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Skincare for self-care


Natural Living Made Simple


Unmasking the Villains: A Skincare Ingredient Guide

skincare ingredient guide

Grab your magnifying glass and put on your detective hat because we're diving deep into the world of skincare ingredients! Just like a seasoned detective, we're going to uncover the truth behind some of the most notorious villains lurking in our skincare products and discover their natural alternatives. Get ready to become an ingredient detective and clean up your skincare routine for good!


This blog post showcases the top 5 villains to be on the lookout for. Let's go!



  1. PARABENS: The Sneaky Saboteurs These synthetic preservatives may prolong the shelf life of your favourite skincare products, but at what cost? Parabens have been linked to hormone disruption and even breast cancer. Parabens are usually easy to identify by their name. Look out for: • methylparaben • propylparaben • butylparaben • ethylparaben. Natural Alternative: Instead, look for natural preservatives such as: • grapefruit seed extract • benzyl alcohol • glyceryl caprylate • benzoic acid • sorbic acid • sodium benzoate • potassium sorbate • magnolia officinalis bark extract • pentylene glycol • sodium levulinate • sodium anisate


2. SULFATES: The Foaming Fiends Sulfates


Ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are responsible for creating that satisfying lather in your cleansers and shampoos. However, they can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation.

Natural Alternative: Look for gentler alternatives like coconut-derived surfactants or soapwort extract for a gentle cleanse without the harsh effects.


3. PHTHALATES: The Silent Invaders


These sneaky chemicals are often found in fragrances and plasticisers, but they can wreak havoc on your skin and endocrine system. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive issues and allergic reactions.

Look out for:

• fragrance

• perfume

Natural Alternative: Choose products scented with essential oils or labelled "phthalate-free" to avoid these harmful additives.


4. PEGs (Polyethylene Glycols): The Stealthy Mixer


PEGs are commonly used in skincare products as emulsifiers, thickeners, and enhancing agents. However, they can also strip the skin's natural moisture barrier, leading to dryness and irritation.

Look out for:

• Propylene Glycol

• 1,2-Propanediol

• Ingredients with “eth” in the name, like polyethylene glycol

Natural Alternative: Opt for natural emulsifiers like beeswax or plant-based alternatives like:

• Sorbitan Olivate

• Lecithin

• Candelilla Wax

• Xyliance

• Xanthan Gum

• Lanolincetearyl alcohol

• Phytosqualan


5. FORMALDEHYDE: The Toxic Trespasser


Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives may keep your skincare products free from bacteria, but they come with a hefty price tag: respiratory issues, skin irritation, and even cancer. It is a bit harder to identify in products as it is a gas and is therefore a "releaser", meaning the formaldehyde it gets released overtime.

Look out for:

• Benzylhemiformal

• 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol

• 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane

• Diazolidinyl urea

• DMDM hydantoin

• Formaldehyde

• Glyoxal

• Imidazolidinyl urea

• Methenamine

• Paraformaldehyde

• Polyoxymethylene urea

• Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

• Quaternium-15

Natural Alternative: Look for alternatives like natural antimicrobials such as tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract to keep your products safe and effective. Here are some more that are totally safe and effective when it comes to preserving cosmetics:

• benzyl alcohol

• glyceryl caprylate

• benzoic acid

• sorbic acid

• sodium benzoate

• potassium sorbate

• magnolia officinalis bark extract

• pentylene glycol

• sodium levulinate

• sodium anisate



As ingredient detectives, it's our responsibility to scrutinise product labels, decode tricky ingredient lists, and make informed choices for our skin's health and well-being. By opting for natural alternatives, we can protect ourselves from the harmful effects of these skincare villains while embracing the beauty of clean, green skincare.


So, are you ready to join the ranks of ingredient detectives? Grab your shopping list, arm yourself with knowledge, and embark on a journey towards cleaner, safer skincare. Together, we can unmask the villains and pave the way for a brighter, healthier future for our skin. Happy sleuthing!


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Hi, I'm Mandi. A former primary teacher, Lifestyle Medicine graduate and current Diploma in Natural Skincare student with a passion for natural living.

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