We Rated 15+ of The Best Natural Face Moisturizers On Their Ingredients

For many, moisturizers are an essential part of their skin care routine. Applying a face moisturizer daily to keep the skin hydrated is the first line of defense in keeping healthy, glowing skin—regardless of your age, skin type, or gender.

There are endless different moisturizers, each with their own unique ingredients, and needless to say, many of them can be toxic or harmful to the skin.

We took a deep dive into the world of facial moisturizers—specifically, the ingredients—to create an objective, science-based list of the best clean and safe facial moisturizers.

Our Methodology

We researched the internet, online stores and social media for the most popular clean moisturizers (along with some popular non-clean moisturizers for context).

Each ingredient in every product was researched and analyzed for safety based on available public research. Where possible, sources for information are included.

Products are ranked from best to worst with an internal score based on the ingredient rankings.

Notes On Ingredients:

Irritants: Ingredients marked with an asterisk (*) are potential irritants or allergens. Unfortunately, almost all of the products we looked at contain at least one potential irritant. The most common irritants are essential oils and some alcohols.

Preservatives: Some of the products we looked at had no preservatives at all. While this can be great in terms of clean ingredients, it means you must use the product before the expiration date, and be mindful of noticing any changes in color, texture or smell which could indicate the product has gone bad.

Some products contain more harsh preservatives, namely parabens.

Toxic preservatives that have been linked to breast cancer, hormonal disruption and skin irritation. Anything ending in “-paraben” such as methylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben is included.

Parabens are not part of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) list, meaning they can be included in products labeled as organic—a trick you need to watch out for. Conversely, the European Union has banned products with parabens since 2012.

As of 2020, the FDA says of parabens: “We do not have information showing that parabens as they are used in cosmetics have an effect on human health.

Because there are products with safer alternatives, we don’t recommend using products with parabens.

Phenoxyethanol and sodium benzoate are two other preservatives found in the products we looked at. These two ingredients are safer than parabens. However, sodium benzoate is a known potential skin irritant and phenoxyethanol, which is not recommended to be used in baby products due to irritation potential.

Because these two ingredients are widely considered to be a safer alternative to parabens, we give them an “iffy” rating as opposed to a “bad” rating for parabens.

Ingredients With Contamination Concerns: Some of the products we looked at had ingredients that have a risk of contamination with harmful chemicals.

These ingredients include all ethoxylated ingredients, namely those starting with polysorbate-, PEG-, Ceteareth-.

These ingredients are at risk of being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a known human carcinogen. For this reason, we give them an “iffy” rating.

Chemical Sunscreens: Moisturizers with SPF often use chemical sunscreens to achieve the sun production.

If your moisturizer has SPF, make sure it’s not using a chemical sunscreen to achieve this. For an in-depth look at these chemicals, see our sunscreen guide.

Chemical sunscreen active ingredients include:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Homosalate
  • Octrocrylene
  • Avobenzone
  • Octisalate

A 2020 study showed that these active ingredients found their way into the bloodstream after just a single application. What’s worse is that the amount is accumulative—the more these chemicals are applied, the more they end up in the bloodstream.

The exact effect these chemicals might have on the human body is unclear, but since alternatives exist in the form of physical sunscreens, there aren’t a lot of good reasons to use products with these ingredients.

Fragrance: A very common reason for skin irritation, and a 2008 study found that 83% of drugstore creams contained fragrance or a fragrance-related allergen.

The term fragrance when used in products is an umbrella term, and there are currently 3059 chemical ingredients that can be used in fragrances. And what’s worse is that manufacturers can just list “fragrance” and not the individual ingredients that go into the fragrance.

Some of these 3059 ingredients have been linked to health effects like cancer, allergies, reproductive issues and more.

We always considered non-natural fragrance as a “bad” ingredient.

The Best Clean Moisturizers, Rated By Ingredients

Below is our vetted list of clean, non-toxic moisturizers ranked from best to worst based on their ingredients.

