Why are ingredients important?
No product is worth buying if it’s going to be harmful to your skin health. Skincare products exist for the sole purpose of uncovering healthy skin. Guilty of not checking your labels? We have got you covered! Certain ingredients notoriously disguise themselves as useful and keep the skin looking healthy, smooth, and young in the short term. The result? Hormonal imbalances, skin irritation, disrupted thyroid function, and everything we don’t need in the long term.
Here are 6 ingredients to watch out for when buying skincare products
The use of skin fairness products that frequently contain toxic ingredients is associated with significant adverse health side effects (Shroff et al., 2018). Hydroquinone, also listed as tocopheryl acetate, is a controversial skin lightening agent that treats hyperpigmented areas. The problem is that it’s all fun and games until the product gets in contact with surrounding skin also lightening it. Treated areas end up looking like they have halos around them – so uncalled for we know. Also, if you have sensitive skin chances are that your skin will get irritated, inflamed, and itchy.
Whether or not it’s worth the risk is something to consider but the good news is that there are safer alternatives you can opt for. Vitamin B3 commonly known as niacinamide fades hyperpigmentation when used consistently. Shop our pregnancy-safe Niacinamide 10 Brightening Ampoule here. Antioxidants like vitamin A and C when used over time also lighten hyperpigmented areas while kojic or ellagic acids (plant-based acids) slow down melanin production – reducing hyperpigmentation.
Parabens are a common type of preservative used in skincare products to prolong their shelf lives. These natural organic compounds hinder the growth of fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms, particularly in products sold in hot and humid areas. Now, the term ‘organic’ may have us thinking they pose no significant health risks but that could not be further from the truth! They’ve even been considered safe when used in small quantities.
However, research shows that parabens penetrate the skin. Once in the body, they stay in tissues and fluids and interfere with hormone production – of all things! Parabens mimic estrogen causing estrogen production levels to go down adversely affecting regular sexual and reproductive development. They’ve been found in breasts of people with breast cancer although it is yet to be confirmed that they’re the cause of the tumors. Sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol, and benzyl alcohol are safer alternatives.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate
Sodium lauryl sulphate is responsible for lather in skincare products. It traps dirt making it easy to rinse off leaving the skin feeling clean afterward. Among its other ‘reasonable’ uses include thickening and stabilizing solutions with ingredients of differing solubility. Sodium lauryl sulphate, also listed as sodium laureth sulphate or sodium dodecyl sulphate, can irritate the skin resulting in allergies, dermatitis andflaky skin.
Premium quality sodium lauryl sulphate is the only exception since it is natural, organic, effective, safe, and gentle even on sensitive skin. The worst thing that can happen is using products containing cheaper forms of natural sodium lauryl sulphate. They clog the pores, cause irritations and burning sensations. Safer alternatives have anti-inflammatory ingredients, benzyl benzoate, high allantoin levels, vitamin E, and hydrolyzed wheat benzoic acid.
Phthalates are responsible for keeping skincare products soft, flexible, and less prone to breaking. However, they disrupt hormones – yet again. Reproductive health alongside other health issues such as ADHD, diabetes, and cancer are strongly linked to phthalates. When you see fragrance, parfum, aroma, or perfume on your ingredient list without further details, chances are it is an artificial fragrance to help the scent last longer or mask unpleasant smells – not a good sign. Most artificial fragrances are suspect as they may contain phthalates so natural scents are a safer option. Safer alternatives to phthalates include benzyl benzoate, resins, di propylene glycol, diethyl phthalate, and isopropyl myristate.
Alcohol in skincare is largely misunderstood as not all types are harmful to the skin. Their purpose? Better absorption of ingredients! Alcohol goes a long way towards helping ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C absorb into the skin.
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‘Drying alcohols’ are the ones in question. They include methanol, ethyl alcohol, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and SD alcohol. If any of these are lurking at the top of your ingredient list or are the main ingredient, that’s your sign to put that product back on the shelf or rid it from your collection!
Prolonged use results in unhealthy skin due to unnecessary stress on the skin that causes it to dry and flake. This eventually eats away at the skin and disrupts the skin renewal cycle. Fatty alcohols, derived from natural fats and oils are a natural alternative that helps nourish and moisturize the skin. Guys if you have sensitive skin, steer clear of all alcohols if possible.
Petrolatum can be listed as benzene, paraffin wax, mineral oil, and anything ending with ‘-eth’. Moisturising products containing petrolatum without actual moisturising ingredients should to be avoided. They suffocate the skin to a point where it eventually dries out. Petrolatum also creates a barrier that retains moisture while preventing the absorption of external moisture – a double tragedy.
Petrolatum is potentially harmful because it acts fast, giving temporary results. The chances of petrolatum being contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals is high – posing health risks. Refined petroleum is a much better alternative.
Learnt something new? Let us know what in the comments below 🙂