5 ingredients beauty experts avoid

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Ever wondered about what beauty experts wouldn’t touch with a bargepole? Read on…

Ask any beauty expert worth their salt how to get glowy skin and they’ll tell you to drink your water, take your make-up off before bed and make sure SPF is your best friend.

But have you ever wondered what those in the know actively avoid?

After all, it’s a minefield out there, full of confusing jargon and contradictory ‘rules’.

To sift the fact from the fiction, we asked five industry insiders what’s on their naughty list.

1. Glycolic acid

If you’re looking to glow, exfoliating acids are usually the way. 

But be warned - one size does not fit all and Stylist’s beauty editor Lucy Partington shuns one in particular.

“Glycolic acid is popular in skincare, it works to slough away dead skin cells, leaving skin looking brighter and fresher,” she says.

“But actually it can be quite irritating and cause redness, swelling and itching, especially if it’s over-used. 

I find it’s a bit too much for my skin, so I tend to avoid it altogether and use azaleic acid instead. Although it doesn’t exfoliate skin in the same way glycolic does, it works to improve uneven skin tone, reduce redness and helps stop blemishes in their tracks.”

2. Parabens

Paraben-free beauty is rising and rising - but what actually are they and why don’t we want them anywhere near our skin? 

“Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics,” beauty writer and reiki practitioner Giselle La Pompe-Moore explains.

“There are concerns that this group of ingredients can disrupt the endocrine system (that’s the group of glands in your body that make hormones) as they’re said to mimic estrogen and can also irritate the skin.

Of course, preservatives are important in cosmetics but while the industry comes to a definitive conclusion on the safety of parabens, I look out for paraben-free products or lower concentrations where possible.

I’m also very mindful about greenwashing, so if the product is paraben-free I’ll check to see what alternatives they’re using in case what they’re replacing it with is worse.”

The good news is they’re easy enough to avoid - bareMinerals BarePro lipsticks are totally paraben free, as well as vegan. 

3. Isopropyl myristate

Never heard of this one? You’re not the only one. But as beauty therapist Kat Heath told us, it’s worth reading up on.

“Isopropyl myristate is a synthetic oil which is often used to thicken products or to allow fast absorption onto the skin,” she explains.

“Not only does it clogs pores and irritate the skin, it’s also the active ingredient in industrial strength rust removal solutions.

In fact, I always remember at college, my tutor would say that this ingredient was the reason the mirrors in powder compacts would detach and fall out - because it would eat away at the glue used to stick the mirrors down!”

It’s a hard pass on that one, then. 

4. Coconut oil

It’s been celebrated as a beauty panacea, with fans claiming it can do everything from smooth cuticles to hydrate your hair, but it’s not for everyone.

Beauty writer and podcaster Madeleine Spencer said she’s had to break up with coconut oil.

“I always steer clear of coconut oil,” she says.

“I know many laud it for its ability to remove make-up and moisturise without irritation, but I realised my skin, unfortunately, hates it and breaks out whenever I use it.”

If your skin also hates coconut oil, try reaching for the grape seed oil instead.

Not only does it absorb easily into the skin, meaning you cut out the greasiness of coconut oil, it’s also full of vitamins C, D and E. 

5. Alcohol 

No, we’re not talking about an ice-cold G&T - we wouldn’t try and take that away from you. 

But as beauty writer Daniela Morosini elaborates, alcohol in your skincare is the opposite of refreshing.

“Alcohol, especially denatured alcohol (usually ‘alcohol denat’ on an ingredients list) is one I always avoid, as it’s super drying,” she explains.

“It’s usually used an anti-foaming and anti-microbial agent, but the effect on the skin is usually too aggressive for me. Of course, it can be hard to avoid altogether, so I tend to just steer clear of anything with it listed in the first five or so ingredients.

The higher in an ingredients list an item appears, the stronger the concentration it is within that product.”

So if you’re finding that moisturiser isn’t doing the trick, check and see and if alcohol could be to blame.

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