Beauty Tips & Tricks

Skin Care

Beware of Using These Beauty Ingredients, According to Dermatologists

13 Mar, 2018
By Daniela Massenz
Do you know what is safe and unsafe to use on your skin? Dermatologists see the results of this every day in patients. So what exact skin care ingredients do they recommend you avoid or use with caution?
Most of us slap skin care and make-up on our skin without a thought about what these products contain. It’s usually fine if we have normal, robust skin, but if we don’t, we’ll soon feel the effects, and there are certain things dermatologists advise us to either avoid or to take great care when using. Dermatologists have spent years learning everything there is to know about skin, so what do they have to say about the do’s and don’ts of skin care?

1. Added Fragrance

Don’t use any product with added fragrance. Often referred to as ‘parfum’ in a product’s list of ingredients (which, by the way, you should ALWAYS read), fragrance is one of the most common triggers for skin irritation and even allergic reaction. It can also interfere with your skin’s protective barrier function.
And this doesn’t only apply to skin-care products. Deodorants with strong synthetic fragrances may make you smell good, but they can have the same negative effect on your skin. In addition, some synthetic fragrances have been linked to respiratory distress and even negative effects on the reproductive system.
For those of you with sensitive skins, our fragrance-free product picks are La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Sebum Control Moisturiser, Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution Cleanser for sensitive skin, Neutrogena Hydra Boost Water Gel Moisturiser, Eucerin Dermatoclean Mild Cleansing Milk for dry sensitive skin and Eucerin Aquaporin Active Hydrating Cream SPF25 for all skin types.

2. ‘Bad’ Alcohols

Good to drink (in moderation, natch) – but not so good on your face. Alcohol is sometimes added to toners and skin creams as a preservative and to help deliver a quick-dry, non-oily finish. Unfortunately, it can also affect the natural moisture balance of your skin by stripping its natural moisture barrier, resulting in itchy, irritated skin.
But not all alcohols are bad; some are in fact good for your skin. Here’s your cheat sheet:
  • The Goodies What to look for: Cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, behenyl, arachidyl. Found in many cleansers and moisturisers, these are the so called ‘fatty’ alcohols.
    These little miracle workers don’t dry out the skin – they actually lock moisture in and form a protective barrier that water can’t penetrate. You will find these in Eucerin Dermatoclean Mild Cleansing Milk for Dry, Sensitive Skin and Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily Moisturiser SPF30.

  • The Baddies What to look for: ethanol, ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, benzyl alcohol.
    These are the ones to be avoided. Because they are designed to control oil they often sneakily masquerade as a saviour for an oily/combo skin. However, high ‘bad alcohol’ concentrations send your sebum (oil) glands into production overdrive - leading to an even oilier skin and more breakouts. And they destroy the skin’s barrier and suck out all the good stuff you need for a healthier skin.
If all of this sounds too much or you are ever in doubt, just look for alcohol-free products like Vichy’s Pureté Thermale Cleansing Micellar Oil.

3. Harsh Exfoliators

Rough exfoliation can eventually strip the skin, resulting in irritated, dry skin. Harsh exfoliators can also aggravate existing skin conditions like rosacea, acne and eczema, so are best avoided. Natural exfoliators sometimes contain ingredients such as apricot kernels, which may be fine for feet, knees and elbows, but they are too harsh for your face, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Gentle exfoliation is a good idea to remove dead skin cells and leave skin glowing, but your choice of product is key – gentle and simple is best.
Rather use a gentle chemical exfoliator that gently melts the ‘glue’ between dead skin cells on your skin’s surface. These exfoliants include ingredients such as glycolic acid, AHAs and BHAs (hydroxy acids), and enzymes such as pumpkin, papaya, pomegranate and pineapple.

Try Bioderma Sebium Exfoliating Purifying Gel and Skin Republic Anti-Spot and Pore Refining Mask for oily and acne-prone skins, and Freeman Pomegranate Revealing Peel Off Mask for all skin types.
Read More. Want Glowing Skin? You Need to Exfoliate Like A Pro

4. ‘Bad’ Sulphates

To foam or not to foam? Many products that need to foam or lather contain sulphates (aka sulfates). This is where you really need to read your labels. Commonly used are sodium lauryl sulphate (ALS) and ammonium lauryl sulphate (SLS), and there’s a big question mark hanging over these sulphates, as they are known to cause irritation, especially sodium lauryl sulphate.
You also need to know that there’s a big difference between sodium lauryl sulphate and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES). So similar sounding… so what’s the difference? It’s in the way they are made. All you need to understand that SLES is formulated be much milder and not irritate the skin. So SLES… tick. SLS… nix!
Although The Cosmetic Ingredient Review have pronounced SLS and ALS as safe - if used below 1% in a formula and as long as it’s on the skin only for a very short time (in a face wash or shampoo), to be safe, if you have sensitive skin, rather avoid lauryls.

