Skincare: Harmful Ingredients

I've always had pretty sensitive, reactive skin. I was that kid who broke out into a rash when their mom tested out a new laundry detergent. Interestingly enough, I also never really paid much attention to the ingredients in my skincare, because I tried to use "gentle" and "sensitive" products from well-known, trusted companies. But my red, irritated skin prevailed. In the past year, I've done some research for myself about the ingredients that I'm putting on my face--not for fear of cancer (which I know will be my next phase of getting "clean")--but just to calm my skin. With the huge organic and all-natural lifestyle becoming more and more popular, I wondered what companies or products I could trust so I could just buy everything from that company and be done researching. 

What I've found is you can't really do that. You need to look at each and every product for their ingredients. I have come back time and time again to Paula's Choice Ingredient Dictionary to help me figure things out. I've learned a lot about sensitizing ingredients. Sensitizing Ingredients make skin issues worse. If you have oily skin, you may experience more breakouts when using products with these ingredients. If your skin tends to be dry, your skin may feel drier, visibly flaky, and can look dehydrated and dull. Skin may become more red, irritated, and sensitive over time. You may not have an immediate negative reaction at all, but these harmful ingredients work slowly to sensitize your skin. 

As a general rule, avoid products with alcohol and fragrances (synthetic AND natural). Other highly irritating ingredients to watch out for include: 

  • Ammonia
  • Arnica
  • Balm mint
  • Balsam
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Bergamot
  • Camphor
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus juices and oils
  • Clove
  • Clover blossom
  • Coriander
  • Essential oils
  • Eucalyptus
  • Eugenol
  • Fennel oil
  • Fir needle
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Horsetail
  • Isoeugenol
  •  Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Linalool
  • Melissa (lemon balm)
  • Menthol
  • Menthoxypropanediol
  • Menthyl lactate
  • Mint
  • Oak bark
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Parfum
  • Peppermint
  • Rose oil
  • Sandalwood oil
  • Sodium C14-16 olefin sulfate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • TEA-lauryl sulfate
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Witch hazel
  • Ylang-ylang

You may be surprised to see many of these ingredients in your all-natural, organic skincare products. If you are using something with the above ingredients and don't find your skin to have any issues, hooray! Keep using it if it's working for you. BUT! If you ever think your skin could use a little TLC AND you're using products with some of the above ingredients, try taking a little break and seeing how your skin does without that product. Our skin is ever evolving, so do your research, trial and error, and trust your instincts, not the clever marketing. If you have questions about specific products, Beautypedia is one of my other favorite resources. And, you know what I'm gonna me! I'm here for you!