The following article is written by Josh of Brickell Men’s Products. If you’d like to try out their all natural skin care line, use code EG15 at checkout for 15% off. (Check out my favorites in the EG Shop.)

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Hopefully you know by now that taking care of your skin is no longer just for women.

In fact, it’s vital for you as a man to take care of your skin so you can portray a strong, energized appearance that not only helps with the ladies, but also with your career earning potential.

Due to the boom in demand for skincare products for men, there are now a plethora of products on the market.

The problem though, is that most of these products are jam packed with toxins, irritants, and other chemicals that are not only dangerous for your skin and body, but also cause skin problems you were probably trying to fix in the first place.

So how do you know what you should use and what you should avoid in a product?

Don’t overlook “Natural”… it’s important

Natural and organic food products are all the rage now.

You probably can’t go a few weeks without someone saying they’re starting to incorporate more organic food into their diet, or perhaps going Paleo because they’re part of Crossfit.

It’s also hard to go into just about any store, even beyond Whole Foods, without seeing tons of products or even sections dedicated to natural and organic ingredients.

This is all for good reason.

Many studies show how bad eating processed food is for your body and health. I’ve never personally known anyone who has gone natural or organic who hasn’t felt and looked better.

But what about the products you put on your body? Rubbing synthetic chemicals from your daily skin care and grooming products can be just as bad, if not worse, than digesting unnatural ingredients in food.

What exactly are you applying to your skin?

The US government is rather lenient on what companies can put into bottles and sell you.

Almost 90% of the over 11,000 grooming and skin care ingredients known to the FDA have never been evaluated for safety, while over 1,100 of these ingredients have been banned for use in the European Union 1.

These ingredients can be anywhere in your bathroom – your shampoo, deodorant, skincare products, or shave products.

Your skin absorbs anywhere from 64% to 100% of anything you put on it due to its porous nature 2, which is comparable to the absorption rate of the digestive system.

This means if you use any shaving cream, skin care products, or body wash/soaps that have toxic chemicals in them, they are being directly ingested into your body from your skin.

The overwhelming majority of men’s skin care and grooming products on the market today are made with harmful synthetic chemicals, including many known toxins, allergens, and irritants. Even products claiming to be “all natural” usually only contain trace amounts of natural or organic ingredients.

Without a doubt, if you’re buying skin care and grooming products from a drug store or large discount department store, you’re absolutely absorbing many known toxins.

As with most things in life, with personal care products, you usually do get what you pay for.

Cheap, drugstore brands usually contain only sparse amounts of natural ingredients, with the rest being basically water and cheap synthetic chemicals.

The reason is pretty simple: cost.

In order to sell you a $3 shaving cream or $10 face moisturizer, there is no margin to fill the product with effective, natural ingredients that can sometimes be rather costly.

Numerous scientific studies discuss how these toxins penetrate the skin, accumulating in the body’s organs and cause major health issues (cancer, disease, allergies, skin conditions, chronic conditions, etc).

I encourage you to look at the back of a bottle of grooming product you use and Google some of the ingredients.

The first time I did this, the first chemical I Googled brought up a study that discussed how it was known to shrink the testicles of mice (not exactly something I want to rub on my own).

An easier way to research the ingredients you’re putting on and in your body is to check out the Environmental Working Group website. They’re an independent group who rates skincare products and the toxicity of their ingredients.

Read the list of ingredients on a product’s label!

I fully admit, less than a decade ago any type of skin care product that was “natural” or organic was not very good and was probably headed for the trash after only one use.

Luckily, with advances in science, it’s now possible to create grooming products that are natural and organic, without sacrificing performance.

When looking at a label of ingredients on a skin care product, the very beginning of the list should name natural ingredients, not scientific sounding chemicals.

A few powerful and safe natural ingredients that have been used for years with great results are:

    • Aloe Vera: One of the best natural ingredients you can put on your skin due to its’ amazing moisturizing abilities.
    • Jojoba: A seed which protects your skin by building a protective cushion around it, helping lock in moisture and prevent free radicals (damaged cells) from forming.
    • Shea Butter: A good, natural fat filled with vitamins your skin craves such as A, E, & F.
    • Coconut Oil: Helps remove dead skin cells and strengthens the underlying skin tissue.
    • Alpha Hydroxy Acid: Found naturally in sugar cane, a large amount of research shows it helps fight skin aging and is also fantastic at preventing razor burn.

    There’s also a common marketing theme in skincare along the lines of “made with science, made from natural ingredients”.

