What's in YOUR skincare products? You might be surprised...

What’s In YOUR Skincare Products? Toxic ingredients? You might be surprised…

As I have started my own line of skincare products (now available!) I figured that I’d better check with the FDA to see how these products are regulated. Well, they are not. What!?? Yes, it’s true. There are only a small handful of things that must be regulated with skincare products (ex. if milk is used in a product). That means that we, as savvy consumers, must do our own homework!

Today I am going to let you in on a few secrets that the skincare industry, no doubt, doesn’t want you to know. Of course, I’m sure that they’d prefer we all simply continue to exist in our happy little ignorant worlds and just believe what their commercials are selling us. If you know me at all, you know that one of my mottos has always been, “Always question authority.” So, I recently grabbed a few of my “dermatologist recommended” skin products…you know, just for a bit of light reading.

Before we get to the labels, I want to inform (or remind) you of a few ingredients that should never, ever, No Way be in ANY of your skincare products; unfortunately, they are in many products. I am simply picking my top three…there are (unfortunately) many, many more. If you are interested, we can have that conversation another day.

Three “No, Not EVERs” In Skincare

Europe has banned use of Phthalates, but not the good old US of A. The EPA states that this ingredient is a “probable human carcinogen.” Hmmm, obviously not good! This product is often found in products because it helps lotions to absorb more quickly into skin. No thank you…I’ll wait and let them absorb on their own time. There are multiple different terms for Phthalates, all of them using “Phthalate” in the name.

It is widely known that petroleum-based products (which are derived from crude oil) are linked to cancer, yet they pop up in loads of skincare products. Do not buy products that include “Petroleum” in any form, including the following…

  • Mineral oil
  • Paraffin
  • Paraffin oil
  • Paraffin wax

These boogers are often seen in cheaper lotions, make-up, and creams. They come from Petroleum, but I believe that they are worth mentioning separately. Fortunately, use of Parabens are on the decline, since research is showing that Parabens are linked to cancer, estrogen level issues in women, and endocrine system troubles. They also have high rates of allergic reactions. Yikes! So why do companies even use Parabens? Well, they help extend the shelf-life of product so that they last longer (i.e. less waste for companies). Good tradeoff…longer shelf-life vs. cancer/hormonal/endocrine system troubles? Nope, not in my home! Check your labels…you do not want to see “Paraben” in any form, for example…

  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • IIsoparaben
  • Butylparaben

*Bonus Side note- Any product that simply says “Fragrance” or “Fragrance” and a number…bad, bad, BAD! Fragrance should come from natural, *real* sources, not a science lab.

Now, the fun part. 😉 I grabbed a bottle of lotion and a cleanser that clearly state “Dermatologist Recommended” and “Developed With Dermatologists.” In fact, multiple dermatologists have recommended both of these products for use by my son and me. Let’s play detective, shall we?

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This brand of lotion and cleanser is fairly new to the market and is rapidly becoming a dermatologist favorite (according to my experience with dermatologists). Now, I could make this blog post ridiculously long by going through ingredient-by-ingredient, but I will not do that. What I will do is point out a few things that are red flags and why I (personally) would NOT recommend these products.

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  1. Length– Take another look at the picture above…look at the list of ingredients. If you see a list of ingredients for ANY of skincare product this long, put it back on the shelf. More than likely, you do not want it. In fact, this rule should apply to everything you put on and inside of your body. You do not want to see long lists of ingredients.
  2. Paraben– How many times do you see it listed? I see it twice; that is two times, too many.
  3. Polyoxyl 40 Stearate– How this one slips right into a cleanser, which is highly touted by dermatologists, is beyond me. Among others, this ingredient has been linked to cancer and kidney problems. You should also know that this entire line of products is meant to be used only by those with healthy skin. Now, my son and I have severe eczema. Do you remember from yesterday’s post what I mentioned about those with severe eczema, psoriasis, some of those with Celiac disease (thanks for pointing this out, blog reader Kathy!), and others? They very often have cracked skin. It is recommended that you do not use this ingredient if you have cracked skin, as this nasty ingredient can get inside and into your dermis putting you at greater risk of kidney problems (not to mention that whole cancer thing).
  4. I could go on with this product, but I’ll stop here; that’s enough.

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Another highly recommended lotion, this one also baffles me.

