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Ingredient Hysteria and Misconceptions

By: Carol and Rob Trow
Posted: January 2, 2014, from the January 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Each and every year, there are multiple new skin care brands entering an already-overcrowded space. Many try to garner attention by touting a new, magic ingredient and others by attacking established, scientifically proven ingredients.

A simple truth that sets the stage for separating ingredient fact from fiction: It is the dose of an ingredient, more than the ingredient itself, that determines toxicity. A related corollary is that the form of an ingredient can affect its efficacy, as well as whether or not it is potentially toxic.

Is it fair to say water is a nontoxic ingredient? Yes; however, if you ingest too much water, it can have a deadly effect. You can draw the same conclusions on a plethora of ingredients.

Separating fact from fiction

There are myriad ingredients that have been subject to misinformation based on shabby research, personal opinions and self-interest, including vitamin A, propylene glycol, parabens, mineral oil and disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

Vitamin A. If there is a universal ingredient in skin care that has received unprecedented support, it is vitamin A. As early as 1938, researchers have documented both the need for vitamin A in skin care, and its role in constructively ameliorating photodamaged skin.1–5 It is reasonable to assert that there have been several hundred articles that have appeared in refereed scientific journals that attest to the safety and efficacy of vitamin A.