    While this sounds cool, the fact is, when you take a natural ingredient, such as coconut, and use a host of chemicals to derive the needed ingredients from it, what you end up with is a chemically altered coconut ingredient that has virtually none of its natural properties left.

    This leads us to the fact that skin care labeling and marketing is not regulated in the United States and just about anyone can say they are “natural” or “organic”.

    So how can you tell?

    Look at the ingredients the same as you would the ingredients on the food you eat.

    It’s a pain at first, but once you get a better understanding of what you’re putting on your body, your skin will thank you by being brighter, tighter, and clearer.

    Some widely used, dangerous chemicals and toxins you should avoid in skin care products are:

    • Parabens: Synthetic preservatives found in that are widely used in skin care, shaving and other grooming products. Their list of known risks and hazards are quite long. A few of the highlighted risks for men are that parabens mimic estrogen, causing havoc with hormones and a few studies have linked them to decreased sperm levels.
    • Phthalates: Popular chemicals found in fragrance and plastics. These synthetic chemicals have a long history of research showing they cause endocrine disruption and reproductive issues. Congress already banned the use of them in kid’s toys due to their hazards.
    • TEA & DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine): These two chemicals are banned in Europe due to their cancer causing effects, but still widely used in the USA. They’re mostly used as a base for cleansers such as face wash and in shave cream.
    • Glycols: The glycol family is rather large, with the vast majority being toxins, but the following two are the worst. Propylene glycol was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is used in some deodorants and skincare products. It’s a neurotoxin known to cause kidney and liver damage. Glycol ethers are toxins that have been known to shrink the testicles of mice.

    The list could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are thousands of these chemicals lurking in the products you use daily.

    So the next time you’re lathering up a hair, skin, or shave product, take a quick peek at the ingredients list to make sure you’re not dousing your body with a plethora of toxins and chemicals.

    In ten years when your body and skin are healthy, you won’t regret paying the extra sticker price of a solid, natural men’s skin care or grooming product.

    ***

    Thanks, Josh. So, it sounds like the best thing you can do is to take an active approach and be aware by reading your products’ labels. Go natural and organic as much as you can, if and when it is possible for you.

    I’m still working on this myself; I don’t always buy all-natural products, but when I can, I go for it.

    Josh is the co-founder of Brickell Men’s Products, an all natural men’s skin care line. He’s giving 15% off to EG readers if you want to try any of their products. Just use code EG15 at checkout. Browse my favorites in the Shop.

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29 Responses

  1. Art on

    I recently started using an essential oil blend as a face moisturizer. I use Heritage Essential Oils, but I’m sure several brands have them. Just another idea.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

      That is a great idea, Art. Many people think essential oils will cause any “oily” face, but that’s far from reality.

  2. James on

    This article was not written by a healthcare professional, and much of the self-conducted “research” should Ben treated with a grain of salt.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

      Hi James – You’re right, I am not a healthcare professional. This is why we linked to studies and independent groups so readers could make their own decisions. You also have to realize, many healthcare professionals themselves push products because big pharma and other companies with deep pockets make it worth their while. We’ve been approached by numerous respected dermatologists who want to know “their cut” for having our products in their office and to push them. Everyone should research something before they put it in or on their body.

      • Martin Calder on

        Josh, If your stuff is good, then let it stand on it’s own. It looks great, and I want to use it sometime, but as soon as you say “Big Pharma”, it discounts what you are trying to say. If I am going to advertise for you by having stuff in my office, then yea, I want a cut, and that doesn’t make me unethical. You are trying to make money yes? Are you selling these products below what you make them for, or are you making a profit? Natural stuff is awesome and lets promote it, but let’s not get carried away that every health professional is under the thumb of Pharmaceutical companies.

        • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

          Martin – Sorry you took offense to that comment, but I said “many”, not “all” health care professionals. Please do not twist my words.

          • Martin Calder on

            Strike all, and replace with many. I am not saying that every health care professional is a paragon of virtue, it’s just when I hear big pharma, it smacks of people who fight against vaccination, and believe that vaccinations cause Autism. Autism Spectrum Disorders are my expertise and I watch the research very carefully. That is my only point. Not trying to hijack the thread away from natural products, because I see a lot of value there, and good for you in getting your products in the marketplace.

          • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

            Understood and no, I don’t fall under the category of people you’re speaking about. My comment was in reference to dermatologists who have approached us and all they wanted to know about was “their cut” vs. the good ones who we work with who genuinely wanted to understand the product so they could accurately suggest it to their clients who it would work for best. It sounds like we’re on the same page.

