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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Investigating Ingredients: Palmers Cocoa Butter

I have been a very long time user of Palmers Cocoa Butter but recently I have been asking myself WHY am I using this product? It hit me that Palmers Cocoa Butter doesn't really do anything for my skin, I have very dry skin, and the dryness is always back a couple of hours after application and usually a lot worse! Does anyone else experience this? 




I investigated the ingredients. I am always very ingredients conscience and go by the theory that if there is a lot of ingredients, its probably not going to be good for you and if you can't pronounce half of em, even worse!

Here is a little breakdown of the ingredients, I have highlighted the ones in bold that I find particularly interesting/not so good for your skin!
  • Cocoa Extract - It is the fact extracted from the bean. Temporaraily protects injured (aka newly scarred skin) from harmful stimuli and aids the healing process. It is used as a skin conditioning agent. I find it very interesting that Palmers uses more extract than actual cocoa butter. 
  • Glyceryl Stearate - This is the agent that slows the loss of water from the skin forming a barrier between the skin and air hence why Palmer's Cocoa Butter claims to be great for dry skin. Softens the skin and creating a smooth texture.  Studies have shown Glyceryl Stearate to be completely safe for cosmetic use and there are no links to any health risks. 
  • Petrolatum - Again it protects injured skin during the healing process and aids it. It is also a skin conditioner and creates a barrier between skin and air retaining moisture within the skin. This ingredient has a lot of controversy surrounding it. If unpure, the ingredient is linked to health issues, and the EU has actually banned this ingredient unless it can be shown to be pure. It is derived from hydrocarbon and can actually block your skins ability to moisturise itself - the opposite of what its supposed to do! This causes dry skin (the very thing Palmers is sold to alleviate!) Also the "barrier" it creates to retain moisture is actually shown to clog pores and cause acne!
  • Propylene Glycol - If formulated properly and used under 50% concentration, it is shown to be safe for cosmetic use. However this ingredient is another debatable one. It does have links to eczema (which is a condition I have) but for the most part it is deemed safe. If you research however, there is a lot of debate about this product and it is on a lot of people's lists as the ingredient to avoid!
  • Glycerin - A very common ingredient used in cosmetics because it is very versatile. It is used to moisturise and is often found is most, if not every moisturiser. It helps the skin retain moisture and helps prevent dryness. 
  • Coconut Oil - Great for dry skin and skin softening properties. The only concern to be had is whether or not Palmers sources this ingredient ethically. 
  • Paraffinum Liquidum - Also known as mineral oil. The general rule is... this isn't very good for you (however this is highly debated). It is designed to coat the skin, creating that barrier. This is known to clog pores and cause breakouts (for this reason I will never ever use Palmers on my face again!) It is said that mineral oil also slows down the skins ability to develop cells and because of this causes premature ageing. While researching this ingredient however, I found that a lot of people believe this is all a myth and scientific evidence is very lacking. 
  • Behentrimonium Methosulfate - More commonly used in hair for detangling but also used for its great moisturising properties.
  • Cetyl Alcohol/Cetearyl Alcohol - Used to create the consistency (thickness) of the cream. It can also be used to create/destabilise foaming agents.Both are deemed harmless but some studies have found them to be an irritant. 
  • Cocoa Butter - Considering Palmers is actually called a Cocoa Butter, there is a surprising lack of the actual ingredient in the lotion.Cocoa Butter is great for dry skin and known to be great for the healing process of scars. However there is very little evidence to support that cocoa butter heals scars, and many doctors say it is the barrier created that allows the scars to heal without contamination and the actual act of rubbing in the moisturiser can help stretch marks.
  • Palm Oil - The biggest concern about palm oil is whether or not it is ethically sourced. Orangutans are loosing their habitats due to the increasing trade in Palm Oil. On the Palmers website however they have stated their Palm Oil is sourced responsibly and they are committed to protecting native animal species such as orangutan and tigers. I cannot applaud them enough for this and their non animal testing policy.
  • Dimethicone - This is a non foaming agent, mainly used to get the consistency of Palmers. I really like the texure of palmers, it is smooth and buttery. It is also a great lubricator for dry skin. This ingredient is highly valued in the cosmetic industry and also medicine industry because its great for dry skin especially in the winter months. 
  • Tocopheryl Acetate - AKA Vitamin E. It is a natural preservative found in plants and is used because it is a great anti oxidant and an especially good skin conditioner. It is a great, natural and safe ingredient with a lot of good properties. 
  • Hydroxyethylcellulose - Another natural ingredient found in the cell walls of plants. It is non toxic and is a thickening agent, but its very multi purpose. 
  • PEG-8 - Another controversial ingredient linked to eczema and premature ageing. PEG's always have a number after their name which basically means the molecular weight of that compound. The smaller the number, the easier it is to penetrate the skin. As you can see this PEG has the number 8 which means it penetrates the skin very very easily. This is supposedly a good thing, after all you would want the ingredients of your moisturiser to sink into your skin, however studies recommend if you have exzema or any skin that is broken/inflammed it is best to stay away from anything with the ingredient PEG, because it can irritate. If concerned, I would look into this ingredient a lot more!
  • Methylparaben and Propylparaben-  Anti-fungal so will prevents moisturisers from going bad. The word paraben sends alarms bells ringing in my head. Although when used in small quantities it is regarded as safe, the main concern is the link between parabens and breast cancer (when used in high concentrations but still pretty alarming). However they are concluded as safe to use upto levels of 25% and Palmers lists it as one of their smallest concentrations of ingredients. There is high debate regarding this issue and many people choose cosmetics which don't have parabens in because of the evidence surrounding it to health issues. 
  • Perfume - Perhaps the most concerning ingredient is the fact that the lovely smell from Palmers Cocoa Butter is not the actual Cocoa Butter/extract itself but is formulated in a lab somewhere. Perfume is a well known irritant. 



