Argan Oil

What is Argan Oil?

Argan oil is a natural plant-based oil derived from the argan nut in Morocco. It has been used by locals for generations to treat skin and hair, heal rashes, and for its nutritional benefits. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, which contains tocopherols that help promote healthy hair and skin. Vitamin E also promotes the growth of healthy cell production and for this reason argan oil can be found in many hair, skincare, and anti-ageing products. In addition, argan oil is rich in vitamin A. The product can also be found its pure form and only 1-2 drops is enough when used this way. Argan oil can only prevent future wrinkles, and cannot remove wrinkles or signs of ageing that are currently showing on the skin.


Argan oil helps moisturise and rejuvenate the skin. It is rich in tocopherols—antioxidants that promote healthy skin and hair. Argan oil also contains squalenes, phenolic acid, carotenes and phenols that also make the oil valuable to cosmetic manufacturers and skincare experts. The fatty acids in argan oil are similar in proportion to that of sesame and peanut oils. It can also exfoliate lips and be used as a scrub. In beauty products, argan oil is frequently combined with other ingredients to make it an effective toner. It is also used to condition hair and moisturise hair when dry.

Because argan oil naturally moisturises, it also works as an effective heel and cuticle softener and the vitamin E in the oil encourages healthy nail growth. The oil also helps improve the appearance of hair by helping diminish split ends. People with acne scars or other spots can use argan oil to reduce the appearance of these scars. The oil can be used safely around the eyes. It should feel smooth and at no point should it feel sticky or slimy during application. Argan oil should also absorb quickly into the skin. When in pure form, argan oil should have some sediment at the bottom and appear cloudy. It should not be absolutely clear. Argan oil can also be used for cooking and can be taken in therapeutic dosages to help treat metabolic issues.

Side Effects

When used as indicated and in pure form there are no serious reported side effects with argan oil. Impure argan oil can cause side effects. Those with sensitive skin should perform a skin test to gage whether or not their skin will react negatively to argan oil. Despite its safety when used on various skin types, argan oil can cause allergic reactions. Should this happen, discontinue use of the oil at once.

Argan oil should not be purchased form a clear or plastic bottle because it can cause the oil to spoil faster. It should be stored in aluminium or stainless steel containers, and they should be dark in colour. Many reputable brands store argan oil in cobalt blue or amber containers to increase the oil’s shelf life. To decrease risk of side effects, always follow directions on the container.


Learning about Ceramides: General Overview

Ceramides is the name given to a series of substances that belong to the family of waxy lipid molecules. Technically speaking, a ceramide is composed of fatty acids and sphingosine, which is an amino carbon alcohol.

It is a natural product that can be found in most mammals and in or bodies as well. Available in high concentrations within the cell membrane of cells, ceramides are responsible for creating some of the most important lipids in our bodies.

Used in a wide variety of skin care and beauty products, this substance is vital when it comes to providing both moisturising as well as smoothening effects on the human body and hair.

History & Chemical Properties

But how does this chemical relate to the creation of cosmetic products? To begin with, ceramides is the key component found in the epidermis of the human skin. Together with other tissues, it is responsible for creating a protective skin coating that prevents dehydration and loss of liquid. This is the reason why, the younger the age, the larger amounts of natural ceramides that can be found in the human skin.

Unfortunately, scientific research would soon conclude that there is a significant loss of natural ceramides with the passing of years. Consequently, the depletion of this substance soon translates into sagging skin and loss of skin tone.

It was not until the mid 20th century that this substance found its way into the cosmetic market. Produced synthetically in many labs around the world it is a common ingredient in many skin care products.

FDA Approved or Not?

The matter of ceramides being approved by the FDA was of major concern for many years. Since it falls under the category of phytols, it has now been approved. However, this should not mean that its use is 100% risk free for humans.

Where can we find Ceramides?

As was mentioned before, ceramides can be found in a vast array of beauty products, such as shampoos, skin lotions sunscreens, hair conditioners and soaps. In addition, many pharmaceutical labs use it to increase the moisturising effect in some types of topical skin medication.

The Pros

Advertised as the ultimate anti-ageing miracle for multiple uses, ceramides may be helpful as a natural emollient added to all types of beauty products. Used to treat damaged hair and skin, it is also known for its generation of smoother and softer skin.

