We guys have been a little lazy to learn what harmful ingredients (and awesome ingredients) are in the products we put on our porous skin. Instead we’ve settled for convenience and catchy marketing when it comes to our bathroom. But do you do the same when buying a new flat screen tv?...no dude, you research for like two hundred hours. How about your food? Do you just go for fast food all the time?...no way, you’re buying protein shakes and organic fruit. Well, it’s time to extend that same thoughtful consideration to your bathroom products…and we’re here to help.
Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in order of amount (first ingredient listed has highest amount in the product and last ingredient listed typically has a very small amount included in the product). To find the ingredients in your bathroom products look on the bottle or packaging, or visit the company’s website. If the ingredients aren’t listed on the company’s website…that should tell you something.
Think of Doc Holliday (and obviously that means you should think of Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc Holliday), riding around the Wild West in the absence of laws and regulations, blazing his own trail. That’s you when you’re buying products for your bathroom. With the exception of sunscreen, the products you have in your shower and at your sink are largely unregulated, which means that it’s up to you to get in the know. Just think, you’ll probably take about 25,000 showers in your life, so getting informed about dangerous ingredients is a worthy investment.
This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of grooming and cleaning products (think foaming products). SLS's are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, and acne treatment. It is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural products with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut."
This particular category is pretty scary, because the term “fragrance” was created to protect a company’s secret synthetic formula, which may be a chemical concoction of as many as 200 ingredients. Many of these fragrance mixes may be hazardous to your health and have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. Additionally, most of these fragrances have a drying effect on your skin and are actually damaging instead of helpful to your skin. It is especially concerning that many companies are adding higher and higher ratios of fragrance to their men’s grooming products to grab your attention.
Is your cleanser, soap, or moisturizer blue or some other eye catching color?…we can almost guarantee that’s not natural. If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors. F -- representing food and D&C representing drug and cosmetics. These letters precede a color and number (e.g., D&C Red 27 or FD&C blue 1). These synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen and skin irritant. The European Union has banned it.
Many sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone, which acts as a sunscreen by absorbing UVB rays. There are several suspected dangers associated with Oxybenzone. Despite its sun protective abilities, it has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. As a photocarcinogen, it has demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells. To learn more about chemical vs. physical sunscreens see Sunscreen section below.
Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in grooming products. You will see them listed as an ingredient with “paraben” in the name, such as methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body and have been a hot topic the last few years due to a study that found parabens in breast cancer tissue; however, critics have pointed out possible flaws with the study. If your product includes multiple parabens and/or the parabens are listed as middle to high in the ingredients order then you may want to consider an alternative product.
A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics, phthalates are also found in deodorant, lotions, hair gel, and fragrances. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to birth defects in the male reproductive system. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product, as it's added to fragrances (remember the "secret formula" not listed), a major loophole in the law.
Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent and can often be found in bar soap, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, shaving products, and moisturizers. It's classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It can irritate the skin and has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives in humans. As a skin penetrator, it alters the skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin.
Sunscreen companies were getting a little carried away some years ago, claiming things like SPF 120 and “waterproof for your entire life and beyond” (ok, maybe that last one is an exaggeration). So the FDA stepped in and decided to regulate sunscreens, including the claims that can be made and the listing of active ingredients (for your information: active ingredients are classified by the FDA as drugs that affect the structure or function of the body, and inactive ingredients are all other ingredients). To help consumers select and use sunscreens appropriately, the final regulations include these additional labeling provisions:
|•||Water resistance claims on the product's front label must tell how much time a user can expect to get the declared SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Two times will be permitted on labels: 40 minutes or 80 minutes.|
|•||Manufacturers cannot make claims that sunscreens are “waterproof" or “sweatproof” or identify their products as “sunblocks.” Also, sunscreens cannot claim protection immediately on application (for example, “instant protection”) or protection for more than two hours without reapplication, unless they submit data and get approval from the FDA|
|•||Sunscreen products that are not broad spectrum or that are broad spectrum with SPF values from 2 to14 will be labeled with a warning that reads: “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”|
|•||Include expiration dates.|
|•||Final regulations that establish standards for testing the effectiveness of sunscreen products and require labeling that accurately reflects test results|
|•||SPF values higher than 50 to be labeled as “SPF 50+.” (FDA does not have adequate data demonstrating that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide additional protection compared to products with SPF values of 50.)|
The most commonly used sunscreens
are "chemical absorbers." They contain carbon compounds made in a laboratory.
