Common Skincare Ingredients That Are Ruining Your Clear Skin Goals

At one point or another, we all go through a period of experimentation with our skincare. We test out product after product, all highly acclaimed and well-received, just hoping to achieve the smooth, clear skin we see others boast about after using them. 9 times out of 10, however, we’re let down. Our skin either looks the same as it did before we threw our money down the drain, or worse. I’ve had plenty of bad reactions which caused my eyes to swell shut and my skin to break out in a rash, all because I never learned how to read an ingredient label. The struggle to put my skin in equilibrium after years of damage from supposed “miracle cures” has been a long and hard road. What ultimately helped balance out my acne, oil production, texture, scars and pigmentation was avoiding these harmful ingredients.

  1. 1. Essential Oils

    You might find that a lot of skincare products on the market today list essential oils as a natural and effective remedy for many skin ailments. While this may be true if you have a cut on your finger, essential oils like tea tree oil and lavender are far too harsh to be slathering on your face via moisturizer or face masks. Over time, this can damage your skin barrier, which is the number one thing you want to avoid if you want clear skin. A damaged skin barrier invites dirt and bacteria into your pores because it has no way to protect against them, leading to breakouts. Avoid essential oils if you can, especially if you already have sensitive skin.

  2. 2. Walnut Shells

    Crushed walnut shells and physical exfoliators derived from natural ingredients can pose a host of problems for your face. The jagged edges of the individual particles can create micro- tears in the skin that damage that precious skin barrier. The effects of this are not only increased exposure to pollutants, but also a decreased ability for your skin to retain water. Broken and dehydrated skin is, of course, a nightmare to deal with.

  3. 3. Scents/fragrances

    These include any fruit extracts, flower essences, citrus, etc. These ingredients have no business being in our skincare other than to make the products smell good. While flowers and fruits may be championed as “nature’s cure” for redness, inflammation, and texture, they can actually exacerbate these issues when incorporated into our toners or moisturizers. Your best bet is to use these fruits or flowers fresh to receive the true benefits without sensitizing your skin.

  4. 4. Alcohols

    Some alcohols in skincare are good, like cetyl or stearyl alcohol which help with the formulation of skin products and our skin’s ability to absorb them. Other alcohols, like ethanol and isopropyl alcohol can be incredibly drying. Dry skin can cause our skin to overcompensate on oil production to make up for loss of moisture, leading to breakouts. It can also lead to dry, dead skins cells to flake off and get trapped in our pores, which become more exposed as our skin barrier deteriorates from dryness. Yikes.

  5. 5. Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is a use-at-your-own-risk ingredient, as it has does do a lot of good for the skin. It is a great natural moisturizer for those who have sensitive skin and are looking for a simple, but effective, treatment for dryness. However, if you have acne-prone skin, like myself, it is probably best to stay away from it, as it has a tendency to clog pores. To indicate this, it is labeled as a “comedogenic” ingredient. Some non-comedogenic alternatives to coconut oil include sunflower oil, almond oil, avocado oil, and many others.

  6. 6. Mineral Oil

    Mineral oil has several benefits and is a common ingredient in SPF. However, it’s also famous for clogging pores on the face. Sunscreen is still one of the most important steps in our skincare, though, as it prevents aging, hyperpigmentation, and cancer. When looking for a sunscreen, then, make sure the label says either non-comedogenic or mineral oil-free. That way you’ll get all the benefits of sun protection without the worry of breaking out.

By avoiding these ingredients, your skin and your wallet will thank you. I, for one, have saved so much money over the years by not giving into skincare brands that claim to be cure-all treatments, when they’re really just setting you up for failure. I had to figure that out the hard way, but hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and achieve the glowing, clear skin you’re after.