Skincare myths exposed

By Chiu Yi-chun and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 3

The Taiwanese Dermatological Association yesterday sought to dispel some of the most widely held myths surrounding skincare ingredients at a press conference in Taipei and urged consumers to refrain from panicking.

Common cosmetic preservatives methylisothiazolinone (MI) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) have become a byword for “poison” among many consumers, who have made it a priority to select products that do not contain these substances.

A mixture of MI and MCI is used to restrict microbial growth in many personal care products, “however, facial products that do not contain MI or MCI generally have a shorter expiration date than those that do,” association deputy secretary-general and spokesperson Huang Yu-hui (黃毓惠) said.

“They are therefore more susceptible to deterioration and bacterial buildup if left unused for a long time, which could trigger all sorts of skin disorders, such as eczema and allergies, and make them even more detrimental [to dermatological health] than preservatives,” Huang said.

Huang said almost all nations, Taiwan included, have placed limits on the use of preservatives in cosmetic products. Taiwan sets the maximum level of preservatives allowed in rinse-off and leave-on products at 0.1 percent and 0.001 percent respectively.

“Preservatives are not as ‘despicable’ as most people believe, as long as they are used in accordance with the safety standards,” Huang added.

Turning to dimethicone and cyclomethicone, ingredients that are often included in hair conditioners and are thought to be responsible for clogging hair follicles, causing hair loss and even baldness, Huang said the substances can not only effectively clean and moisturize the hair, but also make it sleek and smooth.

“Consumers are advised to opt for shampoos with as few ingredients as possible, but they should not burden themselves with unnecessary fears,” Huang said.

Huang also dismissed the Consumers’ Foundation’s recent warning that long-term use of lip balms containing more than 10 percent paraffin risks disturbing the lips’ natural regulatory mechanism, causing increased dryness, and possibly damaging the liver and kidneys.

“Paraffin is a vital ingredient for lip balm and facial moisturizers that is non-toxic when refined. It is best suited for winter skincare and is commonly prescribed by dermatologists to their patients,” Huang said.

As for the growing trend of making homemade beauty products among health-conscious consumers, Huang said that as most people tended to have a hard time blending the required ingredients in the right proportions, the products they make would most likely be unable to penetrate the skin and end up being a waste of money.