Since it is a lipid after all, it will also contribute to moisturise both skin and hair, leaving the latter looking glossier than before.

The Cons

Beauty in this case will not come free of charge, though. Even when phytoceramides can be said to be generally safe and few side effects have been reported, users should pay attention to the source of the ceramides they are consuming.

For example, if an individual were allergic to wheat, using a product whose ceramide content is of wheat origin would mean facing the same allergic reactions generated when consuming wheat. Consequently, checking with a health specialist is the best choice in all cases.


 The Truth about Using Panthenol

Panthenol, which is really a pro vitamin of B5, is a water-soluble ingredient commonly used in cosmetics mainly because of its ability to provide moisturising and smoothing properties, especially on human hair and skin.

This substance, whose full name is Panthetonol, is the alcohol analog of panthotenic acid or Vitamin B5. It is soluble in water and slightly soluble in glycerin. This highly soluble quality is what accounts for its high popularity in the world of cosmetic production.


As a natural ingredient, Panthenol was first found in plants in the form of a clear substance of rare viscosity. However, it can also be found in a powdery presentation in the form of salts.

Available in nature in the form of two opposing presentations –known as enantiomers – both of which possess moisturising properties, Panthenol is a popular moisturising agent that is used to bind other ingredients in products concerning personal hygiene or beauty.

FDA Approval

Pantothenic acid has been regarded safe by the FDA for most uses. However, several warnings have been raised concerning certain issues, such as the risks of using products containing Panthenol for over long periods of time.

Chemical Properties Commonly found in Panthenol

Panthenol in its chemical structure has the ability to attract moisture. In addition, Panthenol binds to water molecule quite effectively, thus making it the ideal carrier for other substances as well.

Since it is an effective skin penetrator, it is sometimes used for ointment mixtures where its efficacy as a carrier can be really demonstrated. According to some independent studies, Panthenol has the ability to reduce skin irritation and inflammation. This is why it can be found in certain skincare products as well. Finally, it has the quality of providing extra shine and gloss to human skin and hair.

Types of Products Containing Panthenol

There is a vast array of products that contain Panthenol available on the cosmetic market these days. Chances are that if one were to take a look at the labels of all cosmetic products lying around our house, we would most surely find Panthenol written in them.

Most common products containing Panthetonol include shampoos and hair conditioners, body lotions and creams, ointments and treatment lotions and finally, some hairsprays, too.

Panthenol and its Benefits

One of the main reasons so many beauty companies have turned to this substance is its efficiency in providing moisturising properties in very commonly used products. Apart from attracting moisture and binding water molecules, this ingredient is effective for treating sunburns, reducing skin irritation and inflammation and finally, to treat certain symptoms, such as skin irritation and occasional rashes.

What about the Side Effects? 

Unfortunately, even when we all like glossy hair, there are certain warnings that must be taken into account before using Panthenol that openly. First off, according to recent research, permanent and continuous use of products containing high quantities of Panthenol may ironically, turn out to be detrimental to skin health. For example, cases of skin rash and irritation have been reported among massive users.


Triethanolamine: Is it Safe to Use?

Chemically classified as an amine, Triethanolamine – aka TEA –  is produced when an ethylene oxide reacts with ammonia. Even when these two latter substances are widely known for their high levels of toxicity, the resulting substance –Triethanolamine- is useful as a buffering agent that is in charge of carrying either fragrance, or acting as a surfactant, among several other users attached to this ingredient.

These days it is widely used in the cosmetic industry, where it is highly cherished for its unique Ph balancing properties that come in handy to develop certain types of shampoos or hair conditioning products.


As a topical treatment, a form of this substance known as Triethanolamine Salicylate was used for treating arthritis, muscle pain or sprains. It was because of its efficiency that the substance began to be used for other purposes as well. Besides its well-known use in the cosmetic industry, Triethanolamine has been used for cement in construction and in the production of other goods, as well.

FDA Approval

This ingredient has been approved by the FDA as a food additive that is sometimes used in packaging. Similarly it has been CIR approved, but with limits that involve levels of concentration. This means that whereas the CIR has approved its use in cosmetic products, such as lotions or body creams, it has raised a serious warning concerning the amount of Triethanolamine that can be included in each product, limiting to 5% in products that are to be in direct contact with the human skin.

