Well, unfortunately millions and millions of people use these under par products every single day! You are constantly being fooled by skin care companies into giving them your hard-earned cash. The skin care products market is a multi billion dollar industry, valued at $129 billion in 2020 alone. It is expected to reach $188 billion by 2028 and expand at a CAGR of 4.8% from 2021 to 2028 according to a new report published in Oct 2021 by Grand View Research. The growing demand of face creams, body lotions, and sunscreens is likely to fuel the overall demand.
There are thousands of potentially toxic ingredients in those skin care products. Makeup and skin care products are filled with toxic chemicals. The EU Law currently bans 1,328 chemicals from being included in cosmetics and skin care products.
Do not assume that all expensive skin care products coming from US and EU are safe. Although the EU bans over 1,000 chemicals, the US FDA has only banned 11 chemicals. Base on the Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG) – companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish and the government does not review the safety of these products before they are sold i.e., no FDA requirements unlike medicines. Those toxic chemicals can cause allergy, cancer, hormonal imbalance, birth defects, fertility issues and many others matters of concern. Therefore, we all need to decide whether we will let those harmful chemicals into our body through application on our skin, the largest organ in the human body.
What chemicals should we avoid? And how to pick a clean safe skin care product?
1. Chemical Sunscreen: Oxybenzone/Octinoxate – They are potential hormone mimickers. After we apply such a chemical sunscreen, it absorbs into our body and can potentially mimic hormones in our body as an endocrine disrupter in both men and women, and can lead to multiple issues in fertility, thyroid, metabolism and others. In addition, it is an allergen and eye irritant, gives hives and allergy. Not only that, it is bad for the coral reefs. Therefore, in beach areas such as Hawaii and Florida where they do not allow to wear such oxybenzone/octinoxate containing sunscreens.
My recommendation: Use mineral-based sunscreen such as Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide.
2. Parabens: Methyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, ethyl-, and etc. They are derived from petroleum and used as preservatives in skin care products, particularly common in makeup and moisturisers. They are known as Xenoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body and give hormone altering effects. They are linked to breast cancer, fibroids, infertility and etc.
3. Ethanolamine: DEA, TEA, MEA. They give the creamy feeling in skin care products. We use all natural products but we do not feel right (as they don’t blend into our skin, they don’t absorb like we want) compared to the skin care products in the market because of this Ethanolamine ingredients. They make us feel better and right. The concern is that its exposure is linked to liver cancer and precancerous changes in thyroid and skin.
4. Phthalates: DBP, DEHP, DEP and others. They are found in fragrances and skin care products. They make the skin care products more pliable. They are known as endocrine disruptors and may cause birth defects and cancer.
5. Polyethylene Glycol: PEG compounds. They are in night creams and are widely used as thickeners and moisturizers. It may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, known carcinogens.
6. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT): It is one of the most frequently used preservatives in paraben free products such as shampoos, soaps and water-based cleansers. Its function is to inhibit the bacterial growth. It is a strong allergen, can cause burning, itching and hives.
7. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): It is a very common cleansing agent, found in personal care items such as shampoos, cleansers, and body foam and bubble. With long-term use, it can irritate eyes, skin and lungs. It may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known carcinogen. If we do not wash it off properly, it can make our skin dehydrated and reduce the level of ceramide in our skin. I recommend to use castile-based cleansers rather than SLS.
8. Formaldehyde releasers: Quaternium, diazolidinyl urea, DMD hydantoin. It releases formaldehyde in the air. Formaldehyde is used as a chemical preservative to prevent bacterial growth. But it can cause DNA damage and leukemia, especially myeloid leukemia.
9. Acrylates: Ethyl-, Ethyl meth-, Methyl meth-. They are used as adhesives in artificial nails and eyelashes. They can cause from allergy to development issues and cancer.
10. Toluene: It is a petroleum product. They are found in hair dyes and nail polish removers. It is a clear, colorless, volatile petrochemical liquid that can damage to liver, kidney, immune, nervous systems, and also birth defects.
11. Triclosan: It is a popular additive in many consumer products because of its antibacterial activity. It is found in hand sanitizers, bodywash, hand wash and toothpastes. Not only it is an allergen and endocrine disruptor and also causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
12. Alcohol-based toners: We used to believe that alcohol would help to remove the unwanted oil from our skin and make our skin clear well. Unfortunately, the opposite happens by using it because they strip off our natural oil which we need for our skin healthy. After stripping away oil from skin, our skin can react by creating more oil and become vicious cycle.
I recommend to use alcohol-free toners which maintain the healthy pH of our skin. Sometimes after we use the harsh cleanser, we need the gentle toner to get healthy pH level. In fact, toner is a step that we can skip.
13. Makeup wipe: It literally takes the dirt and the makeup on our face. It just spreads around on our face, and actually not removing it. In addition, a lot of makeup wipes have irritants. If we use for long enough, it can even increase the inflammation and eventually will develop the acne.
Instead of using makeup wipe, I recommend to use a double cleansing: the first with an oil-based cleanser then the second with water-based gentle cleanser. It will keep skin nice, fresh and youthful.
14. Coconut Oil on face: Natural is good, right? Hmm… not really. Coconut oil makes us feel nice on our body but not on face. Coconut oil is a comedogenic. It will clog pores and makes acne worse.
15. Expensive Moisturizer: There is no reason to waste your money on expensive moisturizers. Moisturizers are basically meant to make skin feel comfortable. But they do not actually make us younger. Well, a lot of skin care companies try to trick us into believing that we need expensive moisturizers to have a younger looking skin. I recommend to use inexpensive ones such as Cerave.
In summary, to have youthful healthy and glowing skin, we only need 2 Skin products.
- Vitamin C serum – Apply it every morning. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant to fight off free radical damage. Our skin is attacked by free radicals all day long from the food we eat, from pollution in the air, and from our body’s daily processes. In addition, we must wear a mineral-based sunscreen in the mornings especially when we go out.
- Retinoid serum – Apply it every night. It has 2 forms: Retinol is OTC version and Retin-A is a prescription strength of retinoids. Retinoid does almost everything for skin health. It reduces wrinkles and fine lines by increasing collagen production, stimulates the production of new blood vessels which improves skin color, fades age spots and softens rough patches of the skin. The prescription strength retinoids can even reverse the early pre-skin cancers.
I strongly recommend our readers to adopt a habit of becoming a label reader. You will reap the rewards for many years to come. We can check an ingredient, brand or product on Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s website (https://www.ewg.org). Make it a habit. You will thank me later!