1.12.14

Ingredient Review - Simple Skincare




I have re-written this blog post what feels like a million times. Sometimes it can be difficult to put into words my passions about ingredients. I do like to present facts and encourage readers to question companies. It can be hard to stand up against big brands and then (as I know from experience) have to deal with people who become upset by your opinions. Readers have accused me of damaging businesses, of picking on some companies and not others. Let’s just set the record straight, I very much doubt that one person’s opinion can “bring down” a multinational corporation. I am a little fish in a big ocean when it comes to my weight as a blogger. As much as I would love to critic many other brands, I don’t have the time to write about them all so yes I do select brands that I see as popular and currently on trend. 

I think it’s very naive that some people believe companies have the wellbeing of their consumers at heart and that everyone is decent when it comes to company ethics – think about cigarette causing cancer and leaking breast implants, we have whistleblowers to thank for giving consumers knowledge. I certainly would never regard myself as a whistleblower but the purpose of blog posts like this is to basically say “hey, dear readers, you have a choice, don’t always believe the marketing hype, listen to your skin and spend your money wisely”. Remember, I am also trying to share my experience dealing with allergies and eczema. I have spent many years trying to figure out why I have skin problems. Is it genetics or is it the environment around us, the food I eat, place where I live or the products I put on my skin? I also want to help protect the Earth for future generations, what goes into for example my body wash, ends up down the drain and into our water and soil. 

So moving on from this little speech, Simple Skincare has been around for years and I tried their products in my teens and promptly reacted to them. Recently Simple have been working with bloggers so they came to the forefront of my mind once again. When I saw this sentence in a review - "With Simple I never feel like I'm putting nasty chemicals on my skin" - I felt the need to express my opinions.  I have never been comfortable with the brand and their image for being “sensitive skincare experts”. I am upset by the bold as brass wording “skin loving ingredients, no harsh chemicals”. Why? Because I believe it is misleading. Their formulations make me feel uncomfortable. In order to support my argument, I decided to take a closer look at the product line. 

Simple’s tag line appears to be based on products being free from artificial perfume, colours and no harsh chemicals. For some people being free from perfume and colours is a positive selling point, there will of course be consumers who have sensitivity to these ingredients, me included. However, I have a wide range of irritation triggers so Simple does not meet my needs. You could argue, it is impossible to cater to everyone and I do not disagree on that point. However, I wrote a blog post the other week (click here) and explained why the phrase “no harsh chemicals” does not sit comfortably with me. What do Simple class as a harsh chemical? From where I am standing, their products are loaded with synthetic ingredients which I believe may cause irritation and could be classed as harsh on skin. 

I looked at ingredient lists across Simple’s product line and I can demonstrate why I believe the phrase "no harsh chemicals" is a bit cheeky. I spotted 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol a antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. Straight off that sends shivers down my spine. Formaldehyde is a proven toxin so I would class this as a “harsh chemical”. The majority of Simple products contain parabens and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene), used for preserving and both regarded as a toxin and allergen. The face wash contains SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate) and Cocamidopropyl betaine, synthetic surfactants associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. I noticed Dimethicone in the facial creams, a silicone based polymer which I avoid because I believe it has the potential to irritate delicate skin. Now you could argue that the average person probably won’t feel any ill effects from these ingredients, however, I think there is strong evidence to show a risk for those who are prone to sensitivity, the exact consumer these products appear to be formulated and marketed towards.

I noticed on the front of each bottle that Simple give you the number of “skin loving” ingredients, for example, four in the Night Cream (glycerine, bisabolol, allantoin, borage oil). That equates to 20% of the product containing ingredients which Simple are happy to market as “skin loving” but what about the other 80%? I can never understand why any consumer would be comfortable with this ratio. The natural and organic skincare I choose probably contain 90% to 100% natural ingredients (as in recognisable from plants and pronounceable). I accept that not every natural plant extract is suitable for the entire population but my positive experiences outweigh all the negative ones from ranges available on the High Street. 

Bottom line is Simple Skincare is not for me. Of course, you have the right to decided what to put on your skin but I would like to encourage readers to do their homework. Be aware that even a product that claims to be suitable for sensitive skin may have the potential to irritate.


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Note: I use EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database (www.ewg.org) & books I own to research ingredients

16 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post, I used Simple for years thinking it was a more natural range only to realise how naive I was. False marketing like this infuriates me.

    Liz Earle is a good example. When I changed to natural skincare my family members all said 'oh, like Liz Earle or L'Occitane, Origins or Aveda?' and I'm like nonononononono, they SAY they're natural but they're not!

    I think there needs to be a standard like the Soil Association logo that can be put on the front of the bottle to guarantee natural ingredients (even if they're not organic), that will then shame the companies that are nowhere near.

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    1. The problem is the likes of Liz Earle and Aveda where founded by people who did have good ethics when it came to ingredients but then they sold their companies to large organisations (e.g Avon & Estée Lauder) and formulations change. I definitely agree with you, there needs to be a standard or regulations in place to ensure that products marketed as natural are indeed just that.

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  2. This is such a difficult subject because everyone's standards are different and everyone reacts to different things... I'd love there to be some kind of certification process that companies have to go through and some kind of scoring system similar to EWG skin deep database i.e. a score out of 10 for hazards then a break down of what ingredients push the score up (and why) so that you can quickly and easily make an informed decision on what to buy and if it will suit your skin, and your needs.
    Rach xx

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    1. I get that everyone's standards are different but with Simple can they really say "no nasty chemicals" even for someone with zero ingredient standards surely that's a piss take? I agree (and mentioned above) there should be some regulation or guidance for consumers in the meantime we will just have to keep on blogging about it :)

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  3. Love this blog, I'm going to post it on my fb page, hope that's ok.

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    1. Glad you liked it and yes happy for you to share, the more people are aware the better choices they can make :)

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  4. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, wonderful post.

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  5. Great post Sarah. Simple really piss me off because they're the biggest greenwashers in the whole mainstream I think. They just take the mick with their slogans & green packaging. I was chatting to a girl on Twitter and up until I told her that they pretty much have the same ingredients as other brands, she thought they were more natural!

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    1. Agree with you Amber, I have encountered the same in regards to opinions about this brand. I don't even rate the few natural ingredients they are using, glycerin has it's purpose and is useful but not worthy of promoting on the front of the packaging IMO

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  6. I SO agree with you and have written about this myself. Unfortunately, we have all been mislead to trust labels. The thing that makes me mad is that companies are allowed to do crap like this.

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    1. I do feel there is a need for regulations to try and put an end to marketing of these brands which are misleading consumers

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  7. I've been using Simple products for a while now to try to build up a regular routine but have not seen any improvements, in facts I probably have a lot more blemishes and pimples, and after reading this, I understand why! Is there a natural skincare range that you could recommend?

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    1. Everything I review on the blog is natural & free from synthetic ingredients but what is your skin type and any specific products you are wanting to find e.g masks, cleanser, moisturisers ? :)

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  8. Totally agree with you. When I moved to UK I was at the beginning of my ''green'' journey. I already new some basics that I wanted to avoid. And I was researching more. And at the same time I was exploring what the British market has to offer. From reading the INCI I arleady knew that Simple or Lush are greenwashers and are not for me and I have never purchased anything :D

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Always great to get reader input :)

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