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The Best Untold Story of Shelf Life: Part 1.

The Untold Story of Shelf Life

It is usually a sensational experience to stroll through the beauty products section of a supermarket. One can see well-stocked shelves full of eye-popping colors and containers of all sizes and shapes. The products are made in bulk and stored in a warehouse to ensure the supply meets the demand. This waiting period is called shelf life. Product preservation ensures the products maintain their intended form and effectiveness while awaiting a buyer.

Cream

A simple explanation of shelf life is the amount of time a product remains usable in a sealed (unopened) form. Virtually every product has some shelf life. Beauty products are no exception.

The shelf life depends mainly on its ingredients, container design, storage conditions, and use. Advances in manufacturing and storage, chemistry, engineering, and our ability to synthesize resistant structures have improved the shelf lives of most products.

Beauty and cosmetic products can have a shelf life of three years or more. In general, products made with synthetic chemicals and a higher amount and number of preservatives would have a longer shelf life. If you are reading this, we need not discuss such products and the impact of harsh chemicals and preservatives on the skin and the environment!

What is the shelf life of organic beauty products? Many people ask. Is a product with longer shelf life better? Do some people wonder why the shelf life of beauty products with a higher amount of natural and organic ingredients is shorter?

Let’s delve into the basics.

Yogurt

Organic means produce grown without chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulators, antimicrobials, or similar compounds. Organic produce is grown on soil that is unexposed to prohibited materials for at least three years.

Well, how does being organic or natural change shelf life? Not much. If a product is made with organic or biological substances and contains synthetic stabilizers and strong preservatives, it can have longer shelf life while preserving the “organic” or “natural” label.

A simple example would be apples treated with a resistant coat vs. apples treated without any such treatment. The apples treated with synthetic antimicrobial and coated with wax or similar material will resist forces of nature and stay fresh for a more extended period. However, apples treated without any such treatment would easily get spoiled once plucked.

With this understanding, let’s explore further. What is the ideal shelf life of a beauty product?

Thrive Body Massage 2

Oils, being fatty acids, are naturally resistant to spoilage and microbial growth and typically last two to three years. Once water or water-containing ingredients are added (typically in creams and lotions), the shelf life reduces drastically. Preservatives are generally required for water and water-containing products to minimize microbial growth.

Alcohol is the most common preservative used in beauty products. Alcohol is readily available, cost-effective, and has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Alcohol is the most common cause of skin irritation from the use of beauty products.

Salt, Citric acid, and Potassium Sorbate are food-grade preservatives used for centuries to preserve water-containing products. Newer, bio-based preservatives have revolutionized our ability to protect beauty products without adding harsh chemicals.

What happens after a beauty product is opened?

Microbial contamination occurs once a product is exposed to air or fingers or applicators get into it. Also, the oxidation process starts, and the effectiveness of ingredients starts to change. Using a product within 30 to 45 days of opening generally provides the most intended benefit.

Glow Face Massage 2

Let’s reverse the course. Is a product with one-year shelf life more effective than a product with a three-year shelf life?

It depends upon the ingredients. As we discussed above, if a product is 100% oil, it might remain effective for two to three years.

How can I quickly access the quality of beauty and cosmetic products?

The front label of a product, also known as the principal display panel is the most visible part of a beauty product’s packaging. We recommend reading and understanding the ingredient label on the side or back panel regardless of the print on the front label. Some products may have one or two ingredients derived from nature, thus claiming it to be natural and the rest of the ingredients being harsh chemicals and strong preservatives.

Another commonly seen labeling practice is to mention an attractive element on the front panel (such as “made with real almond oil”) where the advertised ingredient is relatively tiny. A prospective buyer may easily misunderstand the product as natural and containing a significant amount of advertised ingredients.

While there are regulations to protect the buyer, buyers should do their due diligence and ensure they fully understand what they intend to use, including product ingredients; this is the easiest way to ensure you get the product you intend to purchase.

A simple example would be reading the label of a shower gel. Are you getting natural soap or just a mixture of foaming agents?

Many foaming agents (also known as surfactants) are naturally derived, but too much foam can strip the skin of its friendly oils. Is it made of high-quality oil (such as organic Olive oil) or a mixture of different oils if you are getting natural soap? The ingredient declaration label provides such vital information. Have you felt dry and itchy skin after a shower? Time to read the ingredient label of your favorite shower product!

In summary, the shelf life of a beauty product depends upon its ingredients and type and number of preservatives used, container design, storage conditions, and method of use. Alcohol and other harsh chemical preservatives help achieve a longer shelf life while causing skin irritation, dryness, and itching. Well-known food-grade preservatives such as salt, citric acid, and potassium sorbate and newer bio-based preservatives effectively replace harsh chemical preservatives. Oil products generally have a longer shelf life, even without any preservatives. Reading and understanding a product’s ingredients label provides excellent insight into reality.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfactant

Disclaimer-This website and content, comment, writing, or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest medical, legal, or professional advice, opinion, or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Shelf Life

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Skin Facts, Fun, Myths and More!

