We have all heard of what foods we should avoid for glowing clear skin, but what are the ingredients you should look for in a skincare product? As we are very conscious of what we eat, it is also important to know what ingredients are in your skincare products and how they can affect you. Some of them can do more harm than good and some of the most common skincare ingredients to avoid are parabens, hydroquinone and oxybenzone. But what are these ingredients and why are they bad? Read on to find out what you should be looking out for:
What are parabens? You may have noticed lately that “paraben-free” labels have been popping up on some beauty products at the drugstore and elsewhere. Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products; they stop fungus, bacteria and other microbes from growing in your favorite creams and makeup, especially in the moist, warm environment of a bathroom.
What are they used for? Parabens are used in skincare products because they allow for a longer shelf live, and they are cheap and effective. Their names are a mouthful and can come in different forms such as: —methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. You’ll find them listed on thousands of personal care products such as body lotions, foundations, mascara and shampoos.
Why are they bad? Parabens can induce allergic reactions, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity. They can also cause “estrogen disruption” which has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.
What to look out for: When looking for your next go to product, be sure to look at the ingredients on the back. Skincare brands have now become aware of the dangers of parabens and some even go further to list their skincare product as being “paraben-free.”
Recognizing these potential risks, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michael Lin formulated his Acne Clarifying System out of his practice in Beverly Hills without parabens to avoid any issues associated with this ingredient.
What is hydroquinone? Hydroquinone is a topical agent used in a variety of skin products for reducing skin pigmentation. Hydroquinone is used to lighten areas of skin affected by dark spots, acne scars, age spots and freckles.
What is it used for: Hydroquinone is used to reduce the amount of melanin (your natural pigment) your skin produces, which in turn makes your skin lighter in appearance.
Why is it bad? In doing so, this makes your skin more susceptible to UVA and UVB rays which can lead to dangerous sunburns, and over a prolonged period of time, an increased risk of certain types of skin cancer. Regular use of hydroquinone can cause serious irritation of the skin, especially for people that already have sensitive skin or allergies. In some cases, hydroquinone can cause extreme redness, itching or even a burning sensation when it is applied to the skin.
What to look out for: When looking for a product that will fade and erase dark marks and acne spots, be sure to check to see if this ingredient is in the product.
A natural alternative to hydroquinone is arbutin, which is derived from bearberry tree extract to address hyperpigmentation. If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 treatment that clears acne and fades the dark marks left behind, look no further than Dr. Lin’s hydroquinone-free Acne Spot Corrector with arbutin.
What is Oxybenzone: Known as a penetration enhancer, oxybenzone is a common ingredient that can commonly be found in sunscreens that functions as an ultraviolet light absorber and stabilizer.
What is it used for: Oxybenzone is used in sunscreens, hair sprays, and cosmetics due their potential to prevent damage from sunlight exposure.
Why is it bad? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) base Oxybenzone as a moderate to high danger hazard level. Oxybenzone can potentially disrupt hormones (i.e., mimics, blocks, and alters hormone levels) which can throw off your endocrine system. This ingredient is also highly associated with skin allergies. Despite its sun protective abilities, it has been shown to penetrate the skin and cause photo-sensitivity. It has also demonstrated an increase in the production of harmful free radicals and an ability to attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of melonoma cases with sunscreen users.
What to look out for: When buying a sunscreen, Dr. Lin recommends a sunscreen with SPF of 30 to 50 with good UVA protection. The SPF tells you the level of UVB protection and to determine the UVA protection, it is important to do some sleuthing by looking at the ingredients list. Some key ingredients he looks for are a chemical UVA protectant, such as avobenzone (3%) or a Mexoryl SX, or a physical UVA protectant such as, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
So the next time you hit up your favorite drugstore.