We waste so much time worrying about the wrong things. We fear spiders, but not cars, even though we’re more likely to die by crossing the street than by being bitten by an eight-legged monster.
We splurge on expensive creams that promise to turn the clock back 10 years, and then leave the house without sunscreen. And we avoid mineral oil like the plague, when lemons are a lot more dangerous.
Yes, lemons. And mint. And lavender. All natural plants that are no good for our skin. They’re much worse that a lot of synthetic stuff that’s getting a bad, totally underserved, rep at the moment.
Of course, not all plants are bad. But this modern obsession with all things natural too often leads us astray, making us buy and use products full of irritants that damage our skin. But how to know what to look out for?
Here are seven irritating natural ingredients that have no business being in our skincare products:
1. Citrus-Derived Ingredients
I think my heart broke a little bit the day I learnt citrusy extracts and oils can irritate skin. Lemon, bergamot, orange, mandarin, even limonene (an extract used in fragrances) all smell absolutely gorgeous. They’re so refreshing and bright, like a glorious summer day.
They’re not bad on their own either. It’s when they are exposed to light and air that they cause irritations and increase the risk of sunburns. And when you apply them on your skin, you do expose them to light and air. There’s no getting around that. *sighs*
2 & 3. Peppermint And Menthol
That’s scientists’ fancy way of saying they relieve inflammation in deeper tissues by inducing it locally. Or, put it more simply, they substitute one kind of inflammation for another. Either way, no type of inflammation is ever good for our skin.
Both peppermint and menthol often cause contact dermatitis and swelling (that swelling lip plumpers cause is a sign of irritation, not beauty!). Stay away from them!
Is there a body product that doesn’t come in a lavender flavour these days? So not a fan of this trend. Lavender always smelled boring to me. And it isn’t as skin-friendly as it appears to be at first sniff.
Lavender contains linalyl acetate and limonene, two substances that oxidize when they come in contact with air. The more they’re exposed to oxygen, the higher the risk they’ll cause irritations and up the risk of sunburns.
Thanks, but no thanks. I may be reckless enough to take the risk with summery-smelling citrus oils every now and again (I’m such a sucker for them), but lavender ain’t worth it.
5. Witch Hazel
Those are part of the problem. Antioxidants are usually good friends that help us keep wrinkles away for longer. But those in witch hazel, called tannins, can be irritating. That’s why, sometimes, they’re removed from witch hazel. But, without them, what’s the point of using it? It doesn’t really do much else for the skin.
There’s more. Witch hazel also contain eugenol, another substance that can cause irritations. This plant is also usually distilled in alcohol, which can be drying. It’s just a mess, and definitely more trouble than it’s worth it.
Eucalyptus is best left to koalas. There’s no scientific research proving it does anything good for the skin yet. But there’s proof that it can cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions. Weed it out of your skincare routine. It has no place there.
You didn’t expect to see this here, did you? Isn’t chamomile supposed to be soothing and calm down irritations? Yes, usually that’s what it does. For most people, anyway.
Chamomile, like ragweed, belongs to the aster family. If you’re allergic to this, you’ll get an awful rash every time you put chamomile on your skin. So, don’t.
Aren’t allergic to aster? Good for you. You can reap all its benefits without putting up with the annoying side effects.
The Bottom Line
Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. Plants can cause allergies and irritations too. Be careful!
Have you ever had a bad reaction to a natural ingredient?