Skin Care Tips: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Skin Care Tips and Mistakes

By Joan Kesman, owner of Skin Care Plus, the best facials and natural skin care products in Chicago, Geneva, St. Charles and Beyond.


Radiant and flawless skin is what everyone wants. Here are some skin care reminders and precautions to help you look and feel your best:

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Avoid Skin Irritants: The following ingredients tend to be most irritating. This is by no means an exhaustive list and everyone’s skin is different, so it’s important to isolate your personal triggers:

  • Detergents: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Preservatives: Benzyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.
  • Fragrances: ‘Parfum’ can signify artificial fragrance, which is a bad irritant. With natural essential oils care must always be taken since high doses can be irritating. Some, such as lemongrass, are irritating even at concentrations as low as 0.1%.

If you know you are allergic to a specific ingredient, it helps to read products’ ingredient list before buying. If you don’t know what you are allergic to, do a patch test before using the product regularly. In general, the list starts with the most concentrated ingredient and ends with the least concentrated one (with some exceptions):

  • Active ingredients may be in a separate list.
  • Drugs will be listed first.
  • Color and fragrance usually are listed last.
  • When the concentration is below 1%, the ingredients might be listed in no particular order.

Should we believe the product claims when the good ingredients are at the bottom of the list?

Avoid Harmful Products: Here are some potentially harmful ingredients to avoid:

Paraben: This petroleum-based product also is known as Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Isoparaben, Butylparaben, and Ethylparaben. Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries to extend the shelf life of products. They have been linked to possible carcinogenicity, as well as an estrogenic effect. These chemicals can be found in face and body moisturizers, body wash, and cleansers.

Phthalates: A truly toxic skin care ingredient.  Dibutylphthalate (DBP, DEP, also butyl ester) helps skin care absorb into skin. DEHP has been classified as a probable human carcinogen.

Rhododenol: Many skin care products have been recalled because they contain rhododenol  (4HPB), which may cause white patches on the skin. These recalls also underscore the importance of not trusting all manufacturers’ claims to assure product safety. Stick with tried and true products from reputable companies.

Products with an extensive number of skincare ingredients (15+), probably contain fillers. Basic math tells you that products with a large number of ingredients have lower concentrations of active ingredients.

Discard Old Products: Since government regulations are inconsistent (and, in this case, relatively nonexistent), it’s ultimately up to consumers to decide when a product has expired. If a product seems unusually discolored, runny or lumpy, has separated, has a strange odor, or feels different on the skin, then it should absolutely be thrown away. Packaging that has expanded or has signs of deterioration is definitely a warning that something is wrong inside. A product doesn’t have to be old to have gone bad or have been exposed to bacteria, so you should always pay attention to how your products are holding up every time you use them.

For more information about the best skin care products and facials in the Chicago area, visit

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