Skin Care. Red Flag Alert.

Like so many other consumers out there I’ve long just trusted that what you buy of beauty products can be trusted, as the idea of beauty brands selling ineffective products or products that offer the opposite effect of what is desired, seems a bit backwards. Sales women in any beauty department are skilled beyond measure when it comes to selling you the best new thing and you can easily end up with a myriad of products, many of which you might feel are extremely ineffective.

Since I’ve had my battles with Acne, I think I can claim to have tried nearly all anti-acne cleansers that are out there and the majority have not really worked. I came across a zinc mask once from one of the “supermarket” brands that I quite liked, but all in all it has been quite a disappointing experience and a lot of the cleansers that I’ve tried through the years have only made matters worse. I went to a couple of beauticians in addition to my self experimentation and eventually ended up on the bench of a Dermalogica beautician that worked wonders on my skin.

Lately I also bought a Clinique anti-blemish travel kit that also worked and now I’ve also come across some of Liz Arden‘s products (not anti blemish) that I also quite like, nothing seems to beat Dermalogica’s Overnight Clearing Gel though, which can easily be described as a miracle potion for aggressive spots.

Before I stumbled into Dermalogica I also had a very positive experience with Clarins’s One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, which I used to use before bed time. But after my former beautician’s miracle work with Dermalogica I tried to go with only Dermalogica products. I never really took a liking to their moisturiser though and swore by Clarins’s Hydra Matte  for combination skin. Dermalogica’s regular cleanser didn’t agree with me at all, as it only made breakouts worse and I therefore got the Ultra Calming Cleanser instead.

So why am I writing about this now? Because after coming across a random article about skin products, it is quite clear that you need to pay close attention to whatever ingredients that might be contained within your little bottles of wonders. Considering what sort of names that are being used for the various ingredients in any beauty products from shampoos, to conditioners to cleansers and moisturisers, you might find yourself feeling dizzy and crosseyed after scanning the ingredients list, if it’s even there on the bottle.

A lot of brands simply direct your attention towards their website for any information and honestly, how many people will actually go online to search for an ingredients list? Some brands don’t even have them on their website, so you’ll google yourself to an ingredients list that you probably need a chemistry degree to even understand half of at the first glance.

Products that are hailed as containing “natural ingredients” so-and-so with big-bold letters, a lot of times contain an incredible amount of synthetic ingredients in addition, all of which normally comes in microscopic writing at the back of the product or somewhere online 😛

Considering how important beauty products actually are, if you think about that we all use them everyday, it could be an idea if a simplified language could be used and if ingredients that are known to have negative long term effects on the skin could be avoided. But instead of that being the case, you need to get your info from “online beauticians” and article writers, which can also be dubious as you don’t know if these “experts” are in the pocket of the beauty brands 😛 …or if they are dissing everyone else because they are promoting their own products….

Ultimately I guess that you just have to compare articles to see what the common denominators are when it comes to which ingredients to look for and then actually spend some more hours googling your way around the internet to look for impossible names on incredibly long ingredients list, that will contain an eternal amount of ingredients that are outside of the few ingredients that are actually recommended for you.

So what you are looking to avoid are officially:

Sodium Laureth Sulphate

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate


Alcohol & Witch Hazel

What you officially should be looking for is this:


Pre & Probiotic complexes

Short chain hyaluronic acid


linoleic acid

AHAs- lactic or mandelic acid

Vitamin A,C,E (green tea, lycopene..)

That might seem like an easy enough task, if it wasn’t for the fact that an ingredient list for a random beauty product has a tendency to look like this:

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Squalane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Bran) Extract, Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Caffeine, Whey Protein\Lactis Protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Powder, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria), Cholesterol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Petrolatum, PEG-150, Sucrose, Pyridoxine Dipalmitate, Linoleic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, PEG-8, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol

So what is all of this?


