Updated: Oct 29, 2020
Find screen-size lists of the must haves and ingredients to avoid at the end of the article :) Keep them on your phone to make shopping a breeze!
The most important part of your skincare and beauty products is not the adorable packaging, but it's the actual ingredients of course! There are active ingredients and fillers that are all specifically mixed together to create the desired result from a product. Now how awesome would it be, as the conscious consumer that you are, to be able to read and understand the effects of the product straight from the back of the bottle!
Don’t mindlessly listen to the company that wants your money, but do your own research that could make a huge difference in the results! Know what you are using on your face and body to avoid sensitivities, allergic reactions, and worst of all… ageing!
Below is a beginners guide to understanding skincare ingredients so you know what to look for in your routine. These lists can help you avoid all of the “yucky stuff” and bring on those fantastic results! Click To See Why Natural Beauty May be Harmful to Your Skin
TIP: Like on foods, ingredient lists are organized from highest concentration to lowest concentration, so ingredients that are marketed to you may barely even be in the product. Take a look at where it falls on the list to find out!
Expensive skincare is definitely not always more effective. Sometimes products that contain less ingredients, more often than not have a higher concentration of “the good stuff,” which are the active ingredients that will actually show results. These ingredients chemically react with our body’s natural processes once entering your pores to create a visible change. The simple products tend to be more targeted as a result which can help make your skincare routine actually work for once!
The Good Stuff :) Here is what you want to see at the top of the ingredient list.
This is the holy grail ingredient for moisture! Due to its amazing quality to bind to water molecules and “retain water,” this should be an essential ingredient in your moisturizer or any product that you want to gain hydration from. Another name for Hyaluronic Acid is Hyaluronan which is a substance that the body produces all on its own! This is an important fact because the chances of being allergic to hyaluronan is very slim. Even if you have very oily skin, you could be deprived of the necessary hydration for normal skin function, so it is a must to have a Hyaluronic Acid in your routine!
This ingredient is the acne crime fighter! The salicylic acid is a BHA which means it is fat soluble and able to push down deep into pores for unclogging. If you are looking for an ingredient to clear blackheads and acne, a salicylic wash or serum is going to get down and do the dirty work for you. This ingredient also helps to break down dead skin cells and exfoliate for a smoother skin texture.
This is one of the most underrated ingredients that is amazing for the skin. Niacinamide can be found in cleansers and serums across many brands. This ingredient is a skin protector because it acts as an antioxidant all while building up the skin’s natural barrier. It reacts with the lipids in our body to help and stimulate the “structural and functional integrity of the epidermal barrier function.” In simpler terms, the top most layer of the skin will be healthier.
“Studies have shown that niacinamide has the potential to act as an antioxidant, can improve epidermal barrier function, decrease skin hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, decrease redness/blotchiness, decrease skin yellowness (sallowness), and improve skin elasticity” - Jacquelyn Levin
Peptides and Ceramides:
Peptides and Ceramides are amazing in skin care because they act right away. Peptides are beneficial because they tell the skin cells to react in certain ways. This can help improve wrinkles and scarring by building collagen. This is one of the only ingredients that are proven to show reversing effects. Ceramides are found in the brand “CeraVe” which are amazing for building up healthy skin.
This is the main ingredient for anti-ageing! It should be in every skincare routine starting at the age of 20. This is the strongest over the counter ingredient that can be purchased for reversing the effects of ageing. It can be too strong for people to apply every night, so I recommend using this once or twice a week in order to build up tolerance in the skin. Once worked in slowly, you can begin to use it more frequently. I have seen a drastic difference in my skin where my fine lines had completely disappeared! Do not sleep on the effectiveness of this ingredient.
Lactic Acid is the perfect exfoliant. NEVER use physical exfoliants or scrubs on your face. Your skin may seem all silky smooth after using it, but it is just an illusion. The scrub is too harsh on the skin and is causing micro-tears or sensitivity deep down into the skin. Constant use of a physical scrub exfoliant is doing more damage than good in the long term. Lactic Acid is how you get around that. This acid is a chemical exfoliant which breaks down the dead skin cells and chemically dissolves them. I use a product with 10% Lactic Acid which is large enough to keep your skin silky and smooth. Make sure to use a good moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid afterward in order to keep the Lactic Acid from drying you out.
Avoid: If you can, avoid using these ingredients on your face
This ingredient is seen in a lot of acne products because it is meant to be very drying. I would avoid using products with any alcohol all over your face as they will tighten you up and strip the skin. Some people love the feeling of their skin being dried of all oils, however the skin should not be stripped or will begin to produce more oil as compensation. Alcohol in skincare is not the best and should be avoided, especially if you have sensitive skin.
This is an ingredient to watch out for because it is a way that companies can get around naming off all of their ingredients. Anything may fall under the category of fragrance and the company is not legally bound to disclose it. This is a large issue for people who have sensitive skin. When the ingredient is listed as “Fragrance” it is mostly synthetic chemicals. Fragrance is completely unnecessary for the overall effectiveness of the product, so why put it in and risk an allergic reaction, possible toxin, or sensitivity. The effectiveness of your product may be better without the fragrance getting into your pores.
Essential Oils are marketed to us as luxurious and natural ingredients for the skin. This is definitely not the truth. Essential Oils fall under the Umbrella term of Fragrance, however they are derived from plants as the aromatic compounds and aspects of the plant. Most of these oils actually contain up to 90% alcohol! When we think of an oil we tend to think that it is hydrating, however an oil contains 90% alcohol it is anything but that! According to skincare specialist Hyram from “Skincare with Hyram," the skin can take up to 0.1% of fragrant essential oils. Of course you can always check the concentration to see if it is safe to use, but I choose to avoid it all together because many companies do not take that fact into consideration when formulating.
When it comes to natural oils, avoid citrus fruit extracts as they are most irritating and may cause long term damage to sensitive skin.
Ingredient lists may be tricky to understand and quite overwhelming. But I created this little guide for those that are interested in a little bit of the science behind what goes on your face. The skincare world is fascinating when it boils down to formulations, but it is scary for consumers to blindly trust that a product will work without knowing why or how. Before spending over $30 on a moisturizer, look on the back and see if it is actually going to work. No more guessing games!
Most importantly, have fun with your skincare routine and make it an experience to give yourself some well deserved self love. Self Pampering is a great way to train your brain to be kind to your body and your soul so that you can be the best version of yourself every day!
With Lots of Love,
YouTube: Skincare with Hyram