We received an interesting query on the Krya page today and it set me thinking that this is something I should be talking about in the Krya blog. “Do you have a day cream”, asked a customer, and this is one among many such queries for people asking us for safe moisturizing products.
What goes into a synthetic moisturiser?
A synthetic moisturiser is made up of emollients, emulsifiers, sometimes humectants, preservatives, fragrances, colours and sometimes granular particles like micro beads.
Emollient: An emollient is the “moisturising” part of the moisturiser. However, while a natural emollient like a cold pressed vegetable oil is actually good for your skin, petroleum based synthetic emollients clog skin and canwill increase the chances of acne and other infections.
Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers are further chemicals added to synthetic moisturisers. These chemicals are added to make the cream / lotion stable and ensure they do not separate. Synthetic emulsifiers are typically made from petroleum and hydrocarbon derivatives and are notorious in triggering allergic reactions on skin. Again these are better used on your car then your skin.
Humectants: Humectants are substances designed to draw moisture to the surface of the skin. There are many natural substances that perform this role like honey and glycerine. However, when synthetic humectants like PEG (Polyethylene Glycol) and PG (Propylene Glycol) are used in products, they add to the occlusive barrier formed by petroleum. This makes the skin “un breathable” disturbing its functionality, and triggering acne, bacterial attacks and allergic reactions.
Preservatives: we have chronicled the issues with Parabens that are commonly used as preservatives before. The very least toxic effect of a paraben is skin irritation. Many of them have been linked very strongly to hormone disruption, developmental toxicity and breast cancer.
The need for safety in today’s moisturizing products – a few case studies
We at Krya are increasingly alarmed at the cavalier way in which human safety is sidelined while formulating personal care products. Countries are slow to understand the effects of synthetics when used in products, and the collective effect of using a large cocktail of synthetics is little understood until it is often too late.
For example, with the growing hue and cry over Parabens, we now have many leading personal care companies proudly declaring that they now use Phenoxyethanol as a “safer preservative”. Phenoxyethanol is allowed to be present at a concentration of 1% in skin care products. However, it comes with several warnings by the U.S FDA. For example, any accidental ingestion of Phenoxyethanol even at these low concentrations can be toxic and dangerous to infants.
If Phenoxyethanol and Chlorphenesin(another so-called safe preservative) are present together in a product, it could lead to depressed breathing in infants and in those already in poor health. For this reason, breastfeeding mothers are not supposed to use any personal care products containing Phenoxyethanol to avoid any risk of transmission to the child.
Now here is another piece of information: Chlorphenesin is a powerful synthetic used to counter muscle spasms in full strength. It is used in small doses as a preservative along with Phenoxyethanol. This is the combination that the FDA has warned against: the toxic combination of the Central nervous system depressing Phenoxyethanol and the muscle action suppressing Chlorphenesin which when used together slows down breathing in infants and geriatrics. And this after applying a seemingly harmless looking skin cream!
Methylisothiazolinone or MI is another among the thousands of suspect ingredients in skin and hair care products. In the UK, doctors first raised the alert against this preservative in 2013, when they said that 1 in 10 eczema sufferers were allergic to this ingredient which triggered rashes and extreme skin swelling. This year, scientific advisers to the EU have called for a ban on using MI in leave on products and a dramatic reduction in the allowed MI percentage in rinse off products.
However it Methylisothiazolinone is still not outlawed and is being used across the world in products formulated for both adults and children across hair and skin.
How were moisturizing products formulated in the ancient world?
After reading the above horror stories, any reader would no doubt ask us the logical question: how did we formulate moisturising products earlier? Was there ever a need for any of these additional horror ingredients?
In the western world, the first reference to cream comes from the 2nd century Greek physician Galen. Galen formulated a simple cold cream which was made from only 3 ingredients: beeswax, olive oil, and rose water. Galen made a simple oil in water emulsion using beeswax as a natural emulsifier, similar to how we would make mayonnaise or salad dressings.
Obviously the shelf life of this formulation could not have been very long – depending on the climate this cream may have lasted between 1 – 3 months. Being a simple olive oil based emulsion, this cream would have been used in cold weather for spot application and to protect the skin from rough cold winter wind.
How were moisturising products formulated in India?
Ayurveda and Siddha both document the use of a rich variety of fats of both animal and plant origin to make moisturizing products, pomades and oils. Depending upon the fat used, you could get a product of oil like consistency or a thick paste like consistency which is similar to that of a cream.
For example: Natural Beeswax (from the hive of a real bee and not synthetically derived) is documented for its skin and wound healing properties in both Ayurveda and Siddha. Natural Beeswax is often used in Ayurvedic products meant for scar healing, in fire accidents and in very putrid, oozing wounds where there is a need to isolate the healing body from the external environment. In these cases, pure honey is also added along with the beeswax to seal off the wound, provide moisture for the broken skin layer and allow healing to take place.
