How pollution affects skin

According to the World Health Organisation the urban population in 2016 accounts for almost 58% of the total global population, up from 34% in 1960.  Little wonder that pollution seems to be the word that appears in every beauty chat across the globe. Despite the hype, it is not a new marketing strategy; pollution, unfortunately, affects the skin.

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THE ALCOHOL DEBATE

Alcohol, is a commonly used ingredient in the cosmetic industry.

 

It’s mainly used in fragrances for its ability to blend and disperse the scent and evaporates quickly once it contacts the skin.

 

Alcohol also has preserving qualities and is used in particular in natural and organic skincare formulations, where you might expect to find a higher concentration up to 10%. It can be derived synthetically or naturally, through the fermentation of sugar- whereby it is obtained by chemical reaction of starch in the presence of yeast, at the temperature below 37 ° C. Alcohol is commonly found in men’s grooming products where the evaporation from the skin’s surface creates a pleasant sensation of freshness and relief.

 

No matter the origin of it and its dosage, alcohol can be an irritant and can dry the skin. How do we spot it in the ingredient list? Usually it appears as “Alcohol” but we might see it as “Alcohol denat”, “ethanol” and “ethyl alcohol”.

 

Notably there are other natural ingredients that contain the word “alcohol” but despite their name are a completely different substance with distinct set of properties.

 

Here are some of the the different guises you will see alcohol appear:

 

  • Benzyl alcohol: can be a solvent, preservative or fragrance ingredient. It is found in different essential oils.
  • Cetearyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and is derived from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Behenyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from rapeseed oil.
  • Myristyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Cetostearyl alcohol: a synthetic emulsifier. You might read it in traditional barrier creams under the name: cetomacrogol 1000
  • Cetylstearyl alcohol: is a synthetic emulsifier. You might read it in traditional barrier creams under the name: cetomacrogol emulsifying wax
  • Cetyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil
  • Stearyl alcohol: gives consistency to emulsions (thickener)and comes from palm kernel and/or coconut oil

 

NATURAL SPF: THE TOP 10 INGREDIENTS TO BOOST SUN PROTECTION

WITH TEMPERATURES SOARING AND UV LEVELS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH, PEDRO CATALÁ OF TWELVE BEAUTY COUNTS DOWN THE 10 NATURAL INGREDIENTS WITH SPF BENEFITS YOU NEED TO STOCK UP ON

For those who have a greener approach to beauty it can be very daunting to choose the right suncare product. The choice is limited, with only two sunscreens considered to be ‘natural’; titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two minerals can provide the right protection, however they might leave an unpleasant white residue on our skin (though new formulations are improving).

Are there any other choices? Luckily, we can find in nature several plant extracts that are not classified as sunscreens but which can boost the protection of our favourite product and keep our skin even safer while exposed to the sun. Lab tests have shown an SPF range from 4 to 28 for these extracts. While they are no substitutes for natural or synthetic UV filters, they can certainly boost the SPF; in fact, some manufacturers use these boosters to reduce the quantity of the traditional UV filters, in order to achieve the desired SPF.

Don’t forget, too, that SPF products, no matter how synthetic or natural are not very stable over time. This is why I advise to give all your sun care products to the people next to you on the beach when the holiday is over, as we shouldn’t use them the following year.

Here are my top 10 natural sunscreens boosters to look out for in your skincare:

PROPOLIS

This resinous mixture, which bees collect from plants and use to seal and protect the hive is rich in antioxidants that offer protection against UVB and UVA.

RASPBERRY

Packed with vitamins and minerals, it is a great natural remedy to keep our body hydrated during the summer months. There are several studies that confirm raspberry oil protects us from the sun, stimulating the production of melanin, so this is the ingredient to choose to achieve a natural long lasting tan.

MORE GLOSS: 8 everyday suncreams reviewed

STRAWBERRY

Some European universities have created a device to test the resistance of a strawberry extract to the sun, comparing it with 90 minutes exposure to the sun during the hottest day on the French Riviera. Who said skincare research wasn’t glamorous?

SHEA BUTTER

Not only provides elasticity and hydration to dry skin, but also improves efficacy of UVB filters.

ALOE VERA

Studies recommend applying the gel 24 hours before sun exposure as it can improve the skin’s immune system.

ALDER BUCKTHORN

Traditionally used as a natural laxative, it is now “hot property” in skincare due to its ability to reduce UV harm.

MORE GLOSS: The ultimate guide to sun creams for sensitive skin

WALNUT

Protects the skin against UVB and helps the skin to produce more melanin, resulting in better protection. An ideal ingredient for those with fair skin.

CAFFEINE

Normally associated with bodycare or even haircare, it has a starring role in the suncare category mainly because it helps our skin to eliminate sun damaged cells.

BURITI OIL

Direct from Brazil, it has made a big impact on the industry. Rich in pigments like carotene and other antioxidants, it can offer efficient sun protection.

ACHIOTE (BIXA ORELLANA)

Commonly called the “lipstick tree” due to its high content of red pigments, it has been used for centuries as a dye and sun protector by indigenous tribes in Central and South America.

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT: ALOE VERA FOR HEALTHY SKIN

“As a formulator, I always get excited when I find out about new and exotic ingredients. However, I always keep in mind how great and beneficial some of the more traditional ingredients are. Today, we will focus on Aloe Vera, known as the prodigy of nature”.

The Origins

Originally from Africa, the Aloe Vera plant is also found widely throughout Central America and Southern Europe. It doesn’t like much water nor temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius which is why it grows most prevalently within these warmer climates.

The Extraction

Both the juice and gel can be extracted from any part of the plant. It is hard to resist walking past one on a hot summers day and breaking open a leaf to make the most of the cooling aloe gel.

The Green Chemistry

Aloe Vera juice is mainly based on multi-tasking sugars, especially D-glucose and D-mannose. The other substances it contains in smaller quantities that together form its skin-restoring properties include phytosterols (campesterol and 3-sitosterol), vitamins, enzymes, oligoelements and essential amino acids.

The History

Aloe Vera has been used for thousands of years by ancient civilizations. Cleopatra, the first documented natural beauty lover in history, couldn’t get enough of Aloe Vera in her milk baths. Also other Egyptians believed that Aloe Vera located near the pharaohs tomb would help preserve the mummies. Romans used the gel as a scar healing balm for the wounds that soldiers suffered after combat whilst the Mayans used it to remedy headaches. Even in the Kama Sutra there is a mention of its aphrodisiac properties.

The Therapeutics

Aloe Vera has many therapeutic properties for skin:

  • Soothes and calms irritated and sensitive skin
  • Moisturising
  • Anti-redness
  • Scar reducing
  • Stimulates production of collagen and elastin (youthful proteins)