Over the years I have had many clients ask me for safer, yet equally as effective, alternatives to mainstream skin and hair care products. Many of these people have medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, or allergies which leaves them unable to tolerate exposure to many of the harmful and damaging ingredients found in mainstream skin and hair products. Other people just want healthier options.


For starters, our skin is our body's largest organ and it can absorb up to 60% of anything that we put on it. In fact, in pharmacy we actually capitalize on the skin’s superior ability to absorb by putting medication in creams, gels, and patches that can be applied directly on the skin.

This means that it should be of utmost importance for everyone to be aware that whatever you are putting on your skin is getting absorbed into your body.

Regular Offenders

When used on a regular basis the following potentially toxic ingredients that are often found in common skin and hair care products can have negative health consequences and should be avoided: parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours, artificial fragrances, sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, toluene, petrochemical products and many others. 

What to look for

Thankfully there are now a number of natural, organic and safe skin and hair care products available that are free from harmful preservatives, dyes, perfumes, binders and synthetic ingredients. Not only are these products safer for you and your family, they are also safer for the environment. An added benefit is that many such products are made right here in British Columbia and many more are made in Canada, all of which rely on cutting-edge research combined with centuries of ancient wisdom in their formulations. 

For dry or chapped skin, look for products that use organic plant oils, such as coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, borage oil, hemp oil, olive oil which act as excellent moisturizers.

Also look for products that include powerful anti-oxidants such as extracts from seaweed, kelp, sea buckthorn, green tea, lycopene, grape seed and raspberry seed as these help to protect and heal the skin.

For protection from the sun, look for sunscreens that provide a physical barrier to the sun (as opposed to chemical). Physical barrier sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which block both UVB rays, which cause sunburn, and UVA rays, which cause skin aging and wrinkling, offering a safer option for blocking the damaging effects of the sun than traditional synthetic sunscreens.

 It’s impossible to avoid all synthetic and harmful chemicals all the time, but if you can limit the amount of toxins that your body is exposed to your health and wellness will benefit in the long run. 

The health and safety of you and your family is of primary importance and making the choice to reduce or eliminate as many harmful chemicals from your daily skin and hair care routines as possible is an easy choice to make.


And of course, always try your best to eat clean, naturally grown foods and avoid chemical-laden processed foods, drink plenty of filtered water and look for foods and products that are certified organic to avoid toxic chemicals.


Colin Holyk, Owner, Pharmacist

Kerrisdale Pharmacy & Hollyburn Pharmacy