Triethanolamine and its Chemical Properties

Being both a tertiary amine and a triol, this substance is a strong base and should therefore be handled with care. Possessing emollient and surfactant properties, this substance is optimal to produce both, industrial or commercially-developed goods.

Another chemical property concerns keeping track and balance of other products’ pH. Therefore, it is being used in shampoos that must have low pH content, for instance. In addition, hair beauty products advertised as providing a low pH base generally have certain levels of Triethanolamine or any of its derivatives.

Types of Products Containing Triethanolamine

Apart from being present in the most widely used products, such as hair care products, hair dyes, eyeliners, eye shadows, shaving lotions, sunscreens and skin cleansing product.

Other non-cosmetic products include construction materials, like cement, for instance.

Why should you Use Triethanolamine?

There are many reasons that have led to the increase in popularity of this substance. First off, human hair skin and nails tend to improve when treated with cosmetics containing this substance. Secondly, it is a practical pH adjuster that helps to convey scents and fragrances.

What’s not to Like?

Despite its many benefits, this substance has been warned against overuse. Recent research strongly suggests that this substance is a skin and immune system toxicant.

Besides, its use has been clinically linked to allergic reactions that may eventually lead to eye problems and respiratory infections.

But the scariest side effect of all concerns the likelihood of developing cancerous cells in people who have used these products for long periods.


What is Propylparaben?

Propylparaben, which is an ester of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, is a tasteless, odourless white powder that doesn’t irritate the skin. It is a preservative found in various types of cosmetics, such as eyeshadows, powders, foundation, and eyeliner. The chemical can also be found in certain foods, to keep it from going fungi, or in pharmaceuticals. Though propylparaben naturally exists in plants and some insects, it is most frequently found in its chemical form for commercial purposes. Propylparaben has been found in various cosmetics since the beginning of the 20th century, usually in its chemical form to help prevent the growth of yeasts, bacterial and other germs in cosmetics.


Parabens have been used in various cosmetic products to help increase their shelf life since the 1950s. Propylparaben specifically has been found to reduce bacteria, moulds, and yeasts in various types of cosmetics. The chemical allows make-up to be used for longer periods even when cosmetics aren’t kept in dry or cool places. Not all cosmetics have the same percentage of propylparaben in them and this should be remembered when checking labels. How much of the chemical is contained within the product depends on its purpose, texture and brand. There are a few ways propylparabens have concerned dermatology experts.

Concerns and side effects

Of main concern to the skincare community is that propylparabens, though declared safe by many regulating bodies around the world, can affect the body’s endocrine systems by imitating the hormone. This causes unhealthy hormone imbalances in the body that could interrupt many of the processes in the body that rely on the endocrine system. There is also concern that propylparabens and other endocrine disruptors could be potential carcinogens. In addition, there could be pain because of internal inflammation caused by the chemical. This could cause weight gain and fluid retention. Endocrine disruptors such as propylparabens are also risker for women who are pregnant and nursing.

How to use propylparaben safely

The FDA has been allowing propylparaben to be used in amounts of 0.1-0.3% since the 1980s. Though at these amounts this is of little cause for concern for most people, heavy make-up users could find themselves more at-risk of experience any side effects associated with the chemical. One way to keep safe is to read labels when buying skincare products and cosmetics, this can help keep exposure to propylparabens at a minimum. Even so, propylparabens are still considered the safest form of skincare preservatives on the market today.

Though it is now widely known that propylparabens are an endocrine disruptor, research on whether or not it causes cancer is still not conclusive. Still, more research is being conducted on the possible links between propylparabens and breast cancer. Leading scientists in the field believe the link exists because parabens have sometimes been found on cancerous tissues. Those who have a history of cancer or who have such a history in their family can discuss how to use this chemical safely with their dermatologist.


What is Cyclopentasiloxane?

Regarded as one of the most widely sought-after cosmetic ingredients, Cyclopentasiloxane is a silicone derivative that is being used for a variety of skin products.

Synthetically manufactured, this chemical has been shown to create a microscopic protective layer that may protect the human skin and hair. Chemically speaking, this synthetic substance is an organic silicon compound that possesses space-filling properties.

