We’ve all been through our fair share of skin products, trying everything from anti-ageing ‘miracle cures’ to serums with plant extracts that claim to be 98% natural. Some stand by a big price tag, believing that paying more guarantees more. And then some claim to make their skin baby soft with only what’s in their kitchen cupboards.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by how many options there are out there, and a lot of us end up wasting a lot of time and money at beauty counters and getting results that are hardly noticeable.
Maybe it would be more beneficial for us to know what not to put on our skin?
1. Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol has so many uses, and can appear in the ingredients list of anti-freeze as well as moisturisers. Don’t panic though, it’s considered safe when used in such a small amount.
Its function is generally to preserve and has been used in cosmetic products for over 50 years. Many skin care products are shipped across countries and left on shelves for sometimes months on end, only to be transferred to a bathroom cabinet for months on end – they need to stay fresh while all this is going on. Many of these products are made of a mixture of waters, oils and lotions, which can separate with time and become unpleasant to use – propylene glycol stops this from happening.
It’s not all good though. It’s found as an ingredient in over 4,000 different cosmetic products, but has been associated with various forms of skin irritation, dermatitis, and hives. For some skin types, it would be way too harsh.
2. Fragrances and Perfumes
The smell of a product could be part of what draws us to it, but something heavily perfumed can take its toll on your skin quite dramatically.
There’s a reason that many products, shampoos and creams used for babies’ skin is ‘fragrance free’, and that is that it’s too harsh to be used on such delicate, soft skin, and can easily cause irritation. What makes our adult skin any different? Nothing, really. Skin rashes and irritations are commonly caused by fragranced products, even on people who don’t consider themselves to have particularly sensitive skin.
Some products have plant extracts or a natural fragrance, but most have an artificial fragrance created by various chemicals. There are numerous studies on what can happen when this enters our skin, but some do believe that it’s toxic and damaging, particularly as reading the label will make little sense and we can never guarantee what we’re actually putting on our skin.
We’re all familiar with the health warnings that go alongside drinking alcohol, but what about the alcohol we find in a lot of our products? It’s certainly not there for no reason, alcohol makes skin products feel light and “helps ingredients like retinol and vitamin C penetrate into the skin more effectively, but it does this by breaking down the skin’s barrier” – something particularly destructive. Look out for ethanol, isopropyl, methanol or ethyl alcohol on labels if you’re concerned.
If you’re an acne sufferer however, you may have heard that alcohol-based products are good at killing bacteria and degreasing oily skin. This is true, but there’s another argument that says alcohol-based anti-acne creams and products can increase irritation over time, oily skin can get even oilier and inflammation takes longer to go down.
With such mixed messages, it’s easy to see why those with acne are frustrated by their condition. An Anti-Acne Facial Peel can tackle oily skin and frequent breakouts head on, with a combination of Beta Hydroxy and Alpha Hydroxy Acids, and not leave you agonising over the ingredients in your cleanser.
Petroleum has always been lauded for its ability to moisturise and heal, it’s even in our beloved Vaseline (petroleum jelly).
Petroleum “seals off skin from the air, water and anything else getting in (or out)”, which certainly doesn’t sound good when it comes to skin care. This blocks your pores and can lead to trapped dirt, causing blackheads, spots and all those other things you want to get rid of.
If you want to detox your cosmetic and skin care collection, be prepared to read a lot of labels! It’s worth trying though if you want to understand your skin, what’s good for it and what’s not. Of course, nothing in this list is guaranteed to make you break out – everyone’s skin is different.