Sterility and resistance to microbial contamination are among the key requirements to all modern beauty products. Most of cosmetic compositions (not only creams, but also shampoos, lotions, deodorants and even toothpastes) are all perfect nutritive media favourable not only for skin cells, but also for microbial growth. And, as long as bacteria and fungus spores are always present in the air, special agents called bacteriostats, or preservatives, should be incorporated in beauty products to ensure their stability. The problem is that preservatives used for bacteria elimination should definitely be toxic substances and, hence, they can produce toxic effects on skin cells as well. Moreover, many preservatives are known to significantly retard skin regeneration processes. And, while young growing organisms are somehow capable of overcoming this impact, it can be a serious problem for those who have passed the 35 year mark, as this can result in progressive skin ageing. Therefore, there is a good reason to say that preservatives which are indispensable cosmetic components are at the same time the main skin enemies.
Parabens (synthetic esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid) are the most popular preservatives which are considered to have the lowest impact on skin. Despite their widespread use in cosmetic formulations, many health care professionals are seriously concerned about the safety of these preservatives, including potential remote effects of their use. For example, according to the results of the latest scientific research, methylparaben commonly used as a bacteriostatic agent (which has the lowest toxicity of all the parabens) in concentration of 0.1% has shown to almost completely hinder epidermal cells division (i.e. division of cells in the skin outermost/protective layer).
Analysis for parabens in urine of the general U.S. population was conducted which detected parabens in more than 70% of urine samples; trace amounts of parabens were also found in human tumour tissues. This means that the mentioned bacteriostatic agents are not degraded completely in human body and can be accumulated in tissues when used on a regular basis as part of cosmetic formulations. According to a number of researchers, parabens can affect endocrine system. It should be taken into account that in pregnant women parabens can result in impaired production of testosterone during fetal development of male babies.
Another bad news with regard to preservatives and antimicrobial agents such as triclosan is that these substances can deeply interfere with bacterial equilibrium typical for human skin, the microbiome, which is involved in defense response of the human body. Therefore, beauty products with high amounts of parabens and other bacteriostatic agents should be avoided.
Cleaning agents, more accurately, such surfactants as lauryl sulfates and Tweens, cause great harm to skin as well. These substances degrease the skin and when used often can cause skin dryness and cracking. Many of us have experienced such cosmetic problems as skin dryness, early lines and wrinkles, dull and dry hair, and dandruff which won’t go away.