Preferred by most cosmetic companies due to its low manufacturing costs, the substance is said to possess valuable properties that enhance the properties of the other ingredients used in the cosmetic product it has been added to.

One to look at

Since its development, Cyclopentasiloxane has become widely used on account of three major reasons:

  • Viscosity: This chemical has been found to have low viscosity which means that – since it is not very thick- it does not leave a significant residue on the skin, consequently producing a softer, smoother and much healthier overall sensation.
  • Temperature: Since Cyclopentasiloxane does not cool during its evaporation, there is a feeling of wellness associated to its use in cosmetic products, such as body lotions and creams.
  • Inherent Properties: Finally, the fact that Cyclopentasoloxane is both odourless and colourless helps to the eventual blending of substances when lab formulas become actual products. These qualities allow for effective mixing with any other ingredient present in the original formula.

Where is Cyclopentasiloxane found?

Since this substance can be used in both small as well as in large quantities, different doses can be found in different products.

In hand and body moisturisers for instance, Cyclopentasiloxane can be found in concentrations of 0.1%. This much is enough to create a feeling of softness and smoothness in the person’s skin. If on the other hand, we take a look at the products containing the largest doses of Cyclopentasiloxane, we will find antiperspirants or hair deep-conditioning products, such as masks. Finally, its compatibility with most other chemical substances makes it a fine match for ethanol, mineral oils and fatty acids. Therefore, its presence in eyeliners, mascara, eye-contour creams and foundations is almost inevitable.

Its Benefits

Several benefits can be mentioned. Some refer to practical issues, such as effective manufacturing processes, while others refer to skin care advantages.

Economically speaking, one of the main pros of using Cyclopentasiloxane is that it has been found to be a cost-effective substitute for more costly compounds.

In addition, because of its chemical composition, this substance is compatible with most other ingredients used in the world of cosmetics, thus making it one of the most easily adaptable substances of all times.

Finally, recent research suggests that, apart from its lubricant properties, Cyclopentasiloxane may have the capacity to treat skin lines or blemishes.

Its Drawbacks

Users must understand that this synthetic substance does not possess the regenerative and exfoliating properties present in vitamin A or E, for example. Similarly, recent studies show that although the product has been found to safe to use, care should be taken if used for long periods, as accumulation can occur.


What is Phenoxyethanol?

Phenoxyethanol is a glycol which is used as a preservative in the making of cosmetic products and medicines. It is actually a kind of ether alcohol with aromatic properties that can also optimize the scent of any skin product.

Available in certain natural products, such as chicory and green tea, this substance, in its organic form, is a colourless, oily liquid. Nonetheless, Phenoxyethanol can also be manufactured artificially for several purposes. When made in the lab, this substance possesses a very powerful chemical of the highest purity that is often used as an additive in the cosmetic industry as it helps preserve the products it has been added to.

Chemically speaking, this compound can be broken into ethylene, phenyle, ether, and glycol. In addition, this chemical is known by several other names including Phenoxytol, Phenoxethol, Rose ether, Phenyle cellosolve, and Ethylene glycol monophenyl ether.

A Star is Born

Phenoxyethanol began to be used as an alternative to the formerly popular Paraben preservatives. When awareness was raised concerning the dangers of using this substance, specialists began to look for suitable alternatives and Phenoxyethanol rose as a fine choice.

Since this chemical compound is simple to obtain and more inexpensive than other alternatives; it found a straight road to the list of ingredients of most present-day cosmetic products.

Phenoxyethanol and its Benefits

Apart from its fixative and preservative properties, Phenoxyethanol provides antimicrobial properties against yeast, mold and bacteria. Since this quality was discovered, it began to be used as a preservative against germ contamination in bottled products.

Additionally, this compound has been found to posses anaesthetic properties as well. By allowing temporary reduction in sensation when it is applied on a painful area, Phenoxyethanol has been also listed as a top ingredient in products used as a preparation for further cosmetic treatments.

One of the main advantages of using this substance is that it has been found to be less toxic than other alternatives, such as sodium azide, traditionally used in skin care products.

Phenoxyethanol and its Downsides

Despite its many benefits, this compound has been found to have some dangers associated its consumption. To begin with, research suggests that Phenoxyethanol causes damage to the brain cells and the central nervous system when used is great amounts. However, this is not the only side effect reported among users. Skin irritation and allergic reactions, such as dermatitis, lung inflammation and eye irritation, are also frequent, especially among people who have been exposed to this substance for long periods.

