Beauty’s Oats: A Natural Alternative to Benzoyl Peroxide
The Use of Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl Peroxide is used in some skin products to treat acne. An example of a product containing this chemical is Advantage by Clean and Clear, which stated “In a clinical study, 100% of people had clearer skin in as little as one day”. It is so effective because it kills the bacteria that causes it in the first place, “P. acnes.” This is generally done for esthetic purposes to treat acne, and is also used as a bleaching agent, and can lighten the skin to minimize the appearance of scars, though in the past it has also been used in the bleaching process of foods such as flour and italian cheese.
Health Effects of Benzoyl Peroxide
The extent of damage done by benzoyl peroxide depends on amount and concentration in the substance that the skin is exposed to and absorbs, as well as the frequency. This chemical generates free radicals, also called “oxidated stress”, which is harmful to the skin and the body in general because in excess, these naturally-occurring molecules can overwhelm the body and overcome antioxidants. If this occurs, it may interfere with and slow the skin’s healing process. Relatively less serious effects include premature ageing of the skin due to damage to the cell structure and cellular DNA, and irritation and redness, also a result of a potentially “over-drying” effect that inhibits the body from producing natural oils and moisture. A report in 1950 by an S. Moskowitz and B. Grabois reveals that “concentrations of 12 mg/m3 and higher have resulted in pronounced irritation of the nose and throat.” While there are relatively less serious effects, the biggest health concern is that benzoyl peroxide has been linked to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is a potentially fatal disease, and while overexposure to UV rays can cause it, effects of benzoyl peroxide are similar to those of overexposure to the sun. Risk of damage can also be increased because it removes the top layer of skin, reducing protection from the sun. Potential environmental toxicity is also a concern, if an ecosystem were to be contaminated with it. Testing benzoyl peroxide on animals is also a health concern for the animals themselves, and such testing has shown lethal doses, that moderate levels may be toxic, and higher doses may have effects on reproduction. Originally, benzoyl peroxide was classified as category 1 acne treatment by the FDA, however it has been as moved to category 3 of unknown safety until further research.
A Natural Alternative
The name of this alternative product is “Beauty’s Oats” (a reference to Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty), a natural oatmeal facial scrub. The ingredients for making the scrub are 1 cup of rolled oats, 3.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 7.5 tsp honey, and 4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the oats so that there was a bit of powder. After combining the wet ingredients, mix with the oats in a bowl.
The scrub worked well, achieving its purpose of cleaning the skin and clearing the pores thoroughly, but not roughly. The oats acted as an exfoliant, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice as an astringent and toner, and the honey was the softener. After use, the skin felt cleaner and looked clearer. Cleanliness is which is one way to prevent or reduce acne, therefore it’s an effective natural substitute for benzoyl peroxide.
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