Going all natural

Here are reasons how you can do your skin – and nature – a favour with preservative-free products

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Here are reasons how you can do your skin – and nature – a favour with preservative-free products
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The average woman slathers, lathers and rubs in many different skincare products on her face and body every day, and as skin acts more like a sponge than a barrier, we absorb the good stuff along with chemicals that are added. 

Dr Sue-Ann Ho, consultant at the Division of Dermatology with the national University Hospital, explains that anyone can develop skin reactions like irritation or inflammation to skincare products, especially if you already have a pre-existing skin condition such as eczema or a known history of skin reaction to skincare products. She adds, “If you suspect any skin reactions to skincare products, please seek medical advice from a dermatologist.” 

Some of the more common preservatives that may cause skin sensitisation and skin irritation, shares Dr Ho, include parabens (methylparabens, Polyparabens), formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers (eg. Quarternium-15, Imidazolidynyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, DmDm Hydantoin), methylisothiazolinone and methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Her advice: “be very careful about using products with these ingredients if you are sensitive to skin irritations.” 

So, for those who have sensitive skin, it’s best to err on the side of caution, and opt for products that are gentler on and soothing for skin. Here are five reasons how preservative- free products can benefit you: 

1. For skin prone to irritation or inflammation

Chemicals, artificial colouring, and fillers in skincare products and makeup, can cause redness, irritation, and breakouts. According to studies by the FAnCL research Institute and Kyoto Prefectural University of medicine, methyl paraben, one of the most common preservatives in skincare, can cause your skin to age more rapidly than normal. Candy Chan, head of communications, product research and development at FAnCL confirms that constant exposure to it increases skin sensitivity, and hinders cell renewal and repair. 

2. Helps reduce pigmentation 

Have you ever noticed pigment or brown spots that appear on your skin and how they sometimes get worse, even when you are avoiding the sun? It’s usually caused by certain medication or stress. but did you know that there could be other triggers for your pigmentation spots? Studies have indicated that skincare laden with preservatives can cause inflammation, which could lead to increased melanin production, and inadvertently cause more pigmentation, explains Candy. 

3. Helps your skin barrier regenerate

Candy explains that preservatives could compromise your skin’s barrier function, affecting your skin’s renewal cycle. When that happens, skin cells are not able to regenerate properly and your skin’s protective layer becomes made up with damaged cells. This makes the skin less able to defend itself against external aggressors such as Uv rays, pollution and friction. 

4. Suited for skin which reacts to fragrances

Artificial fragrances, which frequently contain phthalates, can also trigger allergic reactions and other health problems. be mindful of the hidden dangers that fragrance or parfum listed on ingredient labels can pose, especially for those with sensitive skin like rosacea or acne. Fragrance can be seriously irritating, and as such it’s always best to choose fragrance-free products, like FAnCL’s range of skincare which is preservative- and fragrance- free, suitable for all skin types including those with sensitive skin. 

5. Slows down the signs of ageing

Methyl paraben, found in products with preservatives, causes the skin to lose elasticity as well as firmness as it affects the production of collagen and damages cells at the DnA level, says Candy. Preservative is an additive that accumulates on skin and leads to ageing of skin cells. It is also one of the many causes of collagen breakdown, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.