Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Skincare Ingredients 101

Hi all, meet my friend Lindsay. She is a self-proclaimed product junkie but very selective about what she puts on her skin. While I am getting better at checking out the ingredients on product labels, I still get overwhelmed. Here is her skincare ingredient 101 guide, combining all the information we've read here and there. Check out the breakdown for reminders of what to look for when you're in the market for a new product!

Ladies, just because summer has come to a close doesn’t mean you should fall out of your SPF routine! At the very minimum, moisturizer with at least SPF 15 should be applied daily to ward off sun damage and consequent wrinkles. Anything over SPF 30 only contains more chemicals. As a general rule, the best products are those formulated for your skin type and do not contain fragrances, preservatives, surfactants and chemicals.

If you are not a chemist, it is difficult to evaluate the long list of ingredients found on most product labels. With that said, the next time you are in the market for a new SPF moisturizer, or any skincare product for that matter, I suggest you avoid purchasing products with the following ingredients, or ones with the least amount of red flag perpetrators as possible. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed on the product label in descending order by prevalence. Those at the end of the list are trace amounts.

Ingredient Red Flag List:
  • Fragrance - skin irritant; proliferates wrinkles [Smells Like Trouble!]
  • Parabens - preservative; linked with breast cancer [Dangers of Parabens Uncovered]
  • Triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA) and monoethanolamine (MEA) - emulsifier/surfactant; banned in Europe due to carcinogenic effects [Six Chemicals to Avoid]
  • Phalates - solvent; linked to the disruption of the hormonal system
  • Mineral oil (i.e. Petroleum Jelly and Petrolatum) - moisturizer; suffocates skin like Saran Wrap; pore clogging culprit – think acne!
  • Formaldehyde/Aldehyde/DMDM Hydantoin/Diazolidinyl Urea/Imidazolidinyl Urea - carcinogenic chemicals and irritants; linked with joint pain, headaches, and chronic fatigue
  • Alcohol – astringent; strips the skin of moisture and creates a dependency for moisturizers
Ingredient Wish List:
Antioxidants - Great for fighting free radicals that are responsible for aging and skin damage!
  • Amino Polypeptides -  “alternative to botox”; anti-aging 
  • Green Tea Extract - acne prevention
  • Vitamin C - anti-aging
  • CoEnzyme Q-10 - anti-aging
  • Hyaluronic Acid - superior moisturizer; anti-aging
  • Caffeine - reduces puffiness and inflammation; anti-aging
#1 Oily/Combination/Normal - $
Basic ingredients and the economical price are this product’s selling point. The formula is fragrance free and contains minimal chemicals compared to most drugstore brands. It also softens the skin, and claims to be free of oils. However this product should be applied sparingly, otherwise it tends to feel greasy and heavy. Trader Joe’s offers a similar version of the product, Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion with SPF 15, at an even more wallet friendly price $4.50.

#2 Oily/Combination/Normal - $$
This moisturizer provides completely natural defense minus many chemicals found in other brands of sunscreen. It is especially perfect for oily skin and doesn’t leave behind a white mineral mask like many other natural moisturizers with sun protection. However, you may need to be patient and wait a few minutes until the lotion is completely absorbed into your skin. The Skin Organics line is sold in Whole Foods Market and online at Lucky Vitamin discounted.

#3 Dry/Combination/Normal - $$$
This moisturizer is gentle and natural along with the rest of Boscia skincare line - all fragrance and preservative free! It is lightweight and non-oily while providing generous moisture. It also absorbs into the skin immediately without leaving traces of white behind. Although this tube is on the pricier side, it lasts a while and is packaged in a leak free dispenser pump tube. One or two pumps of this potion goes a long way. You can find this one at beauty retailers like Sephora.

What are your favorite skincare products sans the red flag ingredients? I'll share a current favorite tomorrow!


  1. Ordering the Boscia moisturizer right now! Stupid small college towns without a Sephora..

    Thanks for the advice!


  2. Love this post! I've been using oil of olay for years and it's the best!


  3. I have such sensitive skin - these are wonderful recommendations! I never knew about half those bad ingredients!

  4. This is great information! thanks for sharing :) I use the Olay one and love it!

  5. Great tips! Love Oil of Olay, I swear they do such a better job than the expensive products I've tried.


  6. I love Olay! My favorite moisturizer...though I'm intrigued by the others now!

  7. Olay is my favorite! The skin organics looks nice too though! I might have to look into it!

    I'm your newest follower and love your blog! Check mine out and follow back if you like!

    xo Julia @ misssouthernpreppy.blogspot.com

  8. Lindsay!!! I am SOOO impressed! I'm also thrilled to learn that I already use your #1 pick (Oil of Olay lotion) daily, and have been doing so for the past decade.

    Interested in doing another guest blogging gig? Call me :) xoxo


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