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Skin And Acne Info

 

Title of Articles by Melita A. Moelleken and Wolfgang W. Moelleken

 

--How to help treat and prevent blemishes and acne on a daily basis; tips, facts, and misconceptions

--Eye Rejuvenation

--Facial Clay Masks Abount

--Facial Skin Rejuvenation for Aging Skin

--Acne Tretment Without Benzoyl Peroxide

--Sodium Laury/Laureth Sulfate and other surfactants in facial cleansers

 

How to help treat and prevent blemishes and acne on a daily basis; tips, facts, and misconceptions

 

I. What can you do every day to minimize acne?

 

1.  Don't touch your face with your hands. Your hands may harbor millions of germs that can aggravate acne.

2.  Don't rest your face in your hands. It may help clog pores and cause cells to get infected. People disregarding this advice often break out on their chin and lower cheeks.

3.  Keep telephones clean. Wipe them off frequently.

4.  Wash hands often, especially after touching doorknobs, elevator buttons, bathroom fixtures, etc.

5.  Avoid products that are oil based or contain petrolatum or alcohol.

6.  Avoid shampoos with known irritants, such as sulfates.

7.  Add frequent showers and keep hair clean and away from face. Oily hair can contribute to breakouts.

8.  Avoid tight headbands, caps or head gear.

9.  Wash hats and caps frequently.

10. Wash towels and pillowcases as frequently as possible.

11. Don't try to squeeze pimples with your fingers. Usually, in the process of doing so, you break the skin and allow bacteria to infiltrate the injured area and cause inflammation and/or infection.

12. If possible, don't smoke. Smoking reduces circulation and causes damage to the skin from free radical attack.

13. Follow a balanced diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and proteins. Eat lots of vegetables, fruit, and fish.

14. Avoid stress. After stressful situations, try to relax or engage in physical exercises, such as yoga, that "calm you down".

15. Wash your face at least three times a day (morning, midday, evening) and after every strenuous physical exercise with a gentle cleansing agent that does not contain known irritants, such as Sodium Laureth/Laurel Sulfate, or suspected allergens. Do not use abrasive washcloths when cleansing your face. Simply rinse off the cleansing agent by splashing water on your face.

16. For mild and moderate cases of acne, follow a carefully designed skin care regimen. In cases of severe acne, a medical specialist should be consulted for treatment.

17. Take preventive measures before outbreaks occur. After cleansing with a gentle cleansing agent, follow with products containing glycolic acid and salicylic acid.

18. Avoid sun exposure after using products containing glycolic acid.

19. Avoid products containing Benzoyl Peroxide. This ingredient is both irritating and drying. One study even suggests a link to cancer.

20. For individual blemishes, use products containing at least 1.5% Salicylic Acid.

 

II. Treatment of severe breakouts

 

In case of severe breakouts, characterized by cystic acne, a dermatologist or medical skin care specialist should be consulted. Possible treatments include microdermabrasion, laser treatment, and systemic prescriptions, such as Minicycline. Before systemic treatment is undertaken, special precautions should be taken in case of pregnancies. Any regimen should consider application of proper skin care products in conjunction with chemical or systemic treatment.

 

III.  Facts about acne

 

1. Dirt does not necessarily cause acne.

Dirt by itself does not cause acne; overproduction of sebum and clogged pores do. But by the same token, it would be erroneous for a person with acne to think that it is unnecessary to wash one's dirty face because it doesn't cause acne.

In fact, every time we touch our face with our hands, we might transmit millions of germs. Since acneic skin is often irritated and has open lesions, bacteria would definitely worsen acne.

Therefore, it is necessary to wash one's face several times a day (morning, afternoon, evening) and after physical exercise. The key is to cleanse the face with a mild cleansing agent that does not contain irritants, such as Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, or known allergens.

