Friday, September 11, 2009

Ingredients: What's beneficial for your skin type?

Yesterday, BionicBeauty did an excellent post about Acne Tips for Teens. Having a teenage daughter who suffers from bad acne, I was immediately drawn to her well researched information. If you suffer from acne, whether you're a teen or an adult, I highly recommend reading it.

It also got me to thinking. Consumers are getting more savvy everyday about the ingredients in their makeup products, but how many know what the actual purpose of common ingredients? Many know that sulfates, phthalates, and parabens aren't preferable choices in our makeup and skin care products. Even with natural ingredients, not every ingredient is necessarily beneficial to every skin type - if you have oily skin, you're going to want a higher concentration of certain ingredients, while if you have dry skin, these will preferably be lower on the list.

Minerals that have high absorption properties, more suitable for oily skin than dry:

  • Silica - the sole ingredient in the ever popular Makeup Forever High Def Finishing Powder, can give a soft focus, has great slip (tactile feel), and is translucent. On the flip side, it can be very drying. If you already have dry skin, you wouldn't want to see silica in a concentration of higher than about 3%, which would put it very far back in the ingredient listing.

  • Bentonite Clay - of all the clay minerals, this one has probably the highest absorption ratio. it's so absorbent, it's often used to clean oil spills. Works fabulously in our Oil Absorb primer, but dry skin should avoid at all costs. Even those with slightly oily skin should only use on extra oily days, or just in areas of your face that are oil-prone (such as your T-Zone).

  • Kaolin Clay - is one of those most common clays used in makeup. It's lightweight and has great adhesion. If used in small amounts, it's safe for all skin types. It's great in eye shadows to help prevent creasing, and makes a wonderful mask. Too much in an all-over face product (foundations, primers, finishing powders) will be too drying for those without oily skin.

  • Calcium Carbonate - another highly absorbent ingredient, found in chalk and limestone. Good for oily skin, bad for dry skin.

  • Calcium Silicate - found in Bare Escentuals new matte foundation formula, this is basically a combination of calcium and silica. If calcium carbonate and silica are both drying ingredients, you do the math.

Ingredients safe for all skin types:

  • Silk Powder - what I call a "smart powder", silk has dual properties of both pulling moisture from the air to keep your skin hydrated, while simultaneously absorbing excess oils from your skin. Perfect for combination skin! It provides essential amino acids for the skin. Silk also reflects light most closely to natural skin.

  • Pearl Powder - long known as an "Ancient Chinese Secret", pearl powder (made from crushed Mother of Pearl) also helps keep skin hydrated and evens skin tone. It also provides nutrients for the skin.

  • Jojoba Oil - although called an oil, technically, Jojoba is a wax. It mimics the skins sebum. For those with oily skin, you're not stripping yourself of natural oils, causing your body to produce even more oil. It's non-comedogenic, absorbed quickly by the skin, and is moisturizing.

  • Carnauba wax - not to be confused with the car wax! Carnauba has water resistant properties, helping keep your makeup on even through sweating on those hot days. It also helps keep your colors true throughout the day (ever notice that some makeup tends to change colors on you?).

  • Boron Nitride - originating from the mineral borax, boron improves adhesion and yields a smooth application. Depending on the particle size, boron can be nearly invisible to giving that "dewy glow" without using irritating bismuth oxychloride.

Scary sounding ingredients that aren't:

  • Tocopheryl Acetate - aka Vitamin E

  • Bisabolol - known to have anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties

Stuff to be leery of:

  • Food grade powders, such as rice powder and cornstarch - gives soft, silky feel to products, but usually must be used in conjunction with preservatives, as they are a haven for bacterial growth if exposed to moisture (like steamy bathrooms or wet cosmetic brushes), and many have limited shelf lives.

  • Micronized particles - this differs from nanoparticles, which are known to cross the blood-brain barrier. However, the long term safety of micronized ingredients is still debatable. Use with caution.

  • Silicones - many love the feel of primers made with silicone. To me, it feels like I'm applying a thin layer of Vaseline to my face, and can't stand it. More importantly, you're creating a barrier between your skin and the air, not letting your skin be able to breathe. It's like wrapping your face in Saran Wrap.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but some of the more common ingredients found in cosmetics.


  1. I think Silk and Pearl both feel good :)

  2. i have keloids and my derm prescribed me a silicone gel (dermatix), so does this mean if i put silicone on my face its bad?

  3. Having been a drug rep, I don't always have confidence in what a doctor prescribes. In my daughter's dermatolgist's office, I see all sorts of products he carries with things that shouldn't be in there. BUT, you're a different case. You're trying to reduce scarring, and I'm really not qualified in any way whatsoever to comment on his treatment. It's out of my balliwick. I'm assuming you only use Dermatix only on the affected areas, correct?

  4. Thank you for the highly informative post!
    I have to mention though, jojoba oil does wonders for my hair but if I use it as a moisturizer for my face, eventually it does clog my pores.

  5. Hi Anonymous -
    It all depends on the amount of jojoba and the frequency you use it. If you're using it as a moisturizer, I wouldn't do it more than a couple of times a week, and just a drop or two. However, if it's an ingredient in a product, and lower down on the ingredient list, you shouldn't find it clogging. I add just a couple of drops to Bentonite Clay when I make a face mask.

  6. Thanks Robyn!
    I previously used few drops of jojoba oil mixed with my normal moisturizer cream every night so it was probably too often for me. I've been using avocado oil since and it's just perfect for my skin.

    Would you still recommend Skin smoothing foundation (with jojoba oil in the ingredients) for me? I used to have a combination skin but it's been getting dryer and dryer the closer I get to 30. Now it's definitely more on the dry side and I've been having outbreaks and flaking if I don't moisturize my skin enough.

  7. Yes, if you're mixing it with another moisturizer, you can end up with too much stuff in there. If you're going to use jojoba, use it alone, not with other moisturizers. I make one with jojoba, hydrolized silk powder, pearl powder, a lil' Coenzyme Q10 (personal use, not for sale; it's a little on the gritty side with the pearl powder, and not the best smelling stuff on the planet). Notice how the only liquids are the jojoba and the CoenzymeQ10.

    The Skin Smoothing formula shouldn't be a problem - there is just a tad of jojoba in there, and it gets widely dispersed when it's ground with the other ingredients.

    What other questions can I answer for you?

  8. Thank you so much again, Robin!

    I truly appreciate your help. I think my last question will be "When can I order?", LOL :D

    I'll try to create an account for me so I can follow your blog from now on.

    Thank you once more and Happy Halloween!

  9. I'd love the order, but you don't have to create an account to follow the blog - look over on the right hand side just below the archive links (and above my tweets), and you see a link to subscribe. Even if you do order, you'll get newsletter updates (if you opt in for them), but not blog updates.

    BTW, for anyone else reading as well - no worries about signing up for the newsletter. I've sent maybe 4 since I opened my doors.


Please let us know what you think about this post! Your tips, tricks, opinions and questions are always welcome.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin