Hair removal is a common practice for individuals seeking smooth and hair-free skin. When it comes to hair removal products, the choice between using a gel or a solution can impact the effectiveness, ease of application, and overall experience. Gels are semi-solid substances that are often transparent or translucent in nature. They typically have a thicker consistency compared to solutions, which allows them to adhere well to the skin and hair. Gels for hair removal are commonly available in the form of depilatory creams or waxing gels. Solutions for hair removal are typically liquid or watery in nature. They can come in various forms, such as depilatory solutions or chemical-based solutions used for dissolving or breaking down hair.
Gels tend to provide better coverage when applied to hairy areas due to their thicker consistency. They can adhere well to the hair shaft, ensuring that the hair is evenly coated with the product. This can be particularly beneficial when using depilatory creams, as it helps to ensure that the hair is fully coated for effective hair removal. The thicker consistency of gels allows for easier application and control. They can be spread evenly on the skin and hair using applicators or spatulas, minimizing the risk of uneven coverage or missed spots. This makes gels a popular choice for individuals who prefer a more controlled and precise hair removal process. Some gels for hair removal may contain moisturizing ingredients, such as aloe vera or chamomile extracts, which can help soothe and hydrate the skin during and after the hair removal process. These moisturizing properties can be particularly beneficial for individuals with sensitive skin or those prone to skin irritation.
Solutions have the advantage of easily penetrating the hair shaft and coming into direct contact with the hair follicles. This allows them to work effectively in dissolving or breaking down the hair structure. Depilatory solutions, for example, contain chemical agents that weaken the hair, making it easier to remove from the skin's surface. Due to their liquid consistency, solutions can be applied quickly and easily, making them a convenient option for larger areas or areas with denser hair growth. They can be sprayed or poured directly onto the desired area, ensuring even coverage without the need for extensive spreading or application techniques. Solutions for hair removal often work relatively quickly. Depending on the type of solution used, hair can be removed within minutes or seconds. This efficiency can be particularly advantageous for individuals looking for a time-efficient hair removal method.
The effectiveness of gels or solutions for hair removal can depend on the type and thickness of the hair being treated. Gels may work better for thicker or coarser hair, as their thicker consistency allows for better adhesion and coverage. Solutions, on the other hand, can be more suitable for finer or lighter hair, as they can easily penetrate and dissolve the hair structure. Individuals with sensitive skin should exercise caution when using gels or solutions for hair removal. It is important to read and follow the instructions carefully, conduct a patch test prior to use, and consider products specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Irritation or allergic reactions can occur with any hair removal product, so it is essential to choose products that are gentle on the skin and minimize the risk of adverse effects. The choice between gels and solutions may also depend on the preferred hair removal method. Gels are commonly used in depilatory creams or waxing products, providing a more controlled and precise application. Solutions, on the other hand, are often used in chemical-based depilatory solutions or spray-on products for quick and efficient hair removal.
When it comes to hair removal in hairy areas, the choice between using gels or solutions can impact the overall experience and effectiveness of the process. Gels offer better coverage, ease of application, and moisturizing properties, making them suitable for controlled and precise hair removal. Solutions, on the other hand, provide quick penetration, dissolving power, and speed of application, making them efficient for larger areas or faster hair removal. Considering hair type, skin sensitivity, and desired hair removal method are important for selecting the most suitable product. Ultimately, whether using a gel or a solution, it is essential to follow proper instructions, conduct patch tests, and prioritize the overall health and sensitivity of the skin for effective and safe hair removal.
Barnes, T. M., Mijaljica, D., Townley, J. P., Spada, F., & Harrison, I. P. (2021). Vehicles for Drug Delivery and Cosmetic Moisturizers: Review and Comparison. Pharmaceutics, 13(12), 2012. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics13122012
Natalie Eshaghian & Donna Salib
Chemicals Absorbed into the Skin: Daily Use Products
There are many toxic chemicals found in everyday products used by both men and women all over the world. Things as simple as cosmetics, lotions, deodorants, foods, medications and so much more contain harmful chemicals that can affect people’s livelihood, both short and long term. The CDC states that over 13 million workers are exposed to chemicals during manufacturing, which result in various diseases and disorders that are harmful to these workers, however, not only is it harmful to the people making the products but the people buying them too.1 Some of the chemicals you can find in these products are things like parabens, phthalates, heavy metals, mineral oils, and synthetic colors and fragrances. None of these sound too good to be in any products, let alone our everyday products. The reason many of these chemicals are used in our everyday lives is because of their price. These chemicals are cheap for production, however, the consumer is the one at risk by using all of these products. In our response, we will be delving deeper into phthalates and mineral oils/petroleum.
Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are used in many different consumer products, ranging from building materials to personal care. Over 70% of our personal care products contain phthalates.2 They are found in our perfumes, colognes, nail polish, cosmetics, lotions, and are also used to soften plastic, specifically vinyl plastic. One of the ways in which we can be exposed to phthalates at home is through inhalation. An example would be if you take out a vinyl shower curtain out of its packaging. This brand new smell gets into the air and can also end up in the dust as well. The CDC and NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) studies have shown that phthalates do have an effect on children’s brain development. In addition, phthalates are found in cosmetics as well, which can be very detrimental when the average woman uses at least 6 products daily. Phthalates may increase the risk of getting certain kinds of cancers and are endocrine disruptors that block or imitate hormones as well as androgen blocking.2 In addition, phthalates are known to cross the placenta, which can cause harm to the fetus. This is important since many women still use certain body lotions and cosmetics during their pregnancy that contain phthalate, which can be absorbed by the skin and cross through to the fetus, essentially indirectly causing harm to the fetus.3
According to the CDC4, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to conclude if phthalates harm people, though there are studies that evaluate the effect of phthalates on the reproductive system in rats. “Human health effects from exposure to low levels of phthalates are not as clear.” Per the FDA5, there isn't a clear effect phthalates have on human health and there is even the possibility that there are none. The FDA says that reproductive risks associated with phthalates are minimum to almost non-existent. However, the issue is that many of our daily use products contain these phthalates, which causes a buildup of toxins in the body. It is found that the no-observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of phthalates is 4.8mg/kg and tolerable daily intake (TDI) is 0.05mg/kg. Anything above is seen to cause adverse effects such as reproductive and developmental effects as well as cancers.6 Although one specific product alone may not be harmful, when you combine the many products used daily by a consumer the toxic level can add up. In the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008(CPSIA), Congress banned any children’s toys or child care articles containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of the following types of phthalates: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP).7 These terms are typically unknown by consumers, and will cause them to skim over on a label, but are harmful to them.
Last year, a skincare technique termed slugging gained popularity again. Slugging” is a technique that has been around as long as vaseline, in which vaseline acts as an anti-aging cream when women apply vaseline on their face.8 This was to protect their skin by locking in the moisture. Vaseline is a petroleum jelly and is a topical ointment used to treat everything from dry skin to chest colds, marketed as a cure-all. Regular use of petroleum jelly has been found to stop the skin from hydrating itself which creates an endless loop of reapplying the jelly. Petroleum jelly is composed of a mixture of hydrocarbons8 and is regulated by the FDA to ensure safety, purity and that there are no carcinogenic compounds. What is important to realize about petroleum jelly is that it is very occlusive, meaning it not only keeps in moisture but keeps in everything else including dead cells, bacteria, and sweat which can clog the pores.9 For people who are prone to acne, or have specifically fungal acne, it is advised not to use a substance this occlusive since it can exacerbate the acne. Mineral oils such as this are best for dry dehydrated skin and for those who have a damaged skin barrier. Although mineral oils are not deemed to be a “harmful chemical,” 10 it is important to understand the effects it may have on your skin and how it can exacerbate certain other conditions.
Being able to read an ingredient label is not as simple as one may think. Producers try to mask their ingredients by putting different terms for certain ingredients to cover up the fact that they are using these harmful chemicals so the consumer won’t be able to identify them as easily. It is important for both the pharmacist and consumer to be able to identify these certain chemicals, amongst the many others on the market, and determine if they are necessary or not in our daily use products. Many times, it may be that the chemical is not as harmful as others, but something as simple as mineral oils can essentially harm a person's body and cause them not to excrete certain toxins because they are locking them up, or it can be as severe as phthalates where you can see harmful effects such as reproductive disruption. In addition, the FDA typically does not look into many of these products until there are reported adverse effects from them, so it is important to find out what is in our products to avoid being the “problemed case” that the FDA has to check on. Overall, there are many chemicals in our daily use products, and although it may not be easy to let go of these products so easily, it is important to be able to identify even one negative chemical and eliminate it from our products to better our health in the long term.
