They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In my case it was sheer frustration.
I developed the AMPERNA® range while plagued by bouts of perioral dermatitis and pustular acne. While trying to heal my skin I tried many different products, but none of them seemed to be able to help my skin without aggravating it in other ways. My skin is super sensitive, so I’ve always been careful to look at the ingredients on products before I buy them. Through trial, error and a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that many of the ingredients in existing skincare ranges were probably making my flare-ups worse.
I was determined to clear my skin and I decided that if nothing existed, I was going to create it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy!
The Like Minded Chemist Who Came to the Rescue
I may be a skincare expert after many years of research and investigation, but I’m not a chemist. When it came to developing the AMPERNA® range, I wanted to engage someone who not only had the right technical knowledge, but who shared a similar ethos to me and understood my desire to create something for those with the most sensitive skin.
After much investigation and many meetings, I finally found AMPERNA®’s head chemist Rita. I knew instantly that we were going to create something amazing together. Rita has over 20 years experience in developing skincare and haircare products and has worked with some of the most well known brands in Australia.
Rita’s approach to formulation is to understand the needs of the end user and tailor the product to their requirements. Rita really listened to my brief, my story and experiences and we came up with a holistic solution together.
“Skin health is so crucial. The great thing about the AMPERNA® products are that they have been specially formulated to serve a purpose or skin condition. All the ingredients have been chosen to work synergistically for great skin health.”
Rita, AMPERNA®’s head chemist.
Why What we Left Out is as Important as What we put In
There are many ingredients used in personal care products that have been included because they make product formulations cheaper or easier to create. Some people can go through their lives using these products without noticing any issues. For others, using a shampoo or moisturiser with one of these ingredients could be the trigger for painful skin irritations and allergies. We spent a lot of time formulating the right combination of non-irritating ingredients that would still be effective.
Below are some of the ingredients we chose to leave out of our range along with some information on why we avoided them and what we have used instead. If you have sensitive skin like me, you may also want to check other personal care products around your house (including nail polish, sun cream and make-up) to see if they include any of these ingredients.
You’ve probably seen many products advertising that they are sulphate free, but do you know what sulfates are and why people are avoiding them?
Sulfates are simply salts that are created with sulphuric acid reacts with another chemical.
Ingredients including sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) are included under this broad banner.
Why do we Avoid Sulfates?
There are three main areas of concern around sulfates:
- Health – these ingredients have been known to irritate the eyes, skin and lungs.
- Environment – sulfates are mostly produced from petroleum and plant sources such as palm oil and coconut oil. We dislike the impact this has on the environment due to the destruction of tropical rainforests (to harvest palm oil) and the fact that when these products wash down the drain and into the sea, they may also be toxic to sea creatures.
- Animal testing – because sulfates are known to cause irritation, many products containing sulfates are tested on animals. We would never use any ingredient that required animal testing.
Parabens are a group of man-made compounds that are used as preservatives. They are added to some personal care and cosmetic products to stop the growth of bacteria and fungus.
The following ingredients fall under the banner of parabens:
Why do we Avoid Parabens?
While they may serve an obvious purpose, there are numerous studies that have linked parabens to an increase in breast cancer and damage to reproductive systems. They can be absorbed through the skin, blood stream and digestive system.
Safe cosmetics, a US not for profit organisation promoting healthy skincare, lists endocrine disruption (interference with our hormone system), cancer and reproductive toxicity as the main concerns.
Read more about the studies linked to the negative effects of parabens at the Safe Cosmetics website.
What we use Instead
Our preservative is a high performance water soluable liquid preservative which is suitable for use in certified natural and organic products.
Petrochemicals are derived from petroleum and are sometimes used as a ‘filler’ in cosmetics. They also include parabens, which act as a preservative as mentioned above.
Common petrochemicals you may find listed in your personal care products include mineral oil, DEA (diethanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), PPD (paraphenylenediamine), phenoxyethanol and phthalates. These are just a few of the names to look out for. For more information on petrochemcials and their derivatives, you may find the article on Petrochemicalfreeliving useful.
Why do we Avoid Petrochemicals?
There have been numerous studies linking petrochemical exposure to reproductive problems.
“The concerns that are focused around this particular chemical [class] have arisen from a series of tests and studies that have been released recently that point to significant potential health concerns,” reports the National Library of Medicine, quoting Sujatha Jahagirdar, an environmental advocate with Environment California.
So why are these ingredients are still included in many products? While high level exposure in animal testing conclusively shows links to birth defects, decreased sperm counts and altered pregnancy outcomes , supporters of petrochemical use say that the level of exposure for humans through personal care products is not high enough to cause damage.
Vinyls such as dimethicone (also known as polydimethylsiloxane) are man made, silicone-based polymers or oils. They are used in some skincare products because they help to provide a smooth application on the skin and can also help to fill in fine lines, smooth uneven textures and leave a protective cover on the skin that can help to keep in moisture.
Why do we Avoid Vinyls?
After using them for a while they can create a dependency. Prolonged use can interfere with our skin’s natural hydration leading to even dryer skin and further irritation.
Some people have also experienced skin breakouts as the dimenthicone can trap oils, bad bacteria and impurities on our skin, leading to blackheads and acne.
What we use Instead
We use non-irritating ingredients instead of dimethicone to keep moisture in and help to reduce the signs of ageing. All of our products are light-weight and won’t clog pores.
Have you ever picked up a skincare product and seen the ingredients listed as ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’? Sounds pretty innocent, maybe even enticing! The thing is, these two words actually represent a host of man-made chemicals designed to mimic a scent.
Many synthetic fragrances are made up of petrochemicals such as phthalates, which we mentioned above. Some manufacturers use synthetic fragrances because they are cheaper than using naturally produced scents.
Why do we Avoid Synthetic Fragrance?
They have also been linked to skin irritations, allergic reactions and hormone disruptions.
What we use Instead
We only use natural fragrances including sage and cucumber in our products. They may cost a little more to include and might not last as long on the skin, but we have had great feedback about the natural scents in our product range and wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that our product range is kind to as many different skin types and conditions as possible. Every skin is different, but we do hope that our range can help you to achieve better skin confidence.
And finally, we always recommend following Rita’s advice on testing:
“The best advice I can offer is to ensure that each product should be patch tested. Wait 24hrs and if there is no reaction, it’s safe for that skin type. If a reaction occurs, don’t use.”
Rita, AMPERNA®’s head chemist.
Have you had any flare-ups or irritations that you can trace back to a specific product or ingredient?
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. If symptoms persist, we recommend that you see your GP or dermatologist.