Confusing Skin Care Ingredients
Have you ever picked up a skin care product, turned it over to scan the ingredients and pulled a blank? I’ve been there, feeling completely clueless as to what is inside that bottle with a pretty tree or sprig of lavender across it. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, read the full disclosure policy.
Here’s the Thing
Labels Can Deceiving!
Don’t be fooled by product labels that are pretty to look at and/or remind you of nature. It’s the label on the back side of the product that we should use for our decision making.
Understanding product labels
Deciphering product labels can be a challenging process. But, it’s a challenge I am willing to take since the Food and Drug Administration does little to regulate ingredient safety (FDA 2012). In fact
Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us! Start by familiarizing yourself with these five skin care ingredients to avoid below. Anytime you see one on a product, put it back on the shelf.
What Skin Care Ingredients Should You Avoid?
#1 Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Also known as sodium lauryl
Commonly found in: foaming hand soap, body wash, bubble bath, and shampoo
A common preservative to increase shelf life, parabens are made of up of a family of chemicals and found in 75-90% of all beauty and skin care products sold in the U.S. Parabens are a hormone disruptor reported to cause reproductive and fertility issues in addition to skin cancer and breast cancer (Gomez 2005).
Commonly found in: conditioner, makeup, face wash, shampoo and lotion
Used to help products stick to the skin, phthalates soften and increase the flexibility of plastics in skin care products. Phthalates
Commonly found in: lotion, body mist, deodorant, and hairspray
This where companies can really get away with including a lot of chemicals in a product without including on the label! Why? Because fragrance is considered a trade secret.
Fragrance, parfum, or perfume listed on a product label are terms used to virtually mask 1000s of ingredients. Many of which are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors (FDA 2011).
Commonly found in: body spray, hand sanitizer, body wash, and perfume
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a synthetic antioxidant used to extend shelf life. BHA is classified as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program linked to skin depigmentation and endocrine disruption.
Commonly found in: lipstick, diaper cream, face cream, and body butter
What ingredients should you look for in skin care products?
Ingredients that are not only natural but multipurpose like sweet almond oil is what you should be looking for. Some may be as simple as honey that you find in your kitchen cupboards, while others may require a quick shopping trip online like bentonite clay.
You see, by using natural ingredients and remedies your skin will show a dramatic improvement
A natural resource of nutrients, vitamins, enzymes, and skin-boosting acids, honey is skin care ingredient to love! Becca, organic lifestyle and green beauty specialist at Organically Becca says she it’s her favorite skin care ingredient. Use in her recipe for a Manuka Honey Face Mask.
And Kay, eco-friendly specialist at Paws and Pines says “Try using raw honey as a face wash as it’s naturally antibacterial and moisturizing. It’s been key to minimizing my breakouts. The stickiness takes a little bit to get used to, but it’s worth it for the results!’ I couldn’t agree more, I use in my daily fash wash recipe too.
Recommend for: face masks, lip scrubs, face wash, and hair masks
Used for decades as a natural skin care ingredient and native Morocco, argan oil not only benefits the skin but boosts the health and shine of hair. Argan oil is rich in antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and vitamins E and A.
Carrier oils also help keep skin clear by helping to break up the gunk clogging pores and regulate the skin’s own oil production. And of course carrier oils provide amazing moisture, and moisturized skin not only heals more rapidly
She struggled with adult acne for years, during which time she applied a lot of harsh, incredibly irritating and drying products to her skin. When she hesitantly started using oils, it was like a tall glass of water, superfood-packed smoothie, and warm hug all at once for her skin.
Now her skincare needs have changed from anti-acne to anti-aging, yet they are still the cornerstone of her skin care routine.
Recommend for: face wash, hair masks, facial oil, conditioner, and face cream
Also known as cocoa butter, it is a rich moisturizer high in vitamin E. And its’ pure nondeodorized form, cocoa butter smells just like chocolate, in case you didn’t know.
I use it a Chocolate Mint Nourishing Heel Salve to lock in moisture like nothing else I’ve tried! Apply it to dry, cracked, or rough areas on feet. Shelby at Fit As A Mama Bear loves to use cacao butter in her easy lip balm recipe.
Recommended for: body cream, lip balm, lotion, and salves
The delicate petals of
Adrienne at Whole New Mom says rosehip seed oil is her favorite natural skin care ingredient and I can see why. Use it in a
Recommended for: bath bombs, face oil, hand cream, and body scrubs
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There’s a clay for just about every skin type. Kaolin clay is the mildest of all clays and is suitable even for those with sensitive skin. It helps to stimulate circulation within the skin, all while gently exfoliating and cleansing skin. Sara at DIY and Kawa recommends bentonite clay for acne. Try it in her bentonite clay mask.