2. Foods, such as chocolate, sweets, French fries and other fast or fatty foods, do not necessarily cause acne

There seems to be no scientific proof that any specific type of food causes or worsens acne. However, scores of people insist that eating certain foods makes them break out. If your body sends you a message, heed it! It is also important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and proteins. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and fish rather than foods that have little nutritional value.

3. Although there is no cure for acne, you can help control it

While it is true that there is no cure for acne, it is certainly not true that nothing can be done about it. On the contrary, taking the right measures at the right time, can control acne and prevent major outbreaks. A carefully designed skin care regimen and strict adherence to all recommendations of a qualified skin care specialist are the key to better skin. In the case of cystic acne it is often necessary to add antibiotics, although that does not take the place of cleanliness.

4. Sex or masturbation do not cause acne

There is no evidence that sexual activities cause acne. However, an increased amount of testosterone, especially during puberty, is responsible for an increased sexual drive, and testosterone can cause acne, since it is linked to the production of sebum. When too much sebum is produced in the pores, there is a tendency for them to get clogged. The results are various forms of impurities, such as blackheads, whiteheads, or comedones. Bacteria may contribute to the creation of pimples.

In other words, even in the absence of sex, testosterone production, in boys and girls, is very high during puberty and can cause acne.

Whenever the skin is affected by blemishes or acne, it is important to follow strict, professionally designed skin care regimen.

5. Evidence suggests that there is some correlation between stress and acne

For a long time, scientists disputed that stress caused acne. Yet, anecdotal reports persisted that there was a clear correlation between them. In a recent study, published in the journal "Archives of Dermatology", researchers tested the severity of students' acneic conditions during examination periods and found that there were, indeed, increased levels of acne at these times. This lends credence to the theory that stress causes acne, and, we can add, other health problems as well.

Furthermore, stress can also cause other health problems, such as increased heart rate, and it would, therefore, be prudent to avoid it whenever possible.

A variety of activities suggest themselves for relief of stress, ranging from physical exercises, such as running or jogging, to breathing exercises, yoga, or simply relaxing in a comfortable chair listening to music.

6. Sun exposure does not improve acne

It is true that a tanned complexion might hide some blemishes. Sun exposure might also result in drying the skin and improve some blemishes. But the skin actually increases its oil production after sun exposure to compensate for the dehydration effects of the sun. Thus, while it may "dry up" some blemishes in the short run, it actually contributes to them.

The risk of sun damage far outweighs any possible advantages that might accrue from tanning in the sun. Sun exposure causes more skin damage than all other factors combined. Research shows that nearly 95% of all the skin damage is caused by sun exposure. Melanomas, basal cell and various other types of cancer are all linked to sun exposure. It is also a proven fact that excessive sun damage can cause premature aging and make the skin look old, wrinkled, and leathery. Hyperpigmentation, the result of excessive sun exposure, can permanently scar and impact the skin tone in areas of blemishes exposed to the sun, resulting in so-called "brown spots" or "dark spots".

If you do have to go into the sun, always use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15. It should contain an ingredient that provides broad spectrum protection. An excellent choice is micronized zinc oxide, which offers the broadest protection against UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.

 

Eye Rejuvenation

 

The eyes may be the window to our soul but what surrounds them, namely crow's feet, puffiness, and dark circles, can create a negative impression. Tiredness, lack of sleep, droopiness, and lack of energy can be falsely conveyed.

What creates these symptoms? Poor diet consisting of salty, spicy food and lack of hydration can contribute to puffy eyes. Lack of iron often is the cause for dark circles under the eyes, and crow's feet are a concomitant result of the aging process. While a healthy diet may correct some of the problems proper skin care and skin care products are capable of improving the delicate eye areas significantly.

New, revolutionary skin care ingredients are now available in selected eye rejuvenation creams. Regu-Age® and Snap-8® are relatively new ingredients to the skin care market.

