Here in the United States our skin care products and cosmetics are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), but did you know that except for color additives, the ingredients and products are not actually FDA approved? The responsibility is placed on companies who manufacture, market, and distribute cosmetics to follow federal laws, but no testing or demonstration of safety is legally required.
Unfortunately for us, the word safe is highly subjective to our friends at the FDA! In Europe, over 1300 substances are restricted from use in cosmetics, of which the US has banned only eleven.
Due to the lack of regulations, our marketplace is flooded with cheap, sketchy, and in fact downright toxic ingredients. One that surprised me the most was formaldehyde, a commonly known carcinogen. It’s up to us as consumers to educate ourselves.
Research your products and avoid companies who so knowingly use these dangerous chemicals. Opt instead for natural ingredients and stay well-informed about the brands you buy for your household!
But how do I do that? First, familiarize yourself with common ingredients used in US products which are banned in Europe. Check the labels on your cosmetics, shampoo, and soaps. Do you see any of these ingredients listed?
We’d like to provide you with some resources to get you started. Detox Me is a research-based clean lifestyle guide in the form of a free mobile application. Here you can find tips on more than beauty health – you will also find valuable information about how to reduce the toxic levels in all areas of your home.
If you have a few dollars to spend, Chemical Maze is well worth the investment. This application focuses on food and cosmetic additives; you can search an additive that you’re unfamiliar with to learn more, or even filter for additives you want to avoid! (Willow Kay is not affiliated with these resources, nor do we receive any financial compensation.)
At Willow Kay, we truly care about what goes in and on our bodies. If it is not an active or carrier vehicle of a bioactive or superfood element, it has no place in our formula. Our Clean Balancing Serum ingredients are EWG rated from 0-1. Without the usual slew of excessive and unnecessary ingredients, our product is great for both morning and night applications without ever clogging your pores.
Another factor of skin health is an ingredient’s comedogenic rating. Comedones are white heads which can lead to acne. Ingredients are rated on a scale of 1-5; anything rated 0, 1, or 2 is considered non-comedogenic, meaning it is less likely to clog your pores. Those with acne prone or oily skin types should look for products with 0 or 1 rating to reduce the risk of breakouts. Normal to combination skin types should be able to use products with a rating up to 2. If you have dry or maturing skin, a rating of up to 3 may be right for you. Ingredients with a rating of 4 or 5 (ahem, coconut oil) are considered pore-clogging. A low comedogenic rating does not equate to healthy ingredients and vice-versa, so listen to your skin!
Willow Kay believes in allowing your skin to breathe; our skin health formula is non-comedogenic and does not exceed an EWG rating of 2 to promote happy, healthy skin.Our serum goes on smooth and it is incredibly lightweight, unlike other oily, greasy products on the market. For morning applications, allow two minutes for your skin to drink in the serum, then continue your makeup routine as normal but now with a plump, gorgeous glow! Use at night for rapid repair and optimal results.
When you are ready to switch up your skincare game and go for truly healthy products, it’s important to remember that the above ratings are not hard and fast laws; all skin is created differently. For this reason, it’s important to never test more than one new product at a time. Depending on your skin type, it may take 2-8 weeks for a problem ingredient to make itself known by showing blemishes, and you want to be able to find the culprit! Remember, no single product can cause a pimple overnight. Except for irritation or an allergic reaction, a single application won’t tell you if the product is right for your skin.
The next step in skin health is to understand the impact of what you buy.
Demand determines what manufacturers make – and what they don’t. When you buy a bottle of shampoo filled with toxic chemicals, you’re doing more than inviting dangerous ingredients into your home; you’re also saying, “I love how you’re making your shampoo! Please make more like it!” The same goes for natural products; when you choose to buy natural beauty products, you’re letting conventional brands know that you don’t like what they’re doing. The fewer people willing to purchase items with toxic ingredients, the less incentive for a business to make them. We have seen this a lot in the food industry, with people being more conscious of preservatives, pesticides, and artificial ingredients.
