Friday, June 06, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Oddly Shimmering And The Scary- Mario Badescu Summer Shine Body Lotion

This was supposed to be a simple and easy post, telling you how I've been testing the Summer Shine Body Lotion from Mario Badescu for weeks and how well it works for me despite the very icky plastic coconut smell (it's unpleasant for 5-10 minutes before disappearing completely). I was also going to discuss the tiny shimmering particles in it, that are pretty tame and only show up under direct sunlight or strong artificial light.

I also wanted to mention how the lotion has the perfect weight and texture even for more humid days, isn't sticky and keeps my legs supple. I was very impressed with its performance and was fully willing to forgive the scent.

But those shiny particles got me curious, as they look like mica, an ingredient that doesn't appear on the label (it's not the first time I'm questioning the truth behind Badescu labels). This got me into research mood. Now, I truly dislike it when people declare themselves experts on a subject based on their googling skills, and I especially detest those who act like they've earned a PhD from the Wikipedia School of Chemistry. I'm also aware that similar chemicals can be found in many other products in my (and your) cabinets, and have been there for years. It's important to remember that while the skin is our largest organ, it's the most effective filter and barrier. Otherwise we'd be dead long ago because of all the crap we come across. The skin keeps it outside our bodies.

Still, I'm a bit disturbed.

Here's the ingredient list, as found both online and on the bottle:
Deionized Water, Peanut Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Myristyl Myristate, Dimethicone, Beeswax, Stearic Acid, Isopropyl Myristate, Sodium Benzoate, Quaternium-15, Diazolidinyl Urea.

Water, peanut oil and beeswax are self-explanatory. Let's google the rest:

Octyl palmitate- An emollient amplifying ester commonly used as a mineral oil replacement.
So far so good. My skin doesn't do well under a coat of mineral oil.

Retinyl palmitate- vitamin A, a skin normalizer helping to balance all skin types by penetrating the skin. A powerful anti-oxidant that increases skin elasticity, yielding younger looking skin.
Cool. No wonder my skin is happy.

Myristyl Myristate- Ester of myristyl alcohol and myristic acid. Esters are light oils used as cosmetic emollients.
Ok, emollient is nice.

Dimethicone- The most widely used silicon-based organic polymer, and is particularly known for its unusual rheological (or flow) properties. Its applications range from contact lenses and medical devices to elastomers, in shampoos (as dimethicone makes hair shiny and slippery), caulking, lubricating oils and heat resistant tiles.
I can live with that. There was a long list of common uses, from filling breast implants to treating head lice. I guess it's safe (unless you're the head lice).

Stearic acid - Stearic acid is a saturated fat that's mainly in animal products. It's also in some plant foods like chocolate. It's very stable in storage and during frying. A relatively large percentage of stearic acid consumed is converted to oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat). Stearic acid is used to form margarines, shortenings, spreads, and as a cream base for baked products. Even though stearic acid is a saturated fat, studies have suggested that it has little effect on blood cholesterol levels, because such a high proportion is converted to oleic acid.
I'm not too crazy about it being an animal product, but I shouldn't be a hypocrite, considering the content of many of my favorite products. Besides, I'm not eating it.

Isopropyl Myristate is derived from vegetable fatty acid from coconut oil, acts as a thickening agent. Used as an emollient and lubricant in preshaves, aftershaves, shampoos, bath oils, antiperspirants, deodorants, and various creams and lotions. More than 5 percent in a formulation can cause skin irritation and clog pores.
Note to self: Keep far far away from face.

Sodium benzoate-is a type of salt that may occur naturally in some foods but is more likely to be chemically produced and added as a preservative to foods. There have been some health concerns about the combination of sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid or vitamin C. When the two are mixed, they can form the chemical benzene, which is carcinogenic. However, sodium benzoate on its own is not considered a carcinogen, and you would have to consume a huge amount of it in order to have toxic levels in your body.
Umm, couldn't they find something that hasn't had any carciogenic connections?

Quaternium-15 is a quaternary ammonium salt used as a preservative in many cosmetics and industrial substances. It acts as a formaldehyde releaser. It can cause contact dermatitis, a symptom of an allergic reaction, especially in those with sensitive skin, on an infant's skin, or on sensitive areas such as the genitals. Quaternium-15 is an allergen, and can cause contact dermatitis in susceptible individuals. Many of those with an allergy to quaternium-15 are also allergic to formaldehyde. Allergic sensitivity to quaternium-15 can be detected using a patch test. It is the single most often found cause of allergic contact dermatitis of the hands (16.5% in 959 cases).
Seriously, who puts such strong allergens in a skincare product?

Diazolidinyl urea is derived from plants. It is a formaldehyde donor, but NOT formaldehyde in the gaseous state. Only formaldehyde gas has been linked to breast or other cancers. Diazolidinyl urea is considered safe even at high ambient temperatures, and has been extensively evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board. It is considered safe for both leave-on and rinse-off products. Nonetheless, there is a statistically significant number of people (1 in about 1000) whose skin may be irritated by this preservative. It was recently re-classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to its highest toxic class, IARC 1 (known human carcinogen). Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some studies concluded that effects can result in: carcinogen, causes allergic reactions and contact dermatitis; headaches; irritates mucous membranes; damaging to eyes; linked to joint and chest pain; depression; headaches; fatigue; dizziness and immune dysfunction.
Say what? I'd rather go with a good old fashioned parabens, thank you very much.

So there you have it, controversy in a bottle.

Mario Badescu products are available at your local Nordstrom and from the comapny's website, which is where I bought my bottle. $10 for 6 oz, $22 for 16 oz.

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