Many skin care companies use drying alcohols in their products, and we understand why—they feel really silky and weightless. But there are ways to achieve these effects that don't leave your skin as parched as the Sahara. Drying alcohols literally break down the skin's barrier, which means that your skin can easily absorb both good ingredients, like Vitamin C, but also any toxins it comes into contact with.
At Mad Penguin, we hold our products to the strictest standards when it comes to clean and effective formulas. We're not looking to jump on the "natural skincare" bandwagon by just having natural formulas— that's not enough. Our goal is to disrupt what the skin care industry thinks clean should be. That's why each and every one of our products is painstakingly formulated to go beyond the basic restrictions. Instead of making you guess what "clean" means, we want you to know exactly where we stand. These ingredients will never appear in Mad Penguin products.
Sulfates are a broad term for several different chemicals, primarily sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, which are used in products like cleansers and toothpastes to create a lathering effect. While there are lots of claims on the internet that sulfates cause cancer, there's no actual evidence to back that up. However, there is plenty of evidence that sulfates can be really irritating to a lot of people's skin, so we avoid using them for this reason—and because there's no way to ensure that sulfates are derived from a vegan source.
Silicones are absolutely great at trapping substances against your skin, which is why they've become incredibly popular in beauty products that claim to be hydrating—they have the ability to keep moisturizing ingredients on your skin for a long time. However, they don't just trap the good stuff—they keep everything, including oil, dirt, and bacteria. This can lead to breakouts, and can ultimately make your skin drier and impede cell renewal.
No Drying Alcohols
No Added Fragrance
No synthetic Dyes
No Propylene Glycol
NO MEA, DEA, TEA
No MEG Compounds
Did we mention all our products are cruelty-free and vegan?
No 1,4 Dioxane
Used as a solvent in some cleansers, 1,4-Dioxane has also been shown to be irritating. It's also been shown to harm the liver and kidneys in high concentrations, and may potentially be cancer-causing.
No Aminomethyl Proponal
Sometimes used to adjust the pH in skin care products, this ingredient can be irritating to skin, and when mixed with other chemicals that may be found in skincare products, can form carcinogenic compounds.
No Animal Fat and Musk
Mad Penguin is a vegan brand, and we are careful to avoid any animal-derived ingredients, including animal fat and musk. While ingredients like lanolin, which is a form of animal fat, are safe to use, they're not in line with our views on environmental and animal safety.
Used to keep bacteria from growing in certain skin care products and to create foam in others, chloride is also a common irritant, and can be especially bad for people with asthma and eczema.
This ingredient is commonly used to keep products safe from sun exposure. However, there's some evidence that it may build up in our systems over time, and can affect reproductive health, hormones, and may possibly be linked to cancer.
No BPA Bisphenol
Commonly used in beauty product packaging, this compound can leach from the bottles into the products themselves. We've seen some compelling evidence that BPA may affect children's developmental growth, and may also increase blood pressure in adults.
This ingredient is sometimes used to make products less thick and viscous, but it may also cause damage to red blood cells and your liver. We'd just as soon stay away from it.
Commonly used as a preservative, we've seen some studies that suggest BHA may negatively impact hormone and reproductive systems—and it can definitely be an irritant to many people's skin.
No coal tar
Sometimes used in products that are intended to treat psoriasis, coal tar may also be carcinogenic in high doses, which makes sense, given that it's derived from burning coal. In small doses, it can also easily irritate skin, and since it's frequently tested on animals, there's no ensuring it's cruelty-free.
No Formaldehyde-reelasing agents
Even if a product's label claims that it's formaldehyde-free, some of its ingredients may release small amounts of formaldehyde over time. The list of these chemicals is long, but here are a few to watch for: diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, bromopol, and glyoxal. Formaldehyde can easily cause allergic reactions, may possibly build up in the system, and be cancer-causing.
