10 Harmful Ingredients in Skincare to Avoid

10 Harmful Ingredients in Skincare to Avoid

Let’s visit a familiar situation for many of you reading this post. You think you’ve done the right thing by investing in a full collection of skincare products – cleansers, toners, make-up remover, serums, exfoliators, day creams/ night creams, eye creams, face masques – you name it, you have it. You take the time & effort to apply these products twice daily only to find that the results are a little less desirable to what you had imagined.

Redness, dryness, oiliness, soreness, lumps and bumps. A common problem? Everyday skincare products can contain harmful ingredients that can actually aggravate and irritate many people’s skin. 

Here are 10 such ingredients found in everyday skincare products which may be causing your skin problems as well as adding serious toxic load to your body: 


The harmful effects of parabens have got greater coverage in the last couple of years and it really is about time. Parabens are a prevalent ingredient in many everyday skincare and haircare products – you will see them listed as Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl , Butyl, Isobutyl or something similar. Parabens can cause redness and allergic reactions, particularly as they can enter the blood stream. They are also believed to disturb the hormonal function.


Another common ingredient that regularly creeps into the formulas of many skincare products, particularly perfumed skincare products and deodorants, is Phthalates. This chemical is used to retain a perfumed scent but is widely linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues.


A frequent vaguely listed ingredient, any skincare product with “fragrance/parfum” listed among the ingredients should be highly avoided. Who knows what fragrance concoction this contains and these added fragrance formulas are widely linked to allergic reactions and can cause aggravated skin conditions such as dermatitis as well as respiratory conditions. A product that has listed “fragrance/parfum” can be anything up to 3,000 different chemicals under this cluster ingredient. 


This antimicrobial chemical is added to provide antibacterial properties to cleansing and skincare products as well as soaps and deodorants. Unfortunately, more often than not, it adds little antimicrobial effect and instead serves only to really irritate the skin and disturb thyroid and hormone functions. 


If you spot the letters SLS or SLES among the ingredients, put that product back on the shelf. Unfortunately, this ingredient is in a lot of products, particularly anything that foams like skin cleansers so it is hard to avoid. However, it is a very strong skin, eye and lung irritant so it is not an ingredient you want to be putting on your skin every day.


This is one nasty petrochemical you want to avoid too. It comes from petroleum or coal tar sources, which probably says enough. It’s powerful enough to be a paint thinner so keep it away from your skin. It will sometimes be disguised as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane or methylbenzene in the ingredients list.


Skincare and cosmetics companies include formaldehydes in their formulas to prevent the growth of bacteria. While it may stop bacteria growing inside of cleansers, body washes and other vanity products, it can prove harmful to the immune system and can cause allergic skin reactions. 


The key ingredients of many skin lightening and brightening creams, Hydroquinone is not the hero ingredient you might think it is. Many users find their skin can get irritated and bumpy from it, while others develop contact dermatitis and sensitivity to the sun.


PEGs have started to get a bad reputation as of late and it’s well deserved. An all-too-frequent feature in skincare formulas, PEGs are used to thicken skincare products. Unfortunately, they also can strip the skin of natural moisture and contribute to oily or greasy residue on the skin.


Nobody tends to question the inclusion of “synthetic colours” in skincare products too much, but you really should. If you see the letters F, D or C, followed by a colour or number, your skincare products contain synthetic colours. The problem is these synthetic ingredients come from petroleum or coal tar sources and are linked to a number of health issues.

If you’re keen to get the most from your skincare regime, it sure pays to get to know the ingredients in your skincare products. Clean beauty products definitely exist, it just takes a keen eye and a little research.

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