Buckle up folks, I’m gonna get ranty! I was doing a web search for glycolic acid-containing face washes so I could get a sense of what concentrations of glycolic are being used. Unfortunately, before I got too far in my search, this face wash popped up, and now I’m flipping tables in the lab. A few of you have mentioned that you use this cleanser, so apologies in advance for the shitting all over it that is about to happen.
This face wash is $16 for 6 oz, so it’s not wildly expensive, which made me happy. But then I read the ingredients, and I was not happy anymore. Let’s read through the list, shall we? After water, the ingredient present in the highest concentration is the surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. SLS is on my Dirty 13 list of ingredients to avoid because of the potential for contamination with carcinogenic compounds, it’s highly irritating nature, and the fact that it acts as a penetration enhancer to allow other chemicals in the formula greater access to deeper skin layers. The next no-no ingredient is triethanolamine, which is used as a pH adjuster to raise the pH of the solution. Triethanolamine is a possible carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, and immune system toxin. As we continue down the list, we come to propylene glycol, another Dirty 13 member. PG is a penetration enhancer, so it gives more access to ingredients in the formula, it has been shown to cause drying of the skin long-term, and it is an endocrine disruptor and skin irritant. Next is diazolidinyl urea, a formaldehyde releasing preservative. Formaldehyde is a well-known irritant, frequently causing contact dermatitis. Next on the list are methyl- and propylparabens. Parabens have a strong link to breast cancer and may affect development of babies in utero.
Besides containing questionable ingredients, the formula itself is made for cost-effectiveness instead of for skin effectiveness. You can tell this by looking at the ingredient list. We are required to list ingredients on labels in decreasing order of concentration, so the ingredients at the top of the list are present in the highest concentrations. See triethanolamine on the list? See how after it are listed a bunch of different botanical extracts? Triethanolamine is used at a maximum concentration of 1% in a formula. So the extracts listed after it are present at 1% or less. This is not a high enough concentration to do jack shit for skin. Now see how glycolic acid is listed further down the label? That means that the concentration of glycolic acid is at 1% or less in the formula. What the f**k is a 1% or less concentration of glycolic acid going to do for your skin? Especially in a face wash, which is not on your face for long? I’ll tell you what it will do: Fuck all! So for $16, you get a bunch of dangerous ingredients and a formula that cannot do what it is promising.
This is the kind of bullshit the industry does on the daily. When I talk about how companies formulate for profit, not effectiveness, this is what I’m talking about. Claiming benefits from ingredients present only in miniscule concentrations is the industry standard. As I posted a little while ago, when most companies are owned by giant mega-corporations, the result is skincare made as cheaply as possible and weaponized marketing to ensure you’ll buy it. It’s complete bullshit, and it makes me so angry I want a cage match with these companies’ marketing execs. (Flips table) #themoreyouknow
UPDATE: I want to emphasize that this is a systemic problem across the whole industry. This particular brand is not the problem. They all do shit like this. We have to be smart consumers, and call bullshit, and refuse to be scammed any further. If you stop buying these products, they will change their tune.