorite. Look for alternatives like lecithin, panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) and glycerin in your skin care and cosmetic products. Your skin will thank you for it!