MY DIRTY LIST
Ingredients mean everything when it comes to the high maintenance needs of the eyes. There are so many details to consider when I formulate new products for my patients. I think about the layers of the tear film, the various glands that orchestrate clear and comfortable vision but that are also prone to damage and/or infection, eyelash follicles, eyelashes, the eyelids, eyelid margins, the conjunctiva, the cornea, blood vessels, epithelium, the blink, pollution, makeup, blue light from devices . . . just to name a few 😊.
There are thousands of ingredients that I do not use in my formulations. Here I will expand on a few that may need further explanation. But first, let me talk about the easy ones.
MY EASY DIRTY LIST
No parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. No artificial fragrances/parfum. No artificial colors. No polyethylene glycol (PEG-# )compounds, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde donors. No petroleum/parraffin. No nano-particles.
MY EYE FOCUSED DIRTY LIST
No retinol. Isotretinoin (Accutane) has shown to damage the meibomian gland epithelium which impairs oil and tear function (The Influence of 13-cis Retinoic Acid on Human Meibomian Gland Epithelial Cells; Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2013 Jun; 54(6): 4341–4350.).
Rx and OTC topicals may also cause meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and/or dry eye syndrome (DES). I bring this up because I've seen this clinically time and time again over the past 20 years. Some patients left with debilitating dry eye symptoms.
As a precaution, for my patients that have been diagnosed with MGD / dry eyes, we have a discussion and depending on the severity and symptoms – many must also avoid retinoids on the face as it can absorb and migrate into the eye area.
Currently there are no definitive studies showing that topical retinoids are safe and/or harmful to meibomian glands. So talk to your optometrist and see what's best for you.
No phenoxyethanol. I'm currently working on a leave on formula for a future product and thought I'd put this to task. One bottle contained 1% phenoxyethanol and the other contained 1% of a natural preservative. It was interesting to note that the eye with the 1% phenoxyethanol felt a foreign body sensation all day. Over time the eye felt irritated and more dry than the other. The jury is still out, but I’m personally not a fan of this preservative for eye care.
No CBD. There are studies that may or may not suggest that CBD may or may not increase eye pressure. I know, super vague and iffy – but until I know that CBD definitely does not alter eye pressure, my patients are restricted from using CBD products around their eyes or face.
No BAK. Benzalkonium chloride is the most common form of preservation in medicated eye drops. I have more patients allergic to BAK than I ever thought possible. And for some of my patients that are addicted to eye drops, having them discontinue the eye drop (hence eliminating the BAK) – fixes their dry eye problems!
THE NECESSARY EVILS. In a perfect world, I wouldn't need any of these ingredients. These are ingredients that I love to hate, but are a must when creating products that are safe, stable, and with a shelf life. Usually these ingredients run extremely low in concentrations at 0.001% to 1.0%.
- Preservatives to prevent bacteria and mold growth. Preservatives can wipe out good, natural flora when applied. Its something I’m always mindful of.
- Solvents (other than water) used to dissolve other ingredients so they can be formulated. A common one is alcohol for dissolving ingredients that come in powder form.
- Emulsifiers that allow oil based ingredients to mix with water based ingredients.
- Chelators that keep a formula stable over time.
- pH adjusters are used to help a formula achieve a particular acid number for ocular comfort and ideal preservation efficacy. Common ones I use are citric acid and sodium hydroxide at a level of ~0.001%.
Love + Healthy Eyes,
Dr. Tanya Gill – Optometrist, Founder & CEO