Sometimes I wish life would be easier. I wish you could say that an ingredient is good for your skin, or bad for your skin, and that would be that. But things are never that easy. Allow me to confuse you with a few ingredients that I myself am not afraid of using in my skin care products, even though some people are.
Parabens is today seen as one of the main bad guys in skin care. Many skin care products proudly scream out on the front label that this product definitely does not contain any parabens. Paraben is used in a lot of skin and hair care products as a preservative, and is claimed to be a skin irritant and linked to cancer. While I do agree that some parabens can be pretty bad for you, not to mention the bad effect on the environment, I think this paraben hysteria is a bit exagerrated.
For one thing, parabens are always used in extremely small amounts in every product (around 0,02%-max 1%). You will need to use a lot of products with parabens for it even to be slightly irritant. A lot. When it comes to the question of cancer, I haven’t found any reliable research that links parabens to cancer.
The other thing is that you have to remember that there are different kinds of parabens. The most common ones in cosmetic products are methyl-, butyl, ethyl- and propylparaben. A product that includes more different parabens is better, since that means that the percentage of each type of paraben will be smaller, thus causing less harm.
The bottom line is, I don’t know if parabens are good or not, but they are always used in such small amounts that I don’t see them as the worst cause of concern in skin care products. If you have parabens in each product that you use many times daily, you might want to reconsider your next buy, but I wouldn’t urge you to throw it all out straight away.
Vegetable oils This probably does not come as a surprise to most of you, but I would like to take this opportunity to clear up one of the most common mistakes, which is that if you have oily skin, you should not use oils on your skin. It actually goes the other way.
See, if you have oily skin, the reason is that your skin is producing too much oil. This means that you need to provide your skin with external oil, so as to balance out your natural oil production. Although it might be a good idea to look for drier oils, such as thistle, sunflower or sesame seed oil. If you have dry skin, it’s better to use fatty oils, such as good ol’ olive, or coconut or avocado.
And remember folks, mineral oils are always bad for you!
Many of the mineral make-up devotees worry about the use of talcum powder in mineral make-up products. Talc is often used as one of the main ingredients in mineral make-up (and those who don’t use it advertise it in large letters on the label). Talc is a cheap ingredient, and is therefore often considered a filling ingredient, but that is not only the case. Talc also enhances the gleaming from other ingredients like mica, giving your face a radiant and soft appearance, and can also soothe irritated skin. The downside, however, is that it might clog up the pores and it doesn’t give an as natural color as mica does. There’s also some talk about talcum powder being linked to cancer, but there doesn’t seem to be strong evidence to prove this (see here for instance). So it’s not a great ingredient, but not nearly as bad as everybody seem to think. My advice is, go ahead and use it in your hair and on your body, and also on your face if it’s not the very first ingredient on the INCI.
Alchohol is another ingredient that many are afraid of using. Alcohol is said to be drying and extremely bad for your skin. but wait a mintue, then why does Chrunchy Betty post a recipe with red wine in it, saying that the wine softens the skin? Last time I checked red wine contains alcohol (last time I checked was last night, and I do have a headache to support my theory). Well see, again there’s a difference between alcohol and alcohol. I’ve been doing a bit of research, but it seems people do not quite agree on which alcohols are good and which ones are bad. For instance in Rita Stiens’ book The Truth About Cosmetics, most alcohols got good grades, which confuses me a bit since I usually find her markings trustworthy. To be on the safe side, I would say go with products that include cetyl, cetearyl and stearyl alcohol. These alcohols are plant-derived (mostly from coconut) and will only be beneficial for your skin! Avoid isopropyl alcohol, and any other alcohols that you are unsure about.
There you go. Remember though, these are mostly my own opinions and you are most welcome to google around and read up on these ingredients. And challenge me.