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Face Cream Ingredients to Watch Out for

author image Nancy Clarke
Nancy Clarke began writing in 1988 after achieving her Bachelor of Arts in English and has edited books on medicine, diet, senior care and other health topics. Her related affiliations include work for the American Medical Association and Oregon Health Plan.
Face Cream Ingredients to Watch Out for
Lotion formula Photo Credit Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images


Everybody’s skin is slightly different, so finding the best face cream for your skin may take some trial and error, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate cosmetic products unless a skin care ingredient is deemed dangerous, finding out which ingredients are beneficial and detrimental to facial care is up to the consumer. Consider your skin type, and learn what dermatologists have to say about how moisturizing lotion and cream formulas can affect you, for better or for worse.

Ingredients to Avoid

If you must try more than one skin care product before settling on a daily moisturizer or night face cream, you can avoid potential problems by avoiding the ingredients that may irritate your skin. The top three, reports the AAD, are fragrance, color and harsh preservatives. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, perfumes and dyes do not add any benefit, so choose fragrance-free, dye-free cosmetic products.

Preservatives are necessary evils to keep organic material from spoiling. Those that are known to cause allergic reactions in humans include formaldehyde, methylparaben and propylparaben. The Cosmetic Safety Database rates them as high risk for adverse reactions. When shopping, check the ingredient list for aliases formalin, benzoic acid and DMDM hydantoin. Safer preservatives include natural tocopheryl (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) derivatives.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reports to CBS News, that some foreign-made soaps, lotions and skin creams sold in the U.S. may have toxic amounts of mercury.

Dry Skin

To improve skin hydration for dry skin, face creams should have a greater percentage of oil than water. Mayo Clinic skin care experts suggest choosing cosmetic products with an effective humectant, a substance that draws water to the epidermal surface and holds it there.

Some proven humectants include glycerin, urea, propylene glycol, allantoin and lanolin. Rich emollients should also be present in a dry skin moisturizer, to make skin smooth and supple. These include mineral oil, dimethicone, petrolatum and tocopheryl acetate.

Oily Skin

Face creams for oily skin are more aptly called lotions, because they contain more water than oil. That’s all right; the Skin Sciences Institute notes that water is a natural skin conditioner, and it appears as a first ingredient in many oil-free or noncomedogenic cosmetic products made for oily skin.

Rather than oil emollients, search for skin care ingredients that won’t clog pores but will restore moisture balance, such as panthenol and glycerin. Mayo Clinic reports that acne-prone skin also responds well to facial care products that also contain hydroxy acids, such as glycolic or salicylic acids.

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