Top 3 to steer clear of…

by | 6 August 2021

The skin care and aesthetics industry is continually evolving and it feels as though we are seeing NEW innovative ingredients and product formulations launched into the industry each and every day. This can make choosing the right product and formulation for your skin difficult as we navigate our way through the myriad of HYPE surrounding these ingredients.

One thing remains true and always will for dermaviduals – we know skin and we know what skin needs! A bespoke approach to caring for your skin begins with the understanding of what is in your product formulation. At dermaviduals we don’t just focus on what is in our product formulations, we focus on keeping the nasty ingredients out – so that your skin benefits…

Let’s look at the top 3 ingredients that dermaviduals choose not to formulate with and why…



Alcohol is widely used in cosmetic formulations as it works as a solvent – meaning that it allows for actives to ‘get into’ the skin. Along with working as a solvent, alcohol is also known as a ‘drying agent’ used in many toners and other skin care products designed to ‘mop up’ oil. Not all alcohols are created equally though…

Denatured alcohol — often abbreviated as “alcohol denat.” or “SD Alcohol” on an ingredient list, shows up not only in many skin care products but also household products such as paint remover!

Although denatured alcohol isn’t toxic at the levels needed for cosmetic formulations, it can cause excessive dryness and disturb the delicate balance and homeostasis of the skin. Some studies suggest that denatured alcohol when used on the skin, may cause breakouts, skin irritation, and increase inflammation.

That said, there are some alcohols (known as fatty alcohols) that are non-drying and have no negative effect on the skin. It is these fatty alcohols or ‘food grade alcohols’ that dermaviduals choose to formulate with.

The low alcohol concentrations in dermaviduals formulations have no dehydrating effects on the skin and in fact, work as antimicrobial ingredients allowing for the replacement of harmful preservatives within our products – win, win!



Any cosmetic formulation that contains water – for example creams, gels and lotions – have the potential for bacteria, yeast, and moulds to grow, spoiling the product and rendering it unsuitable for use. Bacteria can break down ingredients in a product, making it less stable and less effective, as well as posing some serious health risks!

Apart from water, which is essential for all known micro-organisms to grow, organic matter, such as vegetable oils, waxes and butters, protein/amino acids, and organic based active ingredients, may act as nutrient source for a wide range of bacteria. Therefore, all cosmetic formulations should contain some form of preservative action in order to ensure that micro-organisms do not cause any problem for the consumers.

The challenge raised is that preservatives can lead to skin irritation and barrier impairment. Not only this, but there are so many common preservatives used within cosmetic formulations, that it can be challenging to decipher what is good and what is bad.

That’s why at dermaviduals, we prepare our formulations without the use of ‘common’ and damaging preservatives that may be found in other formulations. This is due mainly to the ‘aseptic laboratory’ our formulations are created and packaged in. The ingredients we choose to use are from the Glycol family – Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol, all of which have not only preservative properties but also moisture-retaining abilities!



Emulsifiers are widely and very commonly used to bind water-based ingredients with oil-based ingredients to form a stabilised, creamy suspension. Unfortunately, cleansing the skin “reactivates” the build-up of these emulsifiers, causing them to dissolve our natural barrier lipids.

Over time this can lead to skin sensitivity due to the breakdown of the first lines of skin barrier defence or what we refer to as the “wash-out effect”. There are many types of conventional emulsifiers that are used within cosmetic formulations, and some can be incredibly harmful to the health and function of the skin.


Sodium Lauryl Sulphate or SLS:

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is a conventional emulsifier and is perhaps one of the most commonly used in skin care, make up and other personal care products.

When used in cosmetic formulations, SLS dissolve the intercellular lipids that make up the multi-lamellar lipid structure and in doing so, accelerate the movement of trans-epidermal water loss from the skin and this is one of the reasons why emulsifiers are avoided in dermaviduals formulations!

In order to incorporate skin caring oils and lipids into dermaviduals creams, common emulsifiers are replaced with natural membrane substances, such as phosphatidylcholine, ceramides and phytosterols which work to mimic the natural barrier lipids the skin creates and allow for deep penetration of actives into the skin.

In conclusion, at the base of everything we do at dermaviduals, we work with the methodology of Corneotherapy. Corneotherapy focusses on working with and repairing the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis, to improve the function of the deeper skin layers.

By working with cosmetic formulations free from alcohol, preservatives and common emulsifiers, we can continually work to rebuild, repair and strengthen our skin barrier and have it serve us as best it can for many years to come.

So next time you are looking at restocking your skin care products, reach out to your local practicing corneotherapist who will be in the best position to educate you further on the needs of your skin.

To locate your nearest dermaviduals stockist, find them on our clinic finder here.