Regu-Age is a complex that consists of purified soy and rice peptides as well as biotechnologically created yeast protein. Research has shown that it can significantly reduce dark circles and puffiness under the eye areas. It also extracts excess fluids that contribute to puffy eyes. Regu-Age should be present in skin care products in a concentration of 2-5%.

Snap-8, Acetyl Glutamyl Hexapeptide-1, an elongation of the famous Argireline (Acetyl Hexapeptide-3), target crow's feet. It has been favorably compared to Botox®, albeit as a milder and less invasive alternative. Snap-8, in about a 10% solution, stimulates the production of new collagen. It firms the skin, adds elasticity, and, at the same time, moisturizes the skin. More significantly, it aids in reducing contractions of facial muscles, causing a reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. Thus, the results are more beneficial than those of Botox, the effect of which wears off after a few months.

Some older remedies have been improved and can now be utilized better than in the past. Ascorbyl Sodium Phosphate is such an ingredient. It is a derivative of L-Ascorbic Acid. While the latter was notoriously unstable and turned brown after a relatively short time in the bottle, its derivative, Ascorbyl Sodium Phosphate, is a product that not only remains stable but also lacks the harshness of its antecedent.

Recent studies have emphasized that Vitamin E, especially when present in skin care products together with Vitamin C, significantly increases protection against UV rays. Thus, these two antioxidants work synergistically to protect the tender and vulnerable areas around the eye.

 

Facial Clay Masks Abound

 

Therapeutic masks have been used for centuries with known beneficial results. What was not known was what the healing ingredients were. Science now can analyze and identify the components specific to certain natural clays.

In choosing the right facial clay masks, one must first determine the type of skin for which the mask is intended, i.e., oily/blemished, normal, dry, aging, or sensitive. Combination skin can be both oily and normal to dry. Many columns on the web offer educational material on the categorization of skin types.

In a few words, oily skin manifests itself by excess oil, especially on the nose area and chin, while dry skin lacks moisture, feels dry to the touch, and flakes; aging skin is leathery and sun-damaged; sensitive skin reacts to many harsh ingredients and is prone to breakouts and rashes; normal skin is neither dry nor oily but might be environmentally damaged; and combination skin might be oily, especially in the T-zone, while the rest of the face may be dry or normal.

 

Persons with oily/blemished skin will want to select facial clay masks that have drying properties. They should also refine pores, and extract impurities. Some facial clay masks contain glycolic acid or other exfoliants to remove old skin cells, encourage growth of new ones, and reduce the presence of blackheads. These facial clay masks may stress their deep-cleansing, purifying, clarifying, or skin refining characteristics.

Normal skin benefits from facial clay masks that supply nutrients as they smooth and refine skin tone and texture. Skin tightening elements, such as algae extracts or DMEA, nicknamed “the facelift in a jar” are frequently added to achieve a tighter and brighter appearance.

Dry skin thrives on hydration. Since facial clay masks are by nature drying, additives that supply moisture should be present before dry skins can utilize a clay mask. Some facial clay masks for dry skin contain beneficial oils or plant extracts, such as shea butter, jojoba oil, aloe vera, or even goat's milk.

Sensitive skin should always patch test a product before general use. Usually, well-prepared facial clay masks without additives are best suited for this type of skin.

The type of clay from which the facial clay masks are manufactured also plays an important role in the selection process. There are too many types of clays to be mentioned all in this article. Only the best known clays used to manufacture facial clay masks will be mentioned here:

Kaolin facial clay masks, made from white, pink, or yellow kaolin, are ideal for dry to normal, sensitive, sunburned and aging skin, since they do not absorb oil. White clay, also called China Clay, is the most gentle of the three.

Montmorillonite Clay is named after the village Montmorillon in France, where it was discovered some 160 years ago. These facial clay masks are suited for oily skin, since they absorb excess oil from the skin and have purifying characteristics.

Maroccan Red Clay is found in the Atlas mountains of Marocco. These facial clay masks are also a good choice for oily skin because they deep cleanse, increase the circulation, and remove toxins from blemished skin.

