How do you choose your skin care?
Most people buy their skin care products on the basis of a brand name and marketing hype without thinking twice about checking the list of ingredients, and even the minority who may read it may not really know exactly what it’s telling them… But you should look a lot more closely at the ingredient list because no matter who makes a product, how expensive it is or how nice the packaging is, you could be throwing your money away on something that is detrimental to the health of your skin and body (even with some so-called ’natural’ skin care brands).
The Alarming Facts
The average western woman applies as many as 200 different chemicals to her skin each day in the form of cleansing products, cosmetics & perfumes. With a large proportion of these potentially being absorbed through the skin into your system it pays to know exactly what you’re applying to your skin.
With a very small number of exceptions, the great majority of products on the market today have small amounts of active ingredient, often diluted with water, artificial thickeners and cheap synthetic ingredients to the point where the good ingredients are no longer effective. Then preservatives are added to give the product a long shelf life. Many companies use far more preservative than is strictly necessary (who needs or wants a product so full of preservatives it could have a shelf life of 10 years?!?) Many of these additives and preservatives can then cause irritation, allergic reactions, and skin stress.
The truth is that the simplest and purest ingredients are often those that will give you results – the rest is often unnecessary filler to make the product look and feel more substantial or appealing and in the process boost the profits made by unscrupulous skincare companies.
The vast majority of products are also crammed full of silicones, plastic based polymers which coat the skin to give it a false feeling of hydration and smoothness.
Silicones make skin feel smooth initially, but they stop skin from functioning normally. It can’t breathe and eliminate toxins as it normally would. The toxins are then reabsorbed into the skin, stagnating and causing skin problems, puffiness and dullness. Using silicone-laden products is the cosmetic equivalent of wearing a plastic bag over your skin!
So which ingredients should be avoided and why?
There are thousands of questionable ingredients contained in everyday products, so it pays to educate yourself, but below is a small sample of some of the most common ones to avoid:
* Silicones (e.g. Dimethicone, Carbomer, Cyclopentasiloxane to name just a few) – Present in the vast majority of moisturising products. Prevents skin from normal function & lead to toxin build up as described above.
* Ammonium Laureth Sulphate & Sodium Laureth Sulphate (also known as ALS & SLS) – Common in cleansing products such as shampoo & face wash. Mutagenic known toxic agents which can be retained in fat cells for years & can cause dermatitis and pose a potential reproductive hazard.
* Propylene/Butylene Glycol (also called rose ether) – Basically antifreeze. Is a known carcinogenic (cancer causing agent) and mutagenic agent very common in skin care.
* Petrochemical fillers (e.g. Mineral oil/paraffin) – Synthetic petroleum based hydrocarbon used as emollient. Extreme toxicity. Known mutagenic, irritant and allergen. Often favoured by uninformed doctors as it forms a skin barrier.
* Phenoxyethanol – Often used as a preservative. Known toxic agent which may cause allergic reactions. Harmful if swallowed or inhaled. May cause eczema or reproductive defects.
* Artificial fragrances (Parfum) - Synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can contain hundreds of chemicals all banded together under the simple term "fragrance". Individual chemicals within these fragrances have been known to cause a very long list of problems such as skin reactions & headaches.
* Artificial colours - Many synthetic colours are believed to be carcinogenic.
A lot of skin care companies will not provide their ingredient lists. In the case of at least one household-name skin care giant, the ingredient lists are aggressively guarded by online customer care departments.
You have to ask what they are trying to hide.
If you have allergies or skin problems then you should check the ingredients of every cosmetic product before buying. Most developed countries require by law that product ingredients be listed on the label or packaging so that’s one place to find them if you are buying in person at a store.
When buying via mail order or online you’d be recommended to only buy from retailers who are upfront about the ingredients in their products and freely provide the complete ingredient list (not just the ones they want you to know about) for inspection on their website or sales page.