Skin Facts
Skin Facts
Let’s learn about our skin today!

We want to talk about taking good care of our skin, the largest organ of our body! And, we will discuss skin facts, fun information, myths and more. Happy reading!

Don’t want to read the entire blog? Listen to our blog post on YouTube!

Key Insights
* Skin Layers and their importance* A touch on diet and the skin
* Interesting facts about our skin* Common factors affecting our skin
* Terminology for Cosmetic products* Suggested reading
  • Have you ever wondered how skin manages to protect our inside organs? 
  • How about protecting our skin from various external factors? What are these factors?

The ways of nature are wonderful. Let’s face a bit of a challenge and learn!

Why the skin exists?

The skin protects internal organs by providing a dry barrier.

Our skin protects against mechanical injury, heat and cold injury, microorganisms, radiation, and chemicals.

Skin Facts- Single Organ, Many Roles.

Our skin also regulates the temperature of our body by sweating.

It also responds to the temperature changes by changing the pattern of its blood flow.

Fine hair on the skin increases its sensitivity to fine touch.

The skin helps in making vitamin D. Nerves of the skin detect touch, heat and cold, and pain sensations.

The structure of the skin contains specialized cells called Melanocytes that are responsible for skin tone.

The versatility of Our Skin

How does our skin manage to perform so many functions? The answer resides in the layers of the skin!

Layers of the skin
Layers of human skin concept illustration

Image Courtesy: www.vecteezy.com

* The skin has three main layers. The outermost layer is the epidermis. It has many layers of cells with the oldest cells on the outside and the youngest cells on the inside. The epidermis also provides a dry, waterproof barrier.

* The second layer is the dermis. The dermis has connective tissues, hair follicles, and sweat glands.

* The third layer is the hypodermis or subcutaneous tissue. The hypodermis has fat cells, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The nerve endings also live in this layer.

Underneath these layers lays the muscle of the skin. The muscle causes movements of the skin such as shivering and feeling of tense skin during cold weather.

Skin Facts and Fun

1) The skin is the largest organ of our body.

2) The skin covers about 2 square meter area of our body on an average.

3) It has more than 250 million cells.

4) It weighs 10 lbs. and has more than 10 miles of blood vessels.

5) The skin varies in thickness. The thinnest skin (0.2 mm) is present on the eyelid and thickest on the feet (1.5 mm). But, repeated friction increases the skin’s thickness by forming a “callus”.

6) The skin sheds the outermost cells (about 40,000 old or dead skin cells every minute). Our skin renews itself completely every 30 days.

7) The skin’s pH is acidic, ranging from 4.5 to 5.5. This acidity helps our skin fight against many dangerous pathogens.

8) Our skin is home to more than 1,000 kinds of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses.

9) Any breakage of the skin heals with dense, fiber-like tissue (fibrous tissue) called a scar.

10) Skin represents your health, dietary pattern, and mental status. Read further on diet and skin health below.

Factors affecting the skin

Our skin receives nutrition through the bloodstream. The skin needs sunlight to make Vitamin D. Several factors affect our skin health.

The table below simplifies it.

Skin Facts- Sunlight helps the skin make Vitamin D.
Factors Affecting Skin Health
Internal factorsEffect on the skin
Inadequate sleepLowers skin moisture
Stress, anxietyChange in hormone & oil production
High fat, low fiber dietDecreased smoothness
Excessive sugar in the dietIncreased acne and eczema
Vitamin C, Omega-3 Fatty Acid in the dietIncreased Collagen, and smooth, shiny skin
External factors Effect on the skin
Sunlight exposure (10-30 minutes/day)Vitamin D production
Excessive sun exposureSunburns, cancer, and radiation damage
Chemical exposureDryness, irritation, inflammation, cancer
Repeated injury/frictionScar formation, Callus (thick skin)

A touch on diet and the skin

Our body shows pretty much what we eat.

A healthy diet helps the skin fight aging. Vitamin C, Omega 3- fatty acids, Zinc, and Vitamin E are well known for skin nourishment.

Healthy foods.

Skin Facts- Skin friendly foods!

But, a diet rich in trans fats, sugar and decreased activity adds oxidative stress on the skin. This stress makes the skin age faster and causes wrinkles early.

Yum but not so good.

Skin Facts- Yum but not so good for the skin! 

Stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep affect skin health by reducing moisture and causing dryness, wrinkling and sagging.

Myths about the skin

Now we know a bit about the structure of the skin, its functions, and its favorite nutrients.

We also learned what factors affect our skin in good and bad ways.

