Meet the Australian Winemaker changing the rules for your skincare routine

Meet the Australian Winemaker changing the rules for your skincare routine.

Meet the Australian Winemaker changing the rules for your skincare routine

I studied skincare formulation and decided not to become a formulator. There was no care in skincare.

Skincare formulation is basically learning the techniques and compounds  that force two immiscible components oil and water together. This is known as emulsification. The compounds responsible for this reaction are surfactants, and are commonly petrochemical derived. Oil and water are not found anywhere in nature combined. This is why cream separates from milk and floats to the surface. I knew that chemical formulation wasn't going to be part of my 100% natural vegan skincare ethos.

When water is an foundational ingredient in a product it requires preservation as fungi, bacteria, yeast and mould can proliferate. The same preservatives used in skincare products alter our skin's microbiome. We are only starting to understand the interrelated and interdependant functions of our entire microbiome system. Pure water has a pH of 7 our skins pH is naturally acidic between 4.5-5.5. Water is an irritant to skin and removes our natural moisturising factors a group of compounds that collectively keeps our skin supple.

In skincare formulation study there is emphasis on understanding dermal limits for essential oil addition. Essential oils are a leading cause allergic reactions, inflammation, photo-sensitivity , photo-toxicity and contact dermatitis. There are 26 fragrance allergens on the EU fragrance allergen list, which is currently under review with the possibility of being extended beyond the current 26 identified to include some 80 potential allergens. Essential oils can cause adverse reactions in skin at less than 0.001%.

Why are we adding essential oils to products that are meant to care for our skin when there is known adverse skin reactions? Essential oils which are not essential, (see The Lab - Is your skincare just smells) are being added to mask chemical, medicinal, rancid aromas or simply to make a product smell nice to elicit a emotive response. Creating products that have appealing aromas but do nothing or worse damage skin function.

I was horrified at the chemical engineering involved in the production of cosmetic ingredients; hydrogenation, ethoxylation, hexane extraction are examples. These techniques produce compounds that don't naturally exist or modify the compound to be unrecognisable from its natural state and structure. Industrial chemistry that uses masses of electricity and creates toxic waste. The feed stock for many of these chemicals are petrochemicals including ingredients that it is reasonable to think are natural. Vitamin E for example can and is synthesised from crude oil. The bulk of Vitamin E in cosmetic products is synthetic as it is cheaper to produce. Our bodies are able to distinguish between natural and synthetic Vitamin E with the synthetic form of Vitamin E having limited bio-availability and is eliminated and not retained. Molecular structure determines how the body assimilates any compound. It is not required by labeling law to state the origin of the ingredients being natural or synthetic. Both natural and synthetic Vitamin E is labelled as Tocopherol on cosmetic labels. DO NOT ASSUME because it starts with Vitamin that it is from a plant source and naturally occurring most are not.

There are estimates that 20% of every barrel of crude oil is used to produce petrochemicals.

Read more: Oil companies are going all-in on petrochemicals, and green chemistry needs help to compete.

Common derived petrochemical ingredients used in cosmetics;

  • Paraffin wax

  • Mineral oil

  • Toluene

  • Benzene

  • Anything with PEG (polyethylene glycol)

  • Anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)

  • Butanol and any word with butyl: butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol

  • EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)

  • Any word with propyl—isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol, cocamidopropyl betaine

  • Parfum or fragrance—95 percent of chemicals used in fragrance are from petroleum. This one word can contain many, many chemicals that don’t need to be listed and are likely endocrine disrupters.

Read More: What’s Up With Petroleum in Beauty Products?

There are more;

  • Anything with 'eth’ indicates that it required ethylene oxide a petrochemical to produce, eg sodium laureth sulfate.

  • Anything with ‘ethyl’ – ethyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, ethylene dichloride, EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetracetatic acid) and ethylhexylglycerin.

  • Anything with ‘methyl’ –  methyl alcohol, methylparaben and methylcellulose.

  • Vitamins look for ‘ide’ or 'ate' as nicotinamide or sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

There is plastic included in formulations for thickening or texture modification, it doesn't impart any skin benefit. Dimethicone and Carbomer are the two most common.

Read more: Get to know Microplastics in your cosmetics. Part II.

