Skin Care Labeling Defined Pt. 2

usdaKosher – a product that conforms to Jewish dietary law. Usually this term refers to a food substance, but can also be seen in the skin care industry. Kosher denotes something that it ritually clean or pure.

botanical – an ingredient or set of ingredients that are plant based. Plant extracts like green tea, basil, ginger, birch, and carrot are all botanical ingredients. Essential oils, like lavender, chamomile, peppermint and tangerine, are also sometimes referred to as botanical extracts.

chirally correct – ingredient molecules are found in nature as left-handed (L- for ‘levo’ which means left)and right-handed (D-for ‘dextro’ meaning right). These forms are mirror images of each other. For any given molecule one version is beneficial and one is not. Chiral correction is a process performed in the lab, after ingredients are selected in a formula, to ensure that the correct, beneficial form of molecules are used. A good example of this would be the use of “L-Ascorbic Acid” being used in a formula – which is the left handed form of Vitamin C.

paraben free skin care– refers to a product that is preserved without the use of Propylparaben, Butylparaben or Methylparaben. These broad-spectrum preservatives keep bacteria, fungus and yeast out of products, extending their shelf life and keeping the ingredients stable. Parabens come from benzoic acid (which does originally come from a plant source before processing) and are approved for cosmetic use by the FDA up to 25% (most companies only use 0.01-0.3%.) In a 2004 medical study, parabens were found intact in breast tissue and a possible link was established between parabens and cancer (although there has not been sufficient data to prove such a connection.) Still, many skin care companies make efforts to remove parabens from their products, using replacements like Vitamin E, certain essential oils, propylene glycol, lactic acid, potassium sorbate, and others. There is much debate on paraben use, as they are used in so many different products – and even found in car exhaust. Some say there isn’t enough evidence to prove any real health threat, while others insist on avoiding them whenever possible to be on the safe side.

For more information on parabens, take a look at these websites:

FDA: Product and Ingredient Safety

Organic Consumers Association: Breast Cancer

Best Health Magazine: Parabens-What are they and are they really the bad?

OBGYN.net: Womens Health-Breast Cancer

pH balanced– the pH scale measures the amount of hydrogen ions in a solution, telling you how acidic or basic, or alkaline a product (or ingredient) is. The scale goes from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline.) Cleansing agents are often more alkaline to help remove oil and dirt from the skin. Certain acids like glycolic and salicylic are meant to drop the pH of the skin, increasing cellular energy and activity. The skin is naturally slightly acidic and does well with slightly acidic products. When the pH of the skin is raised or lowered it takes some time for the skin to balance itself. If a product is pH balanced, it’s usually not too alkaline, meaning that it wont be overly harsh or drying for the skin. A pH similar to the natural pH of the skin (between 4 and 6) is ideal in most cases when looking at products used daily at home.

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