Common Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid

At Maine Laser Skin Care, we are proud to provide what is referred to as medical grade skin care.  In other words, the skin care treatments and products we offer are as close to 100% safe as possible, but with sufficient potency to achieve optimal results.

A significant part of keeping this pledge to offer safe and effective products is by deliberately avoiding many substances that are commonly used in over-the-counter skin care formulations.  These additives, of which most are not aware, can cause many problems and side effects.

A common question is, "If these ingredients are harmful, why are they included in so many common products?"  Like in a lot of areas of business and life, the answer is money.

These ingredients are easily sourced and inexpensive enough to justify their inclusion.  Usually they will also have some presumably desirable properties, such as making the cream smoother or the soap or shampoo more foamy.

From our perspective, the cheaper price is not worth the risk.  When in doubt, it is worth it to read the ingredients and look out for the following chemicals, to which I refer as the Harmful 8:

  1. Parabens- This is a group of chemical preservatives commonly used in skin care products to prolong their shelf life.  Parabens have been shown to be disruptors of the body's hormonal systems, in that they act like estrogens within the body and can cause hormonal imbalances.  Medical studies have linked parabens with reproductive problems and even breast cancer.
  2. Sulfates- These agents are added to products to allow foaming qualities, but can be much too aggressive for those with sensitive skin.  When placed in cleansing agents, the skin of the face can become excessively dry, irritated, and prone to allergic reactions.
  3. Phthalates- Added as a fragrance enhancer, this group of chemicals can also disrupt hormonal balances and has been associated with fertility problems.
  4. Ethanolamines- These are ammonia-based compounds that act as foaming agents and help multiple ingredients mix together.  Studies link this category of chemicals with skin inflammation.  Chronic use has been associated with neurologic, kidney, and liver damage.
  5. Hydroquinone- This is a common but controversial skin bleaching agent that can cause skin dryness and irritation.  Despite still being available in the US, hydroquinone has been banned in Europe due to its association with skin cancer after long term use.
  6. Triclosan- Another hormonal disruptor, this chemical does have antibacterial properties, but has been linked to thyroid and reproduction problems.
  7. Nanoparticles- These are ultra-fine particles that are commonly added to skin care products as preservatives.  These particles are so small that they can penetrate more deeply and more diffusely into the skin than anticipated.  Unfortunately, this depth of penetration makes the skin more prone to toxicity and potential skin damage.
  8. Microbeads- These are small pieces of plastic (yes, plastic) that are commonly used in exfoliating skin care products to enhance the removal of dead superficial skin cells.  However, these micro-plastics are a serious environmental hazard, as they are too small to be effectively filtered in water treatment facilities.  Therefore, they can pollute the water supply, be ingested by small animals, and eventually seep their way into our food supply.

These ingredients may be found in products you find at grocery or convenient stores, but they are not found in the products we use at Maine Laser Skin Care.  If you do buy skin care products even at your local pharmacy or beauty store, be aware of the risk associated with these ingredients despite the lower possible price point.

If you have any questions about any specific product, don't hesitate to call us at (207) 873-2158 in Augusta to ask our aesthetician Denise or Doctor Burke, or (207) 303-0125 in Scarborough to ask aesthetician Danielle or Nurse Christine.  Also, during a free consultation, you can bring along your current home skin care products so we can discuss the pros and cons of over-the-counter versus medical grade skin care.

Our motto continues to be "Beautifying Maine One Face (and Body) At A Time".  Say home, be safe, wash those hands, and we will flatten the curve and get through this pandemic together!