Why using old skin products can damage your skin

October 25, 2013
Volume 1    |   Issue 01

Welcome to your first edition of Skin Care Insider. Each week, I'll bring you insider information on the latest innovations and breakthroughs in skin care. I'll also tell you about all-natural secrets for helping your skin look years younger.

So let's get started.

As you may know, wine gets better with age. But the same isn't true for many skin care products. In fact, some products actually turn into a nasty science experiment if you leave them on the shelf too long. No, the problem isn't mold. It's something much worse for your skin.

Here's what happens. As certain skin products sit on your shelf, some of their ingredients begin to change. The change causes the products to release a smelly by-product. And it's this by-product that you really don't want on your skin.

This by-product is the chemical formaldehyde. That's right... the same preservative your high school science teacher used to keep dead creatures from decaying. Formaldehyde is a fantastic preservative, if you don't mind your skin feeling like rubber. But it can cause skin problems. One study found that daily contact with skin can lead to contact dermatitis. Another study found that formaldehyde's health impact can be even more severe. The researchers in this study discovered that it can lead to nasopharyngeal cancer.

It's pretty disgusting to think that you might be putting this on your skin every night. But that's what happens if you use old products that contain the following ingredients: quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, ureas, or sodium hydroxymethylglycinate. As these ingredients age, they breakdown and release formaldehyde.

The problem is so serious the European Union has banned many of these ingredients. In fact, Europe has banned 1,100 ingredients found in many common personal care products. And Japan has restricted cosmetic companies from using DMDM hydantoin in their products. But you can find all of these ingredients in cosmetics sold here in the U.S. (The U.S. has banned only 10 of these.)

As if releasing formaldehyde wasn't enough, some of these ingredients have other problems. For instance, many of them can cause significant skin allergies. Surprisingly, some people are allergic to these ingredients, but not to formaldehyde. They also may cause skin irritation and they can even affect your immune system, making it less effective at fighting disease.

Of these ingredients, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is the mildest. It doesn't release as much formaldehyde as the others. You'll find it mainly in hair products that you would use to straighten or soften your hair.

Some people may not have any known problems with any of these ingredients. The main thing to remember is that using them every once in a while isn't likely to cause any damage to your skin. But using them every day causes a cumulative effect of these toxic ingredients - and the danger is in the accumulation over time. It can severely damage your skin and cause your skin to age faster. And it may cause other health problems.

Just remember, it's not only what's on the label, it's also what happens to these ingredients as they sit around. From the research it seems like they get worse as they age - just the opposite of a good wine.

This is the kind of information I plan to bring you every week in Skin Care Insider. Your subscription is free since you are a customer of Systéme 41. 

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me at this address: [email protected]

Better Health and Living for Women,



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Am J Ind Med. 2013 Sep;56(9):1015-26. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22214. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2013 Mar 22. pii: 3358. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3358. [Epub ahead of print]

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