“While silicones such as cyclopentasiloxane do not appear to have adverse effects on the human body, there are many concerns regarding the harmful effects it may have on the environment (i.e. marine life). For this reason, many countries like Canada have requested the silicone industry to provide more information and scientific data regarding its safety. Cyclopentasiloxane may cause mild skin and eye irritation, according to the ingredient’s material safety data sheet, and a small percentage of it reaches systemic circulation through dermal absorption, as found in a study by the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences.All in all, there seems to be a great debate regarding both efficacy and safety of this ingredient.”


“Glycerol /ˈɡlɪsərɒl/[4] (also called glycerine or glycerin; see spelling differences) is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic. The glycerol backbone is found in all lipids known as triglycerides. It is widely used in the food industry as a sweetener and humectant and in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature.[5]”

Butylene Glycol

“Propylene glycol and butylene glycol are extremely powerful chemicals. If they can dissolve and clean industrial surfaces, imagine what they can do to your skin. Propylene glycol and butylene glycol easily penetrate skin and weaken protein and cellular structure. Surely this is not a result anyone would desire. The goal of skincare should be to nourish, repair, rebuild and refresh cells, especially the vital protein chains that power them.

Propylene glycol and butylene glycol can cause skin irritation, dermatitis and hives from too many mast skin cells. Repeated exposure may also lead to sensitivity or skin allergies, especially to propylene glycol. Once an allergic reaction occurs, the body’s immune system remembers the invader and will react negatively each time it comes in contact with the substance.

While the FDA claims propylene glycol and butylene glycol are safe in small doses, over exposure can be harmful. The Environmental Protection Agency warns against excessive contact with these two glycols as they may have effects including brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. Because propylene glycol and butylene glycol are found in so many personal care products, it’s unclear how much exposure a person gets daily. All the more reason to make a conscious decision to avoid it, especially facial contact.

Additionally both propylene glycol and butylene glycol’s main function is as a preservative. We all try to avoid preservatives in our food, and it’s important to do the same with our skincare products. The longevity of a products shelf-life should not dictate the skin’s best interest. Sacrificing quality for the largest organ of your body is unnecessary and unhealthy.

Petroleum plastics used in harsh cleaning solvents and construction materials are not part of a skincare formula we recommend. There is a place and a purpose for such products, but it is not on your skin.”…butylene-glycol-does-what/


“There is some debate about whether dimethicone and other silicones can clog pores and worsen acne-prone skin. Whilst these claims haven’t been addressed in great detail when it comes to current published research, anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be ignored and some users also simply dislike the texture of silicone-based products. Having said that, dimethicone makes huge improvements to the texture of many skin products by acting as an emulsifier, preventing other ingredients from separating. It is also effective in creating a mattified finish, so is popular in skincare products for those with oily skin or large pores. Dimethicone is also used in creams to protect mild skin irritations, dry patches or healing wounds, and is effective at locking in moisture thanks to its larger molecules. Ultimately it’s a personal choice – some prefer silicone-free products whilst others rely upon dimethicone for their specific skin needs.”

“The first concern with this ingredient is that it covers the skin. Manufacturers may think that’s a benefit, but I don’t. Imagine having a thin, rubber-like cover over your face all day. Sound healthy? It’s not.
Not only are you missing out on truly moisturizing ingredients like natural oils, extracts, and shea butter, but you’re interfering with the skin’s natural processes, like sweating, temperature regulating, sloughing off dead skin cells, and the like. Prolonged exposure can increase skin irritation and create a dependency on the product. Just like petroleum jelly, dimethicone can actually end up drying your skin the more you use it, as it interferes with the natural hydrating processes, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
Here’s something even worse: Have you noticed, since using these new products with dimethicone, that your skin is breaking out more? No surprise, as the covering and trapping property of dimethicone means that it’s not just trapping moisture, but bacteria, skin oils, sebum, and other impurities. That means those prone to acne or with oily skin are more likely to see increased blackheads and breakouts when using products containing this ingredient.
There is also some concern that dimethicone is hurting the environment. It is non-biodegradable, which means that it can pollute our environment during both the manufacturing process and after it’s used, in the disposable process.”