Essentially every product contained at least one potential irritant, denoted with an asterisk (*).

Products are ordered from best to worst, based on an internal algorithm that scores products based on their individual ingredients.

This is not a rating based on the actual performance of the product, only the ingredients.


Nourish Organic

Nourish Organic Ultra Hydrating Face Cream
Rating: Best 🌟
Potential irritants: 1*

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Details

Containing mostly organic ingredients, this moisturizer tops our list based on ingredients.

This product has no ingredients of concern. The only “iffy” ingredient is listed below, but is not of concern in this product because there are no other ingredients deemed potentially unsafe.

Denatured SD-Alcohol 38 (also known as ethanol) is known to be a penetration enhancer, increasing the skin absorption of other ingredients. In the absence of other ingredients of concern, this is not dangerous.

Ingredients:


Weleda

Weleda Skin Food Original
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 6*

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Details

Potential irritants are the only ingredients of concern in Weleda’s Skin Food Original. Several of the ingredients are essential oils recognized as human allergens, so be aware of that if you have sensitive skin.

If you have a nut allergy, be aware that this product contains sweet almond oil.

Lanolin can be a contact allergen. (source)

Ingredients:


Drunk Elephant

Protini™ Polypeptide Moisturizer
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 4*

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Details

Polysorbate 20 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Polysorbate 60 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:


Mineral Fusion

Mineral Fusion Intense Hydration Face Cream
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 3*

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Details

Polysorbate 60 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, possible human carcinogens.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care shoul dbe taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:


Acure

Acure Brightening Day Cream
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 4*

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Details

Glyceryl Laurate is a penetration enhancer, making it an ingredient of concern if included with other ingredients that may be unsafe. (source)

Tocopheryl Acetate has been linked to a possible increase of photocarcinogenesis (skin cancer). (source)

Clove oil has been shown to be a contact allergen in patch tests. (source)

Ingredients:


Youth to the People

Youth to the People Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 3*

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Details

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Pentylene glycol has shown evidence of being an irritant. Studies show that it can cause contact dermatitis, which indicates that Pentylene Glycol is a sensitizing ingredient and can be considered as an allergen. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care shoul dbe taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:



RMS Beauty

RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream
Rating: Good

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Details

Because this product only contains one ingredient—organic coconut oil—our algorithm scores it as the top product based on ingredients only.

However, it’s recommended to avoid products coconut oil if you have acne-prone skin, as it can cause breakouts.

Ingredients:


Kiehl’s

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 4*

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Details

This product contains sweet almond oil. If you’re someone with a nut allergy, it’s best to avoid a product with this (or any nut-derived) ingredient.

Bis-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, being an ethoxylated ingredient, is at risk of being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. (source)

Stearate (PEG-8) can be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both known human carcinogens.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care shoul dbe taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Sodium hydroxide is also known as lye. Concentrated amounts of this ingredient can be a strong eye, skin and lung irritant.

Ingredients:





Everyone

Everyone Nourishing Face Moisturizer
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 2*

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Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care shoul dbe taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:


Derma E

Derma E Hydrating Day Cream
Rating: Good
Potential irritants: 1*

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Details

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ethylhexylglycerin can be a mild skin and eye irritant. Extra care shoul dbe taken when using products with this ingredient around the face. (source)

Ingredients:



La Mer

Creme de La Mer
Rating: Iffy
Potential irritants: 7*

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Details

Citronellol is naturally occurring but can also be made synthetically. This ingredient falls into the list of allergens under the EU legislation. It may cause pigmentary anomalies, known as melanosis faciei feminae. This ingredient may also cause contact allergy. (source)

Benzyl Salicylate has a potential of developmental toxicity at specified high concentrations. (source)

Sodium benzoate is a chemical preservative. Reports show that people with sensitive skin should not use products which contain sodium benzoate as it may induce contact allergy. (source)

