Clean Skin Care

Clean Skin Care

Using products that are “clean” starts with knowledge of what this means: our skin is a porous membrane that can absorb any chemical that we apply to it, resulting in trace amount of these compounds in our bloodstream. Repeated application of potentially harmful substances can lead to a cumulative toxicity with uncertain long-term effects. Unfortunately, there is not enough research studying the long-term effects of the hundreds of ingredients used in the manufacture of skin care products.

With the innumerable brands and products in the market it is hard to even know what to look for when choosing a brand that is aligned with your own personal philosophy. If you care about your skin, your health and the heath of our planet, as do we, focus your attention on skin care brands that are transparent, environmentally friendly, carbon-neutral and non-toxic.

  1. Do your research: pay attention to the origin of each product, inquire if animal testing was performed or if it contains animal products or byproducts.
  1. Look at the ingredient list: In general, the longer the list, the more toxic the product.
  • Be suspicious of products that list “proprietary” ingredients with catchy names.
  • If possible, try to avoid products that contain the following chemicals:

These chemicals are formaldehyde-releasing preservatives often found in skin care products like makeup (water-based foundations), shampoos and conditioners, and detergents. They can be irritating and some people with sensitive skin.

Usually found in products that foam like facial cleansers and soaps. They are also found in eye makeup , fragrances, hair products, and sunscreens.

These are a foaming agents found in 90% of personal-care products that foam – they can be irritating to skin and eyes.

These chemical compounds are used as vehicles to enhance the skin penetration of other ingredients or chemicals and they are also used as emulsifiers and emollients in creams. The lower the number next to the PEG-* the higher the absorption coefficient. Usually found in cleansers to dissolve oil and degreasing agents.

These chemicals are used to help stabilize fragrances in a variety of personal care producers including nail polish, perfumes, deodorants, hair gels, skin wipes, shampoos, soaps, hair sprays, and even baby products. They can be irritating and are considered toxic in high doses. They can be identified on labels by a three or four letter acronym that defines their chemical structures. NOTE: Some companies specifically state their products are “phthalate-free” but others listed them under the term “fragrance” which is frustrating for many consumers. If unsure, you can call the company and ask for clarification.

Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. It is also harmful to fish and other wildlife.

A synthetic antibacterial found in soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, shaving creams and deodorants. This chemical gets metabolized into a form of ‘dioxin’, a chemical linked to cancer.

These chemicals can have disruptive hormonal (estrogen-like) effects in our body. They are used as preservatives in a variety of water-based products including cosmetics, shower gels,  shampoos and conditioners, facial cleansers and scrubs.

  • If you have specific skin conditions it is best to avoid the following ingredients:



  • this is a petroleum by-product that can clog the pores, preventing the skin from naturally releasing residues and debris.
  • It is found in many moisturizing lotions, creams, ointments, and cosmetic products


Cocamidopropyl betaine:

– this is a surfactant and foam booster found in 90% of shampoos. – it can be irritating for patients with sensitive skin and can be a common cause of recurrent rashes on the eyelids.

Fragrances: see below


  1. Avoid scents and fragrances:

Here is a word (or two) about scents: Scents are unstable aromatic molecules that need to be preserved when they are incorporated into any water-based product. These preservatives tend to be very irritating to people with sensitive skin so it’s best to get a product that is completely scent free. To further complicate matters however, certain “scent-free” products contain “masking fragrances” which are chemicals designed to cancel out unpleasantly smelling chemicals used in the manufacturing process. So be vigilant and look at the ingredient list and avoid products that contain any of the following chemicals.

Amyl cinnamal

Amylcinnamyl alcohol

Anisyl alcohol

Balsam of Peru

Benzyl alcohol

Benzyl salicylate

Benzyl benzoate

Benzyl cinnamate

Cinnamyl alcohol




Bergamia (Bergamot oil) 

Citrus limon (Lemon oil)

Citrus aurantifolia or Citrus medica (Lime oil

Citrus sinensis (Orange oil)






Fragrance (also listed as “Parfum”, “Perfume” or “Aroma”)



Hydroxymethylpentyl-cyclohexenecarboxaldehyde (that’s a tongue twister!)

Hexyl cinnamaldehyde

Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender oil)




Methyl heptine carbonate

Mentha piperita (Peppermint extract)

Mentha spicata (Spearmint extract)


Oak moss

Rosa damascena (Rose flower extract)

Tree moss

Ylang-ylang oil (Canaga odorata)