Cetyl Ethylhexanoate

“Cetyl alcohol /ˈsiːtəl/, also known as hexadecan-1-ol and palmityl alcohol, is a fatty alcohol with the formula CH3(CH2)15OH. At room temperature, cetyl alcohol takes the form of a waxy white solid or flakes. The name cetyl derives from the whale oil (Latin: cetus) from which it was first isolated.[2]
People who suffer from eczema can be sensitive to cetyl alcohol,[5][6] though this may be due to impurities rather than cetyl alcohol itself.[7] Ironically, this ingredient is sometimes included in medications for the treatment of eczema.[8]”


“While there are little to no known side effects that come from using squalane, there is the environmental concern that the squalane that is being harvested from sharks is threatening their population. If you want to take advantage of the purported benefits of this ingredient but object to these animals being killed to collect the oil, you do have a choice when making a purchasing decision. Read product labels to see if the squalane was derived from plants, such as olives, or if it was harvested from captured sharks.”

Disteardimonium Hectorite

“There are no known side effects to Disteardimonium Hectorite.”

“Hectorite is a rare soft, greasy, white clay mineral with a chemical formula of Na0.3(Mg,Li)3Si4O10(OH)2.[1]

“Hectorite was first described in 1941 and named for an occurrence in the United States near Hector (in San Bernardino County, California,[3] 30 miles east of Barstow.) Hectorite occurs with bentonite as an alteration product of clinoptilolite from volcanic ash and tuff with a high glass content.[1] Hectorite is also found in the beige/brown clay ghassoul, mined in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.[4]

Despite its rarity, it is economically viable as the Hector mine sits over a large deposit of the mineral. Hectorite is mostly used in making cosmetics, but has uses in chemical and other industrial applications, and is a mineral source for refined lithium metal.[5]”

PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone

Creepy. This artificial ingredient is actually on several watch lists. I’m not sure if it has to do with effects on the reproductive system and/or hormones. You can check out these articles to see if it makes you any wiser

Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone

Just as the one above it, there are few articles written about this ingredient. A quick google search will take you to websites that sell this product to manufacturers and/or products containing this ingredient. Just as the one above it, it is registered with the EWG as moderately hazardous.

Triticum Vulgare (Wheat Bran) Extract

It seems like the only concern with this ingredient, is whether or not it can be replaced with a gluten free option. While I was googling it I came across an interesting but long article regarding herbs used to protect against UV Radiation

Ahnfeltia Concinna Extract

“algae extracts are comedogenic because they penetrate the pore and accelerate the growth of micro-comedones. algae are also high in iodides, which can irritate the pore, triggering inflammation and the formation of pustules. over the last couple years, i have guinea-pigged (ie tested on my own skin) several products that had only one suspicious ingredient – an algae extract. each time, regardless of the kind of algae in the test product (plankton, laminaria, chlorella, etc.), within a few months, comedones had formed in my skin and i broke out. and we see the same time and again with clients who are using any of the variety of body products formulated with algae. in other words, in our experience… algae = breakout!

so we put on our acne detective hats and hunted down all the sea plants that are sneaking their way into our toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens.

be on the look out for these otherwise benign sounding culprits!

Ahnfeltia concinna
Alaria esculenta
Algae Extract
Ascophyllum nodosum (aka rockweed, Norwegian kelp, knotted kelp)
Black Kelp
Blue Algae
Blue Green Algae
Brown Algae
Chondrus crispus (aka Irish moss or carrageen moss)
Crithmum maritimum
Dilsea carnosa
Ecklonia (all 9 species of it)
Enteromorpha compressa
Fucus vesiculosus (aka bladderwrack)
Green Algae
Haslea ostrearia
Himanthalia elongate
Irish Moss
Lola implexa (aka Hydrolyzed Lola implexa)
Laminaria digitata
Laminaria longicruris
Laminaria saccharine
Lithothamnium Calcareum
Mastocarpus stellatus
Marine Algae
Padina pavonica
Palmaria palmata
Phytessence Wakame
Porphyridium Cruentum
Red Algae
Sea Whip
Ulva lactuca

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract

“A water-soluble extract from the Olive fruit, rich in antioxidant polyphenols that help fight free radical damage and control environmental aggressions. A rich source of Lactic Acid that aids in moisturization and helps promote cell renewal in the epidermis.”


