Turn the bottle of your favorite cosmetic and try reading its label. You will find hundreds of unpronounceable chemicals listed on it. Even so called organic and natural skin care products are filled with potentially toxic and harmful ingredients. These trace ingredients get absorbed by the skin where they could disrupt normal endocrine function and wreak havoc with on the hormones. Many chemicals like Triclosan and formaldehyde are also carcinogenic in nature. So, in this guide, we will study the best skincare ingredients to look for in your cosmetics and also the toxic ones to stay away from.
8 Worst skincare ingredients
- Parabens– Parebens are endocrine disruptors. They mimic estrogen and are linked to breast cancer. Parabens are preservatives used in lipsticks, lotions, deo-sticks, shampoos, cleansers etc. Many European nations have banned these products.
- Animal and animal by products– Many animal byproducts are used for making anti ageing skin creams. While these may not be toxic to humans, they certainly increase our carbon footprint. Several products used in cosmetics are obtained from dead carcasses discarded by the meat industry. Many of these carcasses are contaminated with Swine flu and hand, foot and mouth disease. We certainly do not want these in our cosmetics.
- Apricot pits- These are used in scrubs and exfoliating cleansers. As natural as they might sound, apricot pits can harm the skin by abrading it. They also strip the skin of its natural oils leading to chronic irritation. The skin becomes excessively dry and irritated leading to breakouts.
- Mineral oil and petroleum jelly– These are by products of petroleum. Many of these products are improperly filtered as a result of which they are packed with harmful and possibly carcinogenic chemicals. Mineral oil is extremely cheap due to which it is used as a base in lotions and skin creams. However, this heavy oil can clog the pores and cause severe breakouts.
- Hydroquinone– This skin whitening agent has been banned in Europe. Used in large quantities, it can get absorbed by the skin where it can turn toxic and possibly even carcinogenic. While it effectively bleaches the skin and reduces pigmentation and photo-damage, you must use it at very low concentration and only under the supervision of a dermatologist.
- Phthalates– These chemicals are absorbed by the skin and you could even inhale them through your skin care products where they can harm the lungs. Research has shown that phthalates can cause infertility and irreversible damage to the reproductive organs.
- Formaldehyde– This is a preservative found in several cosmetics and many other chemicals also release this harmful toxin. It is a possible carcinogen which can make you very sick. So it is best to avoid products containing it.
- SLS and SLES– Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfates are found in shampoos, face washes and conditioners. These surfactants give a foaming action to the products. They are very harsh on the hair and hair and cause the depletion of the natural oils leaving your hair dry and frizzy. It is best to choose shampoos and cleansers without these harmful ingredients.
8 Best skincare ingredients to look for in your cosmetics
- Oils– Coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, extra virgin olive oil, and Argan oil are some of the best skincare ingredients. They are light oils which do not clog the skin pores. They moisturize and protect the skin. Argan oil also has natural SPF action that makes it excellent as a sunscreen. You can use the oils on your hair as well as your face. Coconut oil can be used to nourish and hydrate dry and parched skin on hands, feet, face, neck and pretty much the entire body. Olive oil can be mixed with a little brown sugar to form a natural exfoliating scrub.
- Glycerin– Glycerin is present in most body lotions, hand and foot creams, cleansers, soaps and moisturizers. It holds onto the water layers and attracts and binds moisture to the skin.
- Alpha and beta hydroxyl acids- Alpha hydroxyl acids are fruit acids like lactic acid, malic acid etc and beta hydroxyl acid is mainly salicylic acid. Both types of acids exfoliate the skin by removing its dead layer and create a smoother surface composed of cells which are more hydrated.
- Green tea- Great deal of research is being carried out on the anti-aging effect of green tea on the skin. Green tea is un-fermented tea which contains more than 65% EGCG or epigallocatechin gallate- a potent antioxidant. Many studies also suggest that green tea can control sebum production to prevent acne.
- Vitamin A/Retinol- This is a proven wrinkle fighting agent. Topical retinol can remove wrinkles caused by natural aging and can also stimulate collagen production. Retinol treated aged skin is also more likely to withstand skin injuries and ulcers. You also get improved appearance. Get the detailed study on this best skin care ingredient here.
- Vitamin C- Our body can store up to 1500 mg of vitamin C, but during the period of illness or stress, it consumes most of it. Also, absorption of this vitamin is very low in the intestines and stomach; hence topical Vitamin C may be used to banish fine lines and wrinkles. When using this best skincare ingredient, look for formulations that contain stable vitamin C derivatives which are readily absorbed by the skin. They should also easily reconvert into active Vitamin C and have minimum of 5% of concentration. Massage vitamin C cream morning and evening for best results.
- Coenzyme Q10- COQ10 enzyme has anti-oxidative and energizing effects which help reduce facial wrinkles. Many in vitro studies have shown that regular application of skin care products with this coenzyme can reduce UV damage.
- Aloe Vera- Many ancient cultures including Chinese, Romans, Greek and Indians were not wrong in using this ingredient in their skincare formulations. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on Aloe Vera in skin care and they have demonstrated that the enzyme bradykinase in Aloe Vera can stop inflammatory actions caused by UV rays. Topical application of Aloe Vera can cleanse the skin and also regenerate its cells. Aloe also supplies correct amount of vitamins to stimulate blood circulation and enable detoxification. The compound aloin in Aloe leaves helps absorb UV rays. It can also be used on the scalp to reduce dandruff and prevent hair fall. Aloe gel also can cure tinea infections.
Now that you know which skincare ingredients to look for and the ones to avoid, choose the products containing the best skincare ingredients and save time, money and frustration caused by products that do not work.