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Ingredients:


L’Oréal Paris

L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Daily Liquid Care
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 8*

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Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

Triethanolamine (TEA) has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies. (source)

This product contains one or more parabens. These are preservative linked to endocrine disruption and is associated with the proliferation of breast cancer cells. (link)

Ingredients:


CeraVe

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 30
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 1*

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Details

Homosalate is a chemical sunscreen linked with endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and reproductive organ disruption in both males and females. (source)

Octinoxate is a chemical sunscreen linked with endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and reproductive organ disruption in both males and females. (source)

Octocrylene is a chemical sunscreen linked with endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, and reproductive organ disruption in both males and females. (source)

A study found a link between behentrimonium methosulfate and possible reproductive toxicity in mice. (source)

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

This product contains one or more parabens. These are preservative linked to endocrine disruption and is associated with the proliferation of breast cancer cells. (link)

Ingredients:


Embryolisse

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre Multi-Function Nourishing Moisturizer
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 2*

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Details

Triethanolamine (TEA) has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies. (source)

Steareth-10, an ethoxylate, can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a human carcinogen. (source)

Polyacrylamide is controversial because acrylamide, which is a decomposition residue of polyacrylamide, is a demonstrated neurotoxin in humans and a carcinogen in animal tests. Acrylamide is banned in the EU. (link)

Perfume is a blanket term that hides the exact chemical makeup of the fragrance used in this product. We never recommend products that have chemical fragrance: read here for a full explanation.

Laureth-7 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a likely human carcinogen. (source)

Propylene glycol acts as a penetration enhancer, increasing skin absorbtion of other ingredients in a product. When none of the other ingredients in a product is potentially dangerous, this isn’t a concern. (source)

Ingredients:


Clinique

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 2*

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Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

Stearate (PEG-100) can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, a possible human carcinogen and known human carcinogen respectively.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Ingredients:


Aveeno

Aveeno Active Naturals Clear Complexion Daily Moisturizer
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 2*

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Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

Polyacrylamide is controversial because acrylamide, which is a decomposition residue of polyacrylamide, is a demonstrated neurotoxin in humans and a carcinogen in animal tests. Acrylamide is banned in the EU. (link)

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Laureth-7 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a likely human carcinogen. (source)

Sodium hydroxide is also known as lye. Concentrated amounts of this ingredient can be a strong eye, skin and lung irritant.

Ingredients:


Neutrogena

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Ultra-Gentle Facial Moisturizer - Sensitive
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 2*

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Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

Cyclomethicone is linked to several adverse health effects., including being found to interfere with ovulation in animal studies. (source)

Soy Sterol (PEG-10), being an ethoxylated ingredient, is at risk of being contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. (source)

Stearate (PEG-100) can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, a possible human carcinogen and known human carcinogen respectively.

Sodium hydroxide is also known as lye. Concentrated amounts of this ingredient can be a strong eye, skin and lung irritant.

Diazolidinyl Urea is a formeldahyde-releasing preservative banned for use in cosmetics in Japan and Sweden. (source)

Ingredients:


Fresh

Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Moisturizer
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 4*

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Details

Pentylene glycol has shown evidence of being an irritant. Studies show that it can cause contact dermatitis, which indicates that Pentylene Glycol is a sensitizing ingredient and can be considered as an allergen. (source)

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Polyacrylamide is controversial because acrylamide, which is a decomposition residue of polyacrylamide, is a demonstrated neurotoxin in humans and a carcinogen in animal tests. Acrylamide is banned in the EU. (link)

Laureth-7 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a likely human carcinogen. (source)

The ingredient “fragrance” means that there is a mixture of several essential oils or synthetic or natural chemicals that makeup the scent of the product. According to European and US legislation, the ingredients of the fragrance do not have to be revealed on the product’s ingredients list. Because these ingredients are not disclosed, we always consider this a “bad” ingredient.

