To Cerave or Not to Cerave?

I need to start out this post by thanking all of you who responded to my Facebook posting asking for your thoughts on what you would want me to blog about and what beauty questions you would like me to answer. I got a tremendous response, which has motivated me to really do my research and get going on answering all of your beauty questions. There were so many questions that I have blog topics to last me a while, so please be patient. I promise to answer your question as soon as possible. The question, or questions, I have decided to answer first relate to whether or not we should be paying attention to the ingredients in our skin care and if the dermatologist recommended products, like CeraVe, are really what they claim to be.

 I have a confession to make, I have used CeraVe in the very recent past. In fact, it wasn't until I did the research for this blog, that I stopped using CeraVe. I have chosen to use CeraVe as the cleanser I will be further examining in this blog post because I believe it, like Cetaphil, is highly recommended by dermatologists everywhere. I am not claiming that CeraVe is an evil company, I think it is probably one of the better drug store skin care lines and people genuinely they believe they are using something great on their skin when using this product. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. The truth is, even the skin care lines that cost twice and three times the amount of CeraVe can also contain these harmful ingredients. I myself have even told my clients, "if you are on a budget, spend your money on serums and creams that stay on your skin. Don't waste your money on cleansers that you rinse off." After further research, however, I don't want a lot of these ingredients anywhere near my skin, even if I rinse them off after a short time.

As many of you know, I am a pretty anxiety-ridden person so doing the research for this blog made me really question not only the ingredients I am putting into my body via skin care, but also the food I eat, the cleaning products I use, etc. If you really look into things, you could easily talk yourself in to never leaving your house for fear of being exposed to toxins. Unfortunately, toxins are everywhere. They are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the products we use. I am going to try to stay as neutral as possible when presenting this information to you, because I am still not sure how I feel about the research I have found. The ingredients that I am concerned about are claimed to be safe in small amounts by the FDA, but do we really trust the FDA? That is what you are going to have to decide for yourself.

 During my research, I found an article on the Annmarie Skin Care website about the top 10 ingredients you don't want in your skin care. Annmarie is a woman, like me, who took a look at the products she was using and wasn't satisfied with the ingredients she was using on her skin or putting into her body. So she and her partner Kevin joined forces to create a chemical-free skin care line. I looked into all of the ingredients she listed and realized almost all cleansers on the market and in your local drugstores have these harmful ingredients, including CeraVe. I also found, that there are a lot of other harmful ingredients not included on this list that are in CeraVe and a whole slew of other cleansers and skin care products. In other words, the next time you purchase a facial cleanser or other skin care product watch out for these harmful ingredients:


1. Phenoxyethanol- used as a preservative in skin care products to prolong shelf life. It has been linked to acute allergic reactions and eczema to nervous system damage, especially in infants.

2. Aluminum- often used as an absorbent or thickening agent in cosmetic products. It is toxic to the human nervous system, a developmental neurotoxin, and harmful to the human respiratory system. Aluminum has also been linked to the cause of Alzheimer's Disease.

3. Formaldehyde- used as a preservative in skin care products. It is a human carcinogen linked to cancer.

4. Tetrasodium EDTA (found in CeraVe)- this ingredients is used as a preservative and penetration enhancer in skin care products. It is a known human carcinogen. The scariest part is, it has penetration enhancing abilities which break down the skin's protective barrier and make it easier for other harmful ingredients in your skin care to sink deeper into your tissue and even your bloodstream.

5. PEG's, Dioxins (found in CeraVe)-  PEG, or Polyethylene Glycol, is used as an emollient or emulsifying ingredient in skin care products. There are several forms of PEG's (i.e. PEG-150, PEG-6 etc.). PEG's also have penetration enhancing abilities are toxic chemicals linked to reproductive, developmental, immune system, and hormonal problems. They are also linked to breast and uterine cancer.

6. Toluene- I had a hard time finding why Toluene would be used in skin care products. I found that it is mostly used in nail polishes. All I know is that it is an ingredient in gasoline and adhesive glues, so I know I definitely don't want it in my skin care products.

7. Triethanolamine- a PH adjuster found in skin care products. It is connected to skin and eye irritation, damage to the human respiratory system, immune system and inciting cancer.

