Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Skincare can be daunting enough with the wide variety of products available nowadays, but when it comes to choosing the correct skincare, it is easy to become blindsided with the packaging and design of the product. The most important things to think of when choosing your next skincare product is, who would’ve guessed it, INGREDIENTS! The tiny little, almost hard-to-read scribble on the back of the box.
It’s so important to know every little detail of what you should and shouldn’t be applying on your skin. Ingredients are most commonly listed on packaging in order of amount, with the highest amounts of products at the top, and the lowest at the bottom. Although you may see ‘hero’ ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid or Niacinamide at the top, read a little closer and you may be shocked by what else is included. Whether it be comedogenic ingredients; ingredients that block the pores, irritants or alcohols, all of these should be avoided completely or used with care depending on your skin type. Below I will go over the following ingredients you ideally want to avoid in skincare, or at least use with caution; comedogenic ingredients, irritants including artificial fragrance, lanolin & SD alcohols and parabens, to ensure you are treating your skin with the best care possible.
Comedones, otherwise known as blackheads, are those little blocked pores that can lead to congestion and further breakouts. P.Acnes, one of the bacteria’s that live within our pores that is to blame for acne and breakouts, relies on lack of oxygen to multiply, so as you can imagine, when you use Comedogenic Ingredients, you are creating an environment for these P.Acnes to thrive. There are many different Comedogenic ingredients, some of which are extremely efficient in treating dry and ageing skin, however all of which should be avoided completely if you are prone to breakouts or acne. Below I have listed some of the main ones you may see in your skincare products.
- Cocoa Butter
- Coconut Oil
- Shea Butter
- Lauric Acid
- Almond Oil
- Apricot Kernel Oil
- Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
- Coconut Butter
- Stearic Acid
- Isopropyl Palmitate
- Corn Oil
- Octyl Palmitate
- Algae Extract
- Hexylene Glycol
Says it in the name, these following ingredients will irritate the skin. Always to be avoided if you suffer with sensitivity or sensitive conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis, but I still would recommend you steer clear from these ingredients regardless of if you are sensitive or not.
Lanolin – Lanolin is a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, such as sheep. It is commonly used as a moisturiser to treat dry or rough skin. However, if you are allergic to wool, you should steer clear from lanolin. It also is highly irritating to sensitive skin types and may cause allergic reactions on cracked skin.
Mineral Oils – Similar to Lanolin, Mineral Oils are moisturisers that work by locking moisture into the skin helping to soften it. These should be avoided if you are acne-prone or notice more blackheads as it can trigger these conditions to worsen.
Artificial Fragrances – In other words, perfume. These are commonly used to disguise quite ‘chemically smelling’ products and make them more attractive, however they are highly irritating on the skin and can lead to further sensitivity or other problematic skin conditions down the line. If the product says “fragrance” or “parfum” anywhere on the packaging, walk away sis, it will do you more harm than good.
Artificial Colours – Added to products to make them seem more appealing, these ingredients when left on the skin slowly increase your risk of sensitivity and irritation and can also make you at risk of absorbing them into your body where they will cause greater risk. They also have been found to block pores, which is why certain cosmetic products such as blush or highly pigmented highlighters should be avoided.
SD Alcohols – Although not all alcohols are necessarily ‘bad’ for the skin, SD alcohols should be avoiding if you suffer from sensitivity or dryness. SD Alcohol is a type of denatured alcohol that is mainly used as an astringent, anti-foaming agent, antimicrobial agent and a solvent. It can sometimes be effective in increasing shelf-life and stability of formulations; however, it can be extremely drying on the skin, and can in some ways, strip the skin.
Parabens – Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in skincare products, helping to improve shelf-life. However, many studies have shown that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation; therefore, these are recommended to be avoided regardless of skin condition.
So, with this new knowledge under your belt, you’re well equipped to finding the best skincare out there that won’t damage or harm your skin in any way. There is flexibility with some of these ingredients, for example, Alcohols, where in some cases they can be effective such as Chemical Peels, but remember to always read the small print and research thoroughly before you buy.