Dead Sea Mud, coming from the bottom of the ocean, is suited for all skin types. However, marine conditions favor the creation of microbial organisms and care should be taken in selecting facial clay masks that have been properly prepared.

British Columbia or Canadian Glacial Clay is probably the most famous clay for consumers in North America. It is mined in a pristine area of Northern British Columbia and enveloped in a shroud of mystery and folklore. According to numerous narratives, it has been used by native Indians for thousands of years as a wound healing and rejuvenating substance. Modern skin care has nicknamed these facial clay masks the crème de la crème. Most recently, the Canadian government has closed down several mines that produced this type of clay because of an unacceptably high percentage of arsenic. Care should be taken to select only clays that have been tested for their arsenic content. Another consideration is the distinction between dry land and marine glacial clay. While marine clays tend to have high microbial counts, due to the fact that they are mined from the ocean, where periods of receding water accumulated and stored bacteria over time, dry land clays are relatively free of them since they have not been exposed to marine conditions for a long time.

Many users claim that the Canadian Glacial Clay mask is the best choice for oily/blemished to normal skin. It absorbs moisture, extracts impurities, detoxifies, and gives the skin a fresh and young appearance.

 

Facial Skin Rejuvenation for Aging Skin

 

The anti aging process can start as early as age 20 and, unfortunately, accelerates as we grow older. The areas that seem to wrinkle fastest are muscle innervated, e.g., smile lines, frown lines, and circumoral rhytides (around the mouth). The skin reflects our age, although some people seem to age better than others. Many persons are especially concerned about the condition of their face, including the eye areas, because it is the most visible one and beauty magazines seem to focus on it in countless issues. This article addresses facial skin rejuvenation – more specifically the aging of the facial and eye areas.

How does aging and mature skin manifests itself, what are the causes of aging skin, and what remedies are available to stop, or at the least, “slow down the clock”?

Aging skin is often dry and flaky but can also be leathery or thin. Depending on the type and intensity of environmental forces one is exposed to, it can have a yellowish hue or be pale or lack luster. The subcutaneous fat pollster of earlier years might have disappeared resulting in sagging skin. The area around the eyes may be hollow and show dark circles or puffiness. Blood vessels and veins may have ruptured and leaked into the skin increasing the blood flow near the skin and creating unsightly marks. Above all, it can have facial and periorbital fine lines and wrinkles or crow's feet as well as broken capillaries above the lateral cheeks.

There are many reasons why one person might age faster than the next. Aside from genetic, hereditary predisposition (intrinsic), the way we live (extrinsic) has a lot to do with it. Excessive exposure to the sun's rays can make the skin leathery and hyperpigmented (liver spots, sun spots, age spots). Harsh chemicals might contribute to various degrees of keratinization (scaly growths) that might or might not become cancerous. Improper diets and lack of hydration can cause the skin to show early signs of aging. Smoking (active and passive) is not only harmful to one's overall health, it also affects the condition of the skin, making it dull, yellowish, and wrinkly looking. Lack of sleep and stress are additional extrinsic factors that have a bearing on the condition of the skin. They create a tired and shallow look. The use of excessive amounts of alcohol and/or drugs certainly accelerates the aging process and results in a puffy or hollow look.

With age, as hormones change, collagen and elastin, elements that hold skin cells together and make it look tight, no longer regenerate as fast as earlier; moisture is drained more than in young skin; and reproduction of new skin cells slows down. As a result, dead skin cells stay on the surface longer and pile up on each other making the face look dull and flat – hence the need for specific facial skin rejuvenation products to address this.

Scientific advances have made possible the development of facial skin rejuvenation products containing ingredients that regenerate the skin and even reverse the process of aging. Some of these border on magic. On the flip side, we have learned that some facial skin rejuvenation ingredients are harmful to the skin and should not be part of any person's skin care regimen. Prime examples are Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate, which can be extremely irritating; petroleum products, potentially carcenogenic; and certain alcohols, such as isopropyl, ethyl, or ethanol, known to have excessive drying effects on the skin.

