You spray your favorite perfume as you get ready for the new day. You want to start off smelling great but you might not know that you could actually be harming yourself or others in your household with each spritz. Are you wondering how something that smells as wonderful as your perfume could be harmful? The answer to this question may be surprising.
Chemicals can cause several different types of health problems; most everyone knows this and we limit our exposure to chemicals as much as possible. What people dont seem to realize is that each time you spray yourself with a squirt of perfume, you are spraying chemicals directly on your body and into the air around you. After all, it takes chemicals to make perfumes.
These compounds are called fragrance chemicals and they vaporize when sprayed into the air or on your skin. As you and others around you breathe in these scents you are being exposed to chemicals that may be harmful.
Anywhere that perfumes are used the quality of the air is affected. These fragrance chemicals are not only found in perfumes and colognes, but also in scented candles, incense sticks, vaporizers and fragrance oils. When you use these fragrances inside your home the indoor air quality is greatly reduced.
Problems Caused by Perfumes
Do you have a lot of problems with allergies? Does your nose feel so stopped up all the time that taking sinus medication has became a regular routine? If your answer is yes, do you or someone in your home use perfume on a regular basis? If so, it is possible that this could be your main problem. An estimated 2% of the population in developed countries suffers with some form of fragrance allergy.
Being exposed to fragrances can cause many problems, including but not limited to the ones listed below.
Nose and throat irritation
Loss of coordination
Defects of the central nervous system
Of course, not everyone has these problems when exposed to perfumes. Neither does one person have all of these symptoms listed above, but you could be suffering with some of these problems and not know that it is being caused from a fragrance. Just as some people experience an allergic reaction to some foods, others are allergic to fragrances. Some ingredients that are found in these alluring aromas can even cause someone with asthma to suffer from an increased amount of asthma attacks. If you find that you are suffering with a lot of sinus problems see how many different scents you are exposed to each day.
If you are like most people you probably never thought that something as simple as a bottle of perfume or scented candle could cause so many serious problems. Your first thought would most likely be how could something that smells so nice cause you to be forgetful or even cause cancer.
Unfortunately, there is a danger and the more fragrant chemicals you are exposed to each day increase this danger. Just think about how many different perfumes the average person is exposed to on a daily basis. At work, restaurants, stores, school. Everywhere you go someone has on his or her favorite perfume and you are constantly breathing in all these different chemicals each day.
Information about Perfume Ingredients
All kinds of fragrances can be created with modern technology. If you can name it, you can smell it. Perfumed oils to extravagant designer perfumes are being developed on a regular basis.
Everything from cheap perfumes to expensive name brands can be purchased easily and most people never think twice about what they are made from.
Currently there are upwards of 800 different fragrance chemicals and oils used in perfumes and scented candles.
Unfortunately, manufacturers in many countries are not required to state exactly what ingredients make up a certain fragrance; they are considered a trade secret.
Added to this, over half of the ingredients used in perfumes have never been tested to see how toxic they are to humans. Therefore, few studies have been done to see how they affect the average persons health, especially when exposed to the chemicals for a long period of time. However, when we consider how some scented candles contain carbon monoxide, acetone, lead or benzene its not difficult to imagine how mixing a bunch of different chemicals together could affect our health.
Perfumes can have as little as one ingredient to hundreds of fragrant ingredients in any one brand.
However, out of the ingredients that have been tested at least a fourth of the fragrance chemicals have been found to contain toxic substances. It is not just man made fragrances that have adverse side effects on people but natural ingredients have also been found to be harmful.
Below is a list of natural fragrances that research has proven to be harmful. Please be aware if these are in your perfume or cologne.
If you already have sensitive skin, asthma, or any other respiratory problem perfumes will affect you even more than the average healthy person. However, a healthy person can begin to experience hypersensitivity to perfumes over a period of time. One of the most obvious signs of having a reaction to a particular fragrance is developing a rash. If you do notice a rash after using a product discontinue immediately, no matter how slight it may be.
Sometimes a chemical used to create a specific scent may have a very unpleasant smell to it. In these cases another fragrance is normally used to cover that smell up, but covering the smell does not eliminate it. These odors can still be harmful to people who breathe them, even though you can not smell the harmful odor.
Chemicals enter your body through breathing or through your skin. Each time you breathe in the scent of perfume you run the risk of exposing yourself to harmful fragrances. Each time you apply perfume to your skin it penetrates the skin and soaks into the bodys tissues. Over time this can even begin to affect internal organs.
Womens perfumes are not the only ones that contain harmful chemicals; mens cologne also poses the same problem.
