Q. Are there any ingredients that can help to lighten under-eye circles?
A . In the past few years, several ingredients have been developed to lighten dark under-eye circles. Two of the most promising are Haloxyl, a peptide blend created by Sederma, a French ingredient vendor, and REGU-AGE, a peptide and enzyme blend produced by Pentapharm in Switzerland.
To understand the function of each ingredient, it is first important to know the underlying cause of darkness around the eyes. Under-eye circles are created when red blood cells leak from capillaries in the eye area, releasing hemoglobin when they explode in nearby skin tissue. The iron-rich hemoglobin degrades into the yellow pigment—bilirubin—as well as other various colored pigments, resulting in a bruised appearance to the skin under the eyes and sometimes on the eyelids. It still isn’t clear why the capillaries leak, although inflammation—due to stress, genetics, allergies and lack of sleep—is believed to be a key trigger.
Haloxyl is a combination of four components. Hydroxysuccinimide binds to the iron released by the red blood cells, trapping the molecules before bilirubin can be formed and making the iron soluble enough to be eliminated from the skin. Chrysin stimulates a natural enzyme that clears bilirubin that already has been formed. Working with these molecules are two peptides—palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3. They provide support to the fragile connective tissue around the eyes. When it begins to lose its tone and elasticity, the irritation that leads to dark circles can increase.
Studies by Sederma show that 3% Haloxyl lessens the production of the key inflammatory enzyme prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in epidermal keratinocytes by 93% and in dermal fibroblasts by 86% when these cells are exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation—long believed by researchers to be a significant contributor to aging around the eye area. In a two-month clinical study by Sederma of 22 females whose average age was 32.7 years, application of a gel two times a day containing 2% Haloxyl showed an average 63% decrease in under-eye darkening.
Pentapharm, the creator of REGU-AGE, has determined that capillary leakage is caused by insufficient blood flow in the microcirculation of the capillaries. This slowdown in velocity puts increased pressure on the surrounding tissue, causing blood to be pressed out of the tiny vessels underneath the skin. This strain also may mark the beginning of the inflammation process.
In vitro tests by Pentapharm show that the combination of the enzyme oxidoreductase with hydrolyzed rice bran and the natural peptides of soy reduces free radicals that lead to inflammation, while improving microcirculation by strengthening the elastin/collagen matrix in the eye area skin.
Clinical tests by Pentapharm show a significant visible reduction of dark circles (32%) and eye puffiness (25%) after four weeks. These effects were even more pronounced at eight weeks (35% and 31.5%, respectively).
Q. Is there a law that requires manufacturers of professional use-only products to provide the product’s ingredient list, either on the container or when directly requested?
A . No. Unlike retail products, which have been required to disclose ingredients since 1977, it is not mandatory for professional use-only products to feature ingredient lists. This is because the purpose of ingredient labeling, as described in the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), is to help consumers make retail product value comparisons. This intention ignores the fact that many clients may wish to know what is included in professional beauty products and may choose not to have the product used on them if the ingredient list is absent or unavailable.
Some cosmetics are used in professional settings and are sold at retail outlets. When this is the case, the retail product must have the ingredient list printed on the outermost container, enabling the consumer to read it before making a purchase. Of course, you can ask the manufacturer for the ingredient list of a professional use-only product, but it is not required to supply it.
However, since June 24, 1988, manufacturers of professional products have been required, as part of their compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Organization (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, to supply Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to spas and other professional businesses. According to a joint report from the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors, Inc. (ICMAD), the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) and the former American Beauty Association, “These MSDSs must include the identity of certain ingredients in these products and a description of the nature of any potential hazard.”
These organizations also have requested that manufacturers voluntarily make accessible to professionals the same type of ingredient information that is available to consumers for their products. Some have complied, often presenting the ingredients in alphabetical order, instead of the normal most-to-least order, as a way of preventing proprietary details about their formulations from getting into the wrong hands.
Q. Now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a standard for the term “organic,” has any government agency officially defined the word “natural” as it relates to cosmetics?
A .No. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly contacted 1,800 consumers randomly from the telephone book and asked them to define the word “natural” as it applied to such categories as foods and cosmetics. According to the story, they received 1,800 different definitions. Approximately 80% of those queried said that they thought “natural” had something to do with plants. As a result, to date, the FDA still has not published a definition of natural cosmetics and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.
Recently, in an effort to provide a standard for the concept, the 25 founding members the International Association of Natural Product Producers (IANPP) drafted criteria and guidelines for companies seeking to give meaning and credibility to natural ingestible and topical ingredients. Following is the IANPP standard for topical naturals.
Natural ingredients are:
• “Derived (originated) from natural sources (not synthetic/man-made), including plant, animal and inorganic mineral sources. Any changes to the original natural ingredient must not undergo changes in one or more covalent bonds during manufacturing and/or processing.”
