8 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Products

For most of us, skincare is how we start and end our day. Skincare products use a huge range of ingredients and unfortunately, the U.S has few laws regulating the ingredients that go into skincare products that are not considered a drug (those those would require FDA approval).

Many of the ingredients that go into these products may be toxic and harmful for more than just your skin. From known carcinogens that may cause cancer, to hormonal issues and major skin reactions, the ingredients on this list can cause some scary side effects that are worth avoiding.

It may seem overwhelming reading skincare advising you to “avoid this” and “look out for that” so we’ve created a list of 8 major ingredients to try and avoid in your product selections. Just having an awareness of these unhealthy ingredients is the first step to making a positive change in your quest to unmask a glorious you.

8 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Self Care Products

  1. Formaldehyde. Found in nail polishes, hair products, body washes and a wide range of cosmetics. This known carcinogen is often used in other products like building materials and embalming the deceased! In liquid based products like face washes, it can be absorbed into the skin and cause irritation and a higher risk of developing cancer. Multiple countries have banned it from being used in personal care items. These products can become even worse when exposed to the sun for too long or passing their expiration date.
  2. Parabens. Found in shampoos and conditioners, facial cleanses, lotions, etc. This group of preservatives is a risky ingredient associated with major developmental and reproductive concerns. Parabens are typically easy to identify on ingredient labels as most end in "paraben".
  3. Fragrance ingredients. Fragrances are found in most personal care items from lotions to sunscreens and washes. While the vibrant & fresh aroma of your lotion may be a major draw, the negative effects they can have are frightening. Some of the fragrances do not have to be listed on your product’s ingredient lists and many happen to be hazardous pollutants. These unregulated chemicals can regularly cause skin irritation, headaches and facial stinging but may even lead to lung diseases and cancer.
  4. BHA or BHT. Found in lip products, hair products, makeup and lotions, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are extremely harmful potential carcinogens. These ingredients have been linked to long term health issues from hormone function issues to cancers and organ disruptions.
  5. Polyethylene glycols, or PEG compounds. These compounds are found in cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos and deodorants. Polyethylene glycols or commonly referred to as PEG, is a substance to avoid. They are known to penetrate the skin well and on broken skin this can be a major issue. They are often filled with dangerous contaminants and can cause hormonal issues or various organ problems if they enter the bloodstream. They can also cause hypersensitivity to the skin and other skin reactions.
  6. Petrolatum. Also known as petroleum jelly, these compounds are found in lotions & cosmetics. While we often think petroleum products like vaseline or cream-based cosmetics are “clean”, they are very much the opposite. Petroleum is a major byproduct of good old crude oil is often filled with major impurities and contaminants. Some of these have been found to contain harmful carcinogens that may cause cancer. In addition to these contaminants, petroleum can often cause skin irritation and breakouts due to the barrier it creates over the skin.
  7. Sulfates are found in shampoos, toothpaste and bath bombs. These compounds  are known to cause irritation for many in the eyes, skin, mouth and lungs. While they don’t have a strong link to cancers and major health issues like some of the other ingredients on our list, they are a common cause of acne and clogged pores especially in individuals with sensitive skin.
  8. Oxybenzone. With a name like that, who needs an explanation? This compound is mostly found in sunscreens, skin creams, hair products and cosmetics. Oxybenzone is as harmful to your skin and health as it is to fragile coral reefs and marine life. While it may seem like an added perk to have spf in all of your everyday products like skin creams and cosmetics, the long term effects Oxybenzone can cause are far reaching. It can cause problems from negative skin reactions and rashes to lifetime endocrine problems and organ toxicity. It also is seen to have a major negative effect on many types of marine life from stunting sea plant growth to causing major defects in marine life.

How can I avoid these ingredients and scary side effects?

  1. Read the ingredient labels on all the products you’re currently using. Remember that the ingredients with the highest percentage in the formula are listed first so the first 5 or 6 are the most important.  
  2. Simplify your routine. Throwout the products that contain these harmful ingredients. Plain and simple.
  3. Make the switch! Choose products that contain simple, clean ingredients that will help your skin rather than harm it.

By going the extra step in choosing clean products, your skin will thank you, especially in the long term. Making the switch to cleaner, simpler products may seem like a major daunting task but will make a world of difference. By reading this list and following our 3 step process, you can be back on track to putting your best face forward.