In the case of scented candles, fragrance oils and incense sticks, these pose a particular danger when lit. The perfume fragrance is then released by a chemical reaction with the burning wick to release these chemicals into the air, which we then take into our lungs.
This can produce headaches, sickness, cause breathing difficulties and irritate the ear, nose and throat.
Now, here is the good news. Ever since research began showing that fragrances can be harmful, changes have been made to make perfumes safer to use. In some countries manufacturers are obliged to detail the fragrance ingredients so the end user can make informed choices. You can still enjoy wearing your favorite perfume without worry; all you need to do is follow a few simple guidelines.
For instance, check the ingredients to make sure they do not contain any natural fragrances that are harmful such as the ones listed above.
If you develop a rash or notice that you only have sinus problems when you wear a particular fragrance try a different one, not all fragrances will affect you. Thanks to research and technology you can continue starting your day off with that dash of perfume you enjoy so much.
About the Author:
Simon Petch is a successful writer and Internet Publisher providing valuable tips and advice on all aspects of beauty care to online purchasers of cosmetics and perfume. His numerous articles offer valuable insight and interesting product reviews.
Recent studies have definitively established that UVA is a cause of skin ageing, and while sunscreens are an important part of any skin cancer prevention strategy, your sunblock may not prevent skin ageing because they are primarily designed to prevent sunburn.
The earth is continually being showered with solar radiation, the electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun. This energy is responsible for sustaining life on our planet and, yet, like many other good things, too much can be harmful. Infrared (IR) visible (VIS) and Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR) are among the total spectrum of radiation that the sun emits: these three command most of our attention.
UVR is of most relevance when looking at sunscreen formulations. UVR fraction covers 200nm to 400nm. UVR is in turn, divided into UVC (200nm to 290nm), UVB (290nm to 320nm) and UVA (320nm to 400nm). UVC is very toxic. It is lethal to many microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeasts and protozoa, as well as to most plant life and in addition is carcinogenic to humans. Fortunately, virtually all UVC is filtered out by the ozone layer.
Most UVB is also filtered out. It makes up approximately 1% of the UVR that reaches the earth's surface. However, despite its relatively low presence, UVB is associated with much of the damage caused to humans by sun exposure. UVB has been credited as being the sole cause of sunburn and various skin cancers. It is 100 times more efficient in producing erythema than UVA.
Although UVA is much more abundant, it is much less energetic than UVB and was originally thought to be biologically less significant. However, recent studies have definitively established that the longer UVA is a causative factor in photoageing. It is also the portion of the UVR spectrum most often associated with photosensitivity resulting from drugs or disease. UVA also penetrates the skin to a greater depth than does UVB.
UVA is further divided into UVA II & I (340-400 nm) (320-340 nm) - referred to as long and short UVA respectively. The relatively large amount of UVA and its ability to penetrate deeply into the skin (dermal layer) accounts for its greater significance when establishing cause of skin ageing.
- Chemical sunscreens absorb UVR. Example: octyl-methoxycinnamate
- Physical sunscreens reflect UVR. Example: Titanium dioxide or Zinc oxide.
Environmental factors naturally play a role in development of photosensitivity, also, clouds and fog scatter longer wavelengths more efficiently than shorter wavelengths. Consequently, although the IR and VIS can be blocked, the UVR - especially the UVB fraction - still passes through. That is why it is still possible to get sunburnt on an overcast day. In fact, UVB radiation values have experienced an average annual increase of more than 6% since the early 1980's.
Sunscreens are an important part of any skin cancer and skin ageing prevention strategy, because they are designed to keep UVR from reaching important structures within the skin, causing damage to the tissues. As knowledge of photobiology grows, it is increasingly evident that marketed sunscreens should block both UVA and UVB. Furthermore, they should block as much of the UVA spectrum as possible. Thus, a formulation will furnish maximum meaningful protection if, in addition to a high SPF, it provides broad-spectrum coverage. This will necessitate the use of combinations of active ingredients with overlapping or complementary actives like antioxidants, because the total amounts of an individual organic sunscreen that can be used may be limited in the future.
To prevent the formation of pigmentation, a sunblock should contain tyrosinase inhibitors like:
- Liquorice extract,
- Azelaic acid
- Vit C, just to name a few
What should a sun protection product be able to do?
- Offer broad-specturm protection from sun burn.
- Contain antioxidant ingredients.
- Offer protection to the skin barrier defence system.
- Have an anti-ageing protection profile.
Prevention of an inflammatory effect, such as erythema, does not necessarily imply inhibition of other photo induced skin damage.
What is the difference?
A question I am often asked is, "How do I know what sort of sunscreen I have? What is the difference?"