Most importantly, all external (extrinsic) factors that contribute to premature aging, such as smoking, stress, improper diet, and above all, exposure to UVA, UVB, and most recently, UVC rays, must be changed before a reversal can be achieved. A healthy life style supports healthy skin!

Secondly, to increase collagen and elastin, the skin needs to be nourished with cell-reproducing skin care ingredients, such as antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, D, and E, or grapeseed oil, a linolenic acid, to name but a few of the most prominent ones.

Aging skin needs to be moisturized regularly. One such example of an effective facial skin rejuvenation product is Jojoba oil – which is an excellent moisturizing agent and also functions as a carrier oil. Shea butter, extracted from the African shea tree, and other plant extracts perform similarly beneficial moisturizing functions.

Thirdly, old, dead cells have to be removed or exfoliated so that new ones can develop and come to the surface. AHA's (alpha hydroxy acids), such as glycolic, lactic, or malic acids, are exfoliating agents that are useful for this purpose, as are BHA's (beta hydroxy acids), such as salicylic acid, or Retinol (a vitamin A derivative).

Fourthly, anti-wrinkle creams or lotions containing the latest peptides and other anti-aging ingredients can be used to fight fine lines, wrinkles, and crow's feet.

 

Argireline (Acetyl Hexapeptide -3) has taken the cosmetic industry (and specifically the facial skin rejuvenation market) by storm. Creams containing this ingredient have been said to reduce wrinkles by up to 45%. An elongation of Argireline, Snap-8 (Acetyl Glutamyl Heptapeptide-1), claims even more of a wrinkle reduction than its antecedent.

Eyeliss and Regu-Age (rice, soy, and yeast proteins), target puffiness, dark circles, and hollowness around the eye areas and have also proven to be excellent anti-wrinkle ingredients in facial skin rejuvenation products. They also help improve the appearance of capillary damage and broken veins.

Hyaluronic Acid has long been known to be very beneficial for moisture retention, especially around the eye areas, and supplies essential hydration, especially for dry skin. It also puffs up sagging skin.

Age spots can be treated with a skin lightening cream containing Alpha Arbutin, which has fewer side effects than Hydroquinone and seems to be just as effective.

When treating the symptoms of aging is delayed too long, irreversible damage might occur. Any suspicious changes in the skin, such as on warts or keratinized areas, should be treated by a dermatologist since they might have already become cancerous.

 

Acne Treatment Without Benzoyl Peroxide

 

For decades, Benzoyl Peroxide has been the ingredient of choice in the treatment of acne. But there are warning signs pointing to some problems with this chemical in cosmetic formulations.

1.)    In an animal study, Benzoyl Peroxide caused tumors in mice. Although this does not necessarily prove that it does the same in humans, caution is indicated.

2.)    Given the unknown safety, especially pregnant women and those who want to become pregnant should be cautious and consult their gynecologist before applying products containing this ingredient.  

3.)    Studies indicate that up to 1% of the population will be affected by allergic contact dermatitis and an unspecified percentage by irritant contact dermatitis after applying Benzoyl Peroxide to their skin (one dermatologist suggested to the author of this article that her practice is filled with patients reacting negatively to Benzoyl Peroxide).

4.)    Benzoyl Peroxide bleaches clothes and hair and many people can, therefore, not apply it during the day without ruining their clothes or risking embarrassment with lightened spots on clothes. Without protection during the day, the symptoms of acne can worsen.

5.)    In patients with skin of color (skin types IV-VI), Benzoyl Peoxide can cause hyperpigmentation, especially where there are pustules.

6.)    It has the potential of drying out the skin and stripping it of its natural oils.

