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Educating Yourself on Skincare Products

How to Educate Yourself on Skincare Products

Pick up one of your skin creams and check out the ingredients on the back. How many names do you recognize? How many look like random groups of letters found at the back of an advanced chemistry textbook? These days many of us still know very little about the ingredients that go into our skincare products. Too often we're just rolling the dice that we can turn back the clock or get rid of a blemish.

But with the amount of information that's now available, it's time to change our ways and look for products that are not only effective but also safe to use. If you're looking to make that commitment but don't know where to begin, here's an easy guide to get started with a more conscious approach to what you put on your skin.

Why get educated at all?

Simply put, the ingredients we put on our skin have a direct effect on its long term health and appearance. Some even can get into our bloodstream and have internal consequences as well. Too many of us don't know what long term damage this could cause us, and educating ourselves is the only way we'll be able to take control of both the health of our skin and our overall well-being.

Read the labels

The first step to becoming educated about skincare is to read the label. Start by reviewing the ingredients in the products you have at home. And before you buy a new cream, check its list of ingredients as well. Don't be put off by labels that are long and filled with complicated words; even natural ingredients can have long, awkward names. At first you probably won't understand much of what you see, but with time you can learn what to look for and what to avoid.

Know what you want

When you decide to learn more about skincare, you need to start by deciding what you want from your beauty routine. If you're concerned about the lines in the corners of your eyes, learn more about products that can smooth the skin. And the same goes if you suffer from skin disorders such as adult acne. To make the right choice and narrow down the options, you need to understand your skin. Keep in mind that we're all different and have individual needs.

If you can find a cream that works and is natural and free from harmful chemicals that's always the best option.

What to look for on skincare labels

Although we won't go through a complete list of the chemicals in skincare products that might be dangerous, here are the ones that should not be in your skincare products:

• Bacteria-killing ingredients such as triclosan and triclocarbon found in liquid hand soaps; antibacterial bar soaps; body washes; and Colgate Total toothpaste.

• Read the end of the list carefully. This is where the preservatives are kept. Some basic tips for understanding this section: avoid anything with 'paraben' in it, especially propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isolbutylparaben.

• Be cautious when you see the word 'fragrance' in the list of ingredients. Because the ingredients are not disclosed and many fragrances contain phthalates it is best to buy fragrance free products unless the fragrance is disclosed. Never buy something if you don't know what's in it.

• Preservatives that are formaldehyde releasers used to prevent the development of mold and bacteria in some shampoos, conditioners and bubble baths. Formaldehyde releasers include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.

• Check your anti-aging skin care products and put them back if they include retinoic acid. Likewise for sunscreens that contain a related chemical, retinyl palmitate.

• Beware the abbreviations FD&C or D&C. These are synthetic colors and are usually sourced from petroleum or coal tar. They're actually banned in Europe but are still permitted in other countries.

This will be a good start on getting educated about skincare, and you will learn more as you go along. Just remember to always check labels and do your research. That alone will have you choosing more healthy products.