Your cheat sheet to help avoid those “dirty” ingredients your skincare

Over recent years people have started to really look at what is in their food and understand from an ingredient list, what is and isn’t good for you. Unfortunately this happens a lot less when it comes to skincare.

The skin is our largest organ in our bodies and we need to make sure we look after it. So I have done a lot of research into cosmetic ingredients and created a simple dirt ingredient cheat, to help you keep an eye out for what to avoid and why.

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Why use dirty ingredients?

There are many reasons that our cosmetics supplier use these dirty ingredients. They are usually cheaper than their cleaner alternatives. Dirty ingredients also act as thickening agents, prevent mouldy products, create foamy lathers and much, much more.  But we don’t have to put up with this as there are so many amazing products on the market that do not have such toxic side effects. Bare in mind that even some organic cosmetics may contain some dirty ingredients below – click here read my post on what truly makes a product organic.

What do the side effects mean?

A Skin irritant is a substance which, while not corrosive, causes a temporary or reversible inflammation of living tissue (such as eyes, skin, or respiratory organs) at the point of contact.

Allergies are when the ingredient could cause your skin to have an allergic reaction, this could be as little as red, itchy skin to extreme reactions such as hives.

carcinogen is any substance that has the potential to cause cancer in living tissues and exposure can occur from the inhalation, ingestion, or absorption of many different types of substances.

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Hormone imbalances occur when an ingredient interferes with the production, transportation, breakdown, binding or elimination of our hormones. This includes our thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, pancreas, hypothalamus and pituitary glands.

Reproductive defects can occur similarly to hormone imbalances. This is when an ingredient interferes with the bodies natural development and maintenance of the reproductive system.

Toxic references an external toxin which are toxins outside of our bodies, that can be ingested or absorbed. External toxins are capable of causing disease on contact with our skin.

The Cheat Sheet 

Ingredients

Do you need something faster?

If you are still not sure or would like a guide that can do the research for you while you’re shopping, download the “Think Dirty” app. This app provides a dirty rating on a scale of 1-10 listing the chemicals in your products that make them “dirty”. The other amazing part of the “Think Dirty” app is if the product you have selected rates high on the dirty scale, it will recommend much cleaner alternatives. Pretty cool eh.

Like to learn more?

The great thing about today is that we have the internet, so no need to go rummaging through the library to do research. However if you would like a book to use as a reference I recommend reading A Consumer’s dictionary of cosmetic ingredients.

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Beauty products explained – Face Wash vs Cleanser

I am constantly changing what I use to clean my skin. I tend to use cleansers when my skin needs brightening and an infusion of moisture, and face wash when I’m having a break out. But I wanted to be sure I was doing the right routine and really understand the difference between a face wash and a cleanser.

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What do they do..

Face wash and cleansers ultimately do a similar job, they rid the skin of dirt, makeup, and excess oil. But what is the difference, and when should you use them?

Cleansers are non-foaming and more gentle on the skin with nutrients that moisturize and hydrate. Cleansers also dissolve away excess oil, makeup and grime from your face rather than penetrating deep into the pores. If you have been exposed to a lot of dust and pollution or if you’re wearing makeup, it would be a good idea to use a cleanser first, before using a face wash.

A face wash, is a foaming liquid that acts more like soap, to remove deep seated dirt and grime. Face washes are a little harsher and thorough compared to a cleanser. The right wash should leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed. Face washes should not be used more than twice and a day due to the removal of your skins natural oil.

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How to use them..

For those of us that wear makeup or are exposed to a lot of pollutants, I would always recommend a double cleanse. The first cleanse should rid the skin of surface dirt and if you are wearing makeup, use a cleanser designed to remove it as not all cleansers are. (If you are unsure to check the product label.)This will then prepare the skin for a second cleanse. Just like starting your beauty regime with a blank canvas. 

The second cleanse should provide for the needs of your skin, whether that be a deeper clean to unclog pores (face wash) or softer surface cleanse (cleanser). This is then your opportunity to decide if you would like to use your face wash or cleanser.