The use of certain kinds of plant butters is also recorded in Ayurveda among specific communities and regions. For example, kokum butter, which is used by Krya in the Krya extra conditioning hair oil ad the Krya Moisture plus skin oil, is extremely well documented for its hydrating properties. Kokum butter is quickly absorbed into skin and scalp and is intensely hydrating, making it very suitable for dry and frizzy hair and very dry skin. At room temperature, kokum butter becomes solid, so this product is often used for making cream / paste like skin and hair care products in Ayurveda.
Ghee is also another ingredient liberally used in Ayurveda for formulations meant for pitta skin or hair conditions. Again like kokum butter, Ghee is solid at room temperature, so the addition of a good quantity of ghee makes a formulation thick, unctuous and cream like.
Thickening without parabens and PEG – traditional skin and hair care in Ayurveda
At Krya, by the use of Ayurvedic herbs, formulations and processing techniques, we are able to deliver excellent skin and hair care oils which have varying textures.
For example, the Krya Moisture plus Skin Oil has been designed for the use of extremely dry or aging skin. We recommend use of this oil as a night, leave on application and also as a pre-bath oil. In the night application, the oil is used in very small quantity (3 – 4 drops) and applied on cleansed skin and left on the entire night.
Our users report that with regular use of this oil, the skin develops an excellent lustre, evenness of complexion and filling in of small lines.
While the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil has been made using base oils like Sesame and Coconut Oil, the final texture of the oil is moderately thick , does not run quickly over skin and leaves the skin feeling well moisturised without any oiliness.
The secret to this texture change is the Ayurvedic processing technique we follow called the sneha Kalpana process. Ayurveda recommends the Sneha Kalpana process to “prepare” an herb infused oil for skin or hair application by the use of fresh juices of herbs (Swarasa), decoctions of dried herb tubers, roots, stems and bark, herb pastes and cold pressed vegetable base oil.
The Sneha Kalpana process uses “Agni” or fire to boil all these different ingredients so that the properties of the herbs are transferred to the oils. In this process, the particle size and texture of the oil is completely transformed.
Many of us might have applied raw coconut oil on our skin. We often find that it is runny and feels extremely oil and is sometimes not very well absorbed especially if we have severely dry skin.
However, the same coconut oil, when processed in the sneha Kalpana method, alters in texture as it absorbs the herb Swarasa, kwatha and kalpa to become thick, much more moisturising, less runny and more effective.
When we finish the Sneha Kalpana process, we get a dense, moisturizing, dosha balancing and stable oil.
Moderate Shelf Life without Phenoxyethanol – the Ayurvedic way
We spoke earlier about the dangers of several new fangled preservatives like Phenoxyethanol. A true Ayurvedic product does not use any preservatives because the Ayurvedic manufacturing process itself ensures a moderate shelf life, and there right texture for the application.
So you might notice that the maximum shelf life we give to our products is 12 months. Our skin and hair oils have a shelf life between 9 – 12 months. We achieve this without adding either natural preservatives like essential oils which may be unsuitable for certain people or synthetic preservatives like parabens, Phenoxyethanol, etc.
By boiling our oils for upto 10 hours until all the water from the herb juices evaporate, we have removed any medium that can be suitable for fungal and bacterial growth. We follow several precautions to check for complete water evaporation as outlined in the texts and also used specially designed traditional oil boiling vessels made of metals like brass that retain heat much longer, allowing for complete water evaporation.
By following this authentic Ayurvedic process, we not only ensure that our oil is rich in botanical nutrients. We also ensure that the product is stable and can work well for you for a moderate amount of time.
The rich use of botanical herbs – to give you nutrient dense products that really work
Classical Ayurvedic formulations and proprietary Ayurvedic formulations like Krya’s are rich in the use of powerful botanical herbs.
For example: We use Winter cherry (Ashwagandha) and Moringa leaf in the Krya Classic Skin Oil, along with the Swarasa of Daucus carota (carrot) and Ananas comosus (Pineapple) . These herbs are extremely useful in even-ing out acne based scars and blemishes, in correcting the oil balance of oil prone skin and offering moisturisation without creating a medium for bacterial attack or acne.
The herbs we have outlined form just a small proportion of the many herbs used. Like all Ayurvedic formulations, the Krya skin and hair oils use large quantities of between 10 – 16 different herbs carefully chosen for a particular skin or hair condition.
This makes an Ayurvedic moisturising product rich, complex, holistic and real food for your skin. It does not use simplistic and poor synthetics like petroleum or hydrocarbons which work against the skin and interfere with its natural functioning.
