So you’ve got your skincare routine down to a T. Your skin is feeling fresh, looking flawless, and you’re ready for anything! But have you ever thought about what goes into making the skincare products you use?
Having gone through the whole process of taking our products from an idea to selling them worldwide, we’ve gained a little expertise in this area! One big concern is the ingredients we use. All those complicated chemicals you can’t pronounce have a big impact on your skin’s health and also the environment. As we’ve said before, just because something isn’t natural, doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. However, there are definitely some ingredients - natural and chemical - you need to watch out for. Here’s a quick insight into a few of them, and how they could be affecting your skin, and the planet.
The Palm Oil Controversy
Palm Oil is a natural, effective, highly useful and safe ingredient, and a potentially sustainable crop. It’s such a versatile ingredient, that it’s used in close to 50% of packaged products we find in supermarkets - from pizza and chocolate to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. Sounds good right?
So what’s the problem? As you have no doubt heard over the past years, palm oil has been and continues to be a major driver of deforestation in some of the world’s most biodiverse forests. Most palm oil is grown and harvested in an unsustainable and destructive manner, killing threatened and endangered species, and wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem, communities, and the climate. There also remains some exploitation of workers and child labor. These are serious issues that the whole palm oil sector needs to step up to address because it doesn’t have to be this way.
The solution is not to prohibit palm oil altogether. We need to create a clear demand for sustainably, ethically produced palm oil. The Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO was formed in 2004 in response to increasing concerns about the impacts palm oil was having on the environment and on society.
The good news here is that we don't need to avoid palm oil all together, we just need to stay informed of where the palm oil in our products comes from. Several NGOs, including WWF, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, issue guides to help consumers make smart decisions about palm oil. It just requires a little time and research - which is worth every second for products you are eating, bathing in, and putting on your skin!
Parabens Are Your Worst Enemy
Not all beauty products are good for your skin but there are certainly some that are better than others. In a world where we're increasingly aware of what we eat, it's no surprise that we're equally aware of the ingredients in our skincare and what we put on our face.
But which product ingredients are good and which are bad? You don't need to be a dermatologist to know a top answer to that one. Anyone who's skincare aware will recognize one of the biggest names on the naughty list: parabens.
Michelle Scott-Lynch, founder of paraben-free haircare brand Bouclème says, 'Parabens are a type of preservative, first introduced in the 1950s. They're used to prolong shelf life in many health and beauty products by preventing the growth of mould and bacteria within them.'
When it comes to studying the label of your favorite serum, the names to look out for are butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben - aka the most commonly found parabens.
We can find them in nearly every product from face wash, night cream, makeup, masks, body wash and shampoo—they are everywhere. Parabens can mimic estrogen in the body disrupting our delicate hormonal balance. They’ve been linked to breast cancer, and since they act as a hormone disruptor they can lead to reproductive and fertility issues.
Parabens aren't just bad for humans, they impact the environment too. 'A scientific study reported that parabens have been found for the first time in the bodies of marine mammals', reveals Tom Oliver, Nutritionist & Personal Trainer., 'Researchers believe that it is likely these parabens come from products we use that are washed into the sewage system and released into the environment.
Silicones Clog Your Skin
Silicones are synthetically made polymers made from silicon and oxygen atoms. Owing to their unique, dry, powdery properties they are the primary ingredient in cosmetic primers and foundations.
Silicones are also used in moisturizers and body butters to reduce the greasy, oily feeling of the products on the skin. Additionally, due to the dry skin feel that silicones offer they are also the primary ingredient in dry body oils. They’re also popular in hair care products too as they possess conditioning and detangling properties, and they add shine.
Well… while they don’t overtly hurt us, Silicones do not add anything either. There’s not a single nutrient in Silicone worth considering.
Silicones do not biodegrade well (or at all); they have a negative impact on the environment. Depending on the size of the ingredient and your skin’s sensitivity, silicones may also clog your skin pores. So those with acne-prone skin may want to avoid products that list silicones as an ingredient.
Mineral vs Chemical Sunscreens
As you probably know by now, we’re big fans of sun protection here at gabi+skin. We’ve had it drilled into us from an early age to apply SPF to every exposed area and top up regularly. But depending on the ingredients in the sunscreen you’re applying, this might cause more harm than good.
You may have seen ‘mineral’ or ‘physical’ and ‘chemical’ on the labels of your sunscreen, but what’s the difference?
Zinc oxide, physical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen are all one in the same. Basically, mineral sunscreen has multiple names and is made from ingredients like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Hence the name mineral. This type of sunscreen sits on top of your skin and acts like a shield to deflect sun rays. It’s also good for sensitive skin as it’s free from fragrance, parabens and dyes.
Chemical sunscreens actually absorb the sun’s rays, and turn the rays into heat to release it from the skin. Although it may seem like the easier and more flattering choice for everyday wear (it’s lightweight and there’s less risk of looking like a ghost!) there are more important factors to consider. Chemical sunscreens employ a potent combination of chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate (octylmethoxycinnamate), homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, and avobenzone, many of which are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are scary because they’re most harmful in small doses, as they mimic the hormones that our bodies create daily and can interfere with everything from our reproductive systems to our metabolism. They’re particularly bad for younger people whose systems are rapidly developing. Our advice (along with many experts) is to stick to mineral sunscreens - protect yourself from the sun and harmful chemicals at the same time.
Cleaner, Greener Skincare Goals
These are only a tiny fraction of the harmful ingredients still included in a lot of skincare products. If you want to look at this in more depth, Credo’s ‘Dirty List’ is the holy grail of information. Credo only partners with brands who meet all their ethical requirements and their ‘Clean Standard.’ They have banned over 2700 ingredients so far. In comparison, Europe has only banned around 1300 ingredients, while the US has banned just 30.
Before you buy your next skincare product, make sure you read and understand the label!