“Because caffeine contains antioxidants, it is used in a number of anti-aging products. In fact, Indonesians have long used coffee in spa body scrubs, and now you can purchase a variety of different skin care products containing caffeine. Caffeine does have some benefits when applied to your skin and may perk up your complexion, as well as perking up your body.”

Whey Protein\Lactis Protein

“I’ll keep this short. Whey protein is one of the two main proteins in cow’s milk (the other being casein). Whey protein powder is made from whey, a by-product of cheese making. It’s an almost neon-yellowish liquid that’s strained off in the initial draining of most cheeses. In other words, whey is dairy, and essentially, that’s why it causes acne and must be avoided.”

“Studies have found a correlation between IGF-1 and sebum levels, so the higher the IGF-1 levels the more sebum the skin produces.
IGF-1 reduces transcription factor FOXO1 in the skin cells. Acne-prone skin is already deficient in FOXO1, which is linked to all the major factors behind acne (androgen sensitivity, sebum production, excess skin cell growth, too much keratin). So this moves the needle to the wrong direction.
To put it shortly, IGF-1 puts hormonal acne into overdrive.”

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Powder

“Aloe vera (/ˈæloʊiː/ or /ˈæloʊ/) is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. It grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. Aloe is also used for decorative purposes and grows successfully indoors as a potted plant.[3]

It is found in many consumer products including juice, skin lotion, or ointments for minor burns and sunburns. There is little scientific evidence of the effectiveness or safety of Aloe vera extracts for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes. Studies finding positive evidence are frequently contradicted by other studies.”

Watch out for the Aloe Juice Powder Scam:

“For example, a product that markets itself as 90%+ organic could contain a mere 0.5% organic Aloe powder – with no other organic ingredients at all!Formulators do this by “reconstituting” organic Aloe powder with water (usually at a ratio of 1:200) – they can then declare the complete mixture as an organic juice.”

Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria)

“Despite the fact that specific extracts of chamomile (i.e. bisabolol) are well absorbed by the body following dermal application, it does not appear to be toxic of irritating. The CIR Expert Panelhas assessed this ingredient as safe to use in cosmetic products. However, because of it may increase the dermal penetration of other ingredients, they caution formulation manufacturers to be alert of this possibility.”


“With regards to skincare, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has assessed the safety of cholesterol and determined it as safe to use in cosmetic formulations. Similarly, the EU Cosmetics Directive permits it to be used in cosmetic products, so long as it complies with the animal-by-products regulations. While this ingredient does not appear to be irritating, toxic or carcinogenic, high doses of it can be teratogenic (initiating abnormal developments) according to some tests. While some clinical data shows its topical application to cause mild skin irritation, it has not been shown to cause sensitization of photo-sensitization.”

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide

“Scientific-sounding ingredients may sound overwhelming, but don’t be turned off by them. Many of them are there to help you skin get back to the natural balance it needs in order to retain that youthful glow. One of these ingredients is Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, and it should become a very important part of your anti-aging skincare regimen.”

Sodium Hyaluronate

“The fact that hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the dermis of the skin makes it even more appealing as a skin care ingredient. People are increasingly looking for products that contain natural ingredients that aren’t toxic and won’t harm or irritate skin. Sodium hyaluronate fits the bill. “


Hmm…this ingredient is actually quite close to moderate on the EWG’s list, a list that measures skin product’s ingredient’s hazard level, check it out:

“One of the greatest problems in the U.S. right now is the fact that there is so much misinformation surrounding the health and beauty industry. One great example of this involves the ingredient petrolatum, which many dermatologists consider to be among the best moisturizers in modern day skin care (Cosmetic Dermatology). However, a plethora of misinformation, including erroneous facts propagated by natural/organic skin care companies and the political Environmental Working Group, has caused it to be one of the most vilified ingredients around. Here, we clarify what is scientific and what is not, without bias.”


