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Rejuvenation in Your Makeup Bag: Taking Healthy Skin to the Finish Line

Aug 30

Consumers have become more ingredient aware than ever before. They’re now more diligent about understanding what is in their serum and sun protection formulas, what’s being applied in the treatment room, and how foods impact the health of their skin. The trouble is, however, that same level of awareness tends not to carry over to products in their makeup bag. It’s easy to overlook the ingredient deck of cosmetics primarily because we’re not looking to them to affect change in the skin, we’re merely looking at how well it performs in terms of enhancing or downplaying certain facial features.

For those who use it, makeup is typically on the skin for a significant amount of time throughout the day, and it most definitely impacts the overall health of the skin –– for good or bad. And it’s time we start educating clients on what to look for and what to avoid in their cosmetics so they may take their skin care to the finish line. After all, makeup can, and should, be a continuation of good skin care, but we have to know what to look for.

Troublesome ingredients in cosmetics

While it’s improved over the years, there are still a number of over-the-counter cosmetic brands that use harsh chemicals, parabens and fragrances that actually harm the skin in their foundations, powders, mascaras, eyeshadows and lip products. Among the most common are sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, synthetic colorants, polyethylene/PEGs, petroleum distillates, formaldehyde, and fragrance.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant most commonly found in cleansers as it is responsible for that “sudsy” effect we’ve come to associate with in soap. However, it’s also found in various makeup products, primarily mascara despite it being a known eye irritant. Formaldehyde, a preservative used to prevent bacteria growth, is a chemical that has been recognized as a human carcinogen and it’s also been known to cause allergic skin reactions. 

Parabens are widely used preservatives that extend the shelf life of products. They prevent bacteria, mold and yeast from growing in cosmetic products, but they also contain estrogen-mimicking properties that have been linked to certain forms of cancer. Polyethylene (or PEGs) is another synthetic chemical considered a human carcinogen. It penetrates the skin and tends to cause skin irritation. Similarly, petroleum distillates have also been found to contain cancer-causing impurities and are most often produced in oil refineries that produce automobile fuel.

Fragrance is by far one of the most widely used, but what does it really mean? It’s somewhat of a catchall term that allows manufacturers to get away creating rather ambiguous or secret formulas. Often these concoctions contain hormone disruptors and various chemicals, and are among the top allergic-reaction triggers in the world.

Finally, many manufacturers have started adding sunscreen to their cosmetics, which is a good thing, but only if they’re not of the chemical variety. These sunscreen chemicals ––avobenzone, oxybenzone and octinoxate, to name a few –– absorb UV light, are highly absorbable by the skin, and have been found to be endocrine disruptors.

What should clients be looking for instead?

Cosmetic ingredients that promote healthy skin

Makeup is not what it used to be. Through advancements in ingredients and distillation processes, it is now possible to have beauty and healthy skin. In fact, many of the ingredients we’re using in the treatment room and prescribed homecare also make for ideal ingredients in any cosmetic product. Ingredients like antioxidants, natural minerals, vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids, which are all incorporated into the RA IllumiColour line, will help support optimal skin health. Here are a few healthy skin-promoting ingredients to look for in cosmetics:

  • Bismuth oxychloride – found in mineral makeup, it’s responsible for that pearly, iridescent look. It’s an inorganic compound naturally found in the mineral bismoclite. It provides a smooth, luxurious feel and is the key ingredient which helps keep powder looking fresh all day.
  • Mica – a light, natural, silicate mineral that gives a luminous glow to the skin.

  • Boron nitride – found in various crystalline forms, improves the application of the mineral foundation and adheres to the skin for long lasting wear.
  • Tapioca powder – a natural starch extract from the cassava root, it is responsible for giving powder a light feel on the skin.
  • Carrot seed extract – provides antioxidant, antiseptic and beta-carotene support and is known to help sensitive skin. It provides hydration and brings new life to the skin.
  • Squalane – a naturally occurring lipid in plants, it supports the skin in retaining moisture and guards against UV radiation.
  • Zinc oxide – the safest, non-irritating broad spectrum UV absorbing material, it protects and soothes skin and provides healing relief.

  • Cetearyl olivate/sorbitan olivate – a unique biomimetic restructuring agent from pure olive oil that restores and maintains the integrity of the skin barrier, gives tonicity and elasticity to the skin, reduces inflammation, helps carry other active ingredients into the deeper epidermal layers, provides brilliance to the skin and protects skin from harsh environmental assaults and UV rays.
  • Natural wax (sunflower seed, candelilla, beeswax, orange peel) complex – an all-natural, emulsifying wax complex used to trap-in moisture and defend skin from environmental assaults without clogging pores. It also is an anti-inflammatory, rich in nutrients and phytosterol support that prevents damage to cells, and protects collagen and elastin production. We use this in our IllumiColour Lips to protect and hydrate the delicate skin on the lips. 

These are just a few of the natural ingredients being used in place of many of the toxic, chemical-laden ingredients that have been so common in the cosmetic industry until now. In addition to giving the products the desired consistency and feel, they also have skin-health promoting benefits. And this is important to point out when talking to clients. Focus on the benefits that go beyond simply covering up the skin.

Beyond the ingredients, we also have to look at how cosmetics, particularly mineral products, are milled. For instance, our IllumiColour mineral mattes, creams and powders are milled a minimum of three times to ensure light application and buildable coverage, and to eliminate impurities. Purity is key, as this allows the minerals to sit on the surface of the skin to protect it, whereas mineral makeups that contain other chemicals will penetrate the skin. This reduces the formulas ability to protect the skin from UV rays and introduces unhealthy chemicals to the skin. This video demonstrates what to look for in mineral powders.

When talking to clients about taking their skin care through to the finish line with quality cosmetics, focus on education. Demonstrations like the one in the above video also provide a nice visual to make the case for healthy, pure ingredients. Highlight ingredients within the product that will help support their skin goals and educate them on inferior ingredients that could hinder or compromise their skin’s health. In this way, it becomes more about educating rather than selling. 

Question: What are your client’s biggest concerns when it comes to the makeup they use?    

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Rhonda Allison, the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises, is a highly respected speaker, author, and educator who has worked behind the aesthetic chair for 30 years.