7.)    It can decrease the skin’s tolerance to UV radiation. The FDA requires a warning on each product containing Benzoyl Peroxide that a sunscreen should be applied when going outside.

A large percentage of our population, at some time in their lives, is affected by acne. If not treated properly it can lead to irreversible damage to the skin. In part due to the stigma attached to it, acne sufferers complain of severe social problems.  For those not tolerating or choosing to avoid Benzoyl Peroxide for the reasons stated, other choices are available.

There is no lack of products and services purporting to help alleviate the symptoms. Drug stores, pharmacies, and websites galore offer help some to the point of promising to cure the condition. There is, of course, no cure for acne. There are, however, ways to help reduce or alleviate the problem.

Moderate to severe acne often requires the attention of health care specialists. In combination with their recommendations, further steps can be taken to attack the symptoms of acne without Benzoyl Peroxide.

There are several ingredients in acne cosmetics known to be beneficial to the treatment of acne. In our skin care clinics, we recommend products containing Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Azelayol Diglicinate, Cinnamon Extract, Retinol, and Kollacin®.

Of these, the better known ones are Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Potassium Azelaoyl Diglycinate, and Retinol. In a recent study, for the strong of heart, an alternate therapy, consisting of tea tree oil, zinc, and fermented milk, was suggested.

Allergies to Glycolic Acid are approximately 100 times less likely to occur than to Benzoyl Peroxide. Gycolic Acid is a natural ingredient, produced from Sugar Cane, and exfoliates the skin removing dead skin cells and allowing new ones to emerge. It also removes bacteria from the acneic skin. It is recommended that a sun screen be applied when using products containing Glycolic Acid, preferably an oil-free one with a non-comedogenic formulation.

Acne is caused by Propionibacterium acnes, which grows and thrives in pores and on skin, causing blockage of the pores. Salicylic Acid penetrates the skin and attacks the affected pores from within. Thus, it reduces the bacteria that caused the acne to develop.

Potassium Azelaol Diglicinate is a derivate of the prescription drug Azelaic Acid. This ingredient retards bacterial growth and is an excellent anti acne agent.

Retinol, a Retinoid relative, is excellent for acne treatment since it exfoliates the skin and facilitates the destruction of bacteria in the pores. At the same time, it improves skin texture and helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines (a real concern for those with adult acne).

Alternate therapies should be evaluated on a case to case basis since few substantive data exist to support some of them.

More and more, research is showing that poor eating habits contribute to the development of acne. Milk products, sugar and a high glycemic diet (refined carbohydrates), such as foods made from white flour, should be avoided. Instead, more vegetables and fruits are highly recommended as well as drinking water to help hydrate the skin.

Washing the face three times a day and after strenuous physical exercise, followed by the application of products containing the recommended ingredients, is imperative.

While it is tempting to touch the face, individuals with acne only spread the bacteria and add additional germs by doing so. Likewise, picking at pustules also spreads bacteria and inflames the skin. This can lead to dark patches that are difficult to eliminate.

Research has shown convincingly that microdermabrasion can alleviate the symptoms of acne.

This procedure is carried out by a machine that mechanically exfoliates the skin using aluminum or diamond crystals. The dead skin cells are buffed off the epidermis leaving new cells to emerge. The old, dead cells are vacuumed up by the microdermabrasion device.   This procedure helps control future outbreaks, keeping the skin clean and thereby reducing debris in which bacteria can thrive. Furthermore, it encourages cell turnover since damaged cells are sloughed off. It effectively clears skin of whiteheads and blackheads, reduces redness and improves skin texture. It also reduces acne scars after several treatments. Microdermabrasion procedures are very popular because of the very low incidents of complications. There is usually no pain associated with them.

For those who can afford it, laser treatments are helpful in treating the symptoms of acne. Some laser machines are said to reduce acne by 80% after several treatments.

People of all ages and skin types have a choice of products and procedures in the treatment of acne without using Benzoyl Peroxide.