“Yes, PEGs may cause irritation or skin sensitization. BUT, the reasons why are usually dependent on other factors—mainly on one’s skin condition and the presence of other substances and/or medications applied simultaneously to the skin.

The main takeaway for PEGs is that they should be avoided if you have broken or damaged skin, or if they are accompanied by other undesirables in your products ingredient list.

In sum, let me just quote the final conclusions of the 2005 Toxicology and Preclinical Affairs report:

“The PEGs produce little or no ocular or dermal irritation and have extremely low acute and chronic toxicities. They do not readily penetrate intact skin, and in view of the wide use of preparations containing PEGs, only a few case reports on sensitization reactions have been published, mostly involving patients with exposure to PEGs in meds, or following exposure to injured or chronically inflamed skin. On healthy skin, the sensitizing potential of these compounds appear to be negative.””


“In skin care products, sucrose stearate can play a wide variety of roles. Within some formulas, sucrose stearate is an important active ingredient, functioning as a skin emollient. An emollient is an ingredient that softens the skin and smooths its texture. The skin is comprised of millions of individual cells. The new, healthy skin cells that are found in the middle layer (dermis) of the skin are typically plump and have very little space between them.”

Pyridoxine Dipalmitate

“Pyridoxine is the general form of vitamin B6 in commercially available, it is easy to soluble in water, Sensitive to light, not alkali-resistant, stable in acidand and it has the fluorescence characteristics.
According to the characteristics of the molecular structure of vitamin B6, Chemical modification of the vitamin B6 molecule, the pyridoxine dipalmitate prepared(Vitamin B6 dipalmitate).The pyridoxine dipalmitate’s water soluble is greatly reduced than the Vitamin B6 and it hasn’t side effect for organism.So it can reduce the cost of aquaculture feed,and help the development of aquaculture industry. On the other hand, pyridoxine dipalmitate overcomes the disadvantages of vitamin B6 for water soluble and acid aren’t suitable for high oil products, and pyridoxine dipalmitate has all the physiological function of Vitamin B6.It can be used in medicine and cosmetics for anti-inflammatory, treatment of acne and rough skin and so on.”$0.htm

Linoleic Acid

“There are no adverse side effects to using Linoleic Acid topically, although ingesting Linoleic Acid in larger than suggested amounts can cause breast and prostate cancer. It is safe for use in beauty and skin care products.”

Tocopheryl Acetate

“If you have read up on your vitamin E, you may recognize the word “tocopheryl” in this ingredient. Wouldn’t that be something good for you?
Take anything and mix it with something else, and you can come up with something potentially harmful. That can be the case with tocopheryl acetate. The tocopheryl part is vitamin E, but the acetate comes about when the vitamin E is mixed with acetic acid.
The resulting ingredient can actually irritate your skin more than help repair or heal it.”

Citric Acid

“Excessive exposure to Citric Acid can contact dermatitis in people with sensitive skin.
In addition, Citric Acid, may increase photosensitivity, so products containing this ingredient should be used in conjunction with a sunscreen.”


“Silicones have both water-binding and water-resistant molecules in their composition. So when silicones lay atop the skin, they are able to bind to the skin and provide a protective covering, and simultaneously bind to moisture in the air and hold it to the skin. Because silicones generally will form a base that is non-viscous (sticky), beneficial ingredients are also usually able to easily traverse the distance through the silicones and reach your skin in a reasonable amount of time.”

Propylene Carbonate

I found very little information about this ingredient, but Propylene Glycol comes with a big, fat, red, warning tag, if you look around.

“JEFFSOL® Propylene Carbonate is a clear, mobile, hygroscopic liquid at room temperature. It is an excellent solvent for many organic and inorganic materials in such applications as surface cleaners, degreasers, dyes, fibers, plastics, batteries, aromatic hydrocarbons, and natural gas.”

