Harmful Ingredients In Skincare – Be A Genius Picker. 

So you eat organic but rub, wash, and spray the body’s largest organ with toxic beauty products? What you apply to your skin is important for overall health. Before using skin products, people must learn what chemicals to avoid in skincare products and how beauty product toxicity affects your overall health in long run.

Good eating is good for your health, and the same goes for your skin. Cosmetic products include a list of potentially toxic chemicals to increase their durability and water resistance. Let’s have a look at skincare ingredients to avoid.

What Is A Toxic Chemical:

Invest in your skin wisely; it will represent you for a long time.

The skin has the largest absorption. When we apply toxic chemicals in skincare products to get the glow and good texture of our skin, they get absorbed into the bloodstream. These chemicals in skincare generates free radical causing oxidative stress and damage to the DNA

 Blyumin-Karasik says “Bad skincare products can cause serious illnesses such as:

  • Heart disease.
  • Skin cancer.
  • Hormone disturbance.
  • Allergies and skin irritation.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Reproductive and developmental issues.

List Of Toxic Ingredients In Skincare Products:

 Some skincare ingredients are dangerous to overall health. Here is an ingredients list checker so you can make an informed decision and can be safe from buying toxic skin care ingredients.

1- Parabens dangers.

2- Paraffin and petrolatum ingredients products.

3- PEGS skincare products.

4- Heavy metals in beauty product ingredient

5- sulfates with high concentration.

6- Formaldehyde.

7- Phthalates

8- Alcohol

9- Oxybenzone

1- Parabens:

Parabens, chemicals in shampoo, cream, shower gel, and other personal and skin care products are synthetic preservatives used to increase the shelf life of the product. Some studies suggested that using paraben can disturb the body’s endocrine system and lead to reproductive and developmental disorders.

Even the occasional use of paraben can cause:

  • Itchiness.
  • Hives.
  • Redness.

How To Identify Parabens On Labels:

If you are looking for healthy skin always read the label carefully to understand what is in the product. Paraben is mostly listed at the end of the ingredient with the names Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, and butylparaben.

Some Alternatives Of Paraben:

When purchasing a beauty product, you must try to opt for more natural ingredients, such as extract of grapefruit seeds, thyme essential oil, rosemary, neem, oregano, tea tree, phenoxyethanol, and potassium sorbate.

2- Parafins and petrolatum-Petrolium jelly:

Petroleum jelly is good for the skin until it is used in the right quantity. If petroleum jelly is not used in the proper ratio in formulation then it increases the environmental impact and clogs pores. If you use paraffin or petrolatum, with incorrect formulation get ready to say hello:

  • To the acne.
  • A high quantity of petrolatum acts as a barrier to the skin from breathing.
  • People with sensitive skin may experience redness, itchiness, and inflammation.

Natural Alternatives Of Petrolatum:

Your body absorbs the toxicity of cosmetics; switch to natural or milder ingredients that include:

Natural oils.

-Shea butter.


3- PEGs:

PEGS are included in the skincare ingredient list. PEGS or polyethylene glycol is widely used in different products as an emollient, thickener, and solvent. It is well known for its ability to absorb the skin and enhance the absorption of other ingredients.

On the other hand, PEGS in skincare becomes a toxin when brands don’t use it in the proper formulation and in the right quantity or don’t handle it in a hygienic environment. It mixes with other impurities such as Ethylene oxide and 1-4 dioxane and becomes a carcinogen and may cause serious consequences.

Read a Label For PEGS

  • PEGs with high molecular formula.
  • 14-dioxane represents the contamination, manufacturers take steps to remove these impurities but still, it is a matter of concern.

PEGs are widely used as an ingredient for moisturizers, always read the label and apply a patch test even if the product is dermatologically tested because it may act as an irritant for sensitive skin.

4- Oxybenzone:

Oxybenzone is present in sunscreen and sun protection products. A study published in PMC 2016 says that it harms semen quality. Children especially pregnant women should avoid products with oxybenzone. Further research is needed to understand its impact on human health.

Some Of The Other Name Of Oxybenzone Are:

  • Benzophenone 3.
  • 2-hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone.
  • BP3.

