Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare - Our Top 3 • Neve's Bees

Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare – Our Top 3

What's in my skin cream

Have you ever looked at what’s in your skin cream? Are there any ingredients to avoid in skincare products?

Are there any ingredients to avoid in skincare products?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe as there are a lot of different, and sometimes conflicting, claims in the skincare industry. The good news is that all skincare products must display their ingredients on the pack… the bad news is these can be difficult to understand. So here’s our easy decoder.

Aqua – see if this is the first ingredient in your skincare
Whilst there’s absolutely nothing wrong in putting water on your skin, most skincare products are mainly water – up to 95% (which you can get from a tap!) and, importantly:

All skincare products that contain water also contain emulsifiers (to mix the oil and water) and preservatives (to stop bugs which grow in water). They normally also contain thickeners (as water doesn’t feel thick).

These emulsifiers, preservatives and thickeners are generally problematic. So here are our top 3 ingredients to avoid in skincare.

1) Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers (also called surfactants) enable oil and water to mix. Fairy liquid is a surfactant – it enables the grease in your washing up to mix with the water and be washed away.

Emulsifiers from the cream or lotion can remain on your skin and damage your skin’s natural protective barrier. Because they are designed to make your skin’s natural oils dissolve in water, they also emulsify and remove your skin’s natural oils so can dry your skin.

An image showing how emulsifiers can damage the skin's natural protection - one of the ingredients to avoid in skincare
Emulsifiers can damage the skin’s natural protective barrier and are one of the ingredients best avoided in skincare. Image courtesy of Virtual Beauty

Increasingly, they’re also being linked with causing environmental damage as they wash into our watercourses – emulsifiers are often a key ingredient in pesticides. Dr Leon Barron is undertaking some interesting research in this area

Here is a list of the most common emulsifiers – see if you can spot them on ingredient decks?

  • Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS)
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • behentrimonium methosulphate
  • cetearyl alcohol
  • stearic acid
  • glyceryl stearate
  • ceteareth-20
  • polysorbates
  • laureth-4
  • potassium cetyl sulphate

Here’s an interesting post from Virtual Beauty New Zealand if you’d like to learn more about this.

2) Preservatives

Any product with water (aqua) as an ingredient must have an antimicrobial preservative to prevent dangerous bacteria from growing in the water element. Even many ‘natural’ products also contain these potentially harmful chemicals. There is one exception here – we are allowed to offer pure organic hydrosols (the water element created when essential oils are distilled from plants) as long as nothing else is added.

Unfortunately, many of these antimicrobial preservatives have been proven to be harmful to our skin, damaging the skin’s natural microbiome and destroying its natural protective balance.

Here are some of the most common preservatives which you might see in skincare ingredients:

  • parabens
  • formaldehyde
  • methylisothiazolinone (MI)
  • phenoxyethanol
  • potassium sorbate
  • triclosan
  • triclocarban
  • phenoxyethanol
  • alcohol
  • benzyl benzoate
  • zinc pyrithione
  • benzalkonium chloride
  • benzyl alcohol
  • Dehydroacetic Acid
  • Sodium benzoate

3) Thickeners

Because water feels ‘thin’, fillers and thickening agents are added to most creams and lotions, such as facial moisturisers, facial cleansing creams or hand creams, to make them feel ‘thicker’ – rather like adding flour or cornflour to a sauce!

Whilst these are not as damaging to our bodies or our environment as emulsifiers and preservatives, these fillers and thickeners rarely benefit your skin and some can be harmful by blocking pores.

  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol
  • Carnauba Wax
  • Stearic acid
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Gelatin Carbomer
  • Salt (Sodium Chloride)
  • Magnesium aluminium silicate,
  • Silica
  • Bentonite (Sometimes these are used as exfoliants)
  • Tetrasodium EDTA
  • Tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine.

Here at Neve’s Bees, we’ve created a range of truly natural skincare that feels wonderfully soft and nourishing on your skin with a beautiful subtle smell.

containing none of the ingredients to avoid in skincare
How about our new Daily Face Serum – 100% plant based, for smooth, soft skin that glows with natural health
Deep cleansing face balm with Orange and Calendula
Natural Oil Based Cleansing Balm – for clean fresh skin that feels plump and fresh

There is some wonderful totally natural skincare out there – just needs a bit more searching!

Thanks for reading!

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