Understanding the difference between a physical, chemical, organic or particulate block - these are the words one reads and people often do not understand. In chemistry jargon, it is possible to have several words meaning the same thing. Clarification is important.
Chemical / Organic
Chemical sunscreens absorb UVR
Both mean the same, although the name implies differences. We in the beauty industry usually use the word chemical, and recognise names like octyl-methoxy cinnamate and other almost unpronounceable names.
Physical / Particulate:
Physical sunscreens reflect UVR
Both mean the same: We would usually use the word physical, and would recognise the name titanium dioxide as a physical block.
There are potential difficulties associated with the long-term use of chemical/organic sunscreens, such as allergy and toxicity. Chemical sunscreen actives have been the main stay of photo-protection for decades, mostly used in beach products. Today, however, virtually all types of topical products, from moisturisers to shampoos include chemical sunscreens.
Increased daily exposure to these chemicals will most likely result in the incidence of adverse reactions. The incorporation of sunscreens into daily-use products is beginning to push the existing soluble (chemical) sunscreen to their limit.
Physical/particulate sunscreens offer a way to formulate high SPF products without the addition of extra chemical sunscreens and are fast becoming the first choice. Most domestic retail sunscreens are a combination of chemical and physical. The physical sunscreens of old were white, unsightly, and not cosmetically acceptable for daily protection. With the newer micro-fine particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, women can now enjoy maximum protection, less sensitivity problems and a cosmetically acceptable product.
Is this enough to prevent cell damage?
Epidermal cell damage from sun:
A sun-care product's aim is to prevent erythema, a reaction to acute UVR exposure.
Sun protection products rate efficacy according to SPF, based on the individual minimal sun exposure. (The individual's burn time). The measurement of a minimal dose of Ultra Violet Radiation is a MED. 1 MED. equals the minimal sun exposure (burn time) that will cause redness.
Therefore, if your burn-time is 3 minutes, your protection time with an SPF 15 is three x 15 = 45minutes.
Antioxidants: Oxidative stress, which plays an important part in photoageing and skin cancer, will be decreased by antioxidants. These substances significantly decrease free-radical flux in the skin.
These are just a few of the more commonly known antioxidants found in sun care products available from the beauty therapy industry.
- Tocopherol sorbate
- Ascorbic Acid
- Green Tea Extract
- Oat Extract
- Rosemary Extract
- Retinyl Palmitate polypeptide
- Mulberry Leaf Extract
- Yeast extract
Tyrosinase Inhibitors and Melanin Modifiers: Slow down the unwanted patches of pigmentation that occurs with UVR exposure.
- Green Tea extract
- Mulberry Leaf Extract
- Vit C2
- Paper Mulberry
- Azelaic Acid and Glucosamine
What cellular damage occurs with UV Radiation?
It has been inconclusively proven that the skin barrier defence system cells, like the Langerhans cells (LCs) and Keratinocytes (KCs), are both affected by UV Radiation.
Langerhans cells are especially sensitive to UVB, starting at O.5MED. Causing a decrease in both the total numbers of LCs and their dendrite length, will result in a reduction in the skin barrier defence system.
Keratinocytes will develop, with long-term exposure, an eventual slow-down in cell turnover and a thinning epidermis will cause a decrease in cutaneous barrier toward exo-antigens.
UVB induces free radical formation and DNA damage, the result being the formation of sunburn cells (SBCs) starting at doses below 1 MED.
UVA II & I have the greatest penetration power, and have been linked to the damage of the collagen & elastin support fibres of the dermis. (Skin ageing)
There are a number of ways that the skin can be protected from UVR. Filters and screens that originally found use only in products specifically made for sunburn protection, are now included in daily-use cosmetics and the new generation anti-ageing sun protection products to prevent photoageing.
What should a sun protection product be able to do?
- Offer broadspectrum protection from sun burn
- Contain antioxidant ingredients
- Offer protection to the skin barrier defence system
- Have an anti-ageing protection profile
Beauty therapy daily use cosmetics have all of these protection systems, and are far superior than the older formulated sunblock of the past.
They contain sun-protection profiles, which address all dangers of sun exposure.
Sun protection is currently formulated, evaluated and regulated, in retail sun care products as well as in beauty therapy sun protection cosmetics, according to the ability of sunscreens to inhibit a single, acute manifestation of UV exposure. Nevertheless, prevention of an inflammatory effect, such as erythema, does not necessarily imply inhibition of other photo induced skin damage.
The discrepancy between sunscreen effectiveness against erythema and skin barrier defence protection has lead researchers to re-examine sunprotection strategies.
