Skincare ingredient labels are some of the most confusing things that most of us will come across. However, they don’t have to be that confusing, and there are some key ingredients you should remember.
What should be there:
- Retinol: Increase collagen production, and also provide exfoliation. Retinol causes sun sensitivity, so generally should only be used at night. Looking for a great night product with retinol? Check out Athia. Retinol formulations can be harmful if used during the day, so be careful with these.
- Acids: Often called alpha- or beta- hydroxy acids, are exfoliating agents. Be warned, do not use these with retinol based products, as they counteract each other and minimise their effectiveness, which is not great, when we’ve paid good money for skincare products. Arbonne has a great RE9 Cellular Renewal masque, containing hydroxy acids.
- Zinc Oxide: utilised as a sunscreen option, shields the skin from UVA and UVB rays, which can cause premature skin ageing, as well as other pathological issues such as melanoma.
- Hyaluronic acid: also known as glycosaminoglycan. Hyaluronic acid is often used in formulations containing vitamin C, and is found naturally in the body, and hydrates and cushions. As it also does this in the skin, it ensures longer lasting hydration, and makes the skin appear plumper.
- Vitamin C: Usually in the format of L-ascorbic acid, antioxidant Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, which can minimise fine lines, scars and wrinkles. Beware of products containing Vitamin C derivatives such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl palmitate, as these are not as effective.
- DMAE, also known as dimethylaminoethanol, boosts production of acetylcholine, which can enhance brain function.
- Peptides: various peptides are often used in skincare, and can help improve skin elasticity, and remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin’s layers. Peptides are small groups of amino acids, which are the building blocks of skincare. They often have enzymatic capabilities, and can break down damaged molecules, and help with skin turn over, repair and hydration.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid: an antioxidant which is soluble in both water and oil, making it extremely versatile. It enhances the actions of other antioxidants, and active ingredients in skincare, and helps to give skin a healthy glow.
What shouldn’t be in your skincare:
- Palm oil: This shouldn’t be there because its a bit of an environmental disaster, owing to the way that many manufacturers produce palm oil. It is a good source of Vitamin A, C, and E, but the damage caused to the environment, and to orang-utan habitats by typical harvest methods is terrible. As such, if you must, only buy products with palm oil from responsible sources, but if possible, don’t use it at all. Some ingredients sourced from palm oil sources include cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, sorbitan stearate, cetearyl glucoside, ceteareth-20, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate andglyceryl oleate. Not sure whether your product is safe? Check out the roundtable on sustainable palm oil website.
- Triclosan: usually used as an antibacterial agent, Triclosan causes hormonal disruptions and all sorts of nasty side effects. There are many natural alternatives, such as tea tree oil.
- Coal Tar: also known as Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, or Phenylenediamine, is a potential carcinogen, and sometimes found in shampoos.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: often found in cleansers, potentially irritates skin.
- BHA or butylated hydroxyanisole can irritate skin, and is a potential carcinogen.
- Parabens mimic estrogen, to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count.
- Polyethylene or PEGS are little microbeads, which are not filtered by our sewage system, are a potential irritant, and can cause environmental damage.
- Dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde often found in nail polish, are toxic and potentially carcinogenic. Try using Three Free formulas for nail polish, as we do.
- Oxybenzone can act like oestrogen in the body, causing hormone disruption, and is found in some sunscreens.
Have questions about your own skincare? We’d be happy to help.