When I began formulating the four Kyūshi face oils my absolute main aim was to create the absolute best product I could, that didn’t expose you, my friends and family or myself to any potentially harmful chemicals. Our face oils have all the ingredients listed on the front of the packaging and all of our suppliers pride themselves on careful sourcing. I wanted them to be free from cheap pore clogging oils, sulphates, silicones, minerals, synthetic ingredients and any other chemicals that are known endocrine disrupters so they are safe for the whole family. This is turn makes the products more expensive to make. Instead of hiking up the prices to make a larger profit margin, or replacing the ingredients with cheaper synthetic fillers I opted to lower the margin to keep the products at an affordable price whilst providing high end luxury without the outrageous price tag. Some of our ingredients may have scary chemical sounding names this is why we ** them so you know that these naturally occur from the essential oils.

I just want to give you a bit of background into why I didn’t use certain ingredients in the first place and what they actually are and where they come from. Synthetic ingredients are formulated in a lab to mimic the components of a natural ingredient by some very clever scientists, I’m not saying these are a bad thing and they of course have their place, but they do miss the therapeutic qualities offered by many natural ingredients something crucial to Kyūshi. Mineral oil for instance is a very simple chemical – it is so simple in its structure that it offers nothing in terms of therapeutic benefits. Borage oil (cold pressed from the seeds of the Starflower Borago officinalis), on the other hand offers one of the highest known levels of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) found in nature. GLA is a high performance anti-ageing compound amazing right! We will sneak this into one of our products I promise. Synthetics are generally much cheaper to use which is why they are used so much. A natural ingredient may cost £500/kg, while its synthetic counterpart might cost as little as £50/kg. Taking into consideration that natural ingredients need to be harvested, pressed, extracted, heated, etc. which takes time and effort so the price difference really does make sense.
So, here’s a perfect example of an industry that knows that an ingredient can be drying and irritating to the skin, but still uses it in most products because it’s cheap and because it’s more difficult to use (expensive) naturally derived ingredients that may not produce the same powerful foaming lather, but can be gentler when used on the skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS is a powerful foaming agent, detergent, and is used in practically all personal care products that have a foaming mechanism – even in some toothpastes. However, it is also the ingredient used by scientists to irritate skin in clinical studies that look at dermatitis (eczema).
If you follow @missAlicemakingitsimple on instagram you’ll know I’m a huge fan of new wash shampoo, an example of a shampoo that doesn’t use SLS so it doesn’t lather, but it’s also that lathering effect that dries the hair making conditioner a necessary step. Already that cuts down one product from your cabinet and gives you some extra sleep in the morning.

Another biggie to really look out for are Phthalates these are found in hairsprays, perfume, nail polishes. Listed as dibutyl phthalate di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or butyl benzyl phthalate. Used to soften plastic, moisturise skin and enhance skin penetration of cosmetics. I don’t know about you but I love the idea of using a plastic softener on my face. These substances act as hormone disruptors leading to premature breast development in young girls and interference with reproductive development in male foetuses. Also they adversely affect fertility and have been banned from children’s toys in the US as a result. A similar temporary ban is in place in the EU. They cause allergies, damage liver and kidneys and have been linked to allergies such as asthma. Their existence is not always clearly labelled on products.

Parabans has been a buzz word for a while now and it’s found in some deodorants, moisturisers and toothpaste. Listed as Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates – butyl/methyl/ethyl/propylisobutyl paraben. Used as a preservative. Parabens are oestrogen mimics which can penetrate the skin. Oestrogen-type chemicals have been linked to breast and testicular cancer and a reduction in sperm count. The long-term effects of repeated daily exposure is unknown. Dr Philippa Darbre, an oncology researcher at the University of Reading, has suggested that the parabens in anti-perspirant deodorants could cause breast cancer. She has expressed concern about the frequency with which some people apply these substances and their increasing use by children. I’m a huge fan of the Schmidts Lime and Bergamot natural deodorant if you’re looking to make the switch start with that one, and switch to clear spirits if you’re going to drink, wine and beer will make you more wiffy the next day. Sad but true. Moving onto nail polish and hairspray if your seeing Xylene move on. Listed as xytol or dimethylbenzene. Used as a solvent.This substance irritates the skin and respiratory tract. It may cause liver damage and it is narcotic in high concentrations. Think about that smell in nail salons they may live you with a headache.

