5 Skin Care Myths Demystified by a Chemist

Posted December 1st, 2016 | Written by

It’s pretty clear to all of us that just because we read something on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s true, but where should you go for skin care knowledge? YouTube offers the latest DIY skin treatments, and everyone claims to be a skin expert. With all of these skin care claims and misconceptions out there, it can be tough to decipher truth from myth. Lucky for us, we have the expertise of chemist John Garruto, Founder and President of Free Radical Technology, Inc. to debunk and explain the top five most common skin care myths he encounters in his work.

Myth 1: All sun protection is good for you

“False! Chemical sunscreen ingredients (non-physical) penetrate the skin and absorb UV radiation through their chemical bonds. They slowly break down and release heat as a by-product of their chemical interaction with ultraviolet light. This heat energy then dissipates through and away from the skin. Additionally, chemical sunscreens have been implicated in possible endocrine disruption and can cause irritation to the skin, especially for those with sensitive skin.

The better choice is physical sunscreen ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide (used in all Colorescience sun protection products). They reflect UV and do not have a heat reaction associated with their use, so they are a better option in that regard. Physical sunscreens do not penetrate the skin but instead act like tiny mirrors to reflect back ultraviolet rays. Since they do not penetrate, physical sunscreens do not cause irritation to the skin.”

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(Iron Oxides, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide powders used in our sunscreen)

Myth 2: Organic products are always better than non-organic

“While organic products may sound enticing and healthier than non-organic products, one must give careful consideration to the claim of organic. There are many certifying organizations for organic personal care products such as USDA, Ecocert, BDIH, NPA, etc. and they all have very different standards. Thus, just because a product is labeled “organic” there is not always an easy way to know the % of organic materials which can range significantly. Additionally, some products list ingredients that are organic but are incorporated in the formulation at very low levels. In this case, the term organic has little or no meaning. Organic products may also not be properly preserved and could become contaminated during use, making them potentially unsafe.”

Myth 3: You have to “feel” active ingredients to know that they’re working… “No pain, no gain.”

“Some materials may induce a physical sensation, but may not be “active.” These might include cooling agents such as menthol or alcohol, ingredients that can tingle the skin such as peppermint oil, rosemary, and camphor, or ingredients that cause a burning sensation such as alpha and beta hydroxy acids, or other ingredients that can elicit a tightening effect. While users may interpret these feelings as physical proof of activity, these ingredients, improperly formulated can cause irritation, inflammation, and damage to the skin. A temporary sensation to the skin is often innocuous. However, persistent irritation can lead to sensitization and an allergic response.

On the contrary, many ingredients such as standardized botanical actives, peptides, and hydrators, like those found in Colorescience Anti-Aging Serum or Even Up Clinical Pigment Perfector SPF 50, can have a very beneficial effect on the skin and in most cases do not elicit a sensation response.”

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(Chemist adding peptides to our Anti-aging Serum)

Myth 4: After age 40, SPF is pointless

“This is entirely false!  As we age, we become more sensitive to sunlight, meaning a person will experience sunburn in a shorter period of time than at earlier times in their life. Most skin cancers result from sun damage over the course of our lives. Sun exposure damages our skin’s DNA, not only putting us at risk for cancer, but also damaging our skin’s extracellular matrix comprised primarily of collagen and elastin. Over time, continued sun exposure leads to premature wrinkling and skin discoloration as well as sagging and blotchiness. Additionally, as we age, our skin undergoes changes that weaken our defenses against skin disease with compromised immune systems and poorer healing capacity. These effects are all exacerbated by sun exposure.”

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(Chemist formulating our Anti-aging Serum)

Myth 5: If a product doesn’t work immediately, move on

“Don’t give up on your new skin care regimen! There are very few products that “work” immediately. Some exceptions are cleansers and moisturizers. Cleansers clean the skin and require no waiting period to be functional. Exfoliants fall into this category as well. Moisturizers also generally provide instant gratification providing emollience and softness to the skin.

Products that provide other benefits may take a bit longer to exhibit noticeable results. Anti-aging products that visibly decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks to provide their full effect, although some visible signs may be seen in 2-3 weeks. The initial effects of skin brightening products can be seen in 2-3 weeks while continued use over 8-12 weeks will build on those benefits. These results are similar to Retinol and anti-acne products as well.”

The Author

John Garruto

John Garruto

John Garruto is the Founder and President of Free Radical Technology, Inc., a firm specializing in the formulation of thousands of globally marketed personal care products; including physician-based skincare, color cosmetics, hair care and pharmaceutical products. John holds a degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York and has been a formulating chemist and technical consultant to the personal care industry for 40 years.