Commonly used in skin brightening products to help lift dark spots—and in extremely problematic "skin lighteners" that are marketed almost exclusively towards people of color—hydroquinone has been banned in the EU, but is still available in the United States. It's been linked to issues like skin cancer, and may harm the upper respiratory tract if inhaled.
No Liquid Paraffin
Derived from petroleum and similar to mineral oil, liquid paraffin isn't vegan, and it's simply less nourishing for the skin than many other ingredients. Liquid paraffin is good at locking ingredients onto the skin, but doesn't do much to hydrate the skin itself. There's also some evidence that it may be connected to increased estrogen levels.
No Methyl Cellosolve
Banned in Canada, this ingredient is common in serums and moisturizers as a solvent. It's often not listed on labels, but is lumped under "fragrance," and that's a problem—this chemical is easily absorbed into the skin, is associated with skin irritation, and may even be a neurotoxin.
A common preservative in skin care products, this unpronounceable chemical is an allergen for a lot of people, and even more problematically, may negatively affect your nervous system.
Called MIT, this preservative is great for killing off bacteria and fungi that can grow in beauty products. However, it's also a common irritant, it can negatively affect the environment, and it's also potentially damaging to our nervous systems.
Nanoparticlesvare great for making mineral-based sunscreens appear less ghostly white on your skin, but the truth is, we don't know a lot about how they impact our bodies in the long-term just yet. The concern is that they're so small, they can penetrate the skin very easily, and potentially cause health hazards.
This is a common sunscreen component that primarily protects against UVB rays. However, it's also been associated with causing cell mutations and harming our coral reefs, and there are other, better sunscreen ingredients out there, so we opt for those.
No Placenta extract
This ingredient is derived from the placenta of pregnant farm animals. The few beauty brands that choose to use placenta tend to state that it stimulates collagen production. However, there's no peer-reviewed evidence to support this claim, while there is evidence that placenta extract contains progesterone and estrogen, which can be disruptive to our own hormonal balance.
No Polyethylene Beads
Polyethylene beads are frequently used as exfoliators. There's strong evidence that they're environmental toxins, having been found in the digestive tracts of rainbow trout, and to negative impact the growth of freshwater plant life.
Frequently derived from lauric acid (which in turn often comes from coconuts) polysorbates are often used to help skin care ingredients blend together. While the amount of polysorbates used in most skin care products are probably safe, there are concerns about reproductive and organ toxicity, as well as endocrine disruption and potential skin irritation, so we'd just as soon avoid them.
Often used as an antiseptic in products that treat skin conditions like acne and eczema, resorcinol is a common skin irritant and sensitizer, and even more problematically, evidence suggests that it can disrupt thyroid function, and may negatively affect the central nervous system.
No Retinyl Palmitate
The least expensive form of retinol, retinyl palmitate is also the least effective. While this means it's less immediately irritating to the skin than other forms of retinol, it may still have some pretty unfortunate side effects, and has been linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity and cancerous tumor formation.
A form of silicone frequently used to create a smooth texture, siloxanes may be bad for our hormone regulation, and there's evidence that they're harmful to reproductive health, as well. It's also been suggested that this silicone is harmful to aquatic life.
No Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate
Used as a foaming agent in cleansers, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate is problematic because it's a penetration enhancer—it alters the skin's structure to help other chemicals penetrate deeper. This may sound like a good thing for helping us absorb good ingredients, but it can help potential toxins absorb more readily, as well.
Thimerosal can be used as a preservative, as well as a brightening agent for the skin. However, it's derived from mercury, which makes it potentially very dangerous. Mercury is well-known for its ability to damage the kidneys, as well as the digestive, immune, and nervous systems.
No Triclocarban / Troclosan
An antibacterial that can be found in cleansers, triclocarban may be irritating to skin, and has also been linked to disrupting our hormonal systems and organ toxicity. It's also simply a much stronger antibacterial than is really necessary for home use—it was originally intended for hospital workers.