Triclosan is found in deodorants, toothpastes, vaginal washes, liquid soaps and mouthwashes. It’s an anti-bacterial agent. Not always listed on labels but if it is may be referred to as 5-chloro2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)-phenol.
toxic dioxins are produced during the manufacture or incineration of this chemical. It is stored in human breast milk and in fish. It may upset the functioning of normal bacteria which keep the body healthy. It can break down in water to create a member of the dioxin family.

Formaldehyde is a particularly scary one. It’s used as a disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, defoamer and preservative in deodorants, shampoos, hand wash and nail varnish. Listed as formalin, formal and methyl aldehyde. It is a suspected human carcinogen – it has been found to cause lung cancer in rats – and it may cause asthma and headaches. It irritates the eyes, upper respiratory tract and mucous membrane. It can damage DNA, and people can become sensitised to it after repeated exposure. It is banned in Sweden and Japan. (two wonderful countries – if you haven’t been I really recommend.)

Perfume/parfum is a huge grey area in the beauty and cosmetic industry that really needs some help from the governing bodies to make companies deliver the information so we can make our own decisions. If you haven’t watched Stink the Netflix documentary yet, do its a huge eye opener on the perfume industry) Thousands of different chemicals are permitted to be used in perfume or the perfume of a product and they do not have to be listed on the product label. Fragrances have been linked to breathing difficulties and allergies. A typical cosmetic can contain 50-100 chemicals in the perfume. About 2,600 chemicals are commonly used in perfume; 95% of chemicals used in perfumes and as fragrances in cosmetics are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. Because perfumes are of low molecular weight they can easily penetrate the skin. Twenty-six of these chemicals are on an EU hit list, including isoeugenol, a floral-smelling compound in many high-street brands and oak moss, a lichen which grows on trees.

So how much of these chemicals make it into our bloodstream? The reality is that between 0% and 100% of what you apply to your skin can end up in your bloodstream. In other words, all of it, some of it or none of it will end up in your bloodstream. You cannot put a definitive figure on this but why take the risk with known hormone disrupters and carcinogenic when you can harness the powers of plants, which even though natural still need to meet the legal dermal requirements to keep you safe.

Penetration of a cosmetic product into your skin depends on the ingredient, the delivery mechanism, the overall health of your skin and your environment (e.g. the temperature, humidity). Carrier oils in Kyūshi this would be your Squalane, jojoba, Meadowfoam & Hemp will penetrate into the very top layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) and generally go no further, while essential oils can penetrate into your bloodstream, although some of this happens through inhalation. Which is why we want you to take three deep breaths of the amazing organic essential oils to really absorb all those benefits, but think about when you’re breathing in all those mystery chemicals in household cleaners, shampoos, perfume, and your other cosmetics.

If a product contains water, it will need a preservative of some description to keep you safe. Certain preservatives are known to irritate some people’s skin. Certain preservatives have had big question marks raised around their use: some are thought to act as hormone disruptors or worse. Others are just avoided by many consumers altogether. As our face oils don’t contain any water they don’t require a preservative but I popped some vitamin E in there to help against oxidisation and it adds a little extra moisture.
But preservatives do serve a very important purpose in water based products – they stop bacteria, fungus and yeast from growing in your cosmetics. If any of these microbes came into contact with your skin they could cause a serious infection, or worse – there have been cases of people being blinded or killed by unpreserved cosmetics. Luckily, there are lots of natural preservatives coming onto the market all the time. These can be used to keep your skin safe and still meet our natural requirements.

Many preservatives and other ingredients in the skincare industry have been used in food for decades. You might for instance try to completely avoid parabens in your skincare, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not eating them! A 2013 study found that 90% of food and drink surveyed in the New York City (USA) area contained parabens. Many of these ingredients are dressed up as E-numbers and additives so if you truly want to avoid synthetic preservatives, make sure you read your food labels.

These Chemicals are always changing some get banned and some new ones appear. As we move forward in Kyūshi developing new products we hope you will love, keep in mind that we are doing our very best to keep you healthy and safe both inside and out. We urge you to get ingredient savvy, read your labels, not just in your bathroom cabinet, your food, cleaning products, air fresheners, washing tablets, even down to the paint you paint on your walls.

Alice x

photo from : @thewellnessquest