Responsible Living, Skin Care

Breakouts 101

Pimples, blackheads, whiteheads. No one likes them. There are a number of causes of these breakouts: poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, hormones, hygiene, and the products that you use. Today, we’ll focus on the last two.

  1. Does your product contain palm oil?

Palm oil has a comedogenic rating of 4, which is fairly high on a scale of 5. This means that it will definitely clog the pores of those with normal skin.

Companies use it because it is cheap; they use it in everything from cosmetics to food. Many more people are becoming more aware of the devastating consequences of palm oil production, such as oil/soil/water pollution, destruction of habitats, deforestation, soil erosion, and climate change. There is research that suggests that it is also unhealthy to consume. But it’s cheap.

How do you know if your product contains palm oil? It’s harder than you think! Companies are so sneaky. For example, cetyl alcohol is a common ingredient found in cosmetics. It is primarily used to provide a silky slip and a matte finish. It used to be derived from the sperm whale, but now it’s primarily derived from palm.

The WWF lists some of the common ingredient names that contain palm oil:

Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

2. Check the ingredients in your hair products!

Or clean your neck and back with soap thoroughly after using shampoo and especially conditioner. Most hair conditioners contain palm oil. Here is a list of ingredients with comedogenic ratings. Basically, any ingredient with a rating of 2 or under is “safe” for people with normal skin; those who have acne-prone skin should stick with ingredients that have a rating of 0 or 1. It is also important to locate where that pore-clogging ingredient is in the list of ingredients. As you may already know, companies are required by law to list ingredients in order of quantity. The first ingredients usually make-up the bulk of the product. When you get to the essential oils or fragrances, they are usually in the less than 5% range.

3. Stay away from so-called “oil-free” products.

As I wrote last week, many natural oils can be good for you (just check the ingredient’s comedogenic rating) because unlike mineral oil and silicones such as dimethicone, which are found in most skin care and beauty products, they nurture your skin with vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals. While mineral has a rating of 0, it just sits on your skin with no added benefit. Dimethicone, on the other hand, can trap bacteria, which can cause breakouts. Some studies have illustrated that silicones such as dimethicone, methicone, phenyl trimethicone, cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, dimethicone copolyol can harm the environment. It also has a rating of 3 from the Environmental Working Group. I personally try to use ingredients that have a rating of mostly 1 or 2 (if only a small amount is used or if it’s not a product that I use daily). They are most commonly found in “oil-free” products such as liquid foundation.

4. What about your hygiene?

If you don’t clean you pillow cases and other tools that you use on your face, they accumulate bacteria. Here are some items that you should clean on a weekly basis (if you have acne-prone skin), or bi-weekly (if you have normal skin):

  • pillow cases and bedding
  • towels
  • make-up brushes/puffs/sponges
  • hats and hairbands

What natural ingredients are suitable for acne-prone skin or for those that want to prevent breakouts? These ingredients have a low comedogenic rating and/or have bacteria-busting properties. Here is short list:

  • Essential oils: tea tree, lavender, niaouli, bergamot, lemon, petitgrain, rosemary, violet, yarrow, lemongrass, chamomile (Roman and German), geranium
  • Carrier oils: jojoba, argan, prickly pear, camellia seed (Camellia oleifera), mango butter, shea butter, neem, tamanu

Remember, what you put into your body is at least equally important as what you put on it. Limit the greasy, fried foods! I find that without good quality sleep, no matter what I eat or put on my skin, it has little effect. A holistic approach is always best:)

Be sure to check out Lionheads’ line of products that focus on oily or acne-prone skin, such as our popular Natural Mineral Makeup Liquid Foundation (made with argan oil!), Glow Mask for Oily/Acne-Prone SkinClear Complexion Face Cream, Cleansing Oils, Anti-Blemish Balm, Argan Face Cream.