The Short History of Skin Care

It’s funny how history repeats itself. What is good for you one day is ineffective the next. There’s always something that is the next best thing”. We usually know little about this “next big thing” until it’s been here for years. Until we’ve actually seen the effects. This message someone made, as a knock against modern medicine, perfectly demonstrates this:

History of Medicine:

1000 AD: “Here, eat this herb.”
1700: “That herb is an old wives’ tale; take this elixir.”
1900: “That elixir is quackery; take this pill.”
1960: “That pill doesn’t do any good; take this antibiotic.”
2000: “That antibiotic isn’t safe; take this herb.”

This is obviously to be taken tongue in cheek. A knock against medicine – holistic and modern – in general. But it reminds an awful lot of the skin care industry! Here’s my take:

History of Skin Care:

2000 BC: “Here, put these essential oils on your skin.”
1000 BC: “Still have skin problems? Try sulfur.”
1920: “Sulfur irritating/drying your skin out too much? Try benzoyl peroxide.”
1960: “I combined all of those ingredients to make a cure! Try this ointment.”
1980: “Overused the ointments – now you have adult acne? Take this Accutane.”
2010: “Complications from Accutane? Try something a little more natural.”

Natural Shea butter being pounded –

You can’t fool nature. Powerful ointments may fool us into thinking “if I can just find a bit stronger one I will be clear.” Little do we know that makes things worse. As much as you may disdain the big companies and want to “go natural”, modern technology enables us to combine new methods with old. Here’s how a product can be made using the best of both worlds:

  • New methods – Ability to ship anywhere in the world freshly made products.
  • Old methods – Made fresh locally.
  • New methods – Accurate, precise measurements and an artisan approach.
  • Old methods – Long lost secrets of skin care ‘sorcerers’ to making moisturizers and products.
  • New methods – Ability to import any high quality ingredient from anywhere in the world.
  • Old methods – Use of oils and butters and herbs, that were only found locally in season.
  • New methods – Absence of toxic ingredients that used to be used such as lead and mercury.
  • Old methods – Absence of harsh ingredients currently used such as sulfur, heavy preservatives, acidic products, silicone/dimethicone and artificial fragrances.
The rise in processed foods consumption

This perfectly reflects the state of the food industry People of old ate a healthier and far simpler diet. The rise in processed food coincides with a series of complications. Even with all of the vast knowledge we have to know that it is bad for you! Who’s to say the skin industry doesn’t face the same problem?

Moisturizers and creams made the right way can look almost indistinguishable from home-made creams of old. They work better too. By combining the simplified methods of the past with modern technology, we really can get the best of both worlds!

An Oasis in the Desert: Morocco’s Argan Oil

When Moroccans think of liquid gold they aren’t thinking about petroleum oil. In the small region of Morocco, the thorny Argania Spinosa tree produces a fruit bearing one of the most lucrative oils in the world – Argan oil. This oil has been known to treat everything from discolored skin to improved elasticity and suppleness in skin.

A Berber village typically depends on this rare oil –

Argan oil contains Vitamin E, Carotenes, Squalene and essentially fatty acids. These components heal scar tissue (especially acne scars), treat psoriasis, eczema and even helps undo UV damage to the skin. This oil is even used to improve conditioning in the hair.

As this recent article spotlights, the number of cosmetics that advertise the use of Argan oil has skyrocketed. Two in 2007 to 111 in 2011. The reason why I bold that? The amount this rare, exotic oil is used is usually nil. What’s more appealing than claiming to use a rare, expensive oil from an exotic location? Especially when they only need to (technically) put a few drops in. This is unlikely to demonstrate any of the real benefits of that Argan oil provides.

If a few drops are unlikely to do the trick pure Argan oil must be best, right? Wrong. The oils need a carrier to penetrate deep in the skin. That is what a proper moisturizer does (a silicone-based moisturizer will block most absorption). Choosing between a pure oil and a moisturizer with only a tiny amount is choosing between the lesser of evils. Carley’s Tamanu Cream uses about 5% Argan Oil. And we don’t even advertise the oil!