1 Cdc.gov. 2021. Skin Exposures and Effects. Accessed 22 July 2021.
Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/default.html
2Health Care Without Harm. 2021. Phthalates and DEHP. Accessed 22 July 2021. Available at: https://noharm-uscanada.org/issues/us-canada/phthalates-and-dehp
3 Dutta S, Haggerty DK, Rappolee DA, Ruden DM. Phthalate Exposure and Long-Term Epigenomic Consequences: A Review. Front Genet. 2020;11:405. Published 2020 May 6. doi:10.3389/fgene.2020.00405
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, April 5). Phthalates Factsheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html.
5 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2021. Phthalates. Accessed 22 July 2021. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/phthalates
6 Ec.europa.eu. 2021. Phthalates: What daily exposure levels to phthalates are considered safe? Accessed 22 July 2021. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/en/phthalates-school-supplies/l-2/5-safe-daily-exposure.htm
7 CPSC. Phthalates Business Guidance & Small Entity Compliance Guide. 2021. Available at: https://www.cpsc.gov/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/Phthalates-Information
8Fao.org. 2021. Petroleum jelly. Accessed 22 July 2021. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/w6355e/w6355e0p.htm
9 Rawlings AV, Lombard KJ. A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012;34(6):511-518. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2012.00752.x
10Petry T, Bury D, Fautz R, et al. Review of data on the dermal penetration of mineral oils and waxes used in cosmetic applications. Toxicol Lett. 2017;280:70-78. doi:10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.07.899
Every day cosmetic products can cause serious health effects. Products such as deodorants, shampoos, face cleansers, hand soap, and more all contain harmful ingredients that may be linked to breast cancer. Articles and media coverage on these substances have scared consumers into not buying these cosmetic products. Increased public health concerns over the past decade have been rising over the use of aluminum and parabens that are found in these daily-use products.
Parabens are preservatives that inhibit microbial growth in many products. This group of chemicals include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. The most common parabens used are methylparaben and propylparaben which can be found in cosmetic and food products with concentrations up to 20% and 0.1% respectively. Concerns of possible carcinogenic effects of parabens have become widespread where manufacturers of some cosmetic brands are marketing ‘paraben-free’ products. Parabens can enter the body by seeping into the pores of the skin. Once the parabens are exposed to the skin, they are metabolized by keratinocyte enzymes and the metabolites are excreted through the bile. It is hypothesized that there may be a connection between breast cancer and parabens due to the detection of these chemicals in the breast tissue. Parabens are known to bind to human estrogen receptors with the highest estrogenic affinity coming from butylparaben and propylparaben. The high toxic concentrations of parabens can affect estradiol activity. However, within normal daily-use products, the levels of parabens still have a safety margin for normal estradiol activity. This means that the data on cancerous breast tissue showed little to no paraben levels in this subset of patients. Thus, concluding that there is no clear or direct connection between parabens found in every day cosmetic and food products and the development of breast cancer. Some cosmetic products may use alternative agents as preservatives; however, they can be even more harmful. For example, formaldehyde has been known to be linked with cancer as well as imidazolidinyl and diazolidinyl ureas which release formaldehyde at low temperatures. Some companies have tried to use ‘natural’ ingredients as preservatives such as grapefruit seed extract. However, grapefruit is a strong CYP3A4 inhibitor and could interact with other medications.
Aluminum is another daily-use chemical found commonly in foods, packaging materials, cooking utensils, drugs and cosmetic products such as deodorants. Although aluminum can be absorbed into the skin, the rate of absorption is very low 0.01 – 0.06% (in non-damaged skin). There was a connection with the increased levels of aluminum found in the aspirate fluid in the breast of female patients with breast cancer. The levels of aluminum were higher in the outer quadrants compared to the inner quadrants of the breast tissue possibly due to the location at which the deodorant is applied. However, the aluminum was not the causation of the breast tumors. The reason for this may be because this specific area of the breast tissue has more storage capacity for things like aluminum and other elements compared to other parts of the body. Therefore, the direct association between aluminum exposure from daily-use products and the increased risk of breast cancer is not definite.
Kirchhof MG, de Gannes GC. (2013). The health controversies of parabens. Skin Therapy Lett, 18(2) 5-7. PMID: 23508773.
Klotz, K., Weistenhöfer, W., Neff, F., Hartwig, A., van Thriel, C., & Drexler, H. (2017). The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 114(39), 653–659. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2017.0653.
Allam MF. (2016). Breast Cancer and Deodorants/Antiperspirants: a Systematic Review. Cent Eur J Public Health, 24(3), 245-247. doi: 10.21101/cejph.a4475. PMID: 27755864.