Think naturally: Here’s why you should pay attention to skincare ingredients

We speak to Dr. Andrea Godoy, leading dermatologist at Brazilian Skin, on how to be a wise consumer when it comes to buying skincare products.

It’s not uncommon to experience breakouts or adverse reactions from certain skincare products in the market today. The question is: why does it happen? After all, shouldn’t they be treating your skin and targeting your concerns instead of making things worse? And don’t even get us started on the long-term negative effects that may only manifest themselves months to years later.

The truth is, skincare ingredients matter. That’s why Dr. Andrea Godoy, leading dermatologist at Brazilian Skin, strongly advises consumers to always read the labels.

Check for harmful ingredients

Among the ingredients she warns of include paraben, siloxane and sulphate, which can interfere with hormone levels when used in incorrect dosages; aluminium and triclosan, which may lead to cancer; as well as petrolatum (if not stated ‘fully refined’) and polyethylene, which can combine with toxins that increase risk of cancer.

Nevertheless, studies on these ingredients are not conclusive – a reason why they are still widely used even by some esteemed global brands.

“Authorities say that these ingredients can be tolerated and are not harmful in small amounts. But we use ‘small amounts’ of many products every day. How do we know that it is really not harmful?” Andrea poses for careful consideration.

Do your research

That said, another important factor to take in account is the concentration of ingredients used in each product. For some ingredients like Acmella Oleracea, a minimum dosage may help to achieve desired health benefits, however, higher dosages could prove detrimental.

Unfortunately, most, if not all product labels don’t specify the amount of every ingredient used. Thus, she suggests, “In the absence of that information, you have to do your own research and use products that are clinically dosed wherever possible.”

“Typically, ingredients that sit at the top of the list are the main ingredients of that formulation,” she adds, “If you can spare a little time, don’t be afraid to Google each ingredient you aren’t familiar with. You can also use UL Prospector, a large database of skincare ingredients used by formulators and the industry.”

Opt for natural and naturally-derived products

Acai stem cells are known to have anti-aging benefits.

Thankfully, more brands are turning back to nature as the primary resource for their skincare products. Why is this important? “There is a natural process in the body which allows us to absorb the components of the ingredients in the right amounts and depth of the skin,” Andrea offers.

On the other hand, chemically produced ingredients may be processed into the skin, reach the blood circulation and possible cause damage to internal organs. This may not happen overnight but it can accumulate over time.

“Besides that, how do they (chemical ingredients) go back to nature?” she respectfully points out. “What kind of problems can they cause to the oceans and other species? We don’t know everything about them and most of the time, we think small – we think skincare only affects our skin but there are aftermath and consequences, which we don’t see in natural and natural- derived products.”

To clarify, natural or also known as naturally-occurring ingredients are drawn and delivered in its natural form. Naturally derived ingredients are drawn from nature and then processed in the lab to produce a unique and specific formula.

Know your skin type and concerns

Even after adhering to the above, there’s the slightest possibility that you’ll still suffer from a particular skin concern. This is why you need to understand your skin condition above and beyond the usual dry/oily/combination/sensitive skin type classification.

“There must be an assessment first,” Andrea puts it simply. And the best way to do so is to ask a skin expert, be it a dermatologist or an aesthetic doctor. Only then will you be able to look for the right ingredients that can help improve your skin.

“As a general rule, everyone should have a routine that cleanses the skin, maintains its integrity and addresses specific issues particular to their needs,” she summarises.

For more information on skincare ingredients, log on to and grab a free e-copy of Dr. Andrea’s book, Ageless Brazilian Beauty.

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