Finally, perhaps the scariest counter effect of this substance concerns its use among nursing mothers. A German study conducted several years ago, suggest that this substance may cause genetic and chromosomal mutation, thus the warning against its use when breastfeeding. Even when the amount of Phenoxyethanol found in most cosmetic products is small, there is still no certainty regarding how much can be transmitted when breastfeeding.

In all, this substance has been proved to be useful and practical. However, when choosing cosmetic products with Phenoxyethanol, it is best to choose those that contain a minimum amount.


What is Dimethicone?

Also known as polymethylsiloxane, Dimethicone is actually a silicone-based polymer that is being largely used in the manufacturing of cosmetic products of all types.

Chemically speaking, Dimethicone belongs to a group of polymeric organosilicon compounds that are usually addressed to as silicones. Widely known for their greatly-adaptable properties, these substances can be used for a wide array of functions.

These days, Dimethicone can be found in most of the beauty and cosmetic products that are commercially available worldwide. The most outstanding reasons for this popularity are:

  • Dimethicone works as an antifoaming agent and skin and hair protecting agent.
  • It works by moisturising and conditioning skin and hair.
  • It prevents the loss of water thanks to the formation of a hydrating barrier on the skin.
  • It creates a protective film over the skin that ensures lubrication and protection.

Because of these properties, you can now find Dimethicone in almost every sunscreen lotion, anti-ageing serum, body lotion, eye shadow, foundation, conditioner or hair dye.

Dimethicone and its Benefits

Stemming from the aforementioned functions, this substance has become well-known because of its unusual and beneficial uses. According to recent studies, this substance has been found to possess the quality of soothing and protecting human skin, even in people who had been suffering from chronic skin conditions for years. There is evidence that shows that individuals with induced irritated contact dermatitis (ICD) were highly benefitted by using products with Dimethicone content. Further research suggests that such condition can be prevented by the use of products with this substance.

In addition, products containing this chemical have become well-known for creating a subtle gloss that improves the way the skin feels by making it softer, smoother and eventually silkier than usual.

Furthermore, recent studies suggest that products with Dimethicone help to fill in expression lines and mild scarring, thus revealing a filling function that was unknown to this product.

Finally, due to its strong protective barrier, this substance helps to prevent skin infections and more importantly, it is able to keep all kinds of skin optimally moisturised, even during the harshest winters and the worst adverse pollution exposure.

Dimethicone and Its Side Effects

According to the FDA, this substance is safe to use in cosmetic products and pharmaceuticals as well. The claim comes from the affirmation that because the molecular weight of this silicone-based polymer –and any other- is so large, there is a very little chance that any of the substance should travel past the skin surface and let alone be allowed into the person’s bloodstream.

Nonetheless, in some countries, warnings have been raised concerning the substance’s use in pregnant women or in women who were breastfeeding. Since there is still no conclusive study regarding safety in these cases, physicians recommend avoiding the use of Dimethicone-based cosmetics, at least in large quantities.

Similarly, a group of skin specialists suggest that patients who suffer from certain skin conditions, such as rosacea, should check with their physicians first before actually using any cosmetics with a high Dimethicone content.


What is Methylparaben?

Also known as Methyl Paraben, Methylparaben is an anti-fungal preservative that has been used in cosmetics for some time now with an increasing rise in popularity.

Chemically speaking, Methylparaben belongs to a larger group known as “parabens” that include similar substances, such as Ethylparaben or Propylparaben, among many others. All of them are actually parahydroxybenzoates or esters of parahydroxybenzoic acid -also known as 4-hydroxybenzoic acid.

Possessing important preservative properties, this substance is widely used in the world of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics as it helps to preserve the formulas upon which each product is based.

A Story to Tell

In the past, more natural compounds used to be part of the preservation agents, for example, grapefruit seeds. However, with the passing of time and the speedy evolution of technology, these natural alternatives proved to be ineffective. Consequently, specialists began to explore new chemicals that would serve the purpose of preserving products more efficiently.

