The reason I write this blog… to empower you to make savvy skincare choices. This blog is all about that moment you have down the skincare aisle. The one where you’re looking at all the pretty bottles and suddenly realise they look lovely and that is pretty much the only thing you know for certain. Lost in that mind funk, you read, ‘lift and protect’ and ‘calm and condition’ and ‘fights fine lines and wrinkles’ galore. It all sounds so good, how do you pick one that’s right for you?
As part of sharing my science based savvy skincare choosing skills with you, I also make product recommendations to help get you started. I have a confession to make. I find this so, SO (so, so, so) hard.
Why? Because I usually find added extras that are like the freebie you get in a cereal box. They drive you into an impulse purchase, but they don’t actually benefit your skin, and sometimes they aren’t healthy for it either.
Today I wanted to show you what I mean by this and what to look for if you also choose to avoid these pesky add-ons.
1. I Believe in Natural & Safely Women-Made
Natural ingredients are usually perfectly set-up to be compatible with our bodies. That’s because we’ve co-existed for so long, we’ve ‘grown together’. It’s how our bodies work and why people’s bodies work best when they eat and use the same foods and products their ancestors used. Our bodies evolve to use what is around us.
With that said, not all naturals are good. I mean you’re not going to be running yourself a stinging nettle infused bath any time soon ‘eh *winks*… and next time you see a foxglove plant, know that that bad boy is a potent heart medication (it’s still made from natural foxglove because there’s no efficient women-made way to make it yet).
Some naturals come with risks. Case & point – the comfrey plant. The comfrey plant has a reputation for helping to heal and soothe skin. The problem is that when it’s naturally extracted, the active compound (called allantoin) comes buddied up with a toxic natural called an alkaloid. You get the skin beneficial ingredient, but you also get a nasty natural poison.
Thankfully we can make a non-contaminated and safe, women-made version of the ingredient responsible for the comfrey plants skin healing reputation.
(you can read more about the comfrey plant, its skincare benefits and the safe alternative here)
I find a lot of ‘all natural’ skincare products are a bit blind to this and choose, ‘all-natural’ over your safety and your skin health… I’ll give you an example…
This is an all-natural ‘toner’, it uses a super high level of alcohol (it’s number 2 on the list, that means this ingredient has the 2nd biggest quantity in the formula). Alcohol is very drying to skin, especially in such a high quantity. Then we have highlighted in the bold, lemon juice. Lemon juice increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and therefore sun damage (eek!). If you were going to use this then I’d definitely recommend only at night, but I’d rather recommend you not to at all!
This formulation has no preservatives in the bottle. When people look for all natural skincare, this can be a selling point, but preservative free can be dangerous. Looking at this there are 2 ways this product is preserved…
- High alcohol content. Alcohol kills stuff, it’s why it’s used to dis-infect wounds. It does the same job as a preservative, therefore it is also a preservative.
- Fragrance (parfum). There are new ‘natural’ preservatives that can be labelled up as a parfum or fragrance because they also do that. That means you can read an ingredients list and think it’s preservative free, when actually the preservative is hiding behind the word fragrance.
Rather than choosing natural skincare just because it’s all natural, I like to recommend naturally based skincare that uses safe and well-proven women made ingredients that help boost effectiveness and protect your skin health.
These are the ingredients from the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic. This skips the irritating ingredients the first example used, and also uses safe women-made, nature-identicals, (like allantoin which is the active ingredient in the comfrey plant…)
But, it could get even better than this and that’s due to those bolded bits…
2. I Don’t Recommend You Put Allergens or Sensitisers on Your Skin
Most of the time a product smells divine, that ‘nose porn’ scent is not healthy for your skin. Fragrance can change the way we feel (scientifically proven!), it’s a very emotive ingredient, which is why it’s used in skincare. If you like the way it smells, then you’ll keep on using it just because of that. At least that’s what the marketers believe…
Fragrance can be natural (essential oils) or women-mixed. Both kinds are not designed for regular skin application.
If you’ve ever brought an air freshener, maybe a reed diffuser or a plug-in. When you read the instructions you’ll actually find some of them recommend you to use gloves when setting them up. That’s because fragrance (both natural and women-made) are very often allergenic and sensitising.
So what does that mean for your skin? Well an allergen used over time can cause your skin to develop contact allergies, that result in anything and everything from dermatitis to hives to dry areas of skin to eczema. Sensitisers are pretty similar, their effects ‘build-up’ over time, you can be absolutely fine using them until one day you can’t even be in the room as the pesky thing!
Those bolded bits from above in the Liz Earle Toner are allergens. They legally have to be added to a products ingredient list to make you aware that they are in the bottle.
(for a full list of the 26 known allergens, head to this post, ‘How To Choose Allergen Free Skincare’)
Here is another example of some allergens hanging about a formula. The underlines ingredients are essential oils and these are the ingredients that contain the allergens listed at the bottom.
3. The Added Extras That Are Like a Happy Meal Toy
Have you ever had a ‘Maccy.D’s Happy Meal’? I’m guessing not recently *winks*, but if you did when you were a ‘wee’ one, then you’ll know that they were a big part of the reason for you nagging your ‘ma’ to buy you one. They are a bit of fun, but they aren’t going to provide you with calories to fuel your body with…
The added extras you might find in your skincare are a bit like this. They make it look pretty, but they don’t feed your skin (…instead they might actually give you spots).
The key offending added extra is dye my friend. Most of the time, the reason a skincare pick is green, or yellow, or pink, or even blue, isn’t because the ingredients in it, naturally give it that colour. It’s because they’ve added a pigment or dye.
Take a look at the ingredients list of this moisturiser…
Those CI numbers at the end are pigments and dyes. They are there to give the product a shot of colour.
The thing is, some of these dyes and pigments can also be comedogenic (pore blocking). So you can’t say they aren’t adding anything to your skin, but it might not be what you want to be added *winks*.
- Irritating naturals
- Allergens & sensitisers
- Unnecessary extras like dyes
I do this because it’s like ‘clean eating’ for your skin. I mean, when I indulge in alcohol I want it to be in a cocktail, not put onto my skin *winks*. This helps to protect your skin from developing sensitivities, allergies and skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. It also gives your skin the best ‘nutrients’ to get itself to that, ‘dewy’ like healthy skin glow.
If you are a long time reader of my blog then you’ll know that because I find recommending products so tough, I’ve been working away on developing a skincare range that can put a free from tick in all of the above boxes.
It’s naturally based, but not afraid of to use safe and well proven women-made ingredients (and tell you about it!)…
It’s designed to protect your long-term skin health with those 3-key, ‘free from’ promises (and it doesn’t smell bad when doing it *winks*)
It’s completely ingredient transparent, so you know what’s in there and why…!
(I actually went head in and quit my job to do this (yup scary, I know!))
If what we’ve been chatting about makes a whole lotta sense to you and you’d love to keep in touch for news about the range, then pop your details[cp_modal id=”cp_id_a7845″] in here and I promise you the first introduction *winks*.[/cp_modal] [cp_modal id=”cp_id_a7845″][/cp_modal]
Tell me about how you pick your skincare in the comments below… Do you look out for the 3 on my ‘say no’ list? Have you experienced skin sensitivities and found one of them to be the culprit?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.