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. It's not uncommon to hear about products featuring latest hero crystals, some rare, magical flower for skin, or such things as "now with 50 active plant extracts and oils or higher percents of acids." This often leads to excessive layering of products, compounding use of 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.
Created by an experienced cosmetologist who has achieved success with diverse clients for more than two decades and personally understands sensitive/sensitized skin as well as aging concerns, Lex and Jong focuses on addressing these needs.
FACTS OVER MARKETING
Because we have worked with science for so long, it's hard for us to play into the "chemophobia" fear-mongering "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.
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 or fruit extract 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.
Many synthetic ingredients used in cosmetics have been around for a half a century with several documented independent scientific studies on safety and effectiveness. Lab-produced ingredients can also be reproduced with more accurate consistency as many naturally-derived products, if kept in their natural state, cannot guarantee this. What makes some of them even remotely beneficial may have to be changed so the formula does not vary much from batch to batch, so their inclusion in products are mainly for marketing purposes.
With this said, 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 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. Even dermatologists can disagree on certain ingredients, but I 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.
- Most Essential Oils - including jasmine, lavender, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, ylang ylang and much more. 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. While many people are not allergic, people can absolutely develop allergies from constant use not only from the particular fragrances but from other ingredients combined with those fragrances in the product(s). 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. Many dermatologists and scientists caution that they can not only cause dermatitis and sensitivities with long-term use, but as stated earlier, 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 & Certain Herbs - 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.
- 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 products and overprotective of the beauty our clients' skin.
When creating 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 as ultimately, what we do is about reclaiming the beauty, health and confidence with your skin.