          • James on

            I take issue with the statement that you linked to studies and independent groups – it doesn’t appear that you linked to any specific studies, and of the groups that you have linked to, many also present opinions as facts without proper substantiation through collected data. There are a few references to actual collected data, which at one point you indirectly refer to, but overall, much of what you’re presenting is not supported by anything other than opinion.

            Agreed – it is important to know what’s going into your body. But you’re presenting ‘facts’ about various chemicals through inappropriate and tenuous connections (your discussion of propylene glycol is a chief example) and this can do just as much harm (personal opinion).

  3. Andy Budnik on

    I can’t say I’ve read the ingredients, but 6 years ago I started using the Clinique line of face wash, toner and hydrating gel. After years of going to the dermatologist for different topical treatments, my face cleared up without the need for any doctor. I have very sensitive, dry-oily combination skin, which clogs easily, so at nearly 30, I still combat acne. I’ve found I definitely need all three pieces of that, and even though it’s made for women, it does work for me. I’d love to find something that worked even a bit better. The crazy thing is, I accidentally bought the lotion instead of the gel and my skin went berserk for a couple weeks until I changed. Definitely all depends on the individual.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

      That’s great you fixed up the acne problem yourself. Very often dermatologists recommend products that are loaded with chemical compounds that cause the issue they’re supposed to fix. Give more natural products a try – when you eat food filled with preservatives, hormones and other unnatural ingredients, your stomach usually feels like crap. Your skin operates the same way.

  4. Kenneth Geathers on

    Hi Barron,i love the information on these skin,and hair products that you’ve put out there,due to the fact i have very sensitive skin.I need to know more what brand name underarm deordorant that is out there besides tom’s brand that is good,because the majority of brands such Gillette,Axe,Speed stick ,old spice, Mitchum,etc.That loaded full of synthetic ingredients that are very harmful to our health.In fact right now i’m using Axe deordorant ..i’m planning on tossing it into the garbage. Thanks!! again.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

      Hey Kenneth – While it’s not as natural as Tom’s, Baxter of California has a pretty decent “natural” deodorant. Natural deodorants usually need to be applied twice a day (morning and afternoon) to work as well as a Speed Stick. It is better than having dry, itchy, irritated arm pits though.

  5. Joshua Solis on

    After utilizing a number of products on the market and having a partner that sells high-end skincare (Yves St. Laurent, Dior, Amore Pacific, etc.), I decided to give Brickell skin care products a try. I normally eat organic or high-quality food and I wanted to put the same care into my skincare.
    Considering the price of some of the Brickell products compared to what I paid previously for some other high-end products (Amore Pacific eye cream – $295; Sisley men’s moisturizer $275, etc.) and the fact that they have less “crap” in them, I tried the products. After using the products for about a month (I bought the cleanser/moisturize and eye cream/anti-aging cream) and using them religiously, I have had so many compliments on my skin and it’s looking clearer than ever. The products are light on the skin, absorb well and provide the appropriate moisturizing ability even in Colorado – where conditions are extremely dry. The entire process, from ordering to shipping, is super easy and the products are delivered quickly. .
    I appreciate Barron taking the time to find out about Brickell skin care and allowing them the forum to post about their products on this blog. I am actually in need of ordering additional products, so I am excited to see the promo code on this website.
    Before I order though, I wanted some information on the difference between the purifying charcoal face wash and the clarifying gel wash.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Co-Founde on

      Hi Joshua – Thanks so much for the endorsement and I’m glad the products are working out for you! I’m happy to answer your question about the charcoal face wash vs. the clarifying gel: The purifying charcoal face wash is geared more for guys with sensitive/dry skin. The charcoal will absorb oil/dirt without over drying. The gel face wash is a little more powerful and better for guys with normal/oily-ish skin. It has coconut based cleansers in it which can sometimes dry out a guy’s face that is more sensitive/dry. I hope this answers your question.

      • Joshua Solis on

        That is just the information I needed. Thanks for the quick response!
        At the time I purchased my set, I believe only the charcoal wash was available. I will give the gel wash a try.

  6. Mark on

    So I don’t see that you offer a hair conditioner, but you recommend that you use a conditioner in your hair care manual. Do you have one that I’m missing? Also, for sensitive skin do you recommend just washing your face with water in the morning and then using a cleanser in the evening?

