What goes into Apostrophe's skincare products?

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What goes into Apostrophe's skincare products?
What goes into Apostrophe's skincare products?

by Dr. Aimee Paik, Medical Director

May 21st, 2019

At Apostrophe, we focus on ingredients with proven scientific and clinical evidence. We avoid unnecessary ingredients that cause irritation, allergic reactions, and serve as marketing on the ingredient list. The result is products we can stand behind.

“Natural” does not always mean “better...”

Botanical extracts and organic “natural” skin care are trends that sell a lot of products. The Honest Co. is one popular company that leads with their natural approach to skin care to sell baby and beauty products. My own mother even keeps these products in her home. Anecdotally, however, my daughters break out in a rash any time we use their cleanser when we visit my mother’s house. I had to finally just throw it away. A relative also told me she broke out in a horrible rash after using their mascara for three weeks. This is likely a result of The Honest Co.’s use of plant extracts, which are known to cause many irritant and allergic reactions. Contrary to popular belief, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good for your skin.

The example I always fall back on is that of poison oak. It is a beautiful plant with lush green leaves that feels cool on the skin and is usually organic… but it causes horrible skin reactions. Likewise, if you have seasonal allergies, you know that pollen is not benign and can cause misery. Many plant-based compounds are very complex and can cause general irritation and even allergic reactions in the skin, without any convincing clinical evidence that their use is beneficial to the skin. In general, if you can recognize a plant name in the ingredient list, it is best to avoid it. The one exception to this rule is aloe vera. Aloe rarely causes skin reactions or allergies, and clinical evidence shows that it may be helpful against In one not a single one reported any allergic reactions to the aloe preparations tested! While we have taken special care to avoid plant extracts and essential oils in our products, we have chosen to keep aloe as a useful emollient.

But that doesn’t mean you should commit to preservatives

Fragrances and preservatives are among the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. For this reason, we do not add fragrance in any of our products. This doesn’t mean that they have no scent at all, but we do not add anything to mask the natural scent of the ingredients. We also take special care to avoid certain highly allergenic preservatives such as (yuck!). The trouble is, these ingredients can be tough to recognize and can be found in many popular products. For example, DMDM hydantoin is a formaldehyde releaser which Apostrophe avoids, but can be found in Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. Imidazolidinyl urea is another formaldehyde-releaser we do not use, but is found in the Philosophy Purity cleanser.

We also take special care to avoid the class of preservatives called which some believe is the cause of an epidemic of This class of preservatives has already been banned in Europe in personal leave-on products. Check out the resource here for a list of ingredients to watch out for. If you have sensitive skin or have a history of dermatitis, keep an eye out for these preservatives, particularly methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone, on product labels.

Parabens – more than their reputation

There’s one group of preservatives that doesn’t deserve its reputation: Apostrophe avoids them due to undeserved stigma, but they are one of the most commonly used preservatives with one of the lowest incidences of contact dermatitis from patch testing data. Concerns about parabens mimicking estrogen and causing endocrine disruption resulting in breast cancer are largely supported by animal and in vitro studies – not human data. There is no convincing evidence that substantiates the claim that parabens cause harm from an estrogen mimcry perspective. Given their widespread use with very little parabens remain one of the best preservative classes we have.

In formulating our products, our goal is to deliver effective ingredients in a cosmetically elegant and appropriate base. Just as important as what is in a product, is what is not in a product. Apostrophe took extra pains to avoid unnecessary irritants and allergens to allow our star active ingredients to shine.

Welcome to the fine print! Just so you know, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. It’s always best to talk to a doctor for that stuff.

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