I am so grateful I learned about cosmetic chemistry and the various components of product formulas during my time at Blanche Macdonald. The skin is the largest organ we have and obviously absorbs what we put on it. In cosmetics today, there are so many ingredients I can’t even pronounce, let alone describe what they do. But there are a few ingredients I always scan product labels for and try to stay away from.
WHAT: Tiny plastic beads you’ll find in face/lip/body exfoliants.
WHY: They end up getting washed down the drain and polluting the oceans/rivers. Thankfully, any cosmetics that contain plastic microbeads will be banned in Canada starting July 1st 2018.
THE SOLUTION: Personal Faves: Tarte FRXXXTION Stick, Fresh Beauty Umbrian Clay Mattifying Exfoliator, (Physical Exfoliants) ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment (Chemical & Physical) Kerstin Florian Correcting At-Home Peel (Chemical)
My faves for the body: My Organic Zone and Fresh Beauty.
WHAT: Mineral based oil (baby oil) and mineral oil jelly (vaseline).
WHY: Though it might look and feel like it’s giving you moisture, it’s actually blocking everything from entering your skin. Think of it like saran wrap on your skin that won’t allow your skin to breathe. I couldn’t figure out why I was getting so many whiteheads around my mouth… Turns out one of my favourite lip balms had a petrolatum base.
THE SOLUTION: I’ve been sticking to Burts Bee’s Lip Balm, which won’t block the skin and provide lots of nourishment.
WHAT: You’ll see this labelled as Fragrance/Perfume on ingredient lists.
WHY: These can just lead to skin irritation or an allergic reaction. It really doesn’t provide any benefits other than just to add smell. Now this is a tricky one for me, because I love scented things! Sometimes for body products, I don’t mind, but I try to keep artificial fragrance off of my face.
THE SOLUTION: There are still lots of fun products that don’t use fragrance! The Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette is so gorg (full review) and smells like heaven.
Sodium Laureth Sulphate
WHAT: SLS is an aggressive surfactant (detergent), found in things like body wash, shampoo, or cleanser.
WHY: You know when a cleanser gives that “squeaky clean” feeling? Often it will contain SLS, which basically strips the skin of everything. While it takes off dirt and makeup, it also takes away the natural oils.
THE SOLUTION: These are some of my favourite SLS free cleansers that give your skin an amazing cleanse, but still leave behind the natural oils we need. Oily Skin: Dermalogica. All skin Types: Tarte Cosmetics.
I’m not saying throw out all of your products that contain these! But it’s about being conscious of what we put on and in our bodies. Also, it’s good to note which products give you breakouts/allergic reactions to try to see if you can find any commonalities among the ingredient lists.
Are there any ingredients you have questions about? I’m an esthetician and high-key ingredient nerd. Ask away in the comments below!