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Founder) on

      Hi Mark – Sorry for the late reply, was traveling. We’re actually releasing a conditioner in a few weeks, it was delayed a little bit. Demand for both was so high that we didn’t want to also delay the shampoo. Regarding sensitive skin, it depends – I have sensitive skin and wash my face with our charcoal face wash in the morning and at night, if I did it any more it would dry out. If you have very sensitive skin, yes, water in the morning and a sensitive skin face cleanser just at night would be best. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Alex MIller on

    Natural does not equal good. Unnatural does not equal bad.

    There are numerous natural chemicals that you wouldn’t want on your skin. There are numerous synthetic chemicals that are not only perfectly safe, but perfectly good for you. I completely agree that consumers should make informed decisions, but just because an ingredient has more than two syllables and sounds all science-y, doesn’t make it bad.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Founder) on

      Hi Alex – Thanks for your thoughts. Which natural chemicals are you referring to? I would be interested to hear which ones you don’t think should be put on the skin. Usually if a natural ingredient shouldn’t be put on the skin, it’s because it has been processed in a lab to the point where its basic structure is no longer that of its original (coconuts are big culprits). And you’re right, just because an ingredient sounds “science-y” doesn’t make it bad, nor did I ever claim that. I wrote that if it does, then you probably should do research to see if there are any harmful side effects from it (as there is a good chance it will). Thanks.

      • Alex MIller on

        Natural ingredients I wouldn’t want on my face…

        Urushiol (poison ivy)
        Feces
        Sulfuric acid

        You get the point ( I think ).

        I’m neither a chemist or biologist, but I’ve seen enough nature shows to know that there are a plethora of naturally occouring chemichals in nature that are quite harmful. Thus any argument that includes “x” is better because it is natural is hogwash and quackery. Syphilis is natural.

  8. Aaron on

    Josh, I have seen your products at Follain. I agree quite strongly with James. We all read this article because of some level of concern of what goes in our bodies. To make claims that thousands of people will read, without any citations, is irresponsible and contrary to all our interests. I encourage you to reference studies (EWG is a decent source, though not completely unbiased) and share your self-interest (selling alternative products (which you did) in the future. Thank you.

    • Josh Meyer (Brickell Founder) on

      Hi Aaron – Thanks for your thoughts. Could you please tell me which claims I made that have offended you? The links within article actually reference either studies or articles that link to studies themselves. I’m happy to provide studies to any information you feel should have been referenced. Thanks.

  9. Alex MIller on

    “Make sure you’re not dousing your body with a plethora of toxins and chemicals.”

    This is exactly my point. Water is a chemical. Thus your admonishment is senseless and either a display of your scientific ignorance or fear mongering for profit.

  10. LLB on

    Propylene glycol is only dangerous when used in unrealistically large quantities. It is classified by the FDA as Generally Recognized as Safe. There is little to no skin irritation or sensitization even with prolonged direct exposure to the undiluted chemical. Irritation to the eye or respiratory system in the event of direct contact is mild and transitory, meaning it subsides quickly once the area is flushed. The MSDS recommends avoiding direct handling due to potential irritation, which is a smart recommendation for any chemical. An interesting fact about propylene glycol is that it is non-toxic when ingested even in reasonably large amounts. Unlike its dangerous and frequently lethal cousin, ethylene glycol, PG is easily metabolized by the liver into normal products of the citric acid metabolic cycle, which are completely nontoxic to the body.

    • andy on

      I’m also seeing a lot of poor research. I thought AHA was the exfoliator, and coconut oil the lubricant/moisturizer. How can you mention Jojoba and refer to the seed as the active ingredient. I should hope this guy’s products don’t contain whole seeds. Jojoba oil is what is useful because it is chemically similar to the skin’s natural oil, but doesn’t clog pores like it.

      Barron, that’s two scientifically illiterate articles in a row now. Shall we expect more? How about a primer on why you shouldn’t get vaccinated?

      • Josh Meyer (Brickell Founder) on

        Hi Andy – Sorry for the late reply to your comment. AHA has many uses in skincare, given this was not meant to be a scientific article, it would be overwhelming to specifically name all its uses. It can be uses in face wash for exfoliation, face moisturizers for moisturizing benefits and also in shave/aftershave products to help with razor burn/irritation. Regarding Jojoba, I was referring to the oil within the seed and did not realize I needed to be specific. Given I work with these ingredients on a daily basis, it’s easy to overlook something so small like that. I apologize for that oversight.