skin care ingredients


(The following is a transcript from “Winning Wellness” radio show broadcast on Saturday, September 3,2016)

Good morning. This is Debbie Starr, Founder/Formulator of SKINaturals. I will be with you this morning to discuss a couple of subjects that are dear to my heart: our skin, and more specifically, how to help our skin be the best it can be.

At the Herb Shop, we are very proud to offer the best quality vitamins, supplements, body and personal care items.  SKINaturals became associated with the Herb Shop in 2010. If you aren’t familiar with my story, I’ll take just a few moments to tell you how I came into the “natural” skincare scene.  Like a lot of women, my skin was sensitive and hard to please. I was lucky in that I could use skincare systems without too much trouble but that was changing the older I became.

As a 4th generation Alabama-born entrepreneur with over 17 years’ experience in the medical community, and 12 years’ experience as a make-up artist & esthetician. I have to feel comfortable selling products that I have confidence to work as they say. As Founder and Formulator of this unbelievable 2-step all-natural skincare system, I feel, no I know, I have been guided through my faith and common sense to help women (and men) achieve healthy, beautiful skin…

Like most people, it is normal to assume the products that are suitable for your face and body are safe, right? Wrong! Little did I know that such ingredients are very common and very destructive to not only the outside (skin) but also the inside. Since our skin absorbs up to 70% of anything put on it, it is little mystery that department store cosmetics and skincare products can cause trauma. Now, how do we know what are “bad” ingredients? If you are unsure of your brand of skincare products, there is a simple rule to follow. Take out your current brand, look at the ingredients, especially the first five…

Remember that FDA regulations require companies to list ingredients in order of volume. That’s why on most labels, the first ingredients you’ll see are water, or some type of oil, not too bad right? Well let’s see….

Water – usually purified or distilled.

SD Alcohol – not good

Mineral Oil – not the good oil.

So allow me to “rant” a little. I am constantly annoyed at the skincare products brought to the public making claims of how awesome their ingredients, special formulas work and oh, they use this essential oil or that special compound to do all these wondrous things for our skin to produce younger, firmer, and tighter skin within 7, 10, 14, 28 days. I want to share with you today how I have learned to decipher these claims into simple English and using a simple tool – the ingredient label. As American women, we put between 12 and 20 chemicals on our skin 365 days a year. Don’t let this shock you, but are you aware that 80% of the ingredients used in daily personal care products have never been tested for safety? Our skin is our largest organ, absorbing up to 70% of what you put on it. I don’t know about you, but that makes me even more diligent to learn more about what I’m using on my skin every day.

So, when my own skin starting showing signs of aging, starting with acne at the age of 45, I knew I had to do something, especially since I couldn’t seem to find skincare products that didn’t have loads of chemicals. While researching ingredients for SKINaturals, I talked with chemists to understand the definition of “natural” and “organic”. What I learned is people are more concerned with avoiding pesticides in their food by eating organic yet find no hesitation is using chemically-laden lotions all over their body.

When you are shopping for personal care items, I want you to be informed of what you’re actually buying.

Start simple: Ingredients are always (and required) to be listed in descending order, starting with the largest amount in the product (usually water), however, if a product boasts of a particular ingredient, you’ll more than likely find it at the bottom, that’s right, probably less than 1%. So, let’s say the product claims to fight anti-aging and has DMAE or hyaluronic acid, you would think that would be one of the top 5 right? Probably not. But the other thing to consider is some ingredients pack a lot of punch for the amount, or a little goes a long way so not a lot is actually needed to be effective. One of my favorite things to look for are these companies that claim to use coconut oil in their products. Well, I go to the ingredient label and guess what, coconut oil or cocos nucifera is near the bottom of the ingredient list.

So how can these companies proclaim all the benefits of coconut oil without it being a primary ingredient? We let them. The FDA is still using the same guidelines and principles that it adapted in 1938. The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients to have FDA approval before they go on the market. The burden is on the manufacturer to be diligent in its labeling and honest. To help to that end, there are organizations that help educate consumers on the hazards of certain ingredients. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (, environmental working group (, have been very helpful in my research.

