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Posts tagged 'fraudulent skin care products'

The truth about "Organic" Skincare

By Arthur W. Perry, MD October 20, 2016 No comments

“Organic” may be the most bastardized word in the English language.

The strict definition of “organic” chemicals are chemicals that are carbon based. Somewhere along the line, the term became associated with edible products that did not contain toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, or antibiotics. While the definition was not particularly good, the concept was a welcome one. And over the last two decades the “organic food” industry has been steadily growing.

In the last few years, the "organic" concept has become even more bastardized, with the introduction of “organic skincare”. Real chemists cringe when products containing substances like inorganic zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, talc, and iron oxide are described as “organic”.   We are entering a whole new world of obfuscation…. The FDA does not even have a legal definition for “organic” and so if a company calls their products “organic”, they must follow the US Dept. of Agriculture definition. This is particularly bizarre since inorganic minerals are not agricultural products.

But let’s go a step further and consider why a skincare product should even consider being “organic”. The concept comes from a desire for healthy, wholesome products, made with healthy ingredients. This is a reasonable goal, but consider a skincare product made from organically grown poison ivy. Legally it could be labeled “organic”, but you don’t need to be a physician to know that this is not something you would want on your body. It turns out that essential oils, which make up so many wonderful fragrances, may be organic but also may cause allergic reactions called “contact dermatitis”. In fact, 14% of the population are allergic to one essential oil or another. Synthetic fragrances, certainly not called “organic” but indeed may be created with organic chemicals (in the strictest sense of the word), are often less likely to cause allergies than the “natural” ones.

And that brings us to the definition and benefits of “natural” substances in skincare. Plutonium and cadmium are natural, but you sure would not want those chemicals near your body. On the other hand, phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative that is particularly nontoxic and helps keeps your products safe and fresh. But organic or natural? No. So we must all be skeptical of the cosmetics and skin care that describe themselves as “organic” or “natural”.

The truth is that a well formulated product that is carefully evaluated for toxicity and efficacy is what should be created... For my products, I try and keep as short an ingredient list as possible because I know that each and every ingredient, whether “natural”, “synthetic”, or “organic” has the potential to cause toxicity or allergy. I choose my ingredients for for their scientifically proven efficacy and I scour the toxicology database to eliminate anything that can potentially cause problems. That is not as easy as it may seem, because safe and effective ingredients, such as vitamin C, can cause a terrible corneal injury if splashed in the eye. And because of that concept, simple table salt or vitamins are often considered “mildly toxic”.

Skincare is not as simple as it seems, and that is the precise reason I, as a plastic surgeon and biologist, have enjoyed creating safe and effective products for you.

Plant stem cells in skin creams

By Arthur W. Perry, MD, FACS December 12, 2013 2 comments

As you are deluged with advertisements for various skin care products, you might come across those that advertise "plant stem cells".  What the heck are these, you might ask...and why are they in my skin care products?

The companies that say they use these ingredients make all sorts of claims that these provide miraculous changes to the skin.  Here's the truth...

It is impossible to put plant stem cells in skin care products.  Stem cells are living material and if they could be isolated and added to your product, they would certainly die during processing.  But no company is really trying to add live cells...or any cells at all.  

Here's the science behind this scam....

Plants are powerhouses that make all sorts of chemicals to protect themselves from the environment.  Since they can not walk out of the blistering sunshine and find the shade of a neighboring tree, they need to produce their own sunblock.  That's why plants have such deep and rich colors.  Those colors are the sunblocks and antioxidants that protect plants from UV damage.  Plants also have evolved protections against heavy metals that might be in the soil.  

Many of those chemicals are concentrated in the "stem cells" of those plants...(no stem cells are NOT the cells in plant stems, but some companies seem to have forgotten that one, too...).  So, if stem cells are isolated from the remainder of the plant cells and the chemicals they produce are concentrated and collected, this concoction is called the "stem cell extract".  That is what many of these companies allegedly put into their skin care products.

Now, when we look at these extracts, three questions come up...  First - what is the concentration of the extract in the product and second - what is the mix of chemicals in the extract, and third - do those chemicals actually do something for your skin...

Since stem cell extracts are a virtually nebulous concept and since no company will divulge how much of these they actually put into their products, you, the consumer, are left with many questions...and empty wallets if you purchase.

I prefer to use real ingredients with many scientific papers documenting that they actually do work...in real clinical situations.  That means that when you squirt that stuff onto your hands and rub it into your face, you can expect real results.  

I'm all for the advancement of science, but consumers need to beware that fraud lurks on many shelves...even in the fanciest of stores...

(C) 2013 Arthur W. Perry, MD

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