Understanding the ingredients listed on the backs of skincare labels is becoming something than many consumers are starting to get involved with, but still for many shoppers out their there simply isn’t enough hours in the day to google everything listed on your moisturiser and cleanser. For this reason, we are showcasing a monthly skincare ingredient focus, starting with filler oils.
The beauty industry is huge. This is absolutely NO news to anyone. However, what may be news to you is that right now, as the beauty industry stands, there are still more brands on the market that use cheap filler oils and ingredients than there are brands using pure and natural ingredients.
The answer is very simple. Profit. The big manufacturers of so called high-end skincare products are, for the most part, anything but high end. Most products on the market include cheap filler oils which make up the ‘base’ of any skincare product they make. To this they add ‘active’ ingredients, giving their products a marketing angle. Because filler oils are cheap, it keeps the manufacturing costs down, meaning bigger profits for the fat cat business owners. Win Win. For them!!!
These filler oils mainly consist of artificial silicon oils and mineral oils (the type used in car engines to keep things lubricated). They are cheap because they are made in huge volumes and they do not have a smell, so can be hidden inside moisturisers, lotions, cleansers, masks, hair care products etc with no-one questioning their inclusion. They are also very stable, so can keep on shelves for years.
For your skin, this is not a good thing. Filler oils are irritating for the skin because they block the pores, making it difficult for the skin to breath properly. I like to think of filler oils as plastic wrap, coating your skin tightly every time you use your products. Like a barrier cream, used traditionally to protect the skin from irritants in factories etc, filler oils wrap the skin, coating it like a plastic bag.
What are filler oils?
Filler oils are used to create the ‘base’ of a product, to flesh out its texture and bulk. Ironically, these oils tend to leave a silky feeling on the skin, making consumers believe that a product is of good, non-greasy quality. However, this is NOT the case at all, it just adds to the manufacturers clever marketing techniques.
Ingredients to avoid
Also known as petroleum jelly, this is a mineral oil derivative that can clog your pores. This in turn disrupts your body’s natural ability to moisturize its own skin, leading to dryness and chapping. Manufacturers use it because it’s really inexpensive. Mineral oils are used to reduce moisture loss through the skin but actually cause skin eruptions and breakouts.
In an ideal world this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural, but in most skincare products it is usually made from synthetic chemicals. It has been known to cause hives and eczema. Beware of related chemicals labeled PEG and PPG.
Silicone derived emollients
Silicone emollients are occlusive and are used to create a watertight film on top of the skin to lock in moisture. Often listed under the names of Dimethicone or Copolyol, these show up in over 80% of all skin-care and cosmetics such as foundation, primers, concealers and the popular BB creams. While they make application smoother, these compounds coat the skin, making it impossible for the skin to breathe. This is why they are often described to be like a plastic wrap suffocating the skin and trapping anything beneath it. Prolonged usage can cause skin irritations and breakouts for some people. In addition, it also means it would be difficult for any of your skin care goodies to penetrate into your dermis layer effectively, which I believe causes products to become ineffective after a period of time.
A petroleum-derived chemical that’s used in hair styling products and some cosmetics. Considered toxic since if inhaled, it can damage the lungs. PVP Polymer is found in hair products, styling aids and cosmetics such as mascara and eyeliner. Why use this derivative of petroleum? It helps your hair stay in place and keeps your eye makeup from running, but is it worth the risk?
Petroleum Oils / Mineral Oils
Many products contain petroleum and mineral oil-derived ingredients. Cosmetic companies love to use them because they’re cheap, have no odor and never go bad. Petroleum is a by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores and interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. It slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Shockingly baby oil is 100% mineral oil! Manufacturers may also put this in cleansers as a hydration ingredient and while this oil does add moisture, it can clog pores leading to breakouts. Silicon oils act as a barrier on the skin, preventing the good ingredients from doing their jobs and more importantly stopping the skin from breathing. Check the ingredients list and make sure the product has none of the following: Propylene Glycol, Parraffin, Mineral Oil, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol and Petrolatum. Instead, look for natural plant oils such as coconut, sunflower, apricot and olive oils, which provide plenty of nourishment without clogging your pores.