Research is well advanced in labs around the world, that formulate and supply beauty therapy products to our industry. They have been searching for substances that directly protect & support epidermal, and dermal cells - this is called biochemical protection. Instead of just using high SPF/UVR screening materials that protect against erythema, they have included antioxidizing, cell repair/protection, hydration & lipid support and DNA repair agents to reduce cell damage to the product.
Several of the substances below also have an Iipid (oil) content that is compatible to the bilayers of the SC. Thus slowing TEWL, therefore raising the hydration of the epidermis.
- Vit C2
- Milk Cytokines
- Ostar B-Glucan
- Corn Oil Unsaponifiables
Saturation & hydration of the tissue is necessary for full enzyme activity, therefore epidermal hydration is paramount.
Substances that achieve this result, include:
- Hyaluronic acid (HA)
- Sodium Hyaluronate
- Vit C2
Beauty Therapy sun protection products are developed to offer balanced UVR filter use in combination with high antioxidant profiles. The ability to protect the skin's natural immune and UV protection systems, slow and assist in the repair of cellular damage caused by UV Radiation.
Cellular Repair / Protection Agents / Anti Cellular Blebbing:
A dead cell within an organ is likely to liberate metabolites and debris that might act as chemo-attractants for macrophages. These scavengers are known to engulf and destroy foreign substances by producing hydrogen peroxide, nitric oxide or other activated oxygen species. Since these reactive species are not specifically targeted to the debris, they will react with and damage other molecules in the area once produced and liberated.
If we accept the definition of ageing as the accumulation of un-repaired or unfaithfully repaired damage in molecules belonging to cells - alternatively, to the extra cellular matrix, we can conclude that cell death increases the rate of ageing of an organ, such as the skin.
Hydrating and Emollient Capabilities:
In addition, the hydration of the dermis is critical for fibroblast formation, which gives us collagen and elastin. These hydrophilic proteins are supported by glycosaminoglycans (GAGS) (Dermal Reserve) 70% of which is hyaluronic acid (HA). The reduction or alteration of HA has been proven in elderly individuals. However, UV exposure, negative work/play lifestyles and actinic damaged skins are also showing a decrease in the levels of glycosaminoglycans. Proving that variation of the levels of hyaluronic acid in the dermis could account for some of the most striking alteration of the aged or sun damaged skins. This would also include deceased turgidity, less support for micro vessels; wrinkles, altered elasticity and thinning skin density.
- Consumers who overuse UVR filters to prevent sunburn are tempted to expose themselves to UVR radiation for longer.
- Given the information that the cell-protection capability of UV filters is lower than their anti-burn action, consumers thus risk damaging their skin's immune defence system and increasing their risk of developing cutaneous cancers.
- Risk of developing sensitisation and photo-sensitisation also comes from over use.
- Using an unnecessarily high SPF than is required may also develop sensitisation and photo-sensitisation.
- Over use of UVR, filters may block Vit D synthesis.
- Concerns are also raised that by the overuse of UV filters, the skin's natural immune & UV defence system becomes inactive or inefficient.
About the Author:
Florence Barrett-Hill - CIDESCO, ITEC Diplomas. Independent Technical Educator & author to the Professional Aesthetics Industry
Florence Barrett-Hill is an internationally acclaimed dermal science educator, practitioner, researcher and author with a vast experience covering all aspects of professional aesthetic therapy and paramedical skin care. Florence holds over a dozen diplomas and international qualifications covering every aspect of modern skin treatment therapy, and is well respected by her industry peers for her 30+ years of knowledge she loves to share.
Florence is the programme director of Pastiche Resources, an Internationally recognised postgraduate beauty industry education provider.
Collagen has been a component of skin care formulations for many years, and over this time there have been numerous claims of its efficiency to directly assist in the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles by supplementing the skins own collagen and assist in the development of new collagen.
In years past, we believed the marketing hype that led us to trust that topically applied collagen had the ability to do this, however these days we are now more aware of the real facts behind this myth.
Imagine my surprise when at an international professional beauty expo, I came across a company that was promoting a product that contained bovine collagen as a key ingredient to stimulate new human collagen growth in the dermis.
After listening to the sales pitch of one of the staff on the stand, (who was adamant that the bovine collagen in the formulation helped stimulate new collagen growth via being absorbed through the epidermis) and looking at the rest of the ingredients, it became clear that it was the other ingredients that played the stimulating role in collagen production.
So why was the collagen being peddled as the "wonder ingredient"?
It would seem that there are people who still do not understand why topically applied collagen can not play any role in a formulation other than providing substance to the cream or gel it is used in.
What about collagen injections?
This is where some folks get a little confused about what introduced (not synthesised by the body) collagen can and can not do.
