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Skin Care Ingredients - Know What's in Your Favorite Products

Updated on January 5, 2013

Learn to Read Your Labels

The term "skin care" alone implies that we are doing something positive for our skin. There are literally tens of thousands of products available for every imaginable skin condition from dryness to wrinkles and beyond. But how well do you understand the ingredients that are commonly found in the products you use every day?

You might be surprised to find out that many of these ingredients can actually be harmful to your skin and your body. In some extreme cases, there is even evidence to suggest that some of these popular additives are potentially toxic or cause cancer.

Typically, the companies producing these products go to great lengths to make sure that the only product information you ever receive is the potential benefits and carefully spun marketing materials. While this information does a wonderful job of convincing you to try a new brand or cosmetic; it also keeps you in the dark as to potential health concerns surrounding some of the underlying chemistry.

Fortunately, the law requires companies to disclose on the label, anything that is found in the finished product. Understanding what you read on those labels is a challenge of its own. I will try to point out a few of the well-knowningredients that can potentially cause problems so you can keep an eye out for them on the labels of the items you regularly use.

Potentially Harmful Ingredients to Avoid

There are several classes of chemicals that generate attention for the wrong reasons. One of those is Parabens. The cosmetics industry uses Parabens as a preservative to keep skin care products from going bad on store shelves. Although this sounds innocent enough, research has linked parabens to breast cancer and allergic reactions in several studies.

Another ingredient you might be familiar with is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Most commonly found in facial cleansers and body washes, it is known to cause damage to the skin along with dryness and irritations. There are plenty of organic products on the market that have the same cleansing effect without the potential for doing damage. This is one that I would recommend you avoid.

Mineral oil is also found in a large number of skin care products. I always get a bit of a laugh when discussing this one with clients because it is a by-product of petroleum production; Yes, that's right - Gasoline! Cosmetics manufacturers use it as a base and it can interfere with the normal "breathing" process of the skin by clogging pores and preventing natural perspiration.

One way to avoid these potentially harmful ingredients is to ALWAYS read your labels! That means taking the time to see what's in a product before it ever makes it into your shopping cart. If you are considering an online purchase, take the time to ask for an ingredient list from the merchant. You will typically find that they are happy to offer one. I have a few favorite products that I will share below that are free from these and other harmful ingredients and urge you to share your ideas as well.

While the items above are a few things you may want to avoid, there are others you should actively look for. They include natural antioxidants which can help to counter the damage done by "free radicals". Weakened or damaged cells can accelerate the aging process and lead to the formation of wrinkles, creases, and sagging. Here are some of the best ones to look for when you are reading labels:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • CoEnzyme Q-10
  • Green tea extract
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin C

These and other plant-derived actives can offer you some incredible anti-aging benefits without the dangers associated with synthetic chemical compounds. When it comes to your beauty routine, it pays to favor brands that use natural and organic blends.

Safer Alternatives

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out which products you should use and which ones to avoid. Many manufacturers will avoid openly disclosing the ingredients in their cosmetics in prominent places to discourage competitors from reproducing their formulas.

This means you may have to do a little digging to find the information you need. You will have to spend some time reading a lot of fine print. Below you will find a few recommended beauty products that do not contain the ingredients that are potentially the most dangerous.

Which of the following skin care ingredients do you believe is most harmful?

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