SENSITIVITY IS ON THE RISE
Skincare is often treated like fashion these days with new "it" glamorous-sounding, not-based-in-science ingredients each season (now with the latest hero crystals, a rare flower from the base of the Himalayas, or with 50 "active" plant extracts and oils). This often leads to excessive layering of products, actives and exfoliants at increasingly higher percentages and even DIY mixing of ingredients. It's not surprising that according to data collected by the International Journal of Dermatology, more than 50% of women and almost 40% of men declared having "sensitive" or "very sensitive" skin. This number continues to rise as more clients are coming in with discomfort, irritation and other signs of sensitized skin that often also lead to accelerated skin aging.
Lex and Jong understands sensitive and sensitized skin and blacklists commonly-used ingredients that have proven to be sensitizing and damaging to skin...even those considered "safe" for skin and often used in "clean" beauty.
FACTS OVER MARKETING
We refuse to scare people into purchasing products and don't play into the "chemophobia" fear-mongering and the "us vs them" / "natural vs synthetic" / "clean beauty" vs "toxic beauty" mindsets that are so prevalent in the beauty world today. Terms like "clean", "natural" beauty are divisive and vague (with no true definition or regulation) and vilify based on generalizations and unproven myths. To be clear, we DO believe many naturally-derived ingredients are beneficial, but we caution against the belief that just because it's "natural" it's better.
Many synthetic ingredients used in cosmetics have been around for a half a century with several documented independent scientific studies on safety and effectiveness and this is untrue for many new naturally-derived ingredients used today.
While we use several therapeutic naturally-derived ingredients in our products, there are several reasons we don't advertise it or exclusively use a long list of naturally-derived ingredients. There is no such thing as "all-natural" or chemical-free on this planet. This is because everything is made up of chemicals - including water, plants, and the air we breathe. An essential oil in an ingredient list, for example, may be made up of many more chemicals not listed (sometimes hundreds more and most often sensitizing ones) than those from a lab people are trying to replace in order to avoid more chemicals.
Vilifying based on generalizations and information out of context is dangerous (which extends to so many aspects of life), and there are the good and not-so-good in both the naturally-derived and synthetic world of ingredients.
SKIN SENSITIZER WATCH LIST
Sensitive and sensitized skin can stem from many factors and one of the biggest causes today is the use of sensitizing ingredients in skincare that often give rise to chronic skin issues (beyond accelerated skin aging) that are hard to treat. The following are just a few of many ingredients of concern that we do not use in our skincare. Unfortunately, many are still commonly used in both "clean", traditional beauty, and even in products advertised for sensitive skin...giving the impression that these ingredients are safe for skin. This is not meant to scare you but perhaps help you see things from a different perspective and encourage research from independent scientific journals, not websites with special interests. As we continue to keep watch on formulation science, this list will be updated accordingly.
- Alcohols such as Alcohol Denat/Denatured Alcohol, SD Alcohol 40, Ethanol and Isopropyl Alcohol - many times listed on ingredient lists simply as Alcohol - High chance of damaging skin barrier, increasing dry skin, redness and inflamed skin conditions as well as increasing oiliness and enlarge pores.
- Benzoyl Peroxide - Drying and can cause severe irritation of the skin
- Coal Tar - Beyond potential for irritation, its polyaromatic hydrocarbons with potential to cause skin cancer have raised concerns.
- Most Essential Oils - No matter how they are marketed or how many internet articles speak of their benefits, when you look at the science, many essential oils are from chemically volatile parts of plants with compounds that are highly irritating and damaging to skin (a lot of which may not be visible but occur underneath the surface).
- Naturally-Derived & Synthetic Fragrance Components - Please pay attention to the specific fragrances listed below as they are not listed in ingredient lists specifically as fragrance or parfum. These naturally-derived fragrance components can contain 100 disruptive chemicals shown to be some of the most irritating and allergenic ingredients that are extremely harmful to skin. They can not only cause dermatitis and sensitivities with long-term use, but they can cause you to be allergic and react negatively to other ingredients used with it. Although skin may not show negative signs for years, the damage can continue underneath to potentially show in the form of rosacea, dark spots, uneven skin texture, wrinkles, and even trigger long-term conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Brands don't actually have to list details of their fragrance(s) since they are considered trade secrets unless there are allergens involved. The tricky part is when these components are listed separately not as "fragrance" or "perfume" as a whole (as often done to seem "natural"). In both naturally-derived and synthetic products, look for ingredients (often towards the end of an ingredient list) that include
- Gold/ Colloidal Gold - potent skin sensitizer
- Lanolin - Besides being secreted from sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, it's known to cause irritation and allergic reactions in skin.
- Menthol / Menthyl Lactate / Mints (Including Balm Mint, Peppermint, etc.) - High sensitizer and irritant potential
- Musks (Nitromusks (Musk Keytone, Musk Xylene) / Polycyclic Musks (Galaxolide, Tonalide) - These fragrances are often included in cosmetics but rarely disclosed have raised concerns due to links to bioaccumulation, endocrine disruption, and both organ and reproductive toxicity.
- Spices (Including Cayenne, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Nutmeg and more) - very high potential for irritation and sensitization of skin. Great for the pantry but based on science, they have no business being in your skincare.
- Tea Tree Oil - Skin sensitizer and irritant
- Thyme - Skin sensitizer and irritant
- Witch Hazel - Despite its popularity in skincare, its chemistry tells us it can actually harm the skin long-term due to the drying effects of its concentrations of tannins and the fact that it's a source for the proven sensitizer, eugenol.
We admit it - we are more than a bit obsessive when it comes to formulating products and overprotective of the beauty our clients' skin.
When formulating products, we don't have anyone telling us to limit formulations to a specific price range, market or popular trend. We believe the things we put on our skin should help it - period. This means being extra selective about what we find to be effective ingredients from research and combining them in a way that helps to promote synergistic functions at percentages found to provide visible results. We absolutely believe that this provides more value for our clients through a less complicated routine for improved results. We want the quality, ease of use, and effectiveness to keep our clients coming back.
WE KNOW SKIN
For us, the passion for beauty is very personal. We are the first to admit, we are not business people who went to business school so our products don't come from these perspectives. Lex and Jong is truly based on a deep-rooted commitment and love for beauty of cosmetologist, Brendan Vartan, who has worked in the field with clients for over twenty years. Many sessions with his clients involve everything from thorough magnification analysis, customized treatments and personalized color applications. Each experience in the treatment room and on the makeup chair helps to guide formulations. Based on the successes of these experiences, products have been designed to work on diverse clients of various ages and ethnicities. In fact, the idea of Lex and Jong began when Brendan found such success formulating from these observations to treat his difficult skin issues, that he wanted to share the results with others.