We know collagen in the body is the primary connective tissue protein and is present in skin and cartilage. Its main physiological functions are to provide structural integrity and tensile strength for connective tissue.
It is now well known that injecting forms of collagen below the epidermis does indeed provide temporary supplementation of the existing collagen before being slowly broken down into amino acids and then absorbed by the body, however this introduced collagen is simply a dermal filler. It does nothing to stimulate the new growth of collagen. Any topical application of collagen will have even less of a role because of a number of its biological and physical properties. Let's look at the types of collagen found in formualtions, and why it can not stimulate collagen synthesis.
Collagen in formulations
The processed collagens used in cosmetic formulations, shampoos and conditioners are primarily used in for their substantive plumping and humectant (moisturising) properties. Understandably they are water-soluble.
The most common forms of collagen in cosmetic formulations are Collagen hydrolysate (Bovine) and Protein Hydrolysate. (Marine) There are other forms derived from wheat and seaweed that are less common, but for the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the animal derived collagens.
The term hydrolysate comes from the process of Hydrolysation and refers to enzymatically or chemically processed collagen, which is mainly derived from bovine, ox and pigskin and bone, or in the case of marine collagen, fish scales and bone.
Hydrolysed collagen consists of water-soluble peptides of various molecular weights. These peptides are rich in the amino acids found in collagen, including glycine, L-proline and L-hydroxyproline.
Nutritional supplements containing hydrolysed collagen are marketed for bone and joint health purposes. Hydrolysed collagen and gelatin hydrolysates are similarly used. It is these peptides and amino acids that are the basis of enthusiastic claims.
How is it supossed to work?
The claims that Hydrolysed collagen contributes to the synthesis of new collagen is based on the amino acids that it contains; however L-hydroxyproline is not a genetic amino acid. It is formed in collagen post-translationaly. (After formation) Consequently, L-hydroxyproline in hydrolysed collagen would not contribute to collagen synthesis. Further, the body synthesizes both glycine and L-proline, so it is unclear how any glycine or L-proline in hydrolysed collagen would make any significant contribution to further collagen synthesis.
There is speculation however, that some oligopeptides that may be present in hydrolysed collagen may have a stimulatory effect on collagen synthesis, but for this to occur, they must be able to reach the fibroblast. (the cell that initiates collagen production)
Health supplements that aid joint and cartlidge ailments use collagens that are injested with the peptides delivery system to the site of damage via the bloodstream. Similarly, any nutrients delivered to the fibroblast of the dermis must also be via the microcirculation. In this case it is to the papillary layer.
This is where the problem of the topically applied collagens molecular size and how it circumvents the lipid bi-layers of the epidermis for transdermal absorption in to the microcirculation presents itself.
Size, compatability & quantity
Typically, high quality hydrolysed collagen has a molecular size of around 5,000 9,000 Daltons, (A Dalton is a measure of atomic weight of molecules) whereas a size below 2,000 Daltons is required to penetrate the lipid bi-layers of the epidermis. (Some forms of collagen have molecular sizes up to 300, 000 Daltons!) Further, the introduced collagen is a water-soluble (hydrophilic) protein, and the lipid bi-layers are the epidermis's oil (hydrophobic) barrier.
The laws of physics demonstrate that water based substances will not penetrate this lipid barrier easily.
Clearly, unless some form of penetration enhancement is utilised, the collagen has little chance of completing its transdermal journey. Further, the sheer quantity of collagen required to make a noticeable contribution over the any given period of application is only practically delivered by volume injection.
Note that injected collagen has not been shown to offer any stimulating activity for the generation of new collagen in the dermis, so there is really no point in persuing technologies that could deliver the peptides of topically applied collagen to the lower levels of the epidermis when there are so many other quality ingredients such as the various forms of vitamins A and C that have been proven to better assist in the stimulation and formation of collagen.
Contemporary therapists are more aware of the limitations of new products and treatments than ever before due to better education. Perhaps the marketing departments of some skin care companies should consider this before making performance claims that we consider outdated and consequently embarrassing.
About the author:
Florence Barrett-Hill - CIDESCO, ITEC Diplomas. Independent Technical Educator & author to the Professional Aesthetics Industry
Florence Barrett-Hill is an internationally acclaimed dermal science educator, practitioner, researcher and author with a vast experience covering all aspects of professional aesthetic therapy and paramedical skin care. Florence holds over a dozen diplomas and international qualifications covering every aspect of modern skin treatment therapy, and is well respected by her industry peers for her 30+ years of knowledge she loves to share. Florence is the programme director of Pastiche Resources, an Internationally recognised postgraduate beauty industry education provider.