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    Inactive but controversial OTC product ingredients

    What you need to know to better inform your patients


    Inactives not always what they seem

    Ingredients in skincare aren’t always what they seem, and a lot of science goes into creating elegant formulations that are effective and safe. One example: silicone.

    “People hear the word silicone and they immediately think that there’s like a barrier that you’re putting on the skin that doesn’t allow it to breathe…. That’s really not the case with silicone technology today,” Ms. Goodman says.

    Silicone used in some beauty products is a feel enhancer — it gives products a smooth, velvety feel.

    P&G uses silicone molecules that vary in size and are spherically shaped. The shape of the molecules helps it roll across the skin and fill different skin textures and lines, better.

    “The silicone that dermatologists use to inject are very different than what we use on a topical product,” Ms. Goodman says.

    The silicone ingredient is meant to sit on top of the skin but can help deliver ingredients into the skin. Silicone has been safely used in skincare products for some time, Ms. Goodman says. But it’s important that manufacturers that use silicone and other ingredients purchase high-quality ingredients.

    “We have very high quality standards. I can’t guarantee that every manufacturer out there does that,” Ms. Goodman says. “Companies can match a formulation and claim they have the same ingredients but the dermatologist actually doesn’t know the quality of those ingredients. We don’t use ingredients that haven’t passed safety and toxicology evaluations … and they have to have published information on them.”

    An example of an inactive ingredient that benefits the skin, according to Dr. Levin, would be ceramides, which have been shown to be lacking not only in mature skin but also in atopic skin.

    “People with psoriasis are also lacking certain ceramides,” Dr. Levin says. “And what ceramides have been shown to do is that they actually help strengthen the skin and make it less susceptible to irritation and also help skin keep its own water and hydration naturally. They’re included in moisturizers and cleansers.”

    On the other side of the good-bad spectrum are microbeads. Microbeads are a big topic — more because of the potential environmental impact. They don’t dissolve, according to Ms. Goodman.

    In response to that concern, P&G has identified alternative technologies that are biodegradable.

    “… All of our products that currently contain microbeads will be transitioned over to the new biodegradable options,” Ms. Goodman says.

    P&G has already begun to use sodium bicarbonate crystals to help scrub the skin.

    “Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda but it’s not the same form as the baking soda you have in your kitchen. We have a crystalized form that actually dissolves as you use it. We don’t want consumers to be over exfoliating; that’s one of the reasons it dissolves, but then, also being that it dissolves, it’s also biodegradable,” Ms. Goodman says.

    Next: The mystery around fragrances

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.


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