Leave on vs. wash off: the Ayurvedic view point on moisturisation
Here is the difference between Ayurvedic skin care and synthetic skin care: the skin is never supposed to be left feeling dry or in need of a moisturiser during any part of the skin cleaning and care routine. So if your cleansing routine is leaving your skin in need of a moisturiser, you should actually be switching cleansing products and not looking for a better moisturiser.
The Ayurvedic skin care routine we prescribe at Krya is minimal, sensible, simple and extremely effective:
- Cleanse your skin only with our lentil, grain and herb based cleansers (we have options separately for the face and the body and for different skin needs)
- This cleansing deep cleanses skin and activates and unclogs all the minor srotas – so your skin breathes better, eliminates better and regenerates better
- This cleansing cleanses WITHOUT stripping your skin’s acid mantle or sebum barrier – this means your skin feels plum, moisturised and nourished after your bath without adding a moisturising product
- Cleansing to restore the right balance of synergistic microflora – this means that your body odour reduces, and you remain sweet smelling without resorting to a synthetic deo
- Spot application of our skin oils – prebath. For special areas that get dry because of constant exposure to the elements or as a normal part of aging (face, elbows, legs, knees, sometimes arms), we recommend application of one of our Skin Oils. We have different kinds of skin oils for different skin needs. All our oils can be applied on your face and your body.
- Night application of our skin oils for the face – if you are looking for a safe night cream replacement and are above 30, the Krya skin oils are a synthetic free, wonderful replacement to toxic night creams. The oils support the natural functioning of your skin; gently penetrate the skin and supply the nutrition required based on your needs. The oil is to be applied in miniscule quantities (2 – 3 drops) on cleansed skin, 30 minutes before sleeping.
- The occasional use of our grain and herb based specialised face masks
- If you have special skin conditions like acne, or are looking to supplement your skin care routine, we advise using one of our face masks once a week or once a fortnight.
So from a series of 7 – 8 different products for skin, what we recommend is the use of 2 – 3 products (the oil for face and body, the face wash and the body wash). Occasionally you may use the face mask as a pick me up.
Along with a good diet a healthy lifestyle, these few products are all you need for good quality skin.
Skin moisturising options at Krya:
I started this post with a question that is often asked of us: what are our options in moisturising.
I end this post telling you that you should choose your skin care products as carefully as you chose your food. Just like none of us want to eat Endosulfan contaminated rice or Monocrotophos contaminated strawberries, none of us should be choosing ethanoxypenol laced skin creams or moisturisers.
Your skin and hair are bio-engineered to perform very specific and important functions. In their performing of these functions they are supposed to look great. However, when we unknowingly apply damaging, toxic and suspect ingredients on your hair and skin, their health diminishes and they start looking the worse for the wear.
The careful selection of a few well crafted and well thought out natural products are all your skin and hair really needs to function really well and look its best.
Here is Krya’s range of skin care products for different needs:
- Krya’s Classic skin range – designed for normal to oily pitta prone skin. This skin has an occasional breakout, has an oily t-zone, and is sensitive to heat and the sun and gets easily flushed in heat
- Krya’s After Sun Range – designed for skin with high sun exposure, heat sensitive, sun exposure induced dryness and high tanning and pigmentation (due to sun exposure)
- The Krya Classic Skin Oil with Carrot & Wintercherry – use at night to encourage skin healing and repair
- The Krya Soothing After Sun face wash powder with Oatgrass & Mint
- The Krya After sun bodywash powder with Arjuna & Ashwagandha
- The Krya After sun soothing herb face mask with Liquorice & Rosemary
- Krya’s Anti Acne Range – designed for skin that has severe acne
- We do not recommend use of a skin oil until the eruptions have reduced in number. Once they have come down , you can use the Krya Classic skin range,
- The Krya Clarifying Anti acne face wash with Guava and Lodhra
- The Krya Anti acne Face mask with Daruharidra and Lodhra
- Acne prone skin does well with the Krya Classic bodywash
- Krya’s Moisture Plus Range – designed for normal to dry skin that tends to be flaky around the mouth and eyes, feels rough, dull or lifeless and seems to “drink in” moisturisers.
- Krya’s Sensitive Skin Range – designed for skin that is prone to eczema or psoriasis with skin thickening, dryness, crust like scab formation, intense itching and skin darkening in the problem area
- Krya Sensitive Skin Oil with Cardamom & Neem (NEW) – we have had excellent results with our Sensitive skin oil – regular use accelerates skin healing, cuts down skin thickening and brings skin back to its original colour with minimal scars and blemishes
- Krya Sensitive Face & Bodywash with Lodhra & Lotus flower