Dr Rachel Says: What’s Up with Mineral Oils?

Hello there!

This week we have one more ingredient to keep your eye out for in your face and body products:

MINERAL OIL (look for paraffinum liquidum or petrolatum)

Ever heard anyone say that they couldn’t use oil on their skin because they have oily skin?? Well, this MAY be true- if you’re talking about synthetic oils, that is… But if we’re talking natural plant oils, there’s nothing better to help moisturise dry skin, heal blemished, irritated, redness-prone skin and balance dry skin.

What is it?
Mineral oil is derived from petroleum, (that alone puts me off!) Because of the nature of these oils, however, they are not well recognised or absorbed by the skin. This means that they sit on the surface, creating the illusion of soft, smooth skin, instead of sinking in to the deeper layers where they are much needed to deliver moisture. The result= DRY SKIN- sometimes the very problem you are using the product to treat. What’s more, this pore-clogging action actually inhibits the skin’s natural function of ridding itself of toxins and protecting you from infection. The result= OILY SKIN and spots.

NOTE: Mineral oil is often used at the base for foundation as well, so don’t forget to check the ingredients on your make-up as well as your moisturisers!)

So why is it used?
As usual, it is a very CHEAP ingredient (are we seeing a pattern??)

What are the risks?
Though mineral oil may have less obvious effects on your body than sodium lauryl sulphate, for instance, what it does is make your skin feel smooth on the surface (because it remains on the surface of your skin rather than being absorbed) whilst the underneath layers are becoming more and more dehydrated. Mineral oil, like parabens, has also been shown to be xeno-oestrogenic, meaning it mimics oestrogen’s action in the body, so best to be avoided.

What are some more natural alternatives to mineral oils?
Natural oils (think coconut, olive, almond..)
are from plants, and are similar in content to the skin’s own sebum and therefore are more easily recognised and absorbed by the skin. As a bonus, these kind of oils are naturally rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids, (delicious AND nutritious, your skin will lap them up!) They are easily absorbed and will not block pores or cause spots/acne. In fact, natural oils provide the raw materials to help the skin heal up old scars from spots and re-balance the skin’s moisture levels. As I explained earlier, using a moisturiser can actually help to balance the skin’s own sebum and may actually help regulate oily skin, which is over-producing sebum as a response to dehydration. There are also certain essential oils, such as geranium, and ylang ylang, which when included in products you’re using on your skin, can help control and restore the balance of oily skin.

NEXT TIME: The Organic food debate and Make Your Own skincare!!

xx Dr Rachel

Dr Rachel Says: No to SLS!

Hi folks! This is Dr Rachel again.

We’ve started a short series here to expose some of the most common nasties that manufacturers put into our beauty products. Last time we talked about parabens, and today we’ll take a closer look at its evil cousin sodium lauryl sulfate.

SODIUM LAURYL/LAURETH SULFATE (also listed as SLS or SLES)

What is it?
This lovely little ingredient is the base of most foaming body products we use, cleansers, shower gels, shampoos, baby products—it’s in everything! It is what makes your shampoo or body wash foam up so much and is de-greasing and cleansing.

What are the risks?
The reason SLS is so widely used is because it is a very cheap ingredient, but it is a very harsh cleansing agent which can be very irritating to skin and can severely dry it out, which is especially bad news for sensitive skin. Your skin produces oil (known as sebum) to act as a protective barrier against germs entering your body through your skin. Strong detergents like sodium lauryl sulphate strip away these protective oils leaving it dry and irritated and more open to infection. This can lead to dry, irritated skin and also acne and other skin issues.

Interestingly, detergents like SLS are so strong, especially in products made for your face, that your skin becomes very dehydrated and tries to compensate it by overproducing sebum to protect itself. Then, because your skin seems oily to you, you use even more cleanser and scrub away, and therein begins the vicious cycle. It’s a delicate balance, but usually by moisturising your skin with the right oils you can restore the skin’s natural balance, so you’ll actually clear up oily skin and blemishes for good!

