Guess what’s in your skincare products?

There’s a saying that “ignorance is bliss”, but I say ignorance will kill you.

A few months ago I decided to purchase a foundation that would make my face look flawless. When I approached the lovely skin care specialist she was quite surprised when I mentioned that I have acne. She acknowledged seeing a few blemishes but felt confident that I did not have acne, but just needed to be careful and mindful of environmental factors that could be causing me to break out. She also encouraged me to stop using the acne products that I was using, as they were only drying out my skin. She recommended a moisturizer and a face wash, which I bought from her, and started to use once my previously existing acne products were finished. As it turned out, my face broke out even more, so I brought that to her attention and she recommended yet another product, which I bought, tried and broke out even more. I continued to use the foundation however, as I needed it more than ever to cover up my flaws. But I brought my further breakouts to her attention and this time she recommended a moisturizer that had salicylic acid, and when I used it I noticed that my breakouts stopped, so I inquired if there was a complete kit. There was, so I started on that, and while I had no further breakouts, my face started to peel and to strip, and the products had a harsh smell. I noticed that I was also having a lot of nausea, but since I had spent over CI$40 on the products I figured I may as well get some of my money’s worth, so I continued to use them.

When I visited the store again seeking a body lotion, the owner’s assistant introduced me to yet another “great acne product”, which of course I just ignored by that time. I started to argue internally wondering how many different products could I possibly try? I certainly can’t try them all. So I thought, you know what, let me do some research to help me decide which product is best for me, because surely many products are out there that work, but I don’t wish to try them all. One thing led to another. While researching what were the best acne products, I came across products that were given scientific ratings based on health, environmental and societal benefits or risks.  What came next completely shocked me.

I found out that the face products I had bought from the skin care specialist received a rating of being among the worst 50 % of companies rated by the particular site doing the review, and that the products raised at least a low level of health concern. I delved further and found that there is an environmental working group ( that provides lots of health safety/risks information on product ingredients. I decided to research the ingredients in the body balm that I had purchased, and from what I found out I can tell you, it is knowledge that is bliss, not ignorance. The body balm in question is advertised as having “protective colloidal oatmeal, the super-saturating formula moisturizes for 24 hours to break the cycle of dry skin, leaving it smooth, healthy and gloriously soft.” That might be all true, but guess what? This very product also has some not so good ingredients such as triethanolamine, butylphenyl methylpropional and hexyl cinnamal. All these products are advised to be restricted when used in cosmetics and pose from low to moderate hazard, each having evidence of being a human toxicant. In fact, butylphenyl methylpropional is shown to be associated with endocrine disruption. Triethanolamine is classified as expected to be toxic or harmful, and hexyl cinnamal is considered to be a possible human immune system toxicant. Skin care specialists will no doubt argue that they have only put small amounts of these ingredients in their products, but my concern is this, what happens when you use these products over the long term? We all know that every little bit adds up. So while only small amounts of these hazardous and possibly toxicant ingredients are in our skincare products, with regular use we could be making ourselves sick.

These days I’m more attentive and more curious, so I continue to review what ingredients are in my products, including baby products. Just because they are made for babies does not mean they are completely safe. As for my acne products, I have now switched to an organic line, and within the coming months I intend to move on to healthier body care products.