Came across this about Propylene Glycol as I was googling Propylene Carbonate, check it out:
“Like mineral oil, which I wrote about in an earlier post, PG forms a sort of seal over your skin, preventing the escape of water. (Note that it doesn’t add any moisture to your skin.) Meanwhile, it attracts and draws moisture from the lower layers into the top layer, helping your skin appear smooth and soft. Great for a short time, but as you use more and more, those lower layers gradually dry out. Your skin appears dull, exacerbating the look of any fine lines or wrinkles.
PG also tends to sit on the surface of skin after you rinse it, dissolving the fats and oils your skin needs to stay nourished. Your skin reacts by becoming parched and dry and requiring more applications of moisturizer, which make skin dryer, requiring more moisture. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s Getting Into Your Bloodstream?
PG also enhances penetration. That means the cream or lotion you’re using is more likely to penetrate the surface layer of the skin and go deeper, sometimes into the bloodstream. So far we have no scientific studies on the long-term effects of our exposure to this chemical, but we do know that other similar chemicals—like bisphenol-A (BPA) and triclosan—have been found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to accumulate in the human body.
One more thing: According to the Material Safety Data Sheet on propylene glycol, the chemical is a strong skin irritant, and has been implicated in contact dermatitis. The sheet goes on to warn that the ingredient can inhibit skin cell growth and damage cell membranes, causing rashes, dry skin, and surface damage.
Does this sound like something to help improve the health and appearance of your skin?”—it-penetrates-skin-only-to-dry-it-out/

Glyceryl Polymethacrylate

“Glyceryl Polymethacrylate is considered safe and the Environmental Working Group issued no warnings for its use.”


Incredible, another ingredient that is looking spooky on EWG’s site. Not as scary of some of the other ingredients on this list, but check it out:

“Final report on the safety assessment of PEG-6, -8, and -20 sorbitan beeswax.
Lanigan RS, Yamarik TA; Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)-6, -8, and -20 Sorbitan Beeswax are ethoxylated derivatives of Beeswax that function as surfactants in cosmetic formulations. Only PEG-20 Sorbitan Beeswax is currently reported to be used, at concentrations up to 11%. Few data on the PEGs Sorbitan Beeswax ingredients were available. This safety assessment relied upon the available data from previous safety assessments of Beeswax, Synthetic Beeswax, Sorbitan Esters, PEGs, and PEG Sorbitan fatty acid esters, also known as Polysorbates. The ester linkage of PEG Sorbitan fatty acid esters was hydrolyzed after oral administration, and the PEG Sorbitan moiety was poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Sorbitan Stearate was hydrolyzed to stearic acid and anhydrides of sorbitol in the rat. PEGs are readily absorbed through damaged skin and are associated with contact dermatitis and systemic toxicity in burn patients. PEGs were not sensitizing to normal skin. PEGs did not cause reproductive toxicity, nor were tested PEGs mutagenic or carcinogenic. Sorbitol was not a reproductive or developmental toxin in multigenerational studies in rats. Neither Beeswax nor Synthetic Beeswax produced significant acute animal toxicity, ocular irritation, skin irritation, or skin sensitization. Polysorbates produced no acute or long-term effects, were generally not irritating or sensitizing, and were noncarcinogenic, although studies did demonstrate enhancement of the activity of chemical carcinogens. Sorbitan fatty acid esters were relatively nontoxic via ingestion, generally were not skin irritants or sensitizers, and were not mutagenic or carcinogenic. Sorbitan Laurate was a cocarcinogen in a mouse skin-painting study. PEG-6 Sorbitan Beeswax delivered via a stomach tube was nontoxic in rats in acute studies. Undiluted PEG-6 Sorbitan Beeswax was nonirritating to the eyes of rabbits and was non-irritating to intact and abraded skin of rabbits. PEG-20 Sorbitan Beeswax was only minimally irritating to rabbit eyes at concentrations as high as 30%, and was not a significant skin irritant in rabbits exposed to a product with PEG-20 Sorbitan Beeswax at 2%. In clinical tests, PEG-6 and -20 Sorbitan Beeswax at concentrations up to 3% were only minimally irritating and were nonsensitizers. Careful consideration was made of the data on the cocarcinogenesis, but the high exposure levels, high frequency of exposure, and absence of a dose-response led to the conclusion that there was not a cocarcinogenesis risk with the use of these ingredients in cosmetic formulations. Accordingly, these ingredients were considered safe for use in cosmetic formulations under the present practices of use.”

Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate

“You know the drill – you’re standing at the makeup counter, buying online, considering a purchase wherever – and you find some really mysterious gibberish on the label.

“What the heck is Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate?” you ask yourself. “Is that something I really want to put on my skin?”

Great question. And here’s a wonderful resource for finding your answer: The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

Search by ingredient and you’ll find what it is, products that use it, and how safe it is on a scale of 1 to 10, based on published scientific studies. The database offers good details about any concerns or use restrictions, and indicated when its conclusions are based on limited data.

For example: Propylparaben is used in some acne-fighting products. It rates a full 10 on the hazard scale.

Search for a product and you’ll find a list of all the ingredients, each rated individually for safety, yielding an overall safety profile for the product.

The EWG also offers a mobile app so you can have the database handy at any time!”

Sodium Citrate

“Sodium Citrate is a salt of Citric Acid that is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products. Potassium Citrate, Aluminum Citrate, Diammonium Citrate, Ferric Citrate, Magnesium Citrate, Monosodium Citrate and Zinc Citrate are other salts of Citric Acid that may be used in cosmetics and personal care products.”

Sodium Hexametaphosphate

“Sodium Hexametaphosphate is considered a moderate hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database, primarily due to the possibility that it can be contaminated with lead. However, specific measures are taken to avoid this contamination. There are also concerns over the potential for Sodium Hexametaphosphate to cause organ toxicity and irritation, but studies found that these reactions occurred in vitro or at higher concentrations than found in skin care products and cosmetics, or packaging.”


“Chlorphenesin has been reported to cause irritation and contact dermatitis in many, particularly those with sensitive & dry skin. In addition, research has shown it relax the skeletal muscle, depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing) in infants. Considering this, the FDA dissuades pregnant/nursing women and small children from using personal care products containing this ingredient.

Many countries, such as Japan, have restricted its cosmetic use by giving it concentration limitations. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, chlorphenesinhas reviewed chlorphenesin and noted that it is well-absorbed when applied to the skin of rats; however, their concern was minimized because of the negative toxicity. Eczema and skin irritation were observed.

The Panel concluded that chlorphenesin is safe in the present practices of use and concentration.”


Ok, not as moderate as a lot of the other ingredients on this list, but way safer than some of the other bad boys, check it out:

“HEALTH CONCERNS: Allergies, nervous system effects (infants) MORE…

Allergen: Skin exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to allergic reactions ranging from eczema and hives[7] to anaphylaxis.[8] A 2015 study found that Doppler ultrasound gel mostly caused skin inflammation, but there were rare reports of anaphylaxis, or life-threatening reactions. Mixtures of phenoxyethanol and parabens found in Doppler ultrasound gel may lead to more severe allergic reactions than phenoxyethanol alone.[9]

Eczema is also a common allergic reaction to skin exposure of products containing one percent or more phenoxyethanol. Reactions only occur in the area of application and eczema subsides after avoidance of the product causing irritation.[10]

Acute nervous system effects (infants): In 2008, the FDA warned consumers not to purchase Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream. Phenoxyethanol, found in the cream, was depressing the central nervous system and causing vomiting and diarrhea in breast feeding infants.[11] Symptoms of a depressed nervous system include a decrease in infant’s appetite, difficulty waking the infant, limpness of extremities and change in skin color. There is no known health risk to the mother. [12]”

That took forever….I’m sitting here thinking that if I was to spend just as much time as I did on this one random product, googling all the ingredients in all the products I use daily…well…I would end up sitting here probably a week.

