Is your Twitter feed is moving so fast that you’re dizzy? Is your cable coming in fuzzy? (Does that still happen?) Never fear! We have your updates from the skin care industry right here!
We love being an honest part of the skin care industry, and we try to stay up to date on what’s happening in the ever-changing world of salves, scrubs, serums, and shampoos. This is a different kind of article than we normally post, so if you like hearing about skin care trends and news, let us know and we will keep them coming.
So what’s going on in the skin care world these days?
Nanocosmetics: Is This a Dangerous Trend?
We talked about nanoparticles earlier this week. Within the beauty industry, nanoparticles are generally defined as being under 100 nanometers wide. Many skin care companies are now focusing their research funding into nanotechnology. L'oreal, for instance, spent a reported 3.7% of its 2013 earnings to look into these teeny tiny ingredients.
So why is the industry so excited about these mini particles?
Nanoparticles can penetrate deeply into your skin, accessing and delivering results beneath the surface layers. This is both what makes this technology attractive to skin care companies and potentially dangerous to consumers. If an ingredient penetrates through the skin’s layers and into the bloodstream, it can have unintentional or unforeseen effects.
Let’s talk first about why cosmetics companies are using these ingredients in the first place.
OroGold Cosmetics is all about the gold. They use this nanoparticle antioxidant bling in products that promise anti-aging benefits like enhanced skin elasticity and regeneration. Theoretically, by penetrating deeper into the skin, the benefits can be amplified and/or targeted to deliver specific benefits.
Silver nanoparticles are present in many products meant to clean, such as shampoos and soaps, due to its antibacterial properties. Another use of small particles is in nano-emulsions, which encapsulate active ingredients and bring them deeper into the skin or hair. L’Orreal’s Revitlift cream, which launched in 2005, used these encapsulated nanoparticles in what was at the time a groundbreaking product.
Nanoparticle zinc oxide is common in sunscreens because the smaller size helps reduce the white tint of the ingredient. Whether this ingredient can penetrate into the skin when present in small sizes we still don’t know for sure—the studies are mixed. A bigger concern is for products dispensed through a spray bottle, where you run the risk of inhaling the ingredients. Larger particles are unlikely to enter the bloodstream when inhaled, but nanoparticles pose a greater risk.
Nanoparticles have a very large surface area comparatively, and can thus have different properties and reactions. A 2012 study at the Missouri University of Science and Technology looked at nanoparticle zinc oxide in sunscreen and its reaction to sunlight. They observed that nanoparticle zinc oxide undergoes a chemical reaction when exposed to sunlight that could release free radicals—known cancer-causing ingredients. But so far we have no studies showing that these free radicals actually survive to harm skin.
Will you know if there are nanoparticles in the product you are using? The EU Cosmetic Regulation requires companies to list all nanoparticles by using “(nano)” next to these ingredients on the label. The U.S. FDA recommends that companies contact federal regulators before releasing products with nanoparticles, but specific restrictions do not yet exist. Your best bet: check the company’s website or call them and see what you find out. You can also check your products against the Skin Deep Database for more information.
Annmarie Skin Care does not use nanoparticles in any products.
China Lifts Mandated Animal Testing on Skin Care Products
Up until recently, China required animal testing on all cosmetic products made and sold within its borders. Currently, animal testing is legal in 80% of the world, but China was the only country where it was required for this broad range of products. As of this June, the Chinese FDA has lifted the restriction for “normal products,” but others such as hair dyes and sunscreens still require testing.
According to the Humane Society International, 300,000 animals—including rabbits, guinea pigs, and mice—were being used to test beauty products in China every year. These critters can now breathe a sigh of relief as the change to the animal testing restrictions went into effect this June.
Animal lovers aren’t the only group excited about this change. The eased restrictions will allow the importation and sale of non-tested products that were previously not allowed. This is good news for conscious companies that make animal rights an important aspect of their businesses!
Some research shows that animal testing does not actually increase the safety of products. Many products that pass animal testing can still cause complications or fail to work for humans. Further, non-harmful options such as in vitro testing are available as well. In 2013, the European Union banned animal testing altogether. We hope to see this trend continue.
Cannabinoid Oil Gaining Popularity as a Skin Care Ingredient
Cannabinoids are compounds found in marijuana plants, and soon they might be found in your skin care! Though smoking is known to be bad for your skin, topical application of cannabinoid, or CBD oil, shows promise in anti-aging skin care.
Back in 2008, a study published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology looked at the effect of endocannabinoids on the skin. Endocannabinoids are produced in our bodies and closely resemble what a marijuana plant produces to protect itself from pathogens and other threats.
The experiment treated human cell cultures with endocannabinoids and looked at lipid production, cell survival, and changes in gene expression. Their results led them to believe that, similarly to the marijuana plant, we use our own cannabinoids to protect our skin. This could mean that topical application of CBDs found in these plants could help us protect and improve our skin!
Bans on Microbeads
It seems intuitive that little plastic microbeads in skin care products were a bad idea from the start. But these tiny beads slipped past our collective radar for the past few decades (and past our water filters and straight to the ocean). Thanks to researchers from groups like 5 Gyres Institute, information on the environmental effects of microbeads has sparked action to ban them from skin care products (and altogether).
You’re probably familiar with microbeads, which act as gentle exfoliants in face washes, body scrubs, and soaps. Back in August, we posted an article about how these additives are harming our waters and the wildlife that inhabit them. Research done by 5 Gyres Institute alongside the State University of New York, Fredonia focused on build up found in Lake Erie. Their investigation showed that a shocking amount of beads have accumulated at the bottom of the lake and in the stomachs of perch and fish-eating birds like the double-crested cormorant.
Fish-eating humans have reason to be concerned as well. Beyond the toxicity of ingesting the plastic beads, we could be ingesting additional chemicals that the beads absorb from their surroundings. One of the research teams involved in the Lake Erie project is now looking info whether or not this is the case.
Illinois led the way on taking action, passing a measure to gradually phase out the production and sale of products with microbeads starting in 2017 and reaching its final stage by 2019. The lack of resistance to passing this bill surprised some, but may be due in part to the wide availability of natural exfoliation alternatives, such as oatmeal, salt, and fruit kernels.
While California, New York, and Ohio are working on passing similar measures, Frank Pallone Jr., a U.S. Representative for New Jersey, has introduced an amendment to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which would mandate the elimination of microbeads by 2018. The act, known as the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2014” has moved to the Energy and Commerce committee.
Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Unilever, and L’Oreal have announced plans to stop using microbeads in their products. As for Annmarie Skin Care, we have always been microbead free! Our Ayurvedic Facial Scrub contains herbs to gently exfoliate, and our Dead Sea Scrub has naturally exfoliating sea mud. We’re happy to see companies transition away from using an ingredient that’s bad for nature and bad for the skin!
by Hope Freije
Do you have any experiences with the products or ingredients mentioned in this article? We’d love to hear!