Do you know what’s in your skincare products? Why natural skincare doesn’t work:
As for effectiveness, natural and non-natural skincare are equals. This is because the actual ingredients in your skincare don’t decide the performance of the product. The molecular structure of skincare products is what makes them effective. Your body absorbs and uses different molecules in different ways.
Lotions: Lotions have high consistency and include water as one of their main ingredients. They have a low oil content and moisturize for a short period.
Creams: Creams have a higher oil content and are thicker than lotions. They’re generally formulated for the face and work well with other products. If you are already prone to dry skin, you should avoid creams with sulfates and alcohols that can make dry skin worse.
Moisturizers: Moisturizers are a mixture of oil and water-soluble components (emulsion) which restore the outermost layer of the skin to its natural condition.
Balms: Balms are plant oil-based ointments used to soothe the skin. They are thicker than lotions and creams; thus, they offer superior protection and deeply nourish irritated skin flare-ups.
“Most people who suffer from dry skin don’t realize that they have a mild form of eczema, which is caused by a simple disruption of their skin barrier from a lack of hydration and/or a decrease in their skin’s natural production of oils.”—Tiffany Libby, M.D., dermatologist and director of Mohs Micrographic and Dermatologic Surgery
Water-free formulas with Willow Kay
At Willow Kay we produce 100% water-free cosmetics, formulating products with more space for active ingredients which increases potency. Since water is an infinite resource, waterless cosmetics may also have environmental and sustainability benefits.
Willow Kay’s Skin Health Solutions are formulated to be waterless, boosting the efficacy of bioactive ingredients combined with the unique healing properties of cannabinoids, with CBG as the hero active ingredient. Formulated for all skin types to relieve itchiness, calm redness and irritation, provide barrier support for dry skin, and promote clear skin.
Why does Willow Kay formulate water-free?
If water is the first ingredient on the list, most likely over half of the product is water meaning you are not getting your money’s worth. Also, water evaporates quickly, taking your skin’s natural oils with it. This causes short-lived hydration, which is why a moisturizing agent, such as an oil, needs to be mixed with the product; to replace the natural oil and hydration it has stripped from you. Furthermore, products that contain water require preservatives to prevent mold, bacteria, and fungi. These preservatives may pose additional health risks. Hard pass. It also means that your product is dangerously close to being half water and half ingredients you don’t want or need (fillers, additives, and preservatives), which doesn’t leave much space for the good stuff.
What does bioactive mean?
The medical definition of bioactive is “having an effect upon a living organism, tissue, or cell; biologically active.” Antibiotics, enzymes, antioxidants, and vitamins are all bioactive substances. Outside the medical community, a bioactive substance is often defined more narrowly, limiting it to compounds derived from plants.
Are bioactive and organic ingredients the same thing?
Organic skin care manufacturers have tried to claim the term bioactive as their own, linking it so firmly with the term organic that it seems the two are the same. They certainly are not. An ingredient can be organic and not be bioactive, as an ingredient can be bioactive and not be organic. The two terms are not interchangeable.
Bioactive ingredients also need the right vehicle to get past the skin barrier, so unless optimized or aided by the right vector, natural and organic substances won’t be absorbed by the skin.
Also consider the matter of molecular size and weight; large particles can’t get down to the lower layers of skin to reach their target cells, leaving the bioactive ingredient to sit on top of the skin where it activates nothing.
Most bioactive compounds have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Some act as antioxidants while others stimulate defense mechanisms. These enhance the response to oxidative stress, preventing widespread damage and even influencing homeostasis.
Willow Kay ingredients are consciously selected in our formulas to serve a purpose. Here’s a list of our ingredients that contain bioactive compounds and serve as superfoods for your skin:
Kalahari Seed Oil
Black Seed Oil
Kiwi Seed Oil
As you can see, there are many facets to skin health worth considering and no single rating system will give you a one-size-fits-all solution. Using the resources provided here, as well as your own, start by researching products you already own; you may be surprised by what you find!
As always, we love to hear from you! Feel free to connect with us at: [email protected]!