Some 22 chemicals have become available in the U.S. to shield the skin from the sun's
harmful rays since the first compound PABA was developed in the 1940s.
Some of the most popular are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate. Physical blockers come in two types: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—natural minerals ground down to fine powders. These used to leave white residue on the skin (think 80’s surfer with zinc on his nose) but modern processing techniques are improving this issue.
Physical sunscreen actually covers the skin and deflects the sun's rays, while chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and absorbs the rays. Physical sunscreen is better tolerated on those with sensitive skin, as chemical sunscreens have toxins in them which can be absorbed and can cause allergic reactions on the skin level.
|How They Work||Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun's rays.||Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's rays. Some chemical filters can scatter sun rays, but still mostly just absorb them.|
(UV filters are the active ingredient in sunscreens that protects you from the sun.)
|Titanium dioxide (TiO2)
Zinc oxide (ZnO)
Mexoryl SX and XL
Tinosorb S and M
Uvinul T 150
|Stability||Generally stable||Most are photostable, but some are not.
Avobenzone is notoriously unstable. However, it can be stabilized when formulated in conjunction with other UV filters.
|Comedogenicity (acne causing)||
Titanium dioxide can be problematic for some people. (If you break out from physical sunscreen, titanium dioxide could be the culprit.)
Zinc oxide is generally safe. It can be used on delicate skin.
Chemical filters tend to be more irritating to skin.
If it gets in your eyes, it can make your eyes sting and water.
Some can cause allergic reactions.
How much protection is offered depends on the amount of the active ingredient in the sunscreen, particle size of the UV filters,photostability, and overall product formulation.
Titanium dioxide protects against UVB rays, but not the full spectrum of UVA rays.
Zinc oxide protects against the entire spectrum of UVB and UVA rays.
Starts protecting immediately upon application.
Chemical filters offer coverage against UVA and UVB rays, but the range of protection will depend on the particular active and its stability.
Avobenzone, for example, protects against the full spectrum UVA rays.
Must wait 20 minutes after application for effective sun protection.
May leave a white cast or tint.
Rubs off more easily and must be frequently reapplied.
|Colorless, odorless, usually runny.|
Don't cause free radicals.
Note: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide labeled as nano-particles are controversial at the moment.
|Some chemical filters generate free radicals which can cause skin damage, irritation, and aging.|
Spray sunscreeens (aka “bro spray”) are popular with the dudes,
but are also especially popular for use on children. But safety experts are particularly concerned
about the possibility that people might accidentally breathe in dangerous ingredients inherent
in sprays, a risk that’s greatest in children when being sprayed in the face.
Until the Food and Drug Administration completes an analysis it began in 2011 on the potential risks of spray sunscreens, our advice is that spray sunscreens should generally not be used by or on children.
Products that pass the broad spectrum test will provide protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB. Both UVB and UVA can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging. A certain percentage of a broad spectrum product’s total protection is against UVA.
UVB, the chief cause of skin reddening and sunburn, tends to damage the skin's more superficial epidermal layers. It plays a key role in the development of skin cancer and a contributory role in tanning and photoaging. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice, which bounce back up to 80 percent of the rays so that they hit the skin twice. UVB rays do not significantly penetrate glass.
Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout our lifetime. UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the Earth's surface. Although they are less intense than UVB, UVA rays are 30 to 50 times more prevalent. They are present with relatively equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass.
UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, has long been known to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling (photoaging), but until recently scientists believed it did not cause significant damage in areas of the epidermis (outermost skin layer) where most skin cancers occur. Studies over the past two decades, however, show that UVA damages skin cells called keratinocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. (Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.) UVA contributes to and may even initiate the development of skin cancers.
UVA is the dominant tanning ray, and we now know that tanning causes cumulative damage over time. A tan results from injury to the skin's DNA; the skin darkens in an imperfect attempt to prevent further DNA damage. These imperfections, or mutations, can lead to skin cancer.