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  1. This ointment is thick, as ointments are meant to be. The thinking here is that if you can coat dry skin, you can help retain moisture. Remember back to yesterday’s Skincare 101 blog post…the two main jobs of skin?
    *Keep bad things out
    *Keep good things in
    So, if you have a crazy thick ointment on your skin, you may be keeping bad things out, but what about the bad things that were already on your skin when you applied? Theoretically, there could have been some there (especially depending on when you applied) and now they are locked in. Also, your Epidermis needs to breathe and sweat…those dead skin cells need to flake off. How can they if they are locked inside of a thick ointment? Your skin cannot breathe…this doesn’t seem good to me. Also, think about how this is affecting your pores? Pimples and blackheads, anyone?
  2. The number one active ingredient is Dimethicone. THIS is the ingredient responsible for the troubles in #1. I do not advocate for ingredients like this, at all. Also, this ingredient is not biodegradable. I have a problem with that.
  3. The second most prevalent ingredient in this product is C30-45 Alkyl Methicone…really, just another version of Dimethicone. Yuck.
  4. Microcrystalline wax– Derived from petroleum (we’ve already covered this one).

Again, I could go on, but I think I’ve covered enough for this one.

So, moral of the story? There is absolutely NO reason for these types of ingredients being present in our products. NONE! Remember from yesterday’s post the purpose of lotions, creams, ointments, etc.? To help our body retain moisture. I do not need a side of cancer or hormonal issues with my retained moisture.

Do you have anything you would like to add about lotions, creams, ointments, cleansers, etc? Have any questions? I would LOVE to continue this conversation! Feel free to comment below, shoot me an email, or connect with me on Facebook.

Tomorrow I will begin a three day series about ingredients that are SUPER healthy for your skin! Now, we are really getting into the fun part! 🙂

Jess, aka Scratch Mommy

This post was shared at– Eco-Kids TuesdayFresh Bites FridayHomemade Mondays, Better Mom Monday’s Link Up, Small Footprint Fridays, Thank Your Body Thursday, Get Inspired Pinning Party.

Comments 12

  1. How about the Melaleuca products? All natural, no petroleums, parabens, etc. Have you heard anything about these products?

    1. I had previously heard of the company, but never used their products. I did a quick Google search and found one of their products (Renew Lotion). Immediately, I see 4 things that I would never use on my skin.

      1. Petrolatum – A byproduct of petroleum (explained in this article).
      2. Distearyldimonium Chloride – Toxic to the environment and our skin.
      3. Dimethicone – Never on my skin! Also cited in my article.
      4. Fragrance – You never know what this is!

      Sorry to the the bearer of bad news, but personally, I would never use this product. I have not researched any of their other products. It appears as though they are good about listing their ingredient lists online, so you might check there if you need help with another specific product.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. Yikes! I’ve been using that first lotion brand on my daughter out of desperation, because she has severe eczema and allergies and was becoming allergic to the other lotions I was using 🙁 I knew it wasn’t the best. So far, I haven’t had much luck with any of my homemade concoctions. Looking forward to this series!

  3. Hey! I realize this is kind of off-topic but
    I had to ask. Does operating a well-established blog like yours take a massive amount
    work? I’m brand new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary on a daily basis. I’d like
    to start a blog so I can share my personal experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

  4. Hi there I am so grateful I found your website, I
    really found you by accident, while I was looking on Askjeeve for
    something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say
    thanks a lot for a remarkable post and a all round
    entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read through it all at the moment but I
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  5. Hi! Found your site while searching for information on cocoa butter (love it..). This post was a direct answer to my recent pondering on why my skin would need long lists of ingredients in a product, can it really utilize all of the good nutrients (if I believe the marketing claims) blended with god-knows-what? Or even the good nutrients in organic skin care brands with long lists of ingredients (which I see a lot too, when exploring different brands).

    I’ve changed my lifestyle a few years ago to more natural, organic, simple…and seen what a HUGE difference it has made on my health, the wellbeing of the internal organs of my body. Now why would skin be any different from the internal organs? How brainwashed are we to believe it needs more than just a few genuine, truly natural, pure ingredients that are jam-packed with nutrients btw, just one of them…(think cocoa butter for example).

    I think these issues should be brought up to public discussions more and more and that’s why I am so happy to find sites like yours – please keep up the great work 🙂 Hanna

    1. Hi Hanna,

      First, thank you for stopping by! Yes, it’s pretty sad and sickening all of the ‘extra’ stuff thrown into skincare items (and food, for that matter), isn’t it? Hey…we least we are now ‘in the know’ and we can make better choices! I love spreading the good word and providing skincare solutions for people.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I hope that you have a lovely day. 🙂

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  9. Hi Jess,

    Interesting post…I’ve started to switch lately with my skincare products (I usually check the ingredients lists quite carefully when buying food stuffs) but I’m new to the skincare/makeup/beauty product thing. After reading your article I checked my Neutrogena deep moisture body lotion against my other Dr Organic pomegranate skin lotion…there’s a lot of dimethicone, paraffin and parabens in the neutrogena! Yikes!
    But would you mind checking out Dr Organics online? It seems all natural, but the fact that the ingredient list is so long makes me wonder…Can I just say though that their shampoo seems definitely great. My hair feels a lot better and falls out a lot less than when I was using Elseve and the like.
    What are your thoughts on their moisturisers?


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