What are more natural alternatives to SLS?
Many of the more natural companies use much milder foaming agents—look for lauryl glucoside, sodium lauroyl glucoside (I know they sound similar but they’re much gentler!) and ammonium lauryl sulphate or cocamidopropryl betaine. These are gentler, vegetable-based cleansers which still effectively clean the skin without interfering with the skin’s natural oil balance, leaving you with softer, smoother and blemish-free skin. It also means that you won’t need to slather on the moisturiser and that’s a money-saver in itself!

(Note: even some of the products which say they are natural, organic, dermatologically-tested or hypoallergenic may not be. The legislation for making such claims on cosmetic packaging is not very strict so be sure to read the ingredients label!)

That’s all for now. See you next time!

xx Dr Rachel

Dr Rachel Says: No to Parabens!

Meet Dr Rachel: As long as I’ve known Rachel Williams she has attracted sick people. And I don’t say that in a mean way. We’re attracted to her because we know she can fix us, and because she genuinely cares. She will give us natural syrups, pills and ointments and heal us from the inside, always with the promise of no-nasties. We love Rachel! I am so happy to have her share tips and trix here as my very own guest blogger. Having lived under her roof for 6 months and seen her radiant skin and glossy hair up close, I can vouch that this all-natural thing works! As our friends over at Rise Worldwide once famously said: “If only Gillian McKeith looked more like Rachel, we’d all be eating healthier!” So without further ado, here’s Dr Rachel! PS. Although Rachel has studied nutrition for years she is not an actual Medicinae Doctor as of yet, so don’t sue us or anything!

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When it comes to skincare and the “organic” craze, there are a lot of buzz-words thrown around and a lot of coverage in the news about things like chemicals being in our blood, lead in our lipstick and parabens being banned from baby products. It’s a confusing world out there so I’m going to try and simplify things a little bit and explain what exactly is IN our cosmetics for those of you who don’t know what a paraben is.

Whilst I will admit that most of the newspapers have used these kind of stories just to shock the public, some of the recently published studies do, unfortunately, have some truth to them. While more and more of us are now starting to think about what is actually in the food we eat every day, that may only be half of the picture. Ingredients from the lotions and potions we rub, scrub and spray onto our skin and scalp every day end up in our bloodstream as well (and some of them stay there a long time…). But never fear; there are some simple, natural alternatives that your skin and hair will LOVE that won’t cost a bomb.

During the next couple of weeks, I will introduce you to a few of the main chemical culprits to look out for in your everyday products, and give you their natural alternatives.

First off then: parabens.

PARABENS (listed as ethyl-, methyl-, propyl-, butyl- paraben)

What are they?
Parabens are chemical preservatives used to extend the shelf life of nearly every type of cosmetic product and prevent growth of bacteria in your products.

What are the risks?
Not only are parabens quite irritating to the skin, but with regular use they build up in the body and have also been shown to mimic oestrogen’s effect within the body so that the body begins to act as if it has a lot more oestrogen that it actually does. Think hormonal acne, period problems, infertility and an increased risk of breast cancer for women, and hormonal imbalance, prostate problems and increased risk of hormone-related cancers for men (man boobs, anyone?!).

What are more natural alternatives to Parabens?
As far as preservatives, most of the good natural skincare companies will use natural ingredients that have preservative properties such as essential oils (rosemary etc..), bee propolis and vitamin E to keep the lovely oils and ingredients from spoiling, and to guarantee a particular shelf life, proving that chemical preservatives are NOT a necessity.

Next time, I’ll explain a few other ingredients to watch out for, but if you’re interested, there are a couple of websites that I’ve found helpful:
Beauty Bible
Beauty Truth This is a good one. The website was put together by Rose-Marie Swift, a famous make-up artist, and her story is really interesting!

(Note: even some of the products which say they are natural, organic, dermatologically tested or hypoallergenic may not be. The legislation for making such claims on cosmetic packaging is not very strict, so be sure to read the ingredients label!)

xx Dr Rachel