Let’s face it, cosmetics companies are fond of releasing products with fancy names like flux epidermal hydrator or anti-aging defier every few months, claiming some type of new beauty breakthrough. While many of these products may sound fabulous, in reality, they’re mostly just fabulous marketing. There are some basics about skin care, however, that we can remain level-headed about (unlike the use of this photo), regardless of the ‘fear marketing’ approach that tends to be favoured by the beauty industry.
Sometimes ‘100 per cent natural’ is not ‘100 per cent’ natural at all, so we’ve invited Briony Kennedy, Founder and Director of Adorn Mineral Cosmetics – who create and sell only cruelty-free, vegan and environmentally sustainable products – to share a few of her home truths …
Moisturisers: We have been conditioned to believe that moisturisers are essential. Dry skin is a sign of photo-ageing and thus moisturisers become a useful camouflage as the years pass. Moisturisers plump up the epidermis temporarily by increasing its water content. They have no long term benefit but there is no harm in using one if it is understood that the effect is temporary. Oily, acne or eczema prone skin has special moisturising needs. For sensitive skin or skin with dermatitis, a moisturiser is necessary. Usually, a thicker moisturiser is recommended as more moisture retention is required. If your skin is oily or acne prone, use a moisturiser low or free of oils.
Cleansers: Cleansers should be simple and not overly drying. A cleanser removes the oily top layer of the skin in which daily grime largely inhabits. A separate eye make-up remover is recommended as the eye area is traditionally dry. Lines around the eye is one of the first signs of ageing. An oil-based eye make-up remover with camomile is particularly effective for the removal of makeup, but also for its naturally relaxing qualities. A handy tip: if you use an oil-based make-up you must use an oil-based make-up cleanser to remove it. Similarly, if using water-based make-up, then use a water-based cleanser. It’s simple – water and oil do not mix, and one will not clean the other.
Exfoliating: As we age, the ability to turn over and create new skin cells becomes sluggish, leaving the skin looking dull. If you use loose, mineral foundation then you have the added benefit of a light exfoliation each day from the mechanical process by which you apply your foundation (best with a Kabuki brush). I recommend one to two times per week exfoliating your entire face (avoiding your eyes), neck and chest area with Bicarb of Soda or rice powder mixed with your cleanser until you get a gritty consistency. Apply as you would normally when using an exfoliant. Avoid exfoliating if you are sunburnt, have recently had a chemical peel, are using any acne medications or are having regular dermabrasions.
Toners: Toners dry the skin unnecessarily and should not be used.
Make-up: Your make-up should be hypoallergenic because allergies may develop over time. For acne prone skin, products should be non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging). Mineral make-up is best and generally suits all skin types. Be sure to check if your brand is pure and does not contain talc or any synthetic chemicals and fillers. Since its popularity has increased, some brands have come on board offering products that appear or suggest that they are pure minerals when in fact they are not and are simply no better for your skin than traditional forms of make-up.
Sunscreen: Use at least a SPF 20+ sunscreen daily, but avoid sunscreen abuse. Sunscreen is important but no substitute for sun avoidance.
In some cases, 100 per cent natural ingredients aren’t necessarily best for humans, the earth or animals, so steer clear of products containing:
- Carmine: crushed then boiled, dried insects, usually the female insect-cochineal. Used as a dye for its red colour.
- Palm oil, palm oil derivatives: Palm oil plantations are endangering the orangutan and it is said these beautiful creatures will be extinct in the next ten years if their habitats are not saved from further palm oil plantations.
- Talc: is derived from the mineral magnesium silicate. Its ability to absorb oil and moisture strips the skin and leaves it looking and feeling dry. It can be hazardous to one’s health, and is toxic with prolonged inhalation. Some talc is found to contain amphibole particle, which is typically found in asbestos, which is cancer causing and a known lung irritant. Scientific studies have shown that women who use talc in the genital area are 3.28 times more likely to contract ovarian cancer (Journal Cancer 1982).
- Bismuth Oxychloride: This is considered a heavy mineral and requires ongoing buffing. Mineral make-up companies advise this in order to force it into the skin and pores to keep it from sliding off of your face. Over-buffing of minerals can cause irritation and ongoing inflammation of sensitive skin types. It can also make acne cystic by congesting pores and cause rosacea to flare. Put simply, a real no no if you have sensitive skin, just had laser treatment or a chemical peel. If you use a mineral foundation, make sure to double check the ingredients list.
- Kaolin (clay) in foundations: This ingredient also ‘bulks’ up a product and is used for its silky feel on the skin. While I feel it is an ingredient that can be used in other cosmetics without irritation – using clay in foundations is not something I endorse. Just like talc, it dries the skin out due to its oil absorbing qualities. This is why when using face masks you rarely leave them on for more than 10 minutes –they dry out your skin!
- Mineral Oil: A liquid mixture of hydrocarbons gathered from petroleum. It coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. It slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products (baby oil is 100 per cent mineral oil!) any mineral oil derivative can be contaminated with cancer causing PAH’s (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is cheap.
I will be touching on synthetic chemicals, fragrance and parabens in an upcoming article and their impact on our health and our environment, if you have any comments or would like to share or your experiences please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Briony Kennedy is a ten year veteran of the cosmetics industry and former salon owner. She’s commited to finding better ways to produce, distribute and dispose of personal care products, and to the environment. She regularly writes for the beauty media and supports a variety of social groups and organisations. www.adornmineralcosmetics.com.au