• “Processed with nonsynthetic (natural) methods. Solvents must be found in nature (originate from plant, animal or inorganic mineral sources), and the processing method must not introduce anything that is not of natural derivation.”
• “Not artificially/synthetically derived and/or processed ingredients, such as artificial/synthetic additives, colorings, coloring agents, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, processing aids, carriers, synthetically derived and/or processed contaminants from packaging, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or other non-natural ingredients.”
• “Be fully disclosed and documented regarding ingredient derivation and method of processing.”
• “Include the words ‘preserved with’ on the label regarding preservative ingredients.”
• “The IANPP definition of natural is intended to specifically define what constitutes natural. Other considerations, such as safety, allergies, toxicity, animal testing, socially responsible packaging and business practices (fair trade, Third World projects, responsible use and ingredient disposal, cooperative work environment), respect for endangered species, biodegradability/environmental friendliness, environmentally protective methods of production, etc., are not included in this definition. The definition, at this time, is voluntary and is not intended to be a legal definition enforceable by any government or nongovernment agency.”
For the complete definition, please log on to www.ianpp.org/natural.htm. The IANPP is asking for industry comments on the preceding definition before the draft is made final. Send your comments or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the future, the group plans on providing a glossary of non-natural ingredients, labeling guidelines for natural products and a natural certification program.
Q. Why is PABA no longer popular in sunscreens?
A .American consumers don’t like PABA. If you ask them why, they’re likely to respond, “It causes cancer,” “It causes allergies,” or, even more likely, “I don’t know; I just don’t want it in my sunscreen.”
Whatever the answer, it probably is based on misinformation. PABA is an abbreviation that stands for para-aminobenzoic acid. Famous for its ability to protect skin from the reddening rays of the sun, this versatile vitamin in the B-complex family gained a reputation as an anti-graying agent many years before the beach crowd ever heeded its call. Unfortunately, PABA has no effect on graying strands when applied to the hair or scalp. However, it is known to be a component of folic acid involved in protein metabolism. When ingested, PABA is beneficial for seborrheic skin lesions and the regulation of oil glands. It also is helpful in controlling acne and mild blemishes. Look for PABA in wheat germ, yogurt, molasses and green leafy vegetables if you’d like to increase the vitamin in your diet.
PABA started to gain popularity for its sun-protection ability in the Roaring ‘20s when fashion icon Coco Chanel started the tanning trend that lasted the remainder of the century. Savvy sunbathers bought PABA in pill form, mixed it with iodine and mineral oil, shook it up like salad dressing, and then rubbed the concoction from head to toe. Several hours of direct sun exposure produced a deep, golden tan. When the tentative final monograph for sunscreens first was proposed in the 1970s, PABA still was going strong as one of the American sunscreens of choice.
So what went wrong? Several things. PABA has an unpleasant odor; it stains natural fabrics; and it can sting. In other words, it’s not as consumer-friendly as other sunscreens that are available today. From a sunscreen chemist’s viewpoint, PABA presents some challenges. It is hard to keep in a solution; it is pH-reactive; and it is too water-soluble to be a good sunscreen, especially in water-resistant products. It also isn’t as efficient as other more popular sunscreens because it filters rays in the wrong area of the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum to protect from the harshest sunburns. Oddly, its ability to absorb rays in the lower end of the UV range may bring PABA back into use as chemists start to rely on it in new ultrabroad-spectrum sunscreens that protect from UVC light—the rays that shine through ozone-depleted areas of the Earth.
Several sunscreens related to PABA also have helped to ruin its reputation with the American public. Glyceryl PABA, which was used more than PABA in the 1980s, has the oil-soluble nature required for water-resistant sunscreens, but turned out to be a common allergen. This led many consumers to believe that any ingredient with PABA in its name was an allergen. Two other members of the family—amyl dimethyl PABA and octyl dimethyl PABA—are not acids at all. They are esters that are formed when an acid (PABA) reacts with an alcohol, with the excess water removed. This causes the resulting ingredients to be oil-soluble and, therefore, to function as good choices in water-resistant sunscreens. But amyl dimethyl PABA proved to have more serious problems than PABA. Users complained that it stung the eye area, and researchers noted a possible link to cancer. Amyl dimethyl PABA no longer is approved for use in U.S. sunscreens.
The other ester, octyl dimethyl PABA, provides a much better sunscreen. In fact, most sunscreen chemists agree that it is one of the best sunscreen ingredients in the United States, although its relationship to PABA has lessened its use. In fact, until PABA became a consumer no-no, octyl dimethyl PABA was the most popular sunscreen in the world. Now listed as Padimate O on sunscreen labels, its stable molecular structure prevents this ester from breaking down into its PABA parent, so the side effects aren’t a problem. In fact, Padimate O has one of the best sunscreen profiles for absorbing dangerous UV rays.