Beat the microbead estimates that 87% of personal care and cosmetic products contain microplastics. It is found in inexpensive and very expensive products. There is no need for synthetic polymers to be present in skincare except they are cheap to produce and act as filler. They do nothing for skin function but do pose toxic threats and persist in our environment as the synthetic polymers are washed off into our drains and sewer systems and then into our oceans or slough off to become house dust that we breath in.

Skincare formulation focus was about product attributes texture, feel, (glide or slip) and smells not the underlining science of how to support skin function.

I did not want to be an industrial chemist.

I am a winemaker by profession and hold a Bachelor degree in Applied Science of Oenology. Fermentation is an ancient methodology. My job is to guide the natural fermentation process using scientific knowledge to achieve a desired, predetermined outcome known as wine style and wine quality. Winemaking at its essence is a natural process. Sugar from grape juice + yeast = ethanol + CO2.

So began the quest to understand skin and skin function. How it worked, what it needed and what it didn’t. I needed to understand how to put the care back into skincare.

With study it became clear that characteristics we refer to as aging are the result of oxidation. Understanding and mitigating oxidative reactions are critical in winemaking. Mitigating oxidative reactions in the skin is critical for optimal skin function and appearance This is why signs of ageing appear on our skin that is most exposed to the environment. Pollution and UV light produce free radicals and reactive oxygen species within the skin resulting in oxidative stress. Skincare products that we are applying can also produce free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

Oxidative stress is defined as when the skins antioxidant reserves are depleted and over whelmed by free radicals and reactive oxygen species causing cascading oxidation reactions resulting in cell membrane and DNA damage.

Using the chemistry of winemaking and the science of skin resulted in understanding the foundational compounds required for skin function and what grape components delivered these compounds and resulting benefits.

I am committed to natural process and understanding the science, not science driving a unnatural process, Hydrogenation is an example of science resulting in unnatural forms of polyunsaturated oils creating trans fats in the quest for extended shelf life

There is a reason it is called skincare formulation as the process requires chemical reactions to synthesise complex compounds. Even in natural or organic skincare formulation there are ingredients that have been highly processed using complicated industrial chemistry and often requires phases of the manufacturing to be super heated. Any process that changes the chemical composition of the source compound is not natural.

This is the reason Vitis V doesn't use the term formulation. We use the term blend. Our production processes do not result in chemical change. We make our cold pressed raw unfermented grapeseed oil and white grape seed extract with the use of mechanical pressure only. There is NO heating or solvents involved. We infuse for 7-10 days and settle by gravity to craft Vitis V Face TonIQ. All the inherent phytonutrient compounds from the grapeseeds are unchanged and meet the legal definition of naturally occurring as their chemical composition is unaltered.

The legal definition of a naturally occurring chemical by AICIS;

  • an unprocessed chemical occurring in a natural environment; or

  • a chemical occurring in a natural environment that is extracted without chemical change by manual, mechanical or gravitational means; or dissolution in water; or flotation; or a process of heating for the sole purpose of removing uncombined water. Read more: Organic and natural ingredients.

Interestingly If a chemical is extracted using a fermentation method, for example yeast/bacteria fermentation, it does not meet the definition of a naturally occurring chemical. Ethanol from fermentation is not a naturally occurring chemical. Natural winemakers discuss.

All the compounds in Vitis V Face TonIQ are naturally occurring including Vitamin E. Grapeseed oil is one of the richest natural sources of Vitamin E. Grapeseed oil has multiple sources of antioxidant activity one is directly related to the high concentration of Vitamin E isomer γ-tocotrienol which is rarely found in other oils. Vitamin E is the most effective natural lipid-soluble antioxidant it is also essential as it must be supplied to our body as we cannot make it.

Vitis V Face TonIQ is simple ingredients but phytocomplex providing essential naturally occurring components for optimal skin function.

Vitis V putting science to a natural process. Your essential daily dose of nature's luxury.

References and read more:

Vitamin E and Skin Health.

Grape Seed Oil Compounds: Biological and Chemical Actions for Health

Grape seed oil: a potential functional food?

Grape (Vitis vinifera L.) Seed Oil: A Functional Food from the Winemaking Industry