I complained about breakouts in my 20s, but since I turned 30 in November, my skin has been clearer.

It’s because I started using CTRL, a skin care that’s like Proactiv but markets itself as being more eco-friendly. Why? CTRL contains no parabens or phthalates. And instead of benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in Proactiv products, CTRL’s active ingredient’s salicylic acid.

So I started using CTRL and my skin cleared up. Yay! But then I started researching it on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic safety database — to discover that salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide both score a 7 — a “high hazard” ranking. The girls at EcoStiletto don't seem to care about that, saying salycylic acid just has a "bad rep by association" -- but I trust the scientists at EWG more than I do the under-substantiated safety claims at EcoStiletto.

So I checked out acne treatment rankings on Skin Deep — to find that both products that contain salicylic acid and those that contain benzoyl peroxide have managed to relative low hazard scores overall — due to, I guess, the un-dangerousness of the other ingredients.

Neither CTRL nor Proactiv was in Skin Deep’s system though — and to make matters even more difficult for the anal, would-be acne-free environmentalist, neither company publicly lists its ingredients on its website, as far as I can tell.

But I got CTRL’s ingredient lists with my products, so I tried putting its individual ingredients into the Skin Deep database. Most of the other ingredients stayed in the low risk range, with only six ingredients in the 4 - 5 range and no ingredients (other than the salicylic acid) scoring in the “high risk” range. I’m guessing that CTRL would score somewhere in the 3 to 5 risk range overall.

Many acne care products in the Skin Deep database score in the high risk category, with some even earning perfectly dangerous 10s for combining parabens, fragrance and other scary stuff into one toxic mix. And while there are acne care products in the Skin Deep database that do score slightly lower, I remember from my teenage years that most acne products available at the drug store didn’t work for me….

This is a very long way of asking how you — presumably a fellow environmentalist — deal with break outs. Feel free to share your opinion about whether or not I should continue using CTRL -- or to dispense acne advice and product recommendations in the comments.

Image: Courtesy CTRL

The acne dilemma
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