Irritation is the short answer for the terrible state of most men's skin-care products. Many men's products seem to be designed with no other purpose but to cause irritation. Lots of men's products contain problematic ingredients like menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, camphor or alcohol to create the "strong smell, strong man, tingling is good and refreshing" impression that many men want because they don't know how bad it is for skin. The adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't apply to skin care! What’s worse, is that you could be paying $30 for these products, trusting that a company with a reputable name and charging THAT much must be using good ingredients. THINK AGAIN broheim.
All of those ingredients are doing nothing more than causing needless irritation, and that is a serious problem for the health of skin. Irritation is problematic for many reasons, but primarily it causes skin to become inflamed, red, and potentially more oily, or dry, all of which can make skin issues like acne, pre-mature aging, or rosacea worse, and none of that is attractive.
When skin is irritated, the damage taking place within or underneath doesn't always show on the surface, yet problems are nonetheless taking place That means it's crucial to pay attention to what you apply to your skin, beyond issues you can see, such as redness, flaking, dullness, sensitivity, bumps, and more oil.
If men want to achieve better skin then the best advice is to look for products that are well formulated. Unfortunately, many of the products in masculine-looking packaging and "manly" fragrance often hide either poor or inadequate formulas that won't help your skin.
Instead of falling for those gimmicks, make sure you’re looking your absolute finest by buying products that contain the ingredients listed below (and also follow the lifestyle tips below):
|•||Wear sunglasses, preferably non-glare sunglasses such as those with polarized lenses. This will keep you from squinting all the time and will help keep those wrinkles around your eyes and brow from settling in.|
|•||Use sunscreen on your face even on days with minimal sun exposure. Using sunscreen only on beach days means your face isn’t protected from the much greater cumulative effect of incidental sun exposure. Smart men are wearing sunscreen daily to protect from premature wrinkling, sagging, and blotchiness.|
|•||Avoid nasty old man hands by putting sunscreen on your hands every day. You know the hands…the ones with the thin skin and big liver spots. Those aren’t cool. Think about it…what two parts of your body are constantly exposed to the sun and elements??...your face and your hands.|
|•||Sleep. In 2011 the Stanford men’s basketball team participated in a sleep study, increasing their average sleep over seven weeks from 6.5 hours/night to 8.5 hours/night. Their performance increased 13%. 13%!!! Nothing else can do that. Want your face to look better? Then sleep more.|
|•||Drink 8 glasses of water every day. But who cares about glasses…instead go get yourself a reusable water bottle and establish certain times of the day that you will fill it and drink it (e.g. once in the morning, again after lunch, and again before bed).|
|•||Antioxidants: When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, the research is abundantly clear: Antioxidants reign supreme. Not only do antioxidants combat the free-radical damage that is responsible for the visible (and hidden) signs of aging, they also enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens in preventing sun damage. Indeed, during the day, the combination of antioxidants plus sun protection is a strong defense against many signs of aging, including wrinkles, dullness, and discoloration. At night, dosing your skin with a range of antioxidants will promote cellular repair and healing. Some powerful antioxidants include: Green Tea, Vitamin E, Pomegranate, CoffeeBerry, Vitamin C|
|•||Collagen: Collagen is a protein produced by our cells that helps “hold” the skin together, giving it firmness and elasticity. When we’re young, our skin stays plump and smooth because it constantly regenerates itself. But after men turn 20 years old, collagen production slows – and existing collagen can get damaged due to sun exposure and bad skin habits. The results? Wrinkles and sagging skin going. To combat our loss of collagen you can either get collagen injections into your face (yeah, not so much for us either), or try eating more Vitamin C, drinking less alcohol, wearing sunscreen, exercising, and buying skincare products with collagen as an ingredient.|
Essential Oils: Used for thousands of years, essential oil is a liquid distilled from the leaves, stems, roots, bark, or flowers of a plant. Unlike regular plant oils (think olive oil), essential oils are highly concentrated and contain the true essence of the plant it was derived from. As such, they can be extremely powerful and, if used properly in skin care formulations, can be very effective. Here are a few examples:
|•||Retinol: This vitamin-A derivative treats fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, dullness, crepiness, sagging skin…you name it. It does this by speeding up cell turnover, sweeping away the dead cells that cause dullness, and boosting collagen and elastin by stimulating cellular repair at the deepest level of the skin. It also pumps up circulation by increasing blood-vessel formation, so skin looks healthier.|
There’s a difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. People associate dry skin with flaking and peeling skin. Dehydration, on the other hand, is when there is a tight feeling, which indicates that water has been robbed from the skin. If you have been using bar soap, body wash, or a poorly formulated face cleanser to wash your face for a long time, you might think this tight feeling is normal because you have nothing to compare it to. If, however, you use a gentle sulfate-free cleanser, you will definitely notice that your skin doesn’t have that tight, parched feel. After a couple weeks you should notice an improvement in appearance and a return of your skin’s balance and hydration.
