'Chemical free skincare' – Beware!


mad scientist

If you believe in 'chemical free skincare', then it's time to cut the fertilised grass. It's a confusing collision of conflicting information that we, as skincare consumers are faced with when reading marketing claims and then, having to decide on what's best for our skin.

Companies put forward their strongest USPs (unique selling points) designed to entice us to buy their products. These days it's more common for them to highlight what they don't have then what they do, and if they don't advertise these claims we, as consumers more often than not will ask, why not? Or we may simply bypass the product entirely! We have been trained to think this way, in my opinion it's not the most subjective way to decide when making a purchase for you and your skin requirements. Sure, don't compromise on your ethics but make an informed decision, ask questions, don't follow blindly or make assumptions if you don’t have all the facts right! I have seen this happen numerous times and many companies have suffered as a consequence.

Negative claims often arise from misguided information. As a therapist this is frustrating, when products that I have been using on my clients skin successfully and producing excellent results are tarnished, because of a new claim hyped by one company, then jumped on by the media. Lanolin and Parabens have been two key ingredients, companies and consumers alike, avoid like the plague because there has been such a stigma for association and yet there are powerful benefits both of these provide in the right form and percentage.

Parabens are bad right! But did you know that we eat these in natural foods all the time? So when I start seeing claims from companies saying they offer chemical free products, this drives me up the bonker tree.

What does 'chemical free' actually mean? And is it possible to be free of chemicals in our skincare!

Well... I suppose when we picture chemicals we think of a lab with Bunsen burners heating up beakers filled with radiant blue, red and yellow liquids bubbling away, then we might think that adding these substances together will provide an eruptive reaction with a mad scientist evilly chuckling away (a good friend of mine mimics this to the T). Well I'm no scientist but like many people I studied chemistry during science lessons, there was this big chart on the back of the wall labeled: The Periodic Table showing the chemical elements. H for hydrogen, O for oxygen, two parts hydrogen plus one part oxygen gives water. Water is a chemical and is often the first ingredient listed on products and is also essential for life on Earth. So the answer is no, it is not possible to be totally chemical free. But what I believe skin care companies are trying to say with such claims is that they don't contain harsh chemicals, such as SLS Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is classed as an ionic surfactant, in laymen’s terms substances generally used for cleansing such as detergents that can also be irritating. For skincare, non-ionic is widely considered better as they are not irritating to the skin.

So next time you hear a new claim, listen and do your own research, find out more and bring it to the discussion table.

Best Wishes, Felicity