8. Para Aminobezoic Acid- From my understanding, many people believe this is a form of Vitamin B. In my research I found that it is actually an amino acid found in Folic Acid. Large doses can be linked to liver damage.

9. Sodium Polyacrylate/Plastics (found in CeraVe)- this is used as a thickening agent in cosmetics. The main concern is that there is a chance it could be contaminated during processing.

10. Deet- A harmful pesticide usually found in bug sprays.

According to my research, CeraVe contains at least 3 of these 10 toxic chemcials that you do not want to have in your skin care products. And the reason I say "at least" is because a lot of these chemicals have mutltiple names or abbreviations, so there is a huge chance I am missing something. In addition, I found that CeraVe contains:

  • Propylene Glycol- an ingredient used to absorb moisture in certain medicines and cosmetics. It is related to skin, liver, and kidney damage
  • Hydroxsultane- a synthetic detergent that causes skin sensitivities, allergic reactions, and eczema.

I was flabbergasted, to say the least, that CeraVe contains an ingredient, hydroxsultane, that causes skin sensitivities and eczema because I hear from every client or coworker that their dermatologist recommended CeraVe for their sensitive skin or eczema. Doesn't quite make sense does it?

After realizing CeraVe, and many other drug store cleansers were not for me, I set off to find a cleanser that was chemical free. I thought for sure that so many of the high-end "botanical" lines I have used would be free of these harmful ingredients. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Even a $30 cleanser I have used in the past contains some of these ingredients. I wish I could tell you all that I found the perfect product line for you that contains absolutely no chemicals AND has excellent anti-aging results. Unfortunately, I am still on the hunt. However, I have found an excellent website and few really great lines to recommend. Next time you are considering a skin care line, log onto and type in the name of the line you are considering. This website will pull up all of the ingredients used in the product line and rate the ingredients on a scale from 1-10. The higher the number, the more toxic the ingredient. The website will even explain what health problems the chemical has been linked to. You can even search "chemical free skin care products" on Skin Deep's website and find one in your price range. My dear friend, Lauren Purnell, is way ahead of the game and has started her own chemical-free skin care line. You can talk to her about her products or place orders by messaging her on Facebook or Instagram. Also, my beautiful Esthetician mother, carries a line called Luzern. After looking it up myself and on Skin Deep's website, I found next to no harmful chemicals in Luzern's products.

In conclusion, you have to decide what is important to you. I understand that we are all on a budget, but we should care about what we put on our skin as much as we care about what we put in our bodies. I laugh when people claim they can't spend money on skin care, but drop $5 everyday at Starbucks for a latte or come strolling in with the latest designer hand bag. Something is wrong with this picture. In other words, its all about our priorities. Like I said earlier, the FDA claims that all of the harmful ingredients I mentioned are considered safe in skin care products because there is a small amount of them in the products. This is true for harmful ingredients in all of the food we eat and products we use. You could drive yourself crazy trying to live a chemical free lifestyle. What is worse, is that chemical-free products are hard to find and sometimes very expensive. I pray that one day, it will be the highly toxic products that are hard to find. I thank you again for forcing me to do this research for myself. I hope I have answered your questions about skin care lines like CeraVe. I hope I also gave you some helpful information about what you do not want in your cleansers and skin care products. I will have to do a post in the future about the ingredients that you do want to have in these products.

One more thing, a few of you have asked me what my thoughts are on Rodan+Fields. I can't honestly tell you about the results it gives because I haven't tried it myself. The before and after photos I have seen are impressive, but then some of them look like they could be better due to makeup or lighting. I do know that Rodan+Fields products are not very highly rated on the Skin Deep website, and I myself have researched the ingredients in the products. There are quite a few harmful chemicals. I hate to bash any one line, because so many are guilty of the same thing. I also hate to bash a line that has given many of my friends and acquaintances a new lease on life, new friends, and supplemental income. However, I feel the responsibility to report the facts.

I hope all of this information will help you make a better decision on the products you plan to use on your skin. After seeing the response I got from my Facebook post, a friend recommended that I hold seminars and or classes about skin care and make up. This is something I am considering very seriously. They could be hosted in your home for a fun "girls night," or at an event venue. I plan to do more research and planning into this idea and keep you posted. Until then, take care of your beautiful skin.