A simple breathing technique practised in yoga is the latest trend promising to lower our bodies’ inflammatory levels. If only it was this easy to heal inflamed, sensitive skin.
As skin is our largest organ and our first line of defence, flaky patches, flare-ups, breakouts and redness can be an early sign that health is being compromised.
When you consider women put up to 168 chemicals on their bodies every day – it’s no surprise the surface layer that protects us from harmful bacteria and allergens starts to shout for TLC. But who has time to plough through research to identify the best cosmetics for problem-prone skin?
So, we’ve scoured the scientific papers for you – to reveal which plant and vegetable extracts used in sensitive skin makeup are proven to repair your delicate facial skin and give that summer glow.
The good, the bad and the ugly: makeup ingredients to avoid
If mainstream media is to be believed, we absorb poisons from the air as well as from food, drink and beauty products. This apparently makes us sick and ages our skin to such a degree that our days must surely be numbered.
One study from subjects in Germany and China appears to link increased air pollution to brown spots on the skin. Products are now being made to specifically combat this urban phenomenon.
Unfortunately, there is ample evidence-based truth behind all the toxin tittle tattle. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the regulatory body for ensuring safe products and accurate marketing claims in the cosmetic industry, revealed makeup and self-care lotions and potions account for around 30 per cent of injury reports.
Some lipsticks, for example, can contain hazardous heavy metals including lead, beryllium, thallium, cadmium, chromium and arsenic which have been linked to cancer, bone, kidney, brain and nerve dysfunction, heart problems, hormone disruption, allergies, arthritis and skin inflammation.
Before you dismiss this warning thinking: How much could you possibly absorb through your lips?
What goes on your lips goes in – absorbed through your skin and licked off to enter directly through your mouth.
If you wouldn’t dream of eating any of these ingredients then it’s time to think about removing them from your lipstick diet.
Other ingredients to be wary of on sensitive skin makeup labels are phthalates and parabens, which are hormone disrupters (a UK study associates parabens with breast cancer), carcinogenic coal tar, skin irritant formaldehyde, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The last two are found in some mineral makeup and sunscreens, which studies have shown to have caused DNA damage.
Also look out for butylated hydroxyanisole (or BHA), a preservative which can be cancer-inducing in high doses. Some manufacturers are now using alternative preservatives to BHA and parabens with the catchy names methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI).
MI and MCI are found in some wet wipes, moisturisers, cosmetics and skin cleansers and can cause skin allergies. They are banned in leave-on personal care products in Europe.
So are levels of makeup toxins likely to do long-term damage?
Chemicals can be easily absorbed through the skin to the bloodstream, and in the case of lipstick, believe it or not we ingest up to 3kg over a lifetime.
Research carried out in 2011 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found levels of lead in 400 tested lipsticks. Intense colours appeared to show the highest composition of lead.
On the whole, authorities say these quantities are too low to be classified unsafe. But one US study found that average twice-daily application of 10 of 32 tested lipsticks/glosses resulted in exceeding allergy-aggravating chromium intake by 100 per cent.
Canada, the US and EU have restrictions on acceptable levels of heavy metals in makeup. But unsafe products still hit the shelves as most do not require premarket approval and safety tests are the legal responsibility of manufacturers.
You can find out more about harmful chemicals in Australian cosmetics, on the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) website, which will help you understand the ingredients which should never be found in sensitive skin makeup.
Sensitive Skin Makeup – Healing ingredients that help
With so much daily chemical dousing, it makes sense to choose trusted products made from food active ingredients packed with moisturising anti-inflammatories and antioxidants to soothe and heal.
Avocado, sesame, jojoba, olive and coconut oils are often used in sensitive skin makeup as their protective health benefits are backed by science. For example, avocados are rich in essential fatty acids, which are needed to prevent eczema.
What’s more, eating more fruits and vegetables officially boosts happiness so if you want to lift your mood and your vitamin levels avocado drenches the dermis with ‘C’ nutrients scientifically proven to to tackle acne, rosacea and post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation.
These properties make avocado oil perfect for young and mature skins as it also contains phytosterols (plant steroids) to calm irritated faces as well as boosting collagen in connective tissue to fight the signs of ageing.
Meanwhile, sesame oil contains skin-calming omega 3 plus the reparative minerals zinc and magnesium and, in lab tests, blocks out 30 per cent of UV rays compared to coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils which block 20 per cent. So simply look to food to nourish your features and flood them with nutrient-filled goodness.
These edible oils are spot on for use in sensitive skin makeup and will let your skin breathe easy.