French green clay is often referred to as the powerhouse of all clays. This natural skin care ingredient helps to absorb impurities and toxins in the skin. French green clay contains many benefits including iron, aluminum, titanium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium.
Recommended for: makeup powders, face masks, soap, scrubs and body masks
Used in Africa for hundreds of years as natural skin care ingredient shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for dry skin and frizzy hair. Addie at Old World New says, “Shea butter works wonders for both my skin and my hair.”
Danielle, editor of Willow and Sage Magazine says, “Shea butter stands out above the rest when it comes to natural skin care ingredients.” She uses it to hydrate and revitalize her dry, sensitive skin. Kerry at Clean Pretty Wise agrees shea butter is a wonderful ingredient and super moisturizer.
Recommended for: hand cream, conditioner, shaving cream, and body wash
A favorite natural skin care ingredient among many, essential oils contain a wealth of skin loving properties in addition to their unique scents. Jasmine at Wild Green Life says, “100% pure essential oils are my favorite ingredient in all my DIY natural skin care recipes. I love frankincense the
And Eileen at Sensitive Souls Coach says she loves to blend frankincense essential oil with coconut oil for repairing dry, dehydrated skin. While Heather at Heather LeGuilloux says she always has melaleuca essential oil on hand to help purify her pores to reduce common imperfections of the skin such as blemishes. Learn more about how to get started with essential oils.
Recommended for: facial serum, bath bombs, soap, perfume, and face cream
Also known as floral water. Unlike essential oils, which require huge amounts of plant matter and large distillation equipment to distill even a small amount of oil, floral waters can be made at home. They are used in everything from personal cosmetics to home fragrances to food. Learn all about floral water from the experts at The Herbal Academy. Marlene Adelmann, Clinical Herbalist and Founder of The Herbal Academy says, “Lavender, rose, calendula – hydrosols, we love them all!”
Recommended for: body mist, facial steams, soap, perfume, and toner
You’re likely aware of the many benefits of almonds, but have you used sweet almond oil? It’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic. It has a lovely light scent that blends well with other carrier oils, body butter, or essential oils. Millason at Simply Natural Mama says it’s her most valued natural skin care ingredient.
And Tanya at Lovely Greens says, “Sweet almond oil is light, moisturizing, and versatile. I use it to make handmade soap, body balms, lotions, body oils, and many other beauty recipes. It’s also inexpensive and relatively easy to get a hold of..”
Recommended for: face masks, lotion, bath bombs, soap, and body oil
Commonly known for its sunburn healing properties, aloe vera contains more than 75 active ingredients. This includes amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, salicylic acid, and the list goes on!
Aloe vera’s antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties are what make it my favorite natural skin care ingredient to fight acne. I use it daily in my cleansing aloe vera face wash and aloe vera face cream.
Recommended for: hair serums, face wash, toner, face cream, and body oil
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While the list of skin care ingredients to avoid may seem endless, starting to remove these five will not only improve your skin but your health as well. So, start looking more closely at ingredients on product labels rather than the design.
If you’re ready to venture to into natural skin care read how I reached out to 20+ experts from various backgrounds asking them to share their glowing skin here. Have you considered making your own skin care products? Get your hands on this set of natural skincare ingredients from Pronounce Skincare to create 15+ customized recipes. It’s a simple cost-effective way to begin adopting a natural skin care routine while knowing exactly what you’re putting on your skin!
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2012. How FDA Evaluated Regulated Products: Cosmetics. Last updated April 4, 2012.
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2011. Guidance for Industry: Considering Whether an FDA Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology (Draft Guidance). http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm257698.htm
Turkoglu, M. , Pekmezci, E. and Sakr, A. (1999), Evaulation of Irritation Potential of Surfactant Mixtures. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 21: 371-382. doi:10.1046/j.1467-2494.1999.211920.x
Gomez E, Pillon A, Fenet H, Rosain D, Duchesne MJ, Nicolas JC, et al. 2005. Estrogenic activity of cosmetic components in reporter cell lines: parabens, UV screens, and musks. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health 68(4): 239-251.
Swan SH, Main KM, Liu F, Stewart SL, Kruse RL, Calafat AM, et al. 2005. Decrease in anogenital distance among male infants with prenatal phthalate exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives113(8):1056-61.