The Safety of Skin Care Ingredients
Most Americans use many cosmetic products every day, with little knowledge about the safety of the ingredients. Government agencies have targeted a few substances, including phthalates, which are prohibited or restricted in skin care products. But manufacturers use many other additives for fragrance, texture or color that can harm damaged or sensitive skin.
Many consumers assume that the Food and Drug Administration protects them from unsafe ingredients. The FDA does not approve skin care products before they hit the market, although it may test for specific ingredients, such as color additives or safe levels of lead. Another misconception is that what's safe for one person is appropriate for all. Individuals with chronic skin conditions or sensitive skin will react differently than those with "normal" skin. This leaves you in charge of your skin's health.
To identify safe cosmetic products, you must learn whether the ingredients in them are present at safe levels for your skin type. Start with your gender. Most men have thicker skin and a higher tolerance for alcohol and fragrance than women. Dry skin may respond well to oil content, whereas oily skin would tend to clog and blemish. Choose cosmetic products formulated for your skin type and then examine them for beneficial and questionable ingredients.
Ingredients to Encourage
Humectants and emollients such as glycerin and lanolin are mild and effective moisturizers for dry skin. Acne treatments can include safe levels of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids and tea tree oil. Oatmeal and aloe vera have recognized calming properties for inflamed skin. Normal skin types can benefit from vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids for their antioxidant properties, but those with dry skin should opt for ingredients such as propylene glycol, urea, petrolatum and mineral oil.
Ingredients to Avoid
Harsh soaps, such a those containing heavy deodorant or grease solvents, dry out the skin. This, in turn, damages skin that is already lacking moisture or that is broken on the surface. Heavy-duty exfoliant ingredients, such as ground apricot kernels, can cause multiple surface scratches or cuts, inviting infection. Coconut and avocado oils clog and upset acne-plagued skin. Vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and similar ingredients can cause sensitive skin to burn or sting.
Continuing to use cosmetic products that irritate your skin can lead to acute conditions, such as contact dermatitis, which can last for months. If your skin reacts to a new product, note its ingredients before discarding. If you already have problems with eczema, psoriasis, allergies or sensitive skin, avoid products with fragrance, color, formaldehyde or other preservatives.
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Overview Most Americans use many cosmetic products every day, with little knowledge about the safety...