Rehab Your Nails: My lotion has WHAT in it?!

5:59 PM

Make Over March continues today with a little wake up call as far as your lotion goes.  Everyone knows what lotion is meant to do; moisturize your skin.  For the most part, almost any lotion is going to live up to that basic expectation. Yet haven't we all experienced the dreaded "greasy" feeling, or even dryness after using lotions? That's because all lotion is not created equal.  Even lotions specifically targeted for your nails aren't always the best choice.  We're going to visit oils and the best ones to choose tomorrow but something to keep in mind with both is that there are certain things which your skin just won't absorb.  When a product doesn't properly absorb it can cause you to have a greasy film left on skin where said ingredients just simply won't penetrate the skin. That's bad enough. WORSE is that some lotions actually contain ingredients which aren't good for your skin. 

Let's dispel a little myth I keep hearing first: "There's alcohol in my lotion and it's drying out my skin!!"

Ok, so that's SORT of true.  There are many different types of alcohol though and not all of them are drying to the skin. So what should you look for and what should you avoid? Well there's where it gets a little tricky. Here are some commonly found alcohols in lotions and what they ACTUALLY do for you.

  • Cetearyl Alcohol: This actually makes the lotion smooth and creamy. It's a combination of Cetyl and Steryl alcohol.  It also stabalizes the product, holding the different ingredients together as well as working as a carrier to help the product absorb.
  • Cetyl alcohol: is used as an emollient, lubricant or surfactant, and helps make spreading of a liquid easier.
  • Ethel Alcohol: used as a preservative
  • Benzyl Alcohol: usually a preservative or used as part of a fragrance
  • Steryl Alcohol: Is an emollient which aids in softening skin.
Now that we've sorted that, let's focus on the bad news: fragrances, added colors, and other preservatives and unnecessary ingredients CAN dry out your skin.  They can also cause allergic reactions and more to the point, they simply don't moisturize as well as they could be. Just look at that ingredient list. I bet less than 20% of you can pronounce half of those ingredients, let alone know what they do or don't do. 

OK let's look at another lotion:

I apologize for the quality, my camera really didn't like this one.  But just glance over the ingredients list here versus the one listed above. You're always going to see some chemicals because the lotion has to be preserved and stay a certain texture at various tempuratures and etc. But focus on the fact that here, MOST of the ingredients are easily recognizable: shea butter, sativa seed oil, honey elixir, sweet almond oil, aloe, vanilla fruit extract, water. Moreover, versus the one above, it boasts several types of natural (oill/shea) moisturizers rather than just two and a lot of chemical grossness. Also notice how low on the list the Alcohol is in this one as well as the fragrance, where the one on the top has the ingredients listed much higher. That indicates that this one has LESS of those ingredients which is a good thing.

So what's the point? Short of using straight oils or butters, your best option for lotion is going to be one which contains various oils, little or no fragrance and doesn't list any alcohols or preservatives as the top five ingredients. My personal favorite are the Hempz line but you can shop around to find yotr best match. :)

Here are some other ingredients to watch for:

Glycerin absorbs A LOT of water and can therefore deplete the skin of moisture by sapping what moisture is in the skin. Use it as a moisturizer with caution. High levels of glycerin has no proven increased benefit for skin. In fact, pure glycerin (100% concentration) on skin is not helpful and can actually be drying, causing blisters if left on too long as they can increase water loss by attracting water from the lower layers of skin into the surface layers of skin where the water can easily be lost into the environment.

Petroleum or Petroleum jelly can create the illusion of moisturized, hydrated skin, all the while suffocating your pores. It's water-repellant and not water-soluble, meaning it merely seals the barrier so that moisture does not leave the skin. So while you might feel the instant gratification of a softened surface, you're actually drying out your pores by keeping out air and moisture. What's more, the thick texture makes it difficult to cleanse from the skin.

Instead choose lotions with stearic acid* and natural oil.

*Stearic acid is a fatty acid that is found naturally in the protective outer layer of the skin. It is one of the building blocks of the lipid layers in skin, which help to form a barrier and preserve the skin's natural moisture.

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  1. This was really helpful, nice post!

  2. Excellent and informative! Thank you for clearing up the alcohol thing!

  3. Thank you for all the alcohol descriptions. They're not all created equally!


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