Let’s look at a few popular ingredients and how they affect our skin. If you’re like me, I want my products to have “safe” ingredients and I want to be sure they are sensitive friendly as well.

When reading an ingredient label, you’ll start from the top and read down. The first five ingredients are my “triggers”. Let’s start with irritants. No matter your skin type, you’ll want to be concerned if you see any of these ingredients listed near the top.

If I see sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl coca-mido-propyl   betaine I cringe. These are detergents that I certainly don’t want near my sensitive skin.

When it comes to preservatives, I would want to see them towards the bottom, right? Well, don’t be surprised when you see benzyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate in the first 10 ingredients.  With the advent of “organic” ingredients becoming more advertised and more of us becoming concerned with what’s going on our skin, manufacturers are also getting smarter and hiding dangerous chemicals in softer terms like “parfum” which can signify an artificial fragrance, another bad irritant.

Color and fragrance are often listed last. Wen concentrations are 1% or less, the ingredients might be listed in no particular order.

When it comes to potentially harmful ingredients, there are a few that warrant severe warning. I will take a few minutes to discuss the ones I see most often and create the “cringe” factor for me. However, please note there are over 16 pages of these type of ingredients that are known as the “RED LIST” distributed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. If you really want to become educated on how to protect yourself this is a must read.

So let’s go through these quickly:

Phthalates, (pronounced thylates, ph is silent) truly toxic skincare ingredient. While DBP, DEP and also butyl ester help skincare absorb into the skin, The EPA has classified DEHP as a “probable human carcinogen”. Skincare that takes longer to absorb is preferable to one that absorbs rapidly. There are natural ingredients that do help with faster absorption without causing undue stress to the skin.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: DEA or TEA can indicate the possible presence of nitrosamines

WHAT ARE NITROSAMINES? Nitrosamines form when certain compounds such as diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine (TEA) are used in products along with preservatives that can break down into nitrates. DEA and TEA are additives commonly used in cosmetics to adjust the pH level or to act as wetting agents [2]. Other ingredients with “amine” in the name (which indicates amino acids, or building blocks of proteins) can indicate the potential for nitrosamine contamination. – See more at:

 HEALTH CONCERNS: Cancer, endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity


Listed: Preservative or fragrance ingredient

Endocrine disrupting compound

Just as it sounds, this means these types of “parabens” interrupt our hormonal systems causing neurological, reproductive adverse and immune effects in humans and wildlife.

Dioxins – found in liquid hand soap, body wash, acne treatment, mask, shaving cream, moisturizer, tooth whitening. CONTAMINANT, Carcinogen.

MINERAL OILS: Found in cosmetics, moisturizers, foundation, classified as an emollient, is a CARCINOGEN.

PETROLEUM (PAH: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) Found in lip balm, moisturizer, deodorant, lip products, rash cream, diaper cream, facial cleansers – CARCINOGEN


Again, I am only spotlighting the most dangerous but common ingredients that I see almost on a daily basis when researching anti-aging skincare products, acne care, lotions and moisturizers.

Let’s do this: when you’re out and about, pick up some skincare products and start looking at labels. Find what I call “Landmark” ingredients. These are ingredients that are almost always used in certain amounts. By seeing where they are listed on a label, you can get a feel for the amount present of the other ingredients in the list. (Please note this is assuming the labels are honest and follow FDA guidelines).

Some landmarks to know:  anti-oxidants, vitamins, preservatives

Examples: Vitamin E, C, A

BHT, parabens, phenoxyethanol, MCT,

This means you are in the -1% area.  This means you are in some foggy territory. From here on out if it lists something like “emu oil” as the products ingredient, you know it’s in a very small quantity.

So once you find the vitamins and preservatives, you know you’re in minority territory. If you see a long list of natural or organic ingredients listed in this section, be careful! They may only be listed to brag or to claim that the product is “natural” or “organic”

However, some ingredients such as vitamins and preservatives should only be in small amounts anyway!

Just remember you are in charge and with a little bit of detective work, it’s up to you to decide which products are right for you.

I have the website information for these groups as well as a transcribed copy of this show on our website:  You can also visit us on Facebook for the links mentioned today as well.  Our Facebook page is: herbshop.peppertree.Continue reading