Top Tips

  • If your skin starts to feel dry and tight after using your face wash – switch to a new product as this may be removing too much of your natural oil
  • Not sure what cleanser is right for you? Have a look at my post here for your cleanser 101
  • You should always follow your cleanse with a toner, click here to read my post on why this is so important

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What does each Vitamin really do for the skin?

The beauty industry is consistently bringing out brands with a key focus on specific vitamins, especially with the trending Vitamin’s E and C. So how does all this science actually help our skin and what should we be looking out for?

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What is a Vitamin

Lets go back to basics and look at what vitamins are and as a collective do for the skin. Vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities to sustain life and are fundamentally responsible for a healthy body. The skin is the last organ to receive ingested vitamins, so in order to access the skin more effectively skin care products are now used.

Fat-soluble vitamin

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fatty tissues of the body and the liver. These are easier to store than water-soluble vitamins, and they can stay in the body as reserves for days, and sometimes months. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins do not stay in the body for long as the body cannot store them, because of this, water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble ones. Vitamin C and all the B vitamins are water soluble.

A-Z of Vitamins 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also known as Retinol and comes with a huge number of benefits. Retinol is known to encourage healthy skin production which reduces acne, evens skin tone and encourages a glowing complexion. Retinol also stimulates the production of collagen so is a great ingredient to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A should be applied at night and application should be limited to 2-3 times a week or as per your product instructions.

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Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 also known as Niacinamide, increases production of fatty acids and cerimides which are two key components of your skin’s outer protective barrier. A daily application of Vitamin B3 can reduce redness, blotchiness and sensitivity. Vitamin B3 also reduces the transfer of pigment to skin cells, minimizing dark spots.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 is also known as Pantothenic Acid and helps to keep the skin healthy and attractive in appearance, with broad abilities to moisturize, soothe, heal and regenerate the skin. Vitamin B5 also helps to slow down the appearance of premature aging on the skin such as wrinkles and age spots.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy nails, hair and skin because it contributes to cell reproduction. Vitamin B12 benefits the skin by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne and can be applied to the skin for psoriasis and eczema.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a multi-beneficial ingredient which evens and brightens skin tone, improves your skins texture and helps to combat environmental damage. Vitamin C also helps to increase the production of collagen in the skin. In order for Vitamin C remain stable and work effectively, it must be stored in an opaque air tight container and is usually found in moisturisers.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very popular for treating Psoriasis symptoms including itchy and flaky skin. Vitamin D3 contains strong anti-inflammatory properties which make it effective for treating burns, skin injuries, skin damage and stretch marks.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is great for boosting hydration, reducing inflammation and preventing free radical damage that can lead to pigmentation and damaged elastin. Vitamin E hydrates, prevents water loss, and soothes so it is good for both sensitive and aging skins types.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is applied to the skin to remove scars, stretch marks, spider veins, bruises, and burns. It can be used to treat rosacea, a condition that causes redness and pimples. Vitamin K also has the ability to strengthen the walls of capillaries and is generally used in eye creams to reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Know your stuff..

If you use different vitamins within your skin care products, be sure to know exactly what you are putting on your skin, especially as some ingredients should not be combined. For example applying a Retinol (Vitamin A) which increases the production of skin cells with a Glycolic Acid, which removes the top layer of the skin, would result in flakiness and dryness – not a result I would personally be trying to achieve.

My recommendation with any skin care product is to read the label so that; 1. You know what ingredients you are putting onto your skin and 2. Understand how to apply the product effectively to achieve the best possible results.

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Budget Beauty – The balm that does it all

I have tried so many multi-use miracle balms that claim they can do everything, after trying them I am bitterly disappointed to find out they are only good for dry lips. Most balms are to thick to put on my hands and stay greasy for a really long time. With the UK currently so cold outside and warm inside, my skin has been crying for some TLC.