I first heard about Argan oil from a Mroccan friend that happened to import this oil. It took nothing but a quick pitch for me to have product ideas swirling through my head. Moroccans have used the oil for centuries to treat in particular damaged skin – How about a discoloration cream? An acne scarring cream? Maybe a hair product in the future?

In it’s purest form, the oil is semi-solid while refrigerated. Many oil importers dilute it with cheaper oils. We don’t touch these cheap variations. The Argania Spinosa tree is extracted by native Moroccan women by hand. By peeling the outer layer of the fruit and pounding the the center with a rock, the oil can be extracted from kernels. This is a major source of income for the Berber tribe in Southern Morocco where the income is redistributed – mostly among women. It is estimated that over three million people receive income from Argan oil extraction!

One of the most interesting things about this wonder oil is the tree that bears it’s fruit. Grown in the desert, goats are known to “climb” these trees to reach the precious fruit it bears. Don’t worry about the environmental footprint of this tree. This tree is farmed locally by villages and constantly regrown. No goats were harmed in the making of this post!

Is Dimethicone (Silicone) in your Store Bought Moisturizers?

“I am allergic to dimethicone and unfortunately it is in everything. I have oily skin that is prone to acne. However, sometimes I think it’s because I’m having a allergic reaction to my shampoo or conditioner or toothpaste. Like I said dimethicone is in everything. Do you have make up, moisturizers, sun screens, hair products and or toothpaste without dimethicone? Desperately seeking a great product without silicone in it, but I live in Hawaii. Is it still free shipping? Thank you in advance for responding to me.” -Debra N.

You along with many others, including me, are allergic to dimethicone, or silicone. it has many other names and is not even required to be listed on the label. it is  a menace. manufacturers (even small ones)use it because it makes filling bottles easy. no bubbles or foam. and in hair care it is used to make the hair ‘silky’ but seals the hair shaft and causes the hair to die. we do not use any silicones or dimethicones or anything associated with those chemicals.

Take a look at your store brand moisturizer and glance at the ingredients. Out of all of the unpronounceable names, look for Dimethicone. Also referred to as silicone, Dimethicone has a place in this world. Is that place in your moisturizer?

In order for a moisturizer to restore moisture to the skin it needs to enable the absorption of materials into the skin. Otherwise it’s just something that sits on the skin. Silicone smothers the skin and makes the moisturizer sit on the skin. The greasy feeling you get when you put on that moisturizer with silicone is actually the silicone particles sitting on your skin. If a silicone-based moisturizer is such a walking contradiction, why do companies use silicone?

A major ingredient of Gas-X is Dimethicone

Silicone is used for one reason – to treat bubbles and foam. Bubbles become a major problem when manufacturing in large quantities. Without silicone, that product of yours will come in the mail half full after all of the air bubbles popped. Now it makes sense why Gas-X would use this ingredient (it fights gas). A silicone-based moisturizer may also contain a more consistent feel. Some may experience side effects such as irritated skin including rash and stinging.

By appearance these store brand moisturizers look great. They may feel great at first. But they do little. Those precious oils you hear about on the labels don’t even go in the skin. We will never put silicone in our products for this very reason. That means hand topping off every product for getting rid of air bubbles. This also means more care is put into the manufacture. Only a few hundred bottles are made a time for this reason. Next time you put one of our moisturizers on your skin, notice how fast it absorbs into your skin. You’ll stay moisturized longer without it sitting on your skin. That’s a real moisturizer!

When the wash gets hard to pump – Just add water!

Quick tip for all of you body wash users: Adding water will return the wash to consistency .

We’re happy to finally made a body wash that didn’t have to be a chemical stew. The trade off is that the consistency can be uneven over time. Especially when the bottle gets low. Just add about 1/2” of water, shake… Voila, the consistency returns to normal!