Our goal is to make you aware of all the ingredients we refuse to put into our formulations and why we refer to them as “Nasties.”
Whilst looking to the future, our goals include, always being an integral part of your skincare regime, expanding our brand, and considering our impact on the planet, which is our home. In this journey, we strive to never shift focus from the little things, like building a formulation. As we take a step back and look at the big picture, creating a product that cares for your skin while being kind to our planet is important, as is our endeavour for complete transparency.
Ingredient No Nos
Silicones are notoriously famous in the beauty industry for its occlusive properties. In simple terms, they form a layer on the skin that clog the pores and lead to breakouts. Their impact on the environment is an altogether separate issue. Being bio accumulative, they build up in waterways and oceans and take hundreds of years to break down. In light of these reasons, we opt for natural derivatives of silicones like vegetable glycerine, honey and olive oil esters that give a slip and solvency to our serums.
Skincare formulations consist of good and bad alcohols with regards to their molecular weights. Lower molecular weight alcohols like ethanol, methanol or isopropyl alcohol are drying and sensitising on the skin. When used as a main ingredient in formulations, it can disrupt the skin’s surface layers. When larger molecular alcohols are used in small percentages in Vitamin C and Retinol formulations, they help the actives penetrate into the skin and can be beneficial.
Mineral Oil Paraffin
Produced as a by-product of petroleum, mineral oils or paraffins coat the skin surface and form a layer that is impenetrable. This clogs the pores and causes breakouts as it deters the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins. Using the ingredient over a period of time causes accumulation in the body as the molecules penetrate through broken patches of skin or when used in lip balms.
Parabens include the following commonly found items on ingredient lists like butylparaben, isobutyl paraben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethyl paraben. While they had extensive use in skincare because of its preservative properties, it has received immense flack in recent times because of its health impact. They cause the skin layer to break down in large concentration but aren't necessarily harmful in small percentages and can be used in limited number of products.
While we make every attempt to refrain from adding synthetic perfumes to our products, we add IFRA certified fragrances where absolutely necessary. In other circumstances, we strive to use essential oils or natural, food fragrances as substitutes.
Talc or anhydrous magnesium silicate is the main ingredient found in loose and pressed powders. With most talc compounds being contaminated with asbestos that is carcinogenic in nature, it becomes imperative to either ensure that the brand is transparent in its sourcing or uses substitutes like corn starch, rice powder or responsibly mined mica.
Chemical Sunscreens contain carbon-based compounds that protect the skin by reacting with UV rays to convert them into heat and release them from the skin barrier. In this context they can be referred to chemical absorbers. In technical terms they are categorised as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene and Homosalate. While a number of brands produce chemical sunscreens, we use natural ingredients like raspberry and carrots that are rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants to provide natural protection from the harmful rays of the sun.
Termed as industrial plasticizers in the skincare industry, they are used as skin softeners in formulations to assist in dissolving and combining ingredients. They also make the skin supple and more elastic when applied. On a skincare label you’ll find them as under DHPs, DMPs, BBPs and DNOPs. Used in tandem with fragrance, they have been linked with reproductive and hormonal issues in men and women. They can also cause breast cancer, reproductive deformations, and infertility. In place of Phthalates, we use safe natural substitutes like Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil and Vitamin E as moisturising ingredients and Castor Oil and Carnauba Wax because of their solubility.
Sulfates fall under surfactants, which attract both oil and water molecules. In skincare they are responsible for drawing oily dirt to one side of the molecule while clinging to water droplets on the other side. Hence they strip the skin and hair off grease and dirt, emulsify it with the water droplets while it goes down the drain. These accumulate in water bodies and cause toxicity while making your hair and skin dry and prone to damage. They are found as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate Sodium Lauroyl Taurate Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate in formulations. Due to all these factors, they are a permanent feature of our No-No list.
Our Ingredient Philosophy
Ethical Sourcing, Ethical Innovation
Where and how an ingredient is sourced, is something we take very seriously while deciding what goes in our bottles. Local sourcing not only reduces our carbon footprint, but also helps enhance the efficacy of the product. India has a rich biodiversity which when sourced responsibly can be used to its maximum potential. We try and look at ethical suppliers who follow fair trade practices in cases where we can’t source directly. The world needs kindness more than ever today. Kindness in everything we do, towards our planet, it's the creatures or to each other. Similarly, it’s equally important to innovate ethically and mindfully. What that means is simply not to cross the line of being a burden on any of the above things, under the name of innovation and effective skincare. It should be rather meticulous and mindful.
Sustainable vs Organic
How far does an ingredient travel just to be in our bottle? Does the fact that its organic mean it's okay for it to travel those many miles and increase your carbon footprint? We looked and relooked at this debate, even learned and unlearned a few things. Yes organic means the ingredient is unadulterated, probably coming from the purest source that exists on this planet, but it's okay when its locally grown and sourced. Local sourcing not only reduces our carbon footprint, but also helps enhance the efficacy of the product in most cases. Sustainability is a lot more than just using naturally derived/ organically certified ingredients, in fact it's about sourcing those ingredients responsibly, and replacing them with safe lab derived alternatives wherever the natural alternatives aren't the kindest on our planet. To us sustainability always trumps organic and sometimes even natural, because we are nothing if not kind to our planet.
Synthetic vs Naturally Derived vs Natural
What do these terms mean?
Synthetic: Anything that is produced in a lab, safe & non-toxic, obviously.
Naturally Derived: Ingredients occurring from natural produce that undergo chemical processes like esterification or hydrolysis etc.
Natural: Ingredients occurring from natural produce that undergo little to no chemical processes at all.
While we thoroughly believe in using naturally derived botanicals for enhancing the efficacy of our formulations (sometimes using even phyto actives) everything is a chemical around us. We at ilana aren't repelled against using synthetic lab derived actives as long as they are safe and non toxic on your skin and kind to the planet. We ensure in such cases that these lab derived synthetics are certified organic or approved for use in formulations by these certification bodies in order to give you the best of what's available. To add to this point, certification bodies have stringent audits and laws that helps a consumer trust the label.