This does not mean Palmers is terrible for you and everyone should stop buying it. Many of my close friends use it and sing its praises and its so highly raved about so clearly it does work, just not with my skin! Also please bear in mind the ingredients may have debate about various health issues they cause, but they have often been tested in high concentrations and cosmetics have such a low concentration there really is no need to worry. I am very conscience about what I put on my skin because I have such dry and sensitive skin so I myself won't be buying Palmers again (I have 3 tubs to get through yet!) There is no denying it makes my skin ridiculously soft, but there is no way it relieves my dry skin. If anything it makes me itch and makes it worse and researching the ingredients has given  me some indication as to why. 
I would be very interested to know what other people think and if they have had any similar experiences to mine. While researching I found that people against using Palmers recommended using a 100% Natural Cocoa Butter which is supposedly Palmers without the nastys. What do you think?
Sorry for the sciency post guys. Am back tomorrow with a make up look :D

28 comments:

  1. I actually found this really interesting to read. A couple of months ago when I had a string of nasty reactions I tried to go through ingredients and pinpoint causes, but I just couldn't get past the heavy terminology. Great post x

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    1. Thanks Josie, its shocking when you see whats actually in some of the stuff we slap on our faces. They use similar things in oven cleaner ect... :O Obviously they use a much higher concentration but still, I don't like the thought :D

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  2. great post! this is why people should buy natural as much as possible! I just posted on my blog about an amazing 100% natural skincare company.

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  3. Very informative Marvelle, thanks for opening my eyes to ingredients I didn't really know much about before. I find Palmers can work with my skin (especially the green olive one) but it does leave it greasy later if I applied it onto dry skin and dry a few hours later after applied to damp skin. I also have terrible dry chapped lips and usually the Palmers lip balm stick is the only thing that really helps temporarily however it does leave my lips very dry and flaky if they're not constantly coated in the stuff - just the same as Vaseline did. I think I will avoid some of those ingredients in the future. x

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    1. Glad to help :D Oh I hate Vaseline, and I've heard so many people say that about it too.