5. The Wrong Sunscreen

How can wearing sunscreen be wrong? There’s a lot of information and hype out there about sunscreens, and their dangers, however, weighing up the benefits vs dangers ratio, it’s far more dangerous for our skin (in the form of skin cancer) not to use sunscreen.
Having said that, not all sunscreens and sunscreen ingredients are the same. There are two types of sunscreen filters used, namely chemical and physical/mineral filters.
  • Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and (very simply put) protect you by absorbing the sun’s rays. On the sunscreen label, you will see these with names like Tinosorb, Mexoryl SX and SL, avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate and octisalate.
  • Mineral filters sit on the skin’s surface, reflecting the sun’s rays away from your skin. The sunscreen should contain both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to cover the UVA and UVB spectrum.
What you need to know: just because a chemical filter is absorbed into your skin, this doesn’t mean it’s bad. Mexoryls are very stable, for example, and don’t break down.
The chemical filters you should avoid – especially if you have skin that is prone to allergies, acne and rosacea - include PABA and oxybenzone, which have been associated with skin reactions. People with sensitive skin should also check the sunscreen label for alcohol (usually found in gels) and fragrance.
Mineral sunscreens are used in sunscreens for kids and sensitive skin because they're photostable, don’t break down, and because they sit on the skin’s surface.
Our advice for potentially reactive skin: Stick to proven sun care brands that cater specially for sensitive skin, such as La Roche Posay, Avène, Bioderma, BioNike, Heliocare and Eucerin.
Remember! It’s important to note that you need to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, including both UVA and UVB protective agents, to get adequate protection. Any other option just won’t do the job. This is a good overview of sunscreens for different skin types.
Read More. 12 Important Things You May Not Know About Sunscreen (But Need To)

6. Harsh Makeup Removers

Many makeup removers are chemical-based and therefore strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation.
The best bet for gentle yet perfect make-up removal is a micellar water, which effectively removes all dirt and make-up while hydrating the skin. We like Bioderma’s H20 range – Sensibio H20 Cleanser was the world’s first micellar water and still remains no. 1 because of its gentleness and effectiveness. They also have Bioderma Sebium H20 Cleanser for oily skin and the Hydrabio H2O Cleanser for sensitive dehydrated skin. Other goodies: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Micellar Water and La Roche Posay Effaclar Micellar Water for oily sensitive skin.
Pore strips are also potentially irritating to the skin and, in fact, they only remove surface blackheads without cleaning clogged pores. A much better idea would be to use a product with salicylic acid to dissolve oil and dead skin cells that are clogging up pores. A natural mask is also an option to avoid pores becoming clogged.
Read More. These Powerful Ingredients Are the Secret to A Better Skin

7. Makeup Must-Nots?

Makeup that lasts all day may well contain silicone polymers and dimethicone (which is like a silicon oil) – which may not be a great idea for your skin on a regular basis. They basically trap everything under it - including bacteria, sebum, and impurities, which can lead to increased skin congestion and breakouts. They can also make your skin dull and dehydrated as well as upset natural skin renewal processes like sloughing off dead skin cells.
Add to this list products containing glitter. Look great, right? Not so great for your skin though, and, as the glitter is often made from plastic, not so great for the environment either.

8. Bad Skin Care Combinations

More is better – eh, maybe not! It’s true that if you use products with active ingredients together, their efficacy may be enhanced. It is equally true, however, that some products clash horribly and may cause damage to your skin.
In a Byrdie feature on skin ingredient combinations you should never put on your face, American dermatologist Dr Craig Kraffert advises these combinations should be avoided:
  • Vitamin C and AHA
    Vitamin C, like many antioxidants, is very unstable. Adding alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can alter the pH of the vitamin C and reduce its antioxidant properties and efficacy. Common AHAs found in skin care are glycolic, lactic, malic and citric acids.
  • BHA and benzoyl peroxide
    Both exfoliants, these two should not be used together. Used independently they are great, but your skin cannot tolerate the two together, so redness and peeling may be the result. The most well-known beta hydroxy acid (BHA) used in oily and acne skin care ranges is salicylic acid, which works to loosen and remove dead skin cells over the skin’s surface. Benzoyl peroxide, while also an exfoliant, is used primarily to reduce redness (it kills the p. acnes bacteria) and can cause skin sensitivity. So this one is best kept to specifically treat those unwelcome big red spots.
  • Retinol with either AHA or BHA Combining retinol with either of these means there’s an increased risk for irritation, but there’s also the possibility that your retinol may be deactivated. Like vitamin C, retinol can be unstable. AHA oxidises retinol, reducing its efficacy. So using these products together may result in a less effective product as well as irritated skin.
  • Retinol is great, but don’t add more... In other words, if you have a retinol serum and a retinol cream, don’t use them at the same time. You’re risking inflammation if you do. Be very careful not to use any retinol face cream in your eye area – there are retinol eye creams available specifically designed for your eye area.
    Read More. The Best Serums Will Help You Reach Your Dream Skin (Yes, Really)

9. Organic or Natural Ingredients

So is organic or natural always best? Not necessarily. Certified organic products must contain 95% organic ingredients, but this means that they may contain fruits, which can irritate the skin. There is also less regulation when it comes to organic products.
In addition, some organic products have a limited shelf life because they often don’t use effective preservatives. Beware of using expired products, as these could really harm your skin.
Do some research before you grab the nearest organic product because you assume it will be better. Check out the company for safety and efficacy, read some online reviews and study the ingredients used.

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