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What's in the Bottle? Skincare Ingredients to avoid

Written by John Hamilton


Posted on 09 December 2020

 How do you fancy washing your face in brake oil? it sounds far fetched, but there’s a secret lurking behind many mainstream cosmetic, skincare, bodycare and health care products on the market, and that secret is a cocktail of harsh, damaging, even carcinogenic chemicals being used as ingredients. It took 50 years and thousands of court actions to get Johnson and Johnson to withdraw the baby powder that has been shown to cause cancer, and even then it was only withdrawn in the USA and not the UK.  This shows how resistant the industry is to change.


With over twenty years dermatology experience, we’ve seen all manner of skin issues and complaints caused by chemicals in skincare, all of which have been linked to at least one of the following: endocrine disorders, central nervous system issues, organ and tissue damage and allergic reactions. This is why we use only 100% natural and organic ingredients in all our skincare and why our customers are seeing improvements in skin and even health conditions they’ve suffered from for years.


We talk to hundreds of customers every week about the products they use and ingredients which can exacerbate skin issues, it's usually the number one reason why they are having issues. 


We thought we’d write this list of troublesome ingredients to help you investigate what’s in your skincare. However, be warned, there are over 30,000 chemicals that are used regularly in products that could be of concern BUT rest assured, we never have and never will use them. 

The other issue is that these chemicals, post human use, go into the environment and pollute it. Look for products that are made out of plant matter rather than these synthetics and you’ll be doing yourself and the environment some good! 


Alcohol or isopropyl  - a poisonous solvent and denaturant found in many products including lotions, aftershaves and hair colour. Can cause nausea, flushing and depression. Dries skin causing cracks and fissure which encourage bacterial growth.


Ammonium polyacrylate - used as a dispersant in products, this can be contaminated with impurities and is linked to cancer and other health issues.


Benzoic Acid - used as a preservative, Benzoic Acid  can irritate the respiratory tracts and is an eye and skin irritant


Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (B-MDM) (also known as avobenzone) - found in sunscreens, this has been known to cause skin rashes, inflammation and allergic reactions. It is a photo allergen so sunlight triggers the response, breaking down the skin’s natural defences against sunlight.


Colourants CI 17200, CI 15510, CI 60730, CI 42053, CI 16035, CI 19140 - used across many, many products, these colourings are relatively untested, many have not had their safety tested or even studied. Have been linked to lymphatic tumours and allergic reactions in animals.


Diazolidinyl Urea - An antibacterial agency which is a formaldehyde releaser and an eye and skin irritant.


Dimethicone - used in moisturisers, Dimethicone forms a film over the skin which can cause skin irritations and issues from not allowing the skin to breathe.


Ethylhexyl salicylate (also known as octyl salicylate) - found in sunscreens, this can be very irritating to the skin and has hormone disrupting potential


Ethylparaben methylparaben, propylparaben - preservatives that can cause dermatitis, skin allergies and irritation. An oestrogen mimicker, Environmental oestrogen numbers have been linked to breast cancer

Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDm hydantoin - a commonly used preservative that forms formaldehyde, can cause headaches, pain, allergies, chest pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia. Can also weaken the immune system


Methyl / Propyl Paraben - used to extend a product’s shelf life, this can cause rashes and other reactions


Padimate-O - frequently found in sunscreens, there is a concern that the energy absorbed by this chemical is turned into free radicals which may increase the risk of skin cancer


PEG-100 Stearate - an emulsifier that may contain impurities such as 1,4 dioxane that are linked to breast cancer


Petrolatum - a commonly used mineral oil that strips the natural oils from the skin, increasing sensitivity and acne


PTFE (also known as Teflon) - used as a skin ‘improver’ this is carcinogenic, has been linked to birth defects and weakens the immune system


PVP / VA copolymer - a petroleum based ingredient used in hair care products


Polyacrylamide - a carcinogenic thickener, animal studies have led to it being catagorised as a probable cause of cancer in humans


Sodium Lauryl Sulphate - found in products all over the house including shampoos, facial washes and toothpastes, this is a strong irritant, flaking skin and mouth ulceration. When combined with other ingredients, it can form nitrosamines which are carcinogens which can easily penetrate the skin and lodge in the major organs.