 

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate and other surfactants in facial cleansers

 

Perusing some of the articles on the internet dealing with Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate (SLS) is like reading lines from a criminal story. Here are some of the statements we can find: This chemical “penetrates into the eyes, brain, heart, liver,” causes “permanent eye damage to children” and “cataracts to develop in adults.” It is said to lead to “permanent eye damage in children and liver toxicity.” “It increases female cancers.” “It is responsible for male breast enlargement and decreased fertility.” “It increases female cancers.” SLS reacts with many types of ingredients used in skin products and forms nitrosamines (nitrates)”, i.e., cancer-causing substances. It is, one source categorically claims, “the most dangerous ingredient used in skin care products.”

What actually is SLS and how safe is it as an ingredient in skin care products—or, should we ask, is it safe at all?

Wikipedia calls it a “highly effective surfactant” which is “used in any task requiring the removal of oily stains and residues.” Thus, it is used extensively in degreasing car engines and in cleaning industrial equipment. It is successfully applied as a cleaning agent to wash garage floors or other surfaces. It is also a superb foaming agent. In smaller quantities, it is used in shampoos, toothpastes, shaving creams, bubble baths, and in some skin care products, especially cleansers.  

The American College of Toxicology (ACT) has pointed out that concentrations of 0.5% SLS could cause skin irritation, and concentrations of 10-30% may cause corrosion and severe irritation. In other words, in higher concentration SLS does, indeed, become dangerous. The product labels of shampoos and cleansers list their ingredients in the order of highest to lowest concentration. Many of the products containing SLS list it after water in second place, meaning that the concentration is high, undoubtedly approaching or surpassing the 10% mark. This, according to the ACT, may be characterized as being dangerous.

SLS can be a very drying substance on the skin and is, therefore, not an appropriate ingredient for dry or sensitive skin types.

Extensive use of SLS increases the number of comedones. Therefore, oily, blemished, and acneic skin types should avoid it.

Many sources emphasize that prolonged exposure to SLS can lead to skin damage. Mammalian cells show positive mutation after being exposed to SLS. Other animal studies indicate that it might be a neurotoxin at moderate levels.

In summary, evidence suggests that SLS is a potential skin irritant even at low levels and a dangerous chemical if present in higher concentrations, especially when the substance is left on the skin for a prolonged period of time. Dry, sensitive, oily, blemished, and acneic skin should avoid products containing SLS. Studies on Mammalian cells and animals show positive mutation results. There are indications that SLS is a neurotoxin at moderate levels. Although this does not necessarily mean that humans react the same way, the specter of possible harm has been raised.

How would you feel about knowingly applying this potentially damaging chemical to your skin? What choices are available?

Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, a surfactant, makes an excellent cleanser that is mild on the skin and non-drying. The ACT has judged it to be a low-hazard ingredient. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) rated it as safe at 50% concentrations in rinse-off products and 17% in leave-on products.

Disodium Cocoamphoacetate, a surfactant made from coconut oil, was found to be nonirritating and considered safe by the CIR when used in concentrations of less than 10%.

Sodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is an extra mild and gentle surfactant to eyes and skin. In spite of its name, it is free of sulfates. It is especially suitable for products for sensitive and delicate skin, including children. It has been found to cause little irritation even in high concentrations.

The CIR considers Cocomidopropyl Betaine safe for use in cosmetics “with some qualifications”. It should not be used in high concentrations in leave-on products, where it can cause irritation, but seems to be safe in rinse-off products, especially in lower concentrations.

There are those who insist on using only cleansers made from organic or natural materials. Beware! These terms are not very well regulated and are prone to abuse. When broadly defined, SLS can be described as being “naturally derived from coconut oil”! There are very few cleansers that truly fit the description of “organic” and, if they do, they might not be preserved properly and might quickly deteriorate and become a haven for bacteria and impurities.


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