Soap, especially bar soap, is really bad for your skin. It’s incredibly harsh, dries your skin out and the scents and perfumes in most bar soaps can trigger allergic reactions. Similarly, if you are using a body wash on your face then it’s like cleaning your iPhone with car wax…two totally different surfaces. The skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive and requires a more advanced cleanser (unless of course you don’t care if your face looks half as good as it could). At the same time, you don’t want to rely on just water; your skin is covered in dirt, dried sweat, sebum and all of the nasty pollutants that come from modern living, and water isn’t going to get rid of that. You want a gentle, fragrance-free facial cleanser – one that works for all skin types – and use it on a daily basis.
Get it wrong and it will lead to a multitude of skin conditions and diseases, including premature lines and wrinkles…and you’re probably getting it wrong. To begin with, the symbol pH stands for "potential of hydrogen" and is a method of measuring the acid or alkaline level of water-soluble liquids. The pH scale starts at 0 at the left end of the scale; 0 is the most acidic (ex: battery acid is pH 0). Then, at 7 pH liquids are neutral; distilled water has a pH 7. Bleach has pH 13, while lye has pH 14 and is the most alkaline solution. Our skin's pH is about 5.5 - a little on the acid side to keep harmful bacteria, and other environmentally harmful things from breaking through our skin. When you use soap that is too alkaline, such as most any bar soap or body wash you would buy in the market, your skin becomes dried out. As your skin dries out, it loses important oils which are pulled away from the cells, causing cracks in the skin. So using pH balanced products will preserve the natural pH balance of our skin and its acid mantle - the protective layer of the skin that blocks the entry of harmful bacteria, and retains natural oils for moisture. After using pH corrective cleansers, the condition of your skin and face will improve, and even dry skin, acne problems, and other skin conditions will diminish over time.
A product's pH is not the only danger to your skin, but the synthetic detergents and other chemicals used in soaps and shampoos to make them"pH balanced" – are also damaging. For example, synthetic surfactants used in commercial soaps, body and facial washes, and shampoo have a pH of around 5.5 and help create "pH balanced" products. These synthetic additives strip the skin of the natural fatty acids and oils, inhibit the natural moisturizing factors of your skin, and actually prevent it from managing its own pH balance. Furthermore, many of us are very sensitive to these synthetic additives and detergents. Look for a product that is pH balanced without chemical detergents.
You’ve been buying this stuff since your sixth grade teacher pulled you aside and candidly mentioned “body odor” to you. But do you really know what it’s all about, including controversial ingredients and the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant?
Surprise surprise, sweat has no odor; the familiar unpleasant odor is caused by bacteria that live on our skin and hair and interact with the sweat. Deodorants deal with the smell by neutralizing it and by killing the bacteria. Antiperspirants on the other hand, try to prevent sweating by blocking the pores using aluminum. Without sweat, the bacteria cannot metabolize proteins and fatty acids that cause body odor. Many antiperspirants also have a deodorant component. It might be for this reason that ‘deodorant’ and ‘antiperspirant’ are mistakenly used interchangeably.
“So, who cares if there’s aluminum in anti-perspirant?”
The greatest current concern with aluminum is that post-mortem analysis of Alzheimer’s infected brains has shown increased levels of aluminum compared to people that did not die from Alzheimer’s. It has been well established that the accumulation of aluminum in the brain can cause neurological disorders, including memory loss, learning difficulty, loss of coordination, disorientation, and mental confusion, and recent studies have shown that aluminum penetrates into the skin through anti-perspirants. A 2001 study showed that aluminum was still present in blood samples 15 days after one application of aluminum to the armpit.
Because anti-perspirant alters the body’s function it is considered an over-the-counter (OTC) drug. And with any drug you need to weigh the benefits vs. the risks.