Phenoxyethanol is a common preservative. Typically, this ingredient is considered safe in products not meant for babies. An EU study found skin irritation in animal studies even when exposed to very low amounts. (source)

Citronellol is naturally occurring but can also be made synthetically. This ingredient falls into the list of allergens under the EU legislation. It may cause pigmentary anomalies, known as melanosis faciei feminae. This ingredient may also cause contact allergy. (source)

Ingredients:


Olay

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer - Original
Rating: Bad
Potential irritants: 4*

Buy on Amazon

Details

This product has dimethicone, a petroleum-derived ingredient in the silicones family. Silicone makes the skin feel like it’s being hydrated, but it’s simply a short-term effect. Silicones can trap debris in the pores, cause acne and congestion, and can accumulate on the skin.

There is some concern that tocopheryl acetate is at risk of being contaminated with hydroquinone, a known human carcinogen. While we believe this risk to be small, we consider tocopheryl acetate an iffy ingredient. (source)

Laureth-7 can be contaminated with ethylene oxide, a likely human carcinogen. (source)

Polyacrylamide is controversial because acrylamide, which is a decomposition residue of polyacrylamide, is a demonstrated neurotoxin in humans and a carcinogen in animal tests. Acrylamide is banned in the EU. (link)

Sodium hydroxide is also known as lye. Concentrated amounts of this ingredient can be a strong eye, skin and lung irritant.

Stearate (PEG-100) can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, a possible human carcinogen and known human carcinogen respectively.

Benzyl alcohol is listed by the The European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) as a well-recognized consumer allergen. (source)

This product contains one or more parabens. These are preservative linked to endocrine disruption and is associated with the proliferation of breast cancer cells. (link)

Ingredients:

Other Ingredients To Know About

None of these ingredients were found in the products we looked at, but are still important to know about.

Ingredient #1: Mineral Oil

The mineral oils used in cosmetic products are derived from petroleum.

Mineral oil is occlusive—meaning it seals off the skin, preventing air, water or anything else to get in or out. This

Your skin will look good at first (because the lines are stretched out), but in the long run various cellular processes will work somewhat less efficiently.says Dr. Jetske Ultee, research physician in Cosmetic Dermatology. “Eventually this will lead to your skin not being able to protect itself and you find yourself in a vicious circle; your skin quickly dries out if you don’t put any cream on and so you keep applying it.

Ingredient #2: Silicone

Companies love putting silicone in their moisturizers because it makes them feel smooth when applying them and they’re very cheap. They’re also used to make the product water resistant.

In terms of human health, they’re most likely non-toxic. However, the Government of Canada declares some types of silicones—namely siloxane—as a danger to the environment.

However, there are a few good reasons not to use products with silicone in them:

  • They form a barrier on the skin that can trap sweat, debris, bacteria, sebum and other debris.
  • If you’re acne-prone, this can lead to breakouts.
  • They’re not actually helping your skin in any way. It’s more of a band-aid solution that makes the product feel better going on but isn’t doing anything for your skin.
  • They can make your skin more dry. Since the silicone clogs the pores, it can throw the skin’s natural hydrating process off. This is on top of the silicone’s seal that prevents moisture from getting in.
  • They block other ingredients from absorbing. If you’re layering products like many do, the silicone barrier will prevent them from absorbing into the skin.
  • They’re hard to remove. If you do a typical cleansing routine, it might not even be enough to get all of the silicone off of your skin.

Ingredient #3: Hydroquinone

Sometimes labeled as tocopherol acetate, this chemical is commonly marketed as a skin-lightening cream.

Banned in the European Union, Japan & Australia and restricted for use in Canada. This chemical is linked to cancer, ochronosis (a skin condition where the skin turns blueish-grey), and permanent eye damage if exposure to the eye occurs.

Ingredient #4: Artificial Dyes

The use of artificial dyes in cosmetics is controversial. While it’s possible to derive dye from natural materials, the vast majority of dyes used in today’s products are artificial.