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  4. I used to use this like a religion for about two years, then I just 'stopped'. I think I got sick of the smell, a smell I once adored! It is hard to beat though for how it makes my skin feel. Interesting to know fully what's in it though! xo

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    1. I have to agree the smell is amazing, can't believe they make that smell in a lab though! It kinda shocked me because I thought the smell was natural!

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  5. I've never used this myself but know my boyfriend has used it in the past and he has eczema (its now going straight in the bin!) Such an informative and interesting post, I constantly forget to even look at the ingredients list and I know this has to change. I retweeted the post- hopefully lot's of people will read it as it's such an important issue! xx

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    1. Thanks Emily :) That means a lot to me! <3

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  6. I loved this post! So often we have to go investigate ingredients individually. When a blogger does some of the work, it's wonderfully convenient - thank you! :) As far as pure cocoa butter goes, I don't feel like it really moisturizes my skin either... maybe try to find pure shea butter?

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  7. Thank you :) I'm glad you found it helpful :D

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  8. This was actually very informative. My mom bought me this bottle when I told her I was pregnant- and when my belly started growing it was not hydrating enough to stop the itch of my skin stretching or did it feel like it was moisturizing enough. I had to get on pregnancy forums for recommendations and found that this really isn't the best for stretch marks even though some people really do swear by it. Either way- thanks for this blog post. It's the best I read today!

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    1. I've actually seen a lot of pregnant ladies say that about Palmers when I was researching! Doctors reckon its actually the act of massaging in lotion that helps stretch marks :) Thanks very much for the lovely compliments, hope the pregnancy is going ok!

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  9. Interesting post! I always look at ingredients now since working for Aveda ( they taught us what the latin stood for in the ingredients list) however, there are some products i will turn a blind eye too so long as the parabens etc are at the end of the list so i know then it's minimal. I do love the Palmers Coco Butter but now i might have to find an alternative. Green People are really good, they make organic skincare without all the nasties and the high price tag!

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  10. Love your review of these ingredients! Sadly, many people are not in the habit of checking labels and researching what all these chemicals are capable of.

    I have created my own skincare line based in Melbourne that avoids all these nasties!

    My new mission is to create an holistic cocoa butter that smells lovely without the hundreds of chemicals it takes to produce an artificial scent!

    Beks
    www.ahimsarituals.com

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  11. try using 100% african shea butter (yellow), this stuff is great I use on my hair & mixed with a bit of olive oil for my skin.

    http://africaimports.com/shea-butter-benefits.asp

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    1. I used to have a housemate who used this stuff and sang its praises like no other! I'll try it, thanks :)

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  12. While all your points are 100% valid the reason that Palmers doesn't work is because it's a lotion. At the best lotions are around 70% water and many of them are above 80% water. Your skin uses water to hydrate internally and sebum (an oily substance) to protect and "hydrate" externally. When water is applied, in any form, to your skin externally it removes sebum as well as the water your skin cells have internally, dehydrating your skin cells, and substantially increasing the damage that age, environmental exposure, pollution, and just plain living already create. The typical response is to apply more lotion, which initially feels good, and unfortunately dehydrates and damages skin further. It's the vicious cycle that is lotion.

    Butters are an excellent alternative to lotions, though it is very important that when using either butters or products containing butters that the Shea and Cocoa butters be natural. Deodorized or refined version of both abound and while they're still better than lotion it's not by much. As butters go you don't want Shea as the first ingredient for a body butter because it takes a while to absorb and will likely leave you feeling greasy, interestingly though, it doesn't have this effect when used on children or the feet. Mango butter is far more moisturizing the Shea and absorbs quickly and cleanly. If you choose to use butters the best option is a blend of butters that includes palm butter as it helps with environmental damage.

    The best option for your skin is oil, though never olive oil (unless it's in soap). Oils have been used to beautify, heal, and protect since ancient times. There is nothing that works better, several of them are very close in structure to sebum allowing your skin to absorb and utilize them quickly and easily. If you choose to go with an oil, make sure you use a dry oil and avoid anything that contains olive oil. The olive oil molecules are simply to big for your skin to properly absorb and it is very comedogenic (clogs pores and causes acne) and greasy to no end. The list of oils that are actually good for your skin is fairly extensive and far more than I can go into here. However, you always want to see Jojoba Oil (it's actually a liquid wax) in any oil blend and it should specify that it is a dry oil. If you aren't using a dry oil or oil blend your skin will be left with an unpleasant residue that will likely turn you off to oils, even though there is nothing better for your skin.