Even when the substance occurs naturally; these days, most of the Methylparaben used in the cosmetic industry is synthetically produced. The process is quite simple really: through the esterification of para-hydroxybenzoic acid with the right type of alcohol, for example, methanol, ethanol or n-Propanol, the first substance is industrially transformed by using potassium phenoxide and carbon dioxide.

Methylparaben and Its Benefits

Part of this substance’s popularity stems from its capacity to effectively absorb into the human skin. Consequently, it is used in combination with most other beauty ingredients, especially in the manufacturing of body lotions, emollients and other creams. Despite its highly effective anti-fungal properties, this substance is most often considered non-irritating and even safer than other similar products.

Used as a preservation agent, it has been proved to help beauty products enhance their qualities. Moreover, products containing Methylparaben are much longer-lasting and their qualities are kept intact for a longer time as well.

The public should learn however, that Methylparaben is rarely found in isolation, but in combination with other parabens, as well. Most products containing such combinations include toothpastes, makeup, hair care products, moisturisers, lotions, shaving products and many more.

Methylparaben: Its Side Effects

In recent years, the matter of Methylparaben and its safety caused a lot of controversy, especially after a study revealed that they may have been a link between certain cases of breast cancer and the excessive use of Methylparaben in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. This affirmation stems from the fact that parabens imitate the function of estrogen and may lead to the creation of excessive breast tissue.

Medical research however, has not been able to effectively link any of these cases with the use of this substance.

Even so, even when the substance has been regarded as safe by the FDA, still a warning is issued regarding the amount of Methylparaben that a person should be exposed to.

Medical recommendation then, considers that products containing up to 0.4% are safe to use on an everyday basis. Similarly, in recent years the cosmetic industry has developed novel types of substances that are regarded as safer than Methylparaben.


What is Cyclomethicone?

These days, most present-day commercial cosmetic products have a high chance of containing any form of Cyclomethicone. This compound is a clear, alcohol-free substance which is also odourless.

Its main use in the cosmetic industry is best explained in terms of its emollient properties which are optimal when it comes to blending them with other different substances used to make cosmetics. The inclusion of this substance helps to give products a smoother texture, thus facilitating their subsequent absorption.

There is something about the chemical composition of this substance that makes it fit to be used in beauty products. The molecules of the Cyclomethicone compound are larger than most other chemicals. Therefore, they do not penetrate into the pores so easily. This quality helps the substance to remain on the outer skin layers, creating a smoother and softer skin texture. In addition, its failure to penetrate diminishes the risks of any negative reaction to Cyclomethicone or any of the other chemicals used in the cosmetic product.

A Story to Tell

Cyclomethicone was created sometime around the early 80s as an alternative to harsher skin emollient substances, such as petroleum-based solvents that began to be frowned upon because of their attack on the Ozone layer.

Later research would find that Cyclomethicone did not prevent the main active ingredients used in the beauty products from entering the skin, at all. Consequently, it was only natural that the substance would become a cosmetic favourite among labs and cosmetic manufacturers.

Cyclomethicone and its Benefits

According to recent research, there are several advantages of using Cyclomethicone as a soothing agent: the most obvious one being its effect on the human skin. By humidifying and softening the external layers of the human dermis, this substance helps to improve overall skin appearance. People with dermatological issues are generally prescribed skincare products containing Cyclomethicone for this very reason. It is commonly found in hair conditioners, shampoos, nail cuticle treatments and the like.

In recent years, research has shown that this chemical compound is also helpful in dealing with skin ageing issues, mainly because of its alleged “filling” properties. One of the most popular products that is using this agent is facial lotions meant to deal with acne scars. Moreover, believed to possess a regenerative, soothing and restoring effect on the human skin, Cyclomethicone is now recommended to patients who have suffered from psoriasis.

Cyclomethicone and its Side Effects

Despite its many benefits, cyclomethicone is also known to possess certain negative effects on the human skin. Even when it is recommended as being mostly non-comedogenic, this substance has been reported to cause skin irritation and negative reactions, such as rash, in people with sensitive skin.

In addition, patients who are under some kind of dermatological treatment that involves applying some kind of medicated topical treatment should check with a skin specialist first since Cyclomethicone is likely to affect the absorption of the prescribed lotion.

In all, this substance is so flexible that its popularity in the world of skin care is likely to continue. However, a health specialist should always be consulted before its prolonged use.