Kerry Bakewell

Skin Care Ingredients that Might Do More Harm than Good

September 21, 2016 - Posted by in Skin Care Community Skin Wellness

The eating organic movement has been growing in recent years with many grocery stores incorporating organic produce and foods in their standard offerings, but what about other organic goods used in your daily living? Just as food enters our system, the products we place on our skin can also absorb into our system through the bloodstream.

Chances are you may already be using harmful products on your skin on a regular basis. Even some high priced “luxury” items can contain ingredients damaging to your health. The following are ingredients to be mindful of when purchasing skin care products:



You may have probably heard of parabens, ingredients used as preservatives in lotions, creams, hair products, makeup and soap. In general, parabens are synthetically produced, but some parabens can be produced naturally in fruits such as blueberries and carrots. Parabens have been found to act like estrogen hormones in animals and since studies have shown a strong link between high estrogen levels with breast cancer, the use of excess parabens has caused some concern for people. In Canada, parabens are considered to be safe to use as preservatives in cosmetics, but it is always good to be vigilant if the products you use are paraben-free or is one of the main ingredients in the skin care products you use.

Parabens have many different names, so look for the following on the label of your skin care products:

  • Methylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Polyparaben




Like parabens, phthalates are used in many skincare products and they can be dangerous. They are typically used as dissolving agents for other ingredients, and are also used in nail polishes to prevent chipping and in hair products to prevent hair from being too stiff. Like parabens, they act as hormones within the body, which may cause issues with fertility, puberty and possibly lead to chronic conditions like endometriosis and some forms of cancer. There are some studies underway to determine the level of phthalates required to cause such health issues. Many scientists believe that it’s best to avoid them altogether, if possible. However, this is easier said than done as phthalates can be printed in numerous different names and companies aren’t required to include all phthalates in the list of product ingredients.

The following is just some of the forms phthalates can be published on labels:

  • di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)
  • bis-ethylhexyl phthalate (BzBP)
  • di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP)
  • diethyl phthalate (DEP)
  • dimethyl phthalate (DMP)




While petrolatum is still allowed in U.S. skin care products, Canada is evaluating petrolatum’s level of toxicity as part of the Chemicals Management Plan, but has currently deemed it as non-toxic.  Some companies will remove all of the carcinogenic components of petrolatum during the refining process; however, you cannot always decipher which petrolatum products have removed these components when reading the label.

Unfortunately, even with the carcinogenic properties removed, skin care petrolatum products like petroleum jelly can still be harmful to you. Contrary to what most people think, petroleum jelly only seals the skin with a slick barrier to make you feel moisturized; in reality, the petroleum jelly is actually blocking moisture from entering your skin. If you do use petroleum jelly, be sure to clean and moisturize the skin prior to application, the petroleum jelly will help seal in the moisturizer you’ve applied.

If you suffer from acne or rosacea, you should avoid applying petroleum jelly as it can seal in dirt as it seals out moisture, dry out pores and aggravate your your skin condition(s) even further.


Natural Alternatives

Natural Alternatives

Unfortunately, the vast majority of skin care products in North America contain at least one of these ingredients, with about 85% of cosmetics containing parabens.

If you want to avoid such products, you may find the process difficult as some harmful ingredients have alternative names on labels and it may be difficult to remember everything you need to know to keep you and your family healthy.

Overall, it’s best to opt for natural skin care products and research skin care products online before purchasing. Seek for terms like certified organic, fair trade or wild crafted. In Canada, organic standards vary from province to province, but if a product is labelled organic, it generally means that 95% of its components meet organic standards. Just as nourishing your body with vitamins helps improve your inner and outer health, topical vitamins specialized in skin care can help improve skin health and remedy issues like eczema, acne, discolouration and pigmentation. Your body makes vitamins naturally, so you don’t have to worry about any long-term side effects or chronic health conditions when you use them on yourself or your children.

To learn more about any of the above mentioned ingredients, leave a comment below. I’d be happy to discuss healthy skin care with you.

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