My conclusion?

Well, the “poisonous” ingredients on this list have been “sort of approved” as the dosage used wouldn’t be seen as dangerous. My concern is of course that if you use multiple products, that all use a small amount of hazardous ingredients and you use these consistently over time, along with being exposed to these in what you eat; etc; then I doubt that the “dosage” would be seen as not-hazardous.

There are ingredients that come across as totally harmless, of course, and ingredients that certainly could be classified as “organic”, but even if that is the case, you do not know if your skin would react to these organic ingredients in a favourable way and we wouldn’t know how all of these ingredients react together in the long run. For example, it has long been known, that one E in a food product can be completely harmless, but if multiple Es are added together, all harmless on their own, they can become hazardous in the long run, all mixed up together. Why the food industry isn’t under more scrutiny and stricter regulations, beats me. Allergies become increasingly common and for some strange reason, it seems that people just accept this, without asking any questions.

Well after spending a considerable amount of time, googling all the ingredients contained in one beauty product, I’ve come to the conclusion, that the only efficient skin care would be a custom made one. We are all different and have different needs. Buying one product that has some ingredients that would be beneficial is not enough, and the long term effect of “spooky” ingredients is not particularly cool either.

When it comes to “organic” ingredients, we also have to ask ourselves how these ingredients are harvested and collected.

As a regular consumer, all I’ve learned from my little research is that sales women at both beauty saloons and stores, cannot be truly trusted as they will always try to sell you a range from one specific brand. They will highlight only the organic products, without mentioning the amount of said ingredient and will refrain from mentioning any ingredients that are synthetic or harmful in larger doses.

I cannot offer any solutions, to myself nor anyone else, but it is obvious that scrutiny and precaution is needed, even with the “smallest” most mundane things in life. In the long run they could become a true achilles heel in regards to your overall health.

Here are two articles for further reading:


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Published by thecommanderinchief

I'm primarily a 7 string guitar virtuoso, bel-canto trained coloratura soprano & songwriter in Classical-Crossover, Heavy Metal & Acoustic Music. I've been featured in a number of major international music magazines, National Newspapers, etc; I've played major festivals & have been a Talk-Show guest on National TV & Radio. I've also been a coach & a judge on Norwegian prime time TV show "Stjernekamp" :) I've released an Amazon bestselling Classical Album that has been going in and out of the charts ever since its release in 2014 and I've also been award nominated for my work in Heavy Metal. I've written & illustrated "The Freezing Snowman" and a number of other books. This blog was started in 2015 due to public demand and has so far resulted in one book called "Thoughts." I've pretty much written about anything that one can write about besides make-up, dating and fashion. This blog has gone trough numerous changes both in terms of topics and layout. I don't know for how long my blogging-hobby will continue.

11 thoughts on “Skin Care. Red Flag Alert.

  1. Wow. Let me start by saying a huge thank you for this post. I can hardly imagine how much time and effort you must have put into it and I feel it’s a goldmine of information.
    I’ve been ingredient cautious for a considerable amount of time now, and as my skin is sensitive to what I put on it I try to be kind to it. Well, as it turns out, I knew very little in this area and I’ve learned SO MUCH from you. This all explains so much! I’m going to save this post for future reference and I see it being my guideline in all future skincare and makeup product shopping.
    Thank you so much!! This is a lifesaver.


  2. I loved reading this. Very informative. BUT I also wanna say: It would be much easier if you had written a quick summary of every ingredient you mentioned. 1-3 sentences + your opinion.
    Anyway thanks! =)))


    1. Hi there! The thing is that there are so very many ingredients when it comes to these kind of products; it is extensive! I’m happy that you found it helpful & my apologies if it was put together in a messy fashion. I had no idea that the entry would become so popular; it was meant to be very in-depth, to see what these things are really about! Thanks again! I’m glad I could help! ❤


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