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In today's day and age, with an overload of information being given to us at all times, it can get confusing when deciding which products are best for us, especially when it comes to ingredients in skincare. each ingredient reacts differently with our skin and has its own effects on us as well as with other ingredients in a product. 

the purpose of this page is to allow you to identify which ingredients are ideal in certain products, such as which to avoid and why based on the potential side effects and irritation they may cause. 



Niacinamide can provide many benefits to your skin such as helping build a stronger skin barrier, minimizing the appearance of pores and fine lines or wrinkles, and helping with oil control - if you have oily or combination skin. However, when using products that contain niacinamide, make sure to not layer it with products that also contain Vitamin C as according to Dr. Marchbein, "Their potency is significantly diminished when used together unless the application is spaced by at least 10 minutes between each serum."

rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is a highly beneficial ingredient that can be found in most serums. It moisturizes and improves skin texture and minimizes the appearance of acne scars. As well as that, using rosehip oil gives the potential to help areas of your skin the suffer from eczema as it reduces skin irritation and strengthens its barrier.

hyaluronic acid

While hyaluronic acid does not directly target acne, it functions as a substance that increases moisture in the skin, which can help prevent acne in the long run, and overall lead to more even skin. That hydrating benefit in combination with the anti-aging effect that it offers, (such as smoothing out fine lines), helps give a plump appearance to the skin and increase its elasticity. 

what to look for:

vitamin c

Vitamin C in skincare is usually incorporated to aid with smoothing out the skin's complexion and offers a 'glowing' effect due to its antioxidant properties and ability to inhibit melanin production (meaning it can even out dark spots and prevent them from increasing). There has also been evidence about vitamin c supporting collagen production.

"It helps prevent the forming of free radicals, which go on to break down collagen and elastin." - Dr. Saedi. 

When buying 'Vitamin C serums', it's important to remember to stay under 15% concentration is usually the safest option, as typically anything above that could yield a chance of causing irritation. 


Glycerin is a moisturizing agent, meaning it draws moisture to the skin, allowing hydration. If used with retinol it can prevent irritation due to the drying effects of retinol. However, ensure that when using glycerin as a moisturizer, it is dilute - if the concentration is too high, its thick consistency can attract impurities such as dust particles which may irritate skin and cause acne. The best way to go is to incorporate a product with glycerin in it as one of the main ingredients, rather than using it on its own. 

grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it's an oil that moisturizes without clogging pores and trapping unwanted impurities under your products. It is rich in linoleic acids, meaning it can prevent excess water loss from the surface of the skin (transepidermal water loss/TEWL) due to its ability to strengthen the skin's barrier. 

vitamin e

Vitamin E can help soften and protect the skin, especially when paired with vitamin c. Grapeseed oil is an example of an ingredient high in vitamin e, giving it skin-strengthening properties. The flip side is that vitamin e oils can interfere with the natural sebum glands therefore people with oily acne-prone skin should avoid it, due to the potential of it worsening acne. However, in most cases, it's great at replenishing moisture 


Peptides (another word for 'proteins') are naturally produced by our skin, but peptide production decreases with age. That's why typically, peptides are used in skincare products to increase collagen production and overall firmness of the skin. Since we naturally produce peptides however, it isn't recommended to use a product with peptides in it before the age of 30-40 because peptide production is naturally at its peak until then. 


Phenoxyethanol is a preservative used in skincare to extend the shelf life of the product. But it can be harmful to our health over time. To sum it up, phenoxyethanol is often highly irritating to the skin, and can negatively affect other organs in the body if absorbed over excessive exposure to it in products.

what to avoid:

(irritating, harmful ingredients)

sodium benzoate

While sodium benzoate is tested to be a safe product to use and the chances of it converting to a toxic chemical are low, it is still better to avoid it as it due to its irritating nature - especially when found in to leave-on products like moisturizers.

(and other silicones):

If you have dry or acne-prone skin, it's best to avoid products with silicones such as dimethicone, cyclomethicone, and trimethicone in them, as they trap impurities and bacteria which can over time lead to a buildup if not washed off properly. it can result with the formation of acne or blemishes. 


There are several types of phthalates, and we are exposed to them in not only skincare products but also other cosmetics such as shampoos and perfumes, which means they can also be inhaled. Phthalates have undergone various studies which concluded that they are endocrine disruptors in our bodies - in other words, they can interfere with our hormones and their functions. 


Parabens are a type of preservative used which have the ability to "penetrate through the skin and remain in the tissue". This allows parabens to disrupt hormone functions, and studies have shown that parabens are linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues, and also cause a significant amount of skin irritation. The most common types of parabens are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylpareben, so make sure to avoid these while looking through the ingredient lists on your skincare products.

disodium EDTA

It's purpose in skincare is to help maintain things like the texture or consistency of the product, and normally is not harmful at the low concentrations it is in skincare. However, when it comes to the environment, it's a pollutant that can interrupt the environment and takes a long time to break down.


Typically added for consumer experience, fragrances and perfumes have no beneficial effect on the skin. However, in most cases, they can cause allergies and irritation that cause apparent redness and discomfort to our skin. Especially when incorporated at higher concentrations, they can reverse any positive effects of the product itself.

polyethelyne glycols (PEGs)

PEGs are petroleum-based compounds that are incorporated to thicken the consistency of products or as solvents to dissolve other compounds. However, they are high in impurities such as ethylene dioxide and 1,4-dioxane, byproducts formed during the manufacturing process. Using products formulated without PEGs means preventing impurities from affecting your skin. 


alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)

Alpha hydroxy acids are a group of chemical compounds that improve overall skin texture and chemically exfoliate the skin, and are often found in anti-aging products At concentrations above 10% it can be irritating, so be sure to ensure the concentration before purchasing or using products with AHAs. Starting off by using products with AHA every other day before gradually transitioning into daily use can prevent irritation. Glycolic and lactic acids are the most well-researched and said to be the least-likely to cause irritation out of the other AHAs. 


An amino acid that helps lock in moisture and can cause the appearance of a more even, hydrated complexion. It can also block the production of melanin which is why it eventually combats hyperpigmentation and brown spots, leading to a brighter skin appearance. 

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