Common Irritating Ingredients

Monday, March 14, 2011 Posted by Matt

So many people complain of having reactions to skin-care products, but it's not the product as a whole that causes the issues but many of the ingredients that are used to bulk up the product.

Many of these ingredients are extremely cheap to produce and are often found in lower end skin care products, however they are often found in higher end goods too. 

Below are the main culprits that cause the biggest skin issues and are the ones to avoid.



Mineral Oil (Paraffinum liquidum)
This petroleum by-product is highly pore clogging, it creates a film on the surface of the skin trapping bacteria in the follicle. The filmed formed stops oxygen getting to the skins surface, which causes the trapped bacteria to multiply in the follicle resulting in breakouts. The occlusive nature of this ingredient is also a main cause of milia.

S.D Alcohol (Alcohol Denat/Specially Denatured Alcohol/Ethanol)
This form of alcohol strips away the skins natural barrier, natural lipids, natural oils and moisturising compounds resulting in drying and dehydration. Many people experience a tightness of the skin after using skin care products containing this ingredient  Alcohol is a cause of hyper-pigmentation when exposed to sunlight.

Artificial Colours/Colurant (Many D&C Colours)
Where many artificial colours used in skincare are deemed safe, they are comedogenic and clog up pores. Avoid using products containing Red and Blue colours.

Artificial Fragrance
Used in skincare products to give a 'nice smell' or to mask offensive chemical odours, artificial fragrance causes skin irritation and photosensitivity when exposed to sunlight.

Lanolin (Acetylated Lanolin/Ethoxylated Lanolin)
Extracted from sheep's wool, this oily ingredient is highly sensitising due to the high pesticide content. The fatty acids contained aggravate acne and cause congestion.
Suffers of eczema are highly susceptible to irritation when this ingredient is used.

Isopropyl Myristate
Used to give a silky gliding feel to products, this ingredient is creeps into the follicle and causes the over production of oil and skin cells which in turn causes congestion in the follicle. This ingredient causes blackheads and milia.

Soap (Sodium Tallowate)
Highly alkaline due to the use of lye, soap is one of the worst things you can use on human skin. Whilst it may give a 'clean' feeling it is infact stripping away the skins natural barrier and causing it to become dehydrated.
Many people complain of a tight skin feeling after using soap - this is the skin crying out for moisture content that has been stripped away. Once soap has been used the skin can take up to 8 hours to rebalance back to its natural acidic pH.

Formaldehyde
Used as a preservative, this ingredient has been banned in countries such as Sweden and Japan.
Formaldehyde even at low levels is known to cause skin irritation, cause skin blistering and cracking, and give people respiratory problems.
Evidence shows that Formaldehyde at higher  levels has carcinogenic effects, yet it seems not yet known a safe level to be used.  Avoidance of this ingredient is highly advisable.


There are many other irritating ingredients found within the skin care industry, but these are the main ones to avoid. Always choose skin care products which are formulated without them.
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