Let’s look at several myths about skin and skincare treatments.

1) Creams claiming anti-aging substances can keep the skin looking young.

The cosmetic industry is a $532 billion industry.

Our markets are filled with thousands of products claiming various anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging capabilities.

The cost of the product is driven by the brand name, marketing, and appearance of the product.

Most of such claims are untested, unproven and has no scientific data behind them.

2) Cleaning the skin with antibacterial soap is better than regular soap.

The skin is home to many microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses.

Many of these creatures are useful and take part in skins’ function.

Some of these microorganisms even protect us from other harmful bugs.

It is not possible to keep the skin completely free of bacteria or other organisms; it is not necessary.

Keeping your skin clean with regular soap is just fine.

Good and frequent hand washing prevents most infections.

3) Hot water provides better skin cleanse.

We feel great while taking a hot bath, don’t we?

Actually, hot water will strip the skin of its natural protectants (such as oil) and leave your skin very dry.

If your skin looks red after a wash, the water was too hot. Simple.

Skin Facts- Use lukewarm water for cleaning the skin.

4) Rubbing hard with a scrub means better exfoliation.

Ideal exfoliation removes the most superficial layer of the skin.

Hard and repeated rubbing of any type of scrub will injure the younger, budding cells.

The young skin cells give you that great look but you end up damaging them by friction!

The best exfoliation is the gentle one.

5)The price tag of a product speaks for its quality.

The brand name, aggressive marketing, and popularity drive the cost of a product.

Remember that gorgeous looking bottle with a shiny label claiming the ultimate cure?

You do. Remember its price tag of $130 for 0.5 Oz product?

A good cosmetic product is driven by the quality of its ingredients and how it helps reach your goals without causing harm.

Now, there is a price tag to this achievement and there is a reasonable method to assess the quality of a cosmetic product without having to use it.

A proper understanding of the label of the product is essential to identify a good product. 

6) If a product is labeled “natural” or “chemical-free”, it must be good for me.

First of all, one needs to determine if you are allergic to any ingredient listed on a cosmetic product.

Natural or not, allergic reactions can be serious and therefore carefully read the back panel for a list of ingredients.

A label claiming chemical-free has a vast definition (or lack of thereof) and does not exclude chemicals introduced in its base ingredients.

Improperly preserved, “natural” products can promote bacterial growth. As a result, it may cause problems for you. 

In general, reading the label thoroughly helps you understand the content and quality. It also helps you set your expectations out of using the product.

Make sure to thoroughly read the label on the backside of the product. Why?

Because it is the most important source of this information!

Read more about how to analyze a product label here.

Cosmetic Terminology

Last but not least, we want to discuss several terms used in the cosmetic and skincare world and their meaning. 

* Acidic- normal skin pH ranges between 4.5-5.5. The neutral pH is 7. Any number lower than 7 is acidic. What is pH?

* Alkaline- any pH number greater than 7 is Alkaline.

* Anti-oxidant- a substance that reduces free-radical damage. In reality, most cosmetic products claiming to be “anti-oxidant” are not proven by scientific means. Avoid such marketing words while evaluating a product.

* Emollient- a substance that increases water levels in the skin, also known as a moisturizer. An example here.

* Essential oil- an oily substance extracted from the plant while preserving its fragrance.

* Flavonoids- substances found in pigmented fruits, vegetables, nuts, and the seeds. Some claim they possess anti-oxidant properties.

* Fibroblast- a cell responsible for collagen production and keeps the skin plump.

* Fragrance- a natural or chemically produced compound used as a scent.

* Free radicals- substances generated in our body by excessive sunlight, smoking, pollution, and unhealthy diet causing skin damage.

* Fruit enzymes- mild substances derived from fruit for gentle exfoliation by breaking down keratin of the skin. An example here.

* Humectant- a moisturizer.

* Gel- a thin, pasty substance/product. An example here.

* Lotion- a thin product made with water, oils, and butter for application on the skin for moisturizing, and improving dryness. An example here.

* Cream- thicker product compared to lotion, particularly for very dry skin. An example here.

* Body butter-Shea or other butter for dry skin, and areas with naturally thick skin (palm of hands, sole of feet). An example here.

* Body balm- a cream without water!

* Serum- a deep moisturizer. An example here.

* Toner- a product claiming to improve skin tone and texture. They come in all forms- creams, serum, oils, lotions, and gels!

* Hair oil- various oil preparations used to promote hair health and growth. An example here.

Suggested reading:

In summary, our skin is a showcase of our body and taking good care of our skin is essential for well being.

We hope that you found this blog post informative and useful. Don’t forget to routinely visit our blog and share it with your family and friends. Feel free to leave a comment below!

Disclaimer- This website and any of its content, comment, writing or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest a medical, legal or professional advice, opinion or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.