Dr Lipp’s – Original Nipple Balm for Dry Skin, Luscious Lips & Glossy Bits – £12 per 15ml

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This award-winning balm is made from only one natural ingredient, medical-grade lanolin from free-roaming sheep down under, with no additives and definitely no animal testing.

Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm is great for all skin types, it is not addictive, allows the skin to breathe and also helps your skin to regulate its own moisture balance. So basically Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm helps fix the problem instead of trying to cover it up.

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I personally use Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm for the following and had amazing results;

  • Chapped lips
  • Dry cuticles
  • Dry nose 
  • To tame my often flying frizzy ends 
  • Keeping my eyebrows in place
  • Dry patches on my hands
  • Anywhere my skin feels sore or overly sensitive

But there are so many more uses that I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet..

Treat chapped lips, Long lasting lip gloss, Lipstick primer, Softens dry cuticle & skin, Eyelash conditioning, Breast feeding, Eyebrow shaping, Glitter glue, Shine up scuffed heels, Touching up a moustache, After-sun, Babies bottoms, Sore spots on the skin, Cheek shine, Under foundation for a flawless finish, Sore noses, Pigment mixing and the list goes on…..

So for that go to beauty product that does even more than it says on the tin, I would highly recommend Dr Lipps Nipple Balm. I will definitely keep this handy 3ml squeezy tube in my bag at all times!

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Click here to purchase  – Original Nipple Balm for Dry Skin, Luscious Lips & Glossy Bits

Keeping it clean – A simple way to talk all things Cleansers

The role of a cleanser in your beauty regime is to remove make-up, dirt, dead skin cells and pollutants from your face. Cleansers also help to unclog pores and prevent nasty skin ailments such as acne.

There are so many Cleaners available on the market today but having too much choice isn’t a good thing, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. One thing to remember is that not all of these cleansers will be suitable for your skin type and personal preference plays a huge role in finding the right product. So where to start…

1. Gel Cleansers 

Skin Type: Oily, Combination

Gel cleansers are transparent or clear and have a soft jelly like texture. Gel is a great way to clean deep into the pores of your skin helping to reduce excess sebum production and keeping acne at bay.  Remember that Gel is activated by water, so have a damp face before applying with your fingertips.

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2. Cream Cleansers 

Skin Type: Dry, Sensitive 

Cream cleansers are thick and feel more like a night cream than a cleanser. Cream cleansers contain moisturising ingredients like botanical oils, therefore gently cleanse your skin without stripping it. Cream cleansers should be applied directly onto dry skin, massaged in and removed with either cotton pads or cloths. Although there are some great products on the market, I just don’t feel super clean when finished. This could be psychological as I’ve not used any water but it also left my skin feeling slightly oily – I have Normal/Combination skin.

3. Oil Cleansers

Skin Type: Most Skin Types 

My personal favorite are oil cleansers, as I have found an incredible product – listed below in my cleanser recommendations.  I know, using oil as a cleanser sounds slightly crazy but trust me it works. An Oil Cleanser works wonders on removing everyday and waterproof makeup, softly, without drying the skin.  If you do choose to use an oil cleanser it is really important you wash it all off thoroughly with a wash-cloth so your skin is clean for the remainder of your regime. Oil can act as a barrier, so you want to ensure you skin can absorb all of the lovely products you apply after the cleansing stage.

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4. Milk/ Lotion Cleansers

Skin Type: Dry, Sensitive

Milk and Lotion cleansers are a thinner consistency to cream cleansers but should be applied in the same way. Remember, applying Milk or Lotion cleansers to damp or wet skin will dilute the product and the Cleanser will be less effective.

5. Butter & Balm Cleansers

Skin Type: Sensitive, Dry, Combination

Cleansing balms and butters are gentle, nourish the skin instead of stripping it and are amazing at removing dirt and impurities. Most cleansing balms and butters should be warmed up in your hand, then applied to dry skin. You can add a bit of water for easier use as you massage it on your skin. To finish, rinse it off with warm water and a muslin cloth. The Oil from the balm can act as a barrier, so you want to ensure you remove it completely. Balms and butters in my experience provide great results but take slightly longer to apply and remove properly.

Toner

6. Foam Cleansers

Skin Type: Combination, Acne prone

Foam cleansers are ideal for removing oil, layers of makeup and even waterproof makeup. Some Foam cleansers can be a little bit harsh since they’re made to slightly dry out the skin, so make sure you buy one that includes some form of oil to provide a more nourishing experience. Remember that foam is activated by water, so have a damp face before applying with your fingertips.

7.  Micellar Cleansers

Skin Types: Dry, Sensitive

I have tried Micellar cleansers and personally these are not for me, I just don’t get that deep clean feeling but a lot of my friends continue to rave about them. As Micellar water doesn’t have to be the most expensive product in your regime, I would say give it a go – I have recommended by favorite Micellar cleanser below. Micellar waters feature “micelles” or oil molecules suspended in water, which attract oil, dirt and makeup, making the removal simple. You do not need to wash this off with water, but you do need to use cotton pads or a more Eco-friendly alternative to wipe away the dirt, makeup and impurities.

8. Clay Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily

Clay cleansers are thick and creamy and can be various different colors including grey, white and pale green. Clay is suitable for oily skin due to the deep cleansing and pore tightening properties. To use, put the clay into your fingertips and add water to transform it to a mousse like consistency. Gently massage the cleanser onto your face using circular motions. Once you’re done doing that, rinse thoroughly with warm water.

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9. Powder Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily, Sensitive

Powder cleansers have been around for some time now but are becoming a lot more popular. These cleansers are powdery soft and disintegrate into a creamy mixture  when combined with water. Powder cleanser thoroughly cleanse your skin while providing a light exfoliation. You can use them every day even on sensitive skin.

10. Sponges, Mits and Cloth Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily, Combination

I am a fan of the micro fiber cloths every now and again, especially when I have got in from a good night out with a full face of makeup. These cleansers are made with special fiber and don’t usually require the use of any additional cleansing products to thoroughly remove makeup and impurities. They are quick and easy to use with a wet, wipe and go approach. I have found though, if I use this everyday my skin looks a little dull and dry.

My Cleanser Recommendations.. 

Cloth Cleansers

Magnitone – London Wipeout! The Amazing Microfibe cleansing Cloth – £14.99 x2 cloths

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This Magnitone Microfibe cloth needs to be put into a 30 degree wash before the first use to activate the fibres. The first time I used this cloth I was surprised to see how quickly  and easily my makeup came off and how clean it felt. The Magnitone Microfibe cloth also comes with a handy hanging tag to hang out to dry after use. I tend to use this twice before washing again, one side per use and only every now and again. I found using this everyday made my eyes and my problem areas (nose & chin) dry out.

Click here to purchase the Magnitone Wipe Out The Amazing MicroFibre Cleansing Cloth x1

Oil Cleanser

Elemental Herbolody – Vital Cleanser – £29 per 100ml (Currently on sale £23.20)

This is my all time favorite cleanser. The Vital Cleanser lasted me two months and I used this religiously every evening and most mornings. The Vital Cleanser is a lightweight oil made with Manuka Honey, Vitamin C, Papaya extract and Green Tea – this sounds more like a super-food smoothie than Cleanser. The Vital cleanser made me want to put more makeup on just to take it off again.

Butter Cleanser  

Organic Pharmacy – Carrot Butter Cleanser – £43 per 75ml

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Yes this is a pricey product and I would not say this should be your first butter or balm experience as they are not for everyone.  If however you do really like Butter cleansers this is a fantastic combination of ingredients including Shea Butter, St Johns Wort, Lavender, Carrot and Rosemary. The smell is delightful and the butter almost melts away makeup and dirt from the skin. 75ml doesn’t sound a lot but used correctly, this tub goes a long way.