Board-certified dermatologist Sonia Batra warns, “These colors can trigger allergies and irritation in the skin, and are suspected to be carcinogens. They are also banned in the European Union.”

Many artificial dyes are made from coal tar and contain heavy metals. These toxins increase the skin’s sensitivity and cause irritation, and when used in products that sit on the skin—like moisturizers—they can absorb into the skin, causing additional damage.

Ingredient #5 – Retinyl Palmitate

You might see this labeled as retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinoic acid. Known as retinoids—a synthetic form of vitamin a—this ingredient is credited with both treating acne and reducing wrinkles.

This ingredient is controversial—there have been a number of conflicting studies published about the safety and efficacy of retinyl palmitate.

The most well-known study is this one, published in 2012. They found that mice, when exposed to retinyl palmitate and then artificial sunlight, developed more tumors and an earlier onset of tumors than mice who weren’t exposed to retinyl palmitate.

If this is also true in humans (which we aren’t fully sure of yet), that’s a big problem.

Since this ingredient is added to products that sit on the skin, we find this concerning. Experts recommend wearing a product with SPF over the product with retinol. However, we believe that the safest option is to completely avoid products with this ingredient.

We won’t completely dismiss those products that contain retinol, but they’ll get an iffy rating from us.

Beware of the Hypoallergenic & Fragrance-Free Claims

If you see the term “hypoallergenic” on a moisturizer, take it with a grain of salt.

While the term is typically used to indicate that the product has no ingredients that will cause allergic reactions, there’s an issue: the term is unregulated by the FDA. This means that manufacturers don’t need to support these claims when they put them on the packaging.

According to Dr. Steve Xu, assistant professor and dermatologist at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, he and some of his colleagues tested the 100 best-selling moisturizers from Amazon, Target and Walmart.

The results were shocking—they found that 83% of the products labeled “hypoallergenic” actually contained a potential allergenic chemical.

Not only that, but nearly half—45 percent—of the products they tested were labeled “fragrance-free” but contained some form of fragrance.

Another more general study of 187 children’s products labeled hypoallergenic or otherwise safe for children’s skin found that 89 percent of them contained a potential allergen.

There’s really only one thing you can do to protect yourself as a consumer—try to understand which ingredients your skin reacts to and avoid products that contain those ingredients.

The term “dermatologist-recommended” sounds trustworthy, but what does it actually mean?

The truth is that it means almost nothing.

We have no idea how many dermatologists recommended the product—it could be 2 or five thousand. We have no idea who these dermatologists are or if they’re trustworthy.

Its a marketing buzzword that we recommend ignoring.

What About Alcohol?

The presence of alcohol in skincare is another controversial topic.

There are two different types of alcohol: denatured alcohol which derived from petroleum products, and fatty alcohols derived from natural materials like coconut and nuts.

The bad alcohols that people dislike are denatured alcohols—because they’re drying. On top of that, they’re a potential irritant for those with sensitive skin.

It’s worth noting that some studies like this one have concluded that alcohol is skincare is safe to use.

Typically, the higher the concentration (indicated by being higher in the ingredients list) is more problematic for those with a sensitivity to it.

So, why do brands use denatured alcohol in their products? It’s because the alcohol gives the product a cooling or tightening sensation that oily-skinned gals might find pleasant. This is despite the fact that it’s stripping away the skin’s natural—and important—oils. Alcohols are also used as preservatives.

On the other hand, natural fatty alcohols like cetyl alcohol made from coconuts and stearyl alcohol made from coconut or vegetable oil can actually have a positive effect on the skin. These fatty alcohols are typically used as an emulsifier in skin care products, creating the thick, pleasant texture.

If you have sensitive skin, be careful—fatty alcohols can also be irritating to your skin, and if you’re acne-prone, they can cause breakouts. But overall, they’re generally a good ingredient, not a bad one.

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