How many times have you read blog posts about the amazing skin-benefits from eating avocados and the like? If you’re anything like us, then you’ll be the first to click on a video about the top foods that you should be eating for healthy skin. And yet, if you’re anything like us, you haven’t always been so eager to go through the long paragraphs of ingredients on the products you apply to your skin. Skin is the biggest organ in our bodies and its absorption powers are well known. So logically, it’d be nice to know that everything we put on our skin is safe and good for it. Sadly, that’s far from reality. The majority of large mass-producing skin-care/cosmetics/lotion manufacturers out there put all sorts of nasties in their products, some of them pretty toxic! Here are the top ones to avoid:

1. Parabens

These chemicals are added to products primarily to increase shelf-life and to preserve. Because of this, they’re one of the most commonly found nasty in skincare products. Amongst other things, they’ve been linked to hormone disbalance and can cause reproductive issues and have been tentatively linked to breast cancer. Essentially, whilst present in many products, this family of chemicals should be avoided. The most common members are Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben and Isobutylparaben.

2. Phthalates

A group of chemicals that helps the products stick to our skin and help fragrances linger on a little longer. Another hormone disruptor (specifically within the endocrine system), phthalates should be avoided. The tricky thing about this group is that manufacturers don’t always have to legally list them as “ingredients”, as they’re often part of the fragrance process. To be completely sure, you’ll have to go for products that explicitly state that they’re phthalates-free. However, if you do spot one of the more comment phthalates “diethyl phthalate” on the ingredients list – give it a miss.

3. Aluminium

Aluminium. Yes, the metal. Compounds of the stuff are often found in deodorants as they’re known to stop sweat. However, as common sense might dictate, sweating is a natural process and probably should be allowed. Aluminium used in this manner has been linked to health problems ranging from breast cancer to Alzheimer’s. 

4. Synthetic fragrance

Ah, the joy of secrecy. The manufacturer is not required to disclose the ingredients of their “fragrances” or “perfumes”, as it’s considered part of their secret sauce. Since you don’t know what the ingredients are (some have hundreds), it’s hard to know if they’re going to do you harm. However, there it is known that synthetic fragrances are a cause of Contact Dermatitis and a whole host of other undesirable health problems. Particularly if you have sensitive skin or allergies, it’s best to avoid them completely.

5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are known to cause skin irritation and trigger different allergies. These cleansing agents help to produce the lather we see in many shampoos and shower gels. They can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, and trigger allergies or skin problems in people with a history of skin problems. 

6. Formaldehyde

Often used in classroom laboratories to preserve the dead animals for experiments, it is also used in a variety of skincare products. You would have thought that the whole dead-animal-preservation thing might have been a red flag for companies, but alas, that is overly optimistic. Unfortunately, whilst a good preservative, Formaldehyde doesn’t seem to work so well on our skin and has been named a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). It’s definitely worth checking your ingredients lists for this one.

Are natural skin-care products any better?

In short, yes. Though it’s important to remember that there are natural ingredients that could cause allergic reactions, and it’s always worth checking the ingredients lists for any that might disagree with your skin. 

However, overall, natural skin care is the better way to go, it will allow proper care for your skin, providing benefits lasting a life-time, in stark contrast with the quick-and-dirty synthetic skincare products out there.

Worth a look: Holy Lama Natural Body Products

Holy Lama Naturals offer a natural body care range based on the ancient principles of Ayurveda. All of our products are vegan-friendly and free from SLS and parabens. Virgin coconut oil is the base of all our products, and the delicious aromas across the range are distilled from a combination of superior essential oils known to help balance mind, body and soul. 

Our sustainable business model is founded on long term relationships with local farmers in the land of coconuts, spices & herbs – Kerala, India. Over 80% of our workforce is women, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds. We recycle and use by-products, resulting in an impressively low level of waste.

Face Boon

Product in focus

Face Boon – 4-In-1 Face Care kit – £10
This kit includes:
• 30 ml Cleansing lotion
• 30 ml Face wash
• 20 g Face cream
• 20 g Face pack

This face care gift set is packed in a handmade, eco-friendly, sustainable travel case made with fallen, dried coconut palm leaves.

Thanks for reading, let us know if you have any other tips or ingredients to avoid!