Click here to purchase the The Organic Pharmacy Discovery/Travel kit

Micellar Water Cleanser

Sanctuary Spa – Foaming Micellar Water – £8 per 200ml

IMG_1949The Micellar water from Sanctuary Spa is simple and effortless. The key ingredients are rose-water and argon oil, which in my opinion are super-foods for the skin and great to reduce redness. The pump on the bottle pushes the micellar water out as a light fluffy foam which prevents too much product being poured onto the cotton pads. I used a delicate sweeping motion to remove my day makeup, which was quick and simple. This product was a delight but as I mentioned earlier, I do prefer using a different type of cleanser which requires water to finish cleansing my skin.

Click here to purchase Sanctuary Spa Foaming Micellar Cleansing Water 200ml

Toners; To tone or not to tone..?

Friends and family are always asking me “why do I have to tone my skin?” and “are you sure this isn’t just another product to spend money on?” My response has always been yes of course you need to tone your skin.. but without much rational as to why.

So why should we use a Toner?

After some research into the world of Toners it is safe to say that for a full and balanced beauty regime, Toners are a great addition to seal the deal.  The role of the Toner is to re balance your skin’s pH levels after the cleansing process which brings your skin back to its most glowing appearance. An average pH level for the skin is around 5.5.

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How do I use Toner?

Toners should be used after the cleansing stage before applying any serums or moisturizers. Toners are traditionally poured out of a bottle onto a cotton pad which should be swept across your face. There are also spritz style toners which can be sprayed directly onto the skin without the use of the cotton pad.  I personally prefer the latter as there are no cotton pads going into the bin and less product is being used in one go.  Spritz style Toners however will only dilute the harmful elements on the skin unlike wiping which is meant to remove them.

What should I do if I want to skip the Toning step?

As a beauty addict I would of course recommend to complete the full cleanse, tone, and moisturize steps. If however you are short on time or money, you can look at using a pH balancing cleanser instead.  Click here for more information on pH balancing cleansers and some great product recommendations.

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The Verdict….

Yes I believe we should be toning our skin. There are a great selection of products available across all different price points and with the spritz toners taking a matter of seconds to apply, time should not be an issue. Our skins pH is responsible for a multitude of ailments including acne, premature aging and skin sensitivity. Get the pH right and your skin will be bright and glowing. Get the right Toner and this can help re-balance your skins pH.

My favorite Toners to try..

Herbal Toner – Organic Pharmacy – £35 per 100ml

The Organic Pharmacy as a brand have a collection of amazing products which smell like you have been walking through a delicious herb garden and of course the Herbal Toner is no exception. The texture of this Toner is light and refreshing, allowing the skin to breathe. The Herbal Toner is a spritz product so the bottle lasts a good while. I noticed my skin felt fresh and clean throughout the night with less breakouts in my problem areas (nose and chin) after only a week of use. If you can afford to splurge a little, I would say the Herbal Toner is worthwhile.

Click here to purchase The Organic Pharmacy Herbal Toner 100 ml

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Glow Tonic – Pixi – £5 per 15ml / £10 per 100ml / £18 per 250ml

Firstly I love that the Glow Tonic by Pixi comes in three different sizes. This gives you the opportunity to try a sample size before you commit to the 250ml bottle. As mentioned before I prefer the spray bottles especially as the sprays use alot less product and the Glow Tonic is no exception – I had used 1/4 of the 15ml bottle after 3 applications.

The product felt smooth when I applied this and had a soft pleasant fragrance on the skin. I would suggest avoid applying to close the eye area and any broken skin as this didn’t feel pleasant however the discomfort only lasted for a few seconds.

The biggest impact this toner had, was how my skin looked for the rest of the day. My skin felt fresh, bright and literally glowing even after a long day of housework. Glow Tonic is definitely a pick me up for the skin and bought my dull complexion back to life.

Click here to purchase Pixi Glow Tonic With Aloe Vera & Ginseng 100ml by Pixi

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Budget Beauty Toner – under £10 – Review to come