- Skin School
Our Off-Limits List
The ingredients we won’t touch
Why we opt-out:
Ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen, is a gas used as a starting material for
the production of surfactants (like the foaming compounds that make some products
suds up) to create a chemical reaction (called ethoxylation). 1,4 Dioxane,
another known carcinogen, is a byproduct of this chemical reaction that has
been shown to disrupt hormone levels and cause allergic reactions.
These ingredients can penetrate skin and enter into your bloodstream, wherein they can harm your nervous system and other vital organs (like your kidneys). High-dosage and repeated exposure have been linked to many different types of cancer, which is why they are highly regulated for safety in cosmetics in both Canada and Europe.
Bottom line: These ingredients can really harm your skin and body, not to mention that they’re also a leading groundwater pollutant because they never (ever!) fully break down.
Our take: While we know these ingredients would not be used unsafely in a cosmetic product, we also know there are plenty of non-carcinogenic, synthetic ingredients that are safe on skin and not linked to these concerns, so we use those instead (and only when we need to). We will always use high-quality ingredients — plant based or synthetic — with the safest qualifications.
Why we opt-out: Mineral oils can feel oily and waxy to the touch and are used in products to moisturize, but they can also clog pores. Because they are often unsustainably and unsafely sourced, they can also be a source of cancer-causing toxins (namely, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH for short).
Our take: We always prefer to use plant based ingredients instead of petroleum-derived ones, but we don’t prohibit all petroleum-derived or synthetic ingredients from products. Instead, we avoid the most controversial ones, and until there’s scientific proof one way or another, we decide to just leave them out.
Why we opt-out: The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s UV rays and preventing them from reaching your skin. They have been shown to mimic estrogen, AKA throw natural hormone levels out of whack, and have also been linked to health issues like allergies and even cancer. Also important: These ingredients don’t biodegrade properly and can seriously harm coral reefs and the ocean’s ecosystem.
Our take: We tend to prefer non-nano mineral sunscreen. These sit on top of the skin and work like a physical shield to fend off harmful UV rays, making it better for both your body and the planet.
Why we opt-out: The terms “fragrance, natural fragrance and parfum” can hide a multitude of sensitizing ingredients that can cause irritation and inflammation, especially to those with sensitive skin.
Our take: We never add fragrance of any kind. Some of the plant-based waters and extracts in our products may have a natural scent, but we use these ingredients because they are effective and beneficial to skin, not because they smell nice.
Why we opt-out: Essential oils are made using a process called steam distillation, which makes them super potent (re: strong). Because they are so concentrated, they can be irritating to some people’s skin, so we decided to leave them out altogether.
Our take: We choose plant extracts instead of essential oils since they are less irritating to sensitive skin.
Why we opt-out: Parabens, like all preservatives, help prevent things like mildew and mold from growing inside your skincare products, thereby keeping them safe to use. But we decided not to use any parabens because they’re very controversial and many feel uncomfortable about using products with them.
Our take: Preservatives are necessary to keep skincare products safe to use, but due to consumer demand and because there are options other than parabens, we use those instead.
Why we opt-out: Nowadays, there are so many vegetable, plant and synthetic-based alternatives that are equally as beneficial to skin, if not more so. So, why would we use anything that comes from animals?
Our take: We’re a vegan brand. We choose to forgo all animal derived ingredients because we care about animals as well as the environment.
Why we opt-out: Sulfates are used in skincare to wash away dirt, oil and other residue (like makeup), and they’re also what makes a product lather or foam up. But, at high levels they can dry out skin and cause serious irritation. Sodium lauryl sulfate is currently deemed safe for use in low levels, though the ingredient continues to be controversial so more research is needed.
Our take: When overused, sulfates can irritate and dry out the skin. Plus they’re controversial — meaning that more research is needed to confirm just how safe (or unsafe) they really are. So, we avoid them altogether.
Why we opt-out: You’ll probably never see the word “formaldehyde” on a product because it’s actually a gas that forms when certain ingredients are combined. When you breathe it in, it irritates the eyes, nose and throat and can cause asthma. Formaldehyde is also a well-established carcinogen that is linked to lung cancer and multiple types of leukemia. It can also be highly toxic to the body’s reproductive system.
Our take: We will never, ever (ever!) use any of the above ingredients in any of our products
Why we opt-out: Mercury is really toxic, and when used on skin, it can cause irritation, allergic reactions and even discoloration. It can also make its way into your bloodstream, where it can damage your kidneys and nervous system (and at high levels, even cause mercury poisoning). The good news is, most responsible and safety concerned chemists will never formulate with mercury compounds - and we only work with the best.
Our take: We will never, ever (ever!) use mercury or mercury compounds in any of our products.
Why we opt-out:
These silicones are often used in personal care products because they create a glossy barrier,
which smoothes skin and hair. But even though these texture-enhancers make skin look good in the
short-term, they can cause damage in the long run, like dehydration and clogged pores.
Plus, they’re not biodegradable; these cyclic silicones wash down our drains and right into the ocean (but not all silicones do).
Our take: We do not use cyclic silicones, or silicones that are linked to skin and environmental issues.
Why we opt-out: Phthalates can build up in the body and are proven endocrine disruptors (meaning they mess with hormone levels), which can harm the reproductive system and even cause cancer.
Our take: We are all about transparency, so including ingredients that are hidden in other ingredients (like fragrance) is not our style. You won’t find any phthalates in Bubble products.