Passionate about educating consumers about the dangers lurking in your bathroom cabinet, Sonia Bainbridge Co-Founder of Raw Beauty Lab, an ethical, independent British beauty brand and creator of the 100% natural, no nasties, plant-powered vegan, cruelty-free ‘drink for your skin’ Vegan Collagen, shares a few of her no-go ingredients commonly found in beauty and skincare products.
Denatured alcohol is commonly used as a solvent for vitamin C serums, toners, and even sunscreens to lighten the texture and make it more comfortable on the skin. However, it can be very drying and can strip the skin of moisture, making your skin look dull – with increased use, it can actually increase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles!
Parfum, Linalool, Limonene are all names of different fragrances that could be present in skincare. Other than making your products smell good, these products serve no useful purpose for your skin. They can actually harm your skin as fragrance is a common cause of contact dermatitis which can increase skin sensitivity and causing other issues like hyperpigmentation. Fragrance is also a photo-sensitiser – meaning it makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, one of the biggest causes of premature ageing and collagen degradation.
This is a chemical sunscreen you want to steer clear of as it’s an established endocrine (hormone) disruptor that can throw your hormones out of whack, especially if you are menopausal or peri-menopausal. While sunscreens can help premature ageing, I’d recommend going for mineral/physical sunscreens that sits on top of your skin as a physical barrier reflecting sun rays off your face to prevent them from damaging your collagen.
These are a type of preservative commonly used in moisturisers and cosmetics and are dangerous to the skin because they are endocrine disruptors that mimic oestrogen in our body and cause hormone imbalances, especially in younger women of childbearing age.
Although this ingredient is still a retinol, it’s actually one of the least effective retinol out there, especially when it is present as one of the last ingredients on your skincare (indicating it is present in very small amounts). Instead, look for retinol products produced with retinaldehyde that is present higher up on the ingredient list (indicating more of the ingredient is present in the formulation and thus more effective). Retinaldehyde is much more effective in new skin cell regeneration, bringing more fresh, healthy plump cells from the dermis up to the surface of your skin.
Synthetic ingredients are chemically identical to natural vitamins; however, natural ingredients are usually more effective because they are ingested with other vitamins and minerals present in the whole food, which improves their bioavailability and absorption from your gut. Consequently, these nutrients are much more effective than their synthetic counterparts at improving collagen production in your skin, hair and nails and joints, they also work more effectively in maintaining the health of your heart, blood vessels, hormones (insulin for diabetes control) and your brain.
‘Natural flavours’ are marketing buzz words that health food companies love to use to promote their products as healthy. Legally, a natural flavour is one that’s derived from animals or plants – however, it will still have a partly chemical make-up. The FDA hasn’t defined what constitutes a ‘natural flavour’, so you could have ‘natural’ flavours with a largely chemical makeup pass under this title.
The UK flavour association have indicated that anything passing as a natural flavouring must have 95% of the flavour coming from a natural source (e.g., lemons) – what constitutes the remaining 5%, although still regulated, largely remains disclosed.
Additionally, the use of natural flavourings is common practice for highly processed foods, the frequency of consumption is thought (and hoped to be) not as regular. However, when added to supplements, especially animal-based collagen supplements made up of fish skin or cow bones, this would need to be present (as you can imagine) in relatively large amounts to mask the taste of these animal-derived ingredients. The consumption of natural flavours daily in these volumes has not been exclusively tested to determine their safety for everyday use.
Artificial sweeteners and excessive sugars
Watch out for sugar alcohols: erythritol, xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, as these can be the potential cause of digestive issues. Gummies may be a convenient way to take your beauty supplements, but research has shown that each gummy can contain up to 4g of sugar each! Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) (saccharine, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame-K, and stevia) also need to be taken with caution as there is no scientific evidence, they are 100% safe for use. The benefits of a balanced fibre and wholefood rich diet far outweigh the ‘zero calorie’ benefits associated with NNS. A study on mice indicated that NNS did cause glucose intolerance. However, this hasn’t been extensively tested on humans, so the long term effects are unknown.