    When switching from a lotion or any product that contains water, to a butter or oil, you'll find your skin will go through an adjustment process. During this time you will need to apply the butter or oil two or more times a day while it nourishes, heals, and restores balance to your skin. Once you've gotten through this adjustment period, if you're using a good product that matches well to your skin type and environment (i.e. arid, oceanic), you will generally only need to apply it once a day. For optimal beauty and skin health you should apply it morning and evening and after exposure to the elements, particularly in summer and winter. The second thing to be aware of is that you will need far less butter or oil than lotion to "moisturize" your skin. As times go on and the healing and nourishing of your skin is furthered and maintained the amount needed will reduce.

    If you have any questions you can find me at www.Etsy.com/shop/ThreeCatsandMe.

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  13. so glad i stumbled onto this! thanks so much for doing the research, it's a great help :)

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  14. All I ever use is whipped cocoa butter with coconut oil. I purchase it from www.inspiredscent.com. Works great! No Chemicals!

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  15. @ threecatsandme, you are absolutely right. The butter is far better on my skin though I think they have added far more petrolatum than it used to contain and consequently less butter. I also think a person's skin type will also determine what will work better(lotion or butter).

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  16. I don't know if they' ve changed the recipe since this article was written, but I m holding a jar of Palmer's Cocoa butter in my hand right now, and the only ingredient that is printed in BOLD in this article that is in the ingredients is perfume. None of the others. I love it and it works great for me. I m very concerned about the ingredients in products which is why I came to this blog, and am very happy to read what I found here.

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  17. Very good research and informative post. Thank you!!! Think the paraben component is one of the most controversial.....Was about to buy it but not now.....

    Would try the Earth Mama Body Butter which is supposed to be 100% organic and yet has some those weird names: Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice extract, Olea europaea (organic olive) fruit oil, Helianthus annuus (organic sunflower) seed oil, Kosher vegetable glycerin, Butyrospermum parkii (organic shea) butter, Olivoyl hydrolyzed oat protein, Cetearyl alcohol, Glyceryl oleate, Glyceryl stearate, Citrus sinensis (organic sweet orange), Aspalathus linearis (organic rooibos) leaf extract, Simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba) seed oil, Calendula officinalis (organic calendula) flower extract, Borago officinalis (organic borage) seed oil, Rubus Idaeus (organic red raspberry) seed oil, Citrus aurantium amara (neroli) oil, Vanilla planifolia (organic vanilla) fruit extract, Xanthan gum.

    Does it sound better for you Marvelle? Thanks again!

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  18. http://www.akomaskincare.co.uk/page.php?xPage=shea-million.html this website has 100% cocoa butter from Ghana with 5ui of vitamin E per ounce plus it’s a good cause as the company employs people from Ghana to work for them and help the out of poverty. I know which one I would rather get!!

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  19. I used cocoa butter which did absolutely nothing to prevent stretch marks for me. I came out of my 2nd pregnancy with awful stretch marks on my stomach so thought I would Made from Earth's Aloe & Jojoba Therapy a try as recommended by my Dr. I have noticed that some of my stretch marks have faded quite a bit but I'm not sure if I should credit Made from Earth products for that or if the marks have faded on their own due simply to some time going by. I'm going to continue to use Made from Earth's Aloe & Jojoba Therapy in hopes that maybe they will fade even more

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  20. These products are really latest natural products. Brutality free products! Do you need cruelty free products? By using these natural products make attractive and lovely.

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  21. Wow... It's sad to think something which is supposed to be cocoa butter has very little in it. This stuff never really worked on my dry knees or elbows either. I've been getting into soap and massage bar making, so I was curious if palmers was mostly made of cocoa since it doesn't really work.

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