Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

Did you know your skin absorbs what you put on it? Even more reason to ensure your skin care ingredients are safe. And you should be looking at skin care product labels in a similar fashion to food labels. There are thousands of chemicals in beauty products. Some are completely safe to use topically, while others are not. And it’s unfortunate, but true, that many of the ingredients in skin care products are literally skin irritants. And others are even endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic.

Skincare Ingredients to AvoidSkincare Ingredients to Avoid

Listed below are some of the worst (and most popularly used) ingredients that are still on the market today. Many increase the risk of cancer, destroy your skin matrix, or cause allergies and asthma. And you’d be surprised what the FDA allows in our country. The main skincare ingredients to avoid include:


Parabens are among the most controversial ingredients in the beauty world. And they’re often found in both skin and hair care products. They are used mainly as preservatives, which prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus, and yeast. However, some research shows that parabens may increase the risk of breast cancer. Even so, it is necessary to understand that parabens occur naturally fruits like blueberries. Yet the synthetic kind may be linked to these risks more than the naturally occurring kind.


Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are also known as surfactants. And they are found in more than 90% of all skin and hair care products. They are well known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. So, why do they keep showing up in our personal care products. SLS/SLES is responsible for the foaming action in your shampoos and soaps. And most people have become accustomed to this kind of cleaning. So much so, that when they use a product without these surfactants, they believe they are not clean enough. These ingredients dry out your skin, and may even cause cancer due to a chemical reaction. Oil, lotion, or gel cleansers work better without the risk.


Formaldehyde – the stuff morticians use to preserve dead bodies. Yes, you read that right. As you can probably guess, formaldehyde is used as a preservative in beauty products. And although it has the benefit of preventing bacteria growth, it has been linked to cancer of the nose and throat. Plus, it causes skin issues such as irritation and allergies. And the ironic part? It’s found in body washes, shampoos, conditioners, cleanser, and eye shadow.


When you see the word “fragrance” under the list of ingredients, it can be perplexing to understand exactly what that means. For the most part, it’s to cover up a company’s seemingly secret formula. So, we aren’t entirely sure what could be in this ingredient. Simply put: it’s a blend of possibly dangerous chemicals. Well known fragrances concoctions have been linked to allergies, skin issues, respiratory diseases, and harmful effects on the reproductive system. And it’s found in almost every type of skin care product across the board.


Diethanolamine (or DEA) is often found in skincare products that are creamy – such as creams, serums, and moisturizers. Research shows that it causes mild to moderate skin and eye irritation. And in some experiments, it was discovered that high doses can cause liver, skin, and thyroid pre-cancer or cancer. Europe has already banned this ingredient due to these studies. Plus, DEA is classified as hazardous to the environment as well.

Propylene Glycol

Although it’s an organic alcohol, propylene glycol is a known skin irritant and penetrator. And it’s linked to dermatitis and hives in humans. And research shows that it doesn’t take much to cause these effects – only about 2% is needed. This ingredient is often found in skin care product such as moisturizers, make-up, sunscreen, as well as shampoos and conditioners.