Are cosmetics really making your skin better?

Cosmetics are the products which are widely used by the people all over the world to enhance their aesthetics. Also known as make-up products, these products are applied onto the skin to either cleanse, or to improve the physical appearance. The origin of cosmetics use roots back to about 10,000 BC when the Egyptian people used products like scented oils and ointments for skin care. Cosmetic products could have both natural and synthetic origin of synthesis. The range of cosmetics include a variety of products including  skin care creams, moisturizers, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, foundations, lipsticks, nail paints and the list is endless.

What is the need of skin care products or cosmetics?

In addition to just being an aesthetic symbol, our skin plays some of the vital functions which are crucial for our survival. One of the major roles of skin is of a bodyguard which protects our body from injuries, harsh environments, pressure, harmful chemicals and unfavourable or dangerous microorganisms called pathogens.

The skin is the sensing organ of touch thus; it helps us to feel the physical presence (by touch) of an entity and also to identify potential threats to our body. It maintains body’s balance called homeostasis by regulating variations in temperature, by removing waste products and by preventing the loss of important chemicals or fluids from the body through perspiration. It also synthesizes Vitamin D, which is crucial component for the absorption of calcium.

Thus, it is of significant importance that our skin stays healthy and that we take necessary steps to nourish and care for it. Cosmetics seem to help a person in keeping the skin healthy and beautiful. In today’s fast paced world, the increased stress, pollution, environmental changes and rough lifestyle has made the usage of cosmetic products has become more common to get temporary beautiful and attractive look 24/7.

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Safety concern of Cosmetic Products

Earlier, the whole range of cosmetics was believed to be safe to be used as an aesthetic enhancer but with increased knowledge and understanding, it has now become clear that we should not use these products by keeping our eyes blindfolded.  It was underestimated that the ingredients in cosmetics don’t harm us, even if any of the chemical is toxic otherwise, as these ingredients are not absorbed by the body or even if they are absorbed, their concentration is too low to possess any significant toxic effect. But, some recent reports suggest that the presence of some harmful chemicals, commonly called toxins, even in very minute concentrations, can be a matter of significant concern.

According to the survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Washington D.C., a normal person generally uses on average 9 cosmetic products in a day. Such a frequent exposure to the cosmetic products raises questions against the safety of these products. The concern comes to the boil due to a lack of any strict regulation for these products.

Although good quality cosmetic products can enhance a person’s appearance temporarily or permanently but presence of chemicals, which are suspected to possess toxic effects, should be avoided as they can cause deleterious effects to the skin or to the overall health of the body. It is important that a person is aware of what he/she is using and what role does it going to play in his body. As suggested by EWG, people should avoid cosmetics which contain toxins like triclosan and triclocarban (common in soaps); retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid, oxybenzone and retinol (common in moisturizers or lip care cosmetics), or formaldehyde, formalin, Toulene and Dibutyl pthalate (common in nail paints).

So, be aware and take care of your skin. 

References:

  1. Tortora GJ. and Grabowski SR. (1993) Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. Harper Collins College Publishers.
  2. Environment Working Group, USA. Skindeep database. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
  3. S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/
  4. S K Chaudhri, and N K Jain. History of cosmetics. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutics - July-September 2009.
  5. Zoe Diana Draelos. Cosmetics and skin care products-a historical perspective. DRAELOS. Volume 18. Number 4. October 2000.

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