What’s In Your Skincare Products? Ingredients To Avoid May 18 2016, 0 Comments

Just like food labeling, skincare labels also need to have the ingredients that are in the product included.  The list of ingredients is set out so that the largest amount of ingredients is at the top and it works its way down to the smallest amount of ingredient.

But not all of the ingredients that manufacturers use are considered safe, and therefore we thought it would be a good idea to share with you some of the nasties that you should avoid and the reasons why.


Parabens are a family of synthetic esters used in many high end skincare products. Parabens are found in the form of methylparabens, ethylparaben, butylparaben, isoparaben, and more. The purpose of these ingredients is to use as a preservative to prevent bactical and fungal growth. It generally prolongs the shelf life of the product, but at what expense to our bodies?

Parabens work by imitating the hormone estrogen, high levels of which have been linked to a higher occurrence of breast cancer in women.

Most organic natural ingredients have therapeutic properties and many natural active ingredients have proven benefits to the skin and are not harmful in any way to our bodies.


Sodium Laureth Sulphate/Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

Sodium Laureth Sulphate/Sodium Lauryl Sulphate were introduced to skincare as an emulsifier or detergent. Alone or in combination, these surfactants are used as the primary detergents in a majority of products such as skin cleansers and body washes.

Studies were completed to see the effect of irritation on the skin caused by surfactants and it showed that irritation is dependent on the structure of the sulphate. ‘SLS is an anionic detergent which tend to be more irritating to the skin and eyes in comparison to amphoteric and non-ionic detergents’ (L. Rhein, 2007).

These ingredients are also known to cause skin reactions such as such as dermatitis or may cause inflammation. ‘Though emulsions are often used to treat inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema, emulsions may also cause skin disorders because of the presence of surfactants added as stabilisers’ (Bárány et al, 2000)

Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

Polyethylene Glycols are petroleum based ingredients and are often used in creams in particular, as a moisturising agent. PEGs are typically followed by a number correlating to how many units of ethylene glycol they comprise, in the form of say PEG-4 or PEG-100; the lower the number, the more easily the compound is absorbed into the skin.

They have a penetration enhancing effect which is important to remember for several reasons:

Firstly, PEGs make it easier for other undesirable ingredients in your skincare products to penetrate deep into your skin.

Secondly, PEGs have the potential to disrupt the skins natural moisture balance, thus altering the surface tension of the skin.

And thirdly, PEGs often come contaminated with toxic impurities. An example of such impurities is 1,4-Dioxane. This chemical is known to be carcinogenic in animals and may cause eye, skin and respiratory irritations, as well as have effects on the nervous system, and kidney and liver toxicity. According to a report in the International Journal of Toxicology by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, pollutants found in various PEG compounds include ethylene oxide (used to manufacture mustard gas), 1,4-dioxane, polycyclic aromatic compounds, and heavy metals (lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium, arsenic).

Information on PEG toxicity is limited and contradictory at this stage, but by all accounts they should be avoided to ensure safety.