Today, I am taking a different approach. IS natural the BEST way to go in every situation?
The ingredients I would like to talk about today:
I have been concerned about the ingredients in skin care products for years now. I have been writing about the issue for more than 6. For me, Green Beauty is not just eco-friendly beauty products or sustainable packaging, but also SAFER ingredients. I am also the first to admit that my opinions have changed a bit as far as ingredients go. I used to rely wholeheartedly on the EWG's Skin Deep Guide, but years later, I have a different view point. The EWG, in many ways, presents an alarmist point of view and doesn't get down to the nitty gritty and say that their rankings are all black or white--they do not say that there is a HUGE difference in an ingredient used at 100% concentration vs. 0.05% concentration. And, yes, there is a HUGE difference.
Admittedly, I have relied too much over the years on the EWG. One cannot rely solely on the EWG, just as people need to accept that effects can be cumulative, so caution and research are needed.
Several months back, I was even thinking of changing my mind on using products preserved with phenoxyethanol as part of the ingredient makeup. I was introduced to a brand with a natural "preservative" derived from a rare tree bark that may have broad spectrum protection. I was skeptical, but kept a truly open mind. I was avidly using these products and then, wham--3 months later, I opened my jar of furry, mold covered face mask. My face cream soon had beige lumps and an odor.
I was willing to take a gamble and have an open mind. And I was wrong. My original feelings on broad spectrum preservation were only validated after experiencing rancid items, mold, and skin irritation. The real problem is not "parabens may cause cancer" or "propylene glycol is the same thing as anti-freeze" (it is not, by the way).
The real danger, I believe, is from what we KNOW FOR A FACT to happen: that improperly preserved products cause mold. They can lead to serious bacterial infections. They may cause staph. We know this for sure.
For the record, I still do not use products with parabens. They are too questionable for me and it has been nearly 8 years since I last used anything with them. While I do not love phenoxyethanol, I still believe it to be a better choice than parabens. But if it came down to it and I was offered a completely natural, homemade unpreserved skin care product from Etsy and a mass produced cream with parabens and could ONLY choose one or the other, I would choose the one with parabens. And I do not say this lightly.
More research is needed. I am hoping that we will know with absolute certainty whether parabens will cause cancer or whether formaldehyde releasers will make you grow three heads. Until that time, what we DO know, is that there is great risk with improperly preserved products. I have been very critical over the years of chemical ingredients--but have always spoken about the need for preservation and product safety.
More and more websites are popping up with stories of the latest "dangerous" or "toxic" beauty ingredient. What worries me, though, is that while everyone is happy to jump on the natural products bandwagon, they are not considering the possibility that they will be, with CERTAINTY, putting themselves at risk of having mold, bacteria, yeast, etc. in their products if they are using preservative-free ones. This is not a better option than the alternative.
These are preservatives *I* trust to protect the the products I buy. I am not saying these are guaranteed to be 100% safe. No one can say that. There is not enough conclusive evidence to say that these ingredients will always be deemed safe, but that is the beauty of research & science.
- Phenoxyethanol when used with more natural ingredients at a low concentration
- Gluconoactone and Sodium Benzoate (Geogard)
- Glucose Oxidase/Lactoperoxidase
- Japanese Honeysuckle Extract (although, this is an ingredient not without controversy)
C & G Posts on Preservatives: