The ingredient, carrageenan, is sometimes lurking in what you thought was a healthy acne safe alternative to put in or on your body.
It can be found in some otherwise acne-safe, dairy-free, alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, lactose-free milk, Greek yogurt, and many other dairy free choices. This ingredient can also be found in products such as toothpaste, facial moisturizer, shampoo/conditioner, shaving cream, foundation, sunscreen, and cleanser. These products often contain carrageenan as a “natural” thickener.
You can find products that choose not to contain this ingredient. Whole Foods 365 brand and Trade Joe’s brand are two popular brands that opt against using carrageenan. Always check ingredients lists carefully when purchasing foods – some brands carry products both with and without carrageenan.
Our skin has learned the hard way; just because something is “natural,” doesn’t always mean it’s good for you or your acne prone skin, especially in large quantities. Some are suggesting there is a distinct connections between carrageenan and gut irritation and inflammationbut our concern for acne sufferers is that carrageenan is derived from red algae or seaweed, which are high in iodine. Although not the cause of acne, and there is little evidence yet to back it up, it’s widely known that high amounts of iodides, over the daily recommended amounts, do lead to increased breakouts. There are also some who say there is very distinct gut/skin relationship and why oral probiotics are sometimes recommended to improve skin health. If this is true, and if carrageenan causes gut irritation and inflammation, this could also be a culprit to increased breakouts.
What is Carrageenan?
Carrageenan is derived from red algae or seaweed, and is most frequently used as a natural emulsifier, thickener or stabilizer for food, because of its gelling properties. Lately, carrageenan has been marketed as a natural ingredient, allowing food companies to use it in foods and goods labeled as “natural.”
At one point, Carrageenan was petitioned to be banned. Dr. Joanne Tobacman, a physician-scientist at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine, filed a petition against the use of carrageenan in foods, after convincing evidence that carrageenan’s side effects were harmful to human health.
The FDA vetoed this petition in 2012, claiming that the research was “disputed.”
Cornucopia, a non-profit food policy research group—and one of the most outspoken groups on the hazards of carrageenan—are requesting the FDA to reevaluate the petition to ban carrageenan. Cornucopia asserts that the FDA’s denial of Tobacman’s petition was “riddled with overt bias which appears to protect an industry’s profits at the expense of public health.”
According to one of their statements:
“Natural does not mean safe….Poison ivy is natural, but you wouldn’t put it in skin lotion…carrageenan side effects appear to do to your gut what poison ivy does to your skin.”
View our complete list of skin bullying ingredients to avoid or drop a line to one of our Acne Specialists for a full consultation.