Monday, 25 November 2019 20:02

Bad Reputation: Two Misunderstood Skin Care Ingredients

Written by   Susannah Courteau, L.E., spa director at Sunbear Salon & Medspa and skin health consultant at BREVENA

After a long day at the spa, you come home wanting a glass of wine. Do you choose an organic, high-quality, French wine or the cheap five-dollar bottle that is full of additives, sulfites, and dyes? Both are wine but vastly different from each other. Likewise, a single skin care ingredient could be valuable or damaging depending how it is used. Let’s break down just two examples: parabens and petroleum.



Paraben-free or preservative-free labels are ever more common, but why? Some studies suggest a link to cancer. However, these studies are typically based on extreme amounts of the preservative, way more than would ever be used. Drinking a gallon of vodka may be extremely dangerous, but a perfectly proportioned vodka tonic can be delightful.


Even if clients decide against using parabens in their skin care, remind them that preservatives are necessary in skin care, otherwise their beloved night cream can begin looking funky and growing a garden of flora and fauna after a week. Paraben-free simply means that other preservatives have been used instead – and perhaps these newer formulas are not as well tested as parabens have been for efficacy and safety.



“Isn’t that Vaseline? That is pore clogging!” Well, any ingredient can undergo a refining and filtration process and several variations of quality are possible and used in different ways. The bad reputation of petrolatum is that it is cheap, pore clogging, and greasy. While that might be true of cheap over-the-counter products and some industrial use, highly refined petrolatum can be beneficially used in elegant, medical-grade formulas to give skin added moisture with a minimal risk of irritation. In fact, many dermatologists turn to petrolatum as the first defense against eczema, psoriasis, and even diaper rash.


Petrolatum is actually a great occlusive moisturizer, especially for the most sensitive skin. It prevents skin from drying out, adds a creamy elegant texture to a moisturizer, and protects the skin barrier from bacteria and so forth.


Aestheticians are responsible to be well informed on skin safety and separate buzz words and trends from the facts. Go forth and cocktail.

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