Alternative For Oxybenzone:

Always try to opt for mineral and physical sunscreen. While keeping this thing in mind, it is also present in other products and environments.

5- Alcohol:

Alcohol is commonly used to improve the texture of the product. They overly dry the skin and stripe out the natural oil from the skin. The use of alcohol is a subject of debate some evidence says that it should not be used even in small quantities in any of the skin care products.

  • The use of denatured alcohol in skincare products causes irritation.
  • Continue the use of products with isopropyl or denatured alcohol to damage the skin barrier.
  • Alcohol that is not derived from natural sources accelerates the skin aging process.

Alcohol Is Labeled As:

Alcohol in ingredients is listed as ethanol, methanol, denatured alcohol, or ethyl alcohol,

Alcohol that is derived from natural sources (coconut and palm oil) is good to use in various applications Cetyl alcohol and Cetearyl alcohol are plant-based alcohols and are often used in creams, lotions, and moisturizers. It is considered a good ingredient for skincare that does not irritate the skin and is mostly suitable for all skin types.

6- Formaldehyde:

It is a common cause of skin irritants found in soaps and shampoos. It may often go unnoticed because it is labeled as formalin, glyoxal, and bronopol. It is a strong preservative in nail polish, hair serum, mist, foundations, and eyelash glue.

Have you noticed when you go to a salon for hair straightening treatment, you feel throat, nose, or eye irritation? That means you are applying these toxins that cause:

  • Wheezing.
  • Nausea.
  • Skin irritation. 

DMDM Hydantoin, Urea, and bronopol indicate that formaldehyde is present in the products.

Alternatives of Formaldehyde:

Toxic chemicals in skin care are harmful. You must opt for formaldehyde-free lotion and soap and use natural products instead. A few suggestions are:

7- Phthalates:

Phthalates are used as a solvent in fragrances or perfume formulations. It is one of the top ingredients to avoid in skin care products as it is linked with a range of hazardous health concerns. Unfortunately, it is found in lotion, shampoo, nail polish, and perfumes. It causes:

  • Disruption in the endocrine system.
  • Inflammation,
  • Irritation and redness,
  • Dryness.
  • It exacerbates skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • It also contributes to the development of acne and blemishes.

Phthalates Variant In Skincare Ingredients:

  • Diethyl phthalate DEP, dibutyl Phthalate DBP, or Dimethyl Phthalate DMP are the variants of phthalate and directly indicate the presence of this harmful ingredient. 
  • Sometimes synonyms are used for the product such as Phthalic acid esters

Other Skin-Friendly Options:

You want to avoid irritating ingredients in cleansers, face wash, and other beauty products. We are presenting a few alternatives so that one can opt for safe skincare ingredients.

You can choose a product for the best skincare without phthalates”. You must check the label as “phthalates-free” or the product that uses natural fragrances and ingredients such as:

  • Essential oil.
  • Plant extract and other natural products.

Some studies claim that, except for phthalates and oxybenzone, none of those chemicals severely affect humans when used in low concentrations. But may have consequences on health and skin if used in the long run.

8- Heavy Metals:

You are ready to go to a party, and you’re giving a super shiny look with your makeup. Sounds good! But do you know along with that glassy look you are carrying toxic makeup ingredients? Some makeup ingredients to avoid such as zinc and lead are widely used in cosmetics to give a shiny look. Zinc has a lot of skin benefits if used in the right quantity however the prolonged use of zinc may cause skin dermatitis in people with sensitive skin.

On the other hand, lead is extremely toxic when absorbed in the body. It affects the internal organs. These heavy metals are absorbed through the skin over time and can cause the following:

  • Developmental delays.
  • Neurological disorders.
  • Cancer.

Lead Variants:

To spot lead-related products on product labels look for lead variants such as lead acetate or lead oxide. However, some brands listed the ingredient like Plumbum or lead dioxide. Even some products don’t clearly mention it but the pigment of the product speaks for itself. So look for the color additives with the prefix color index, the higher the color number indicates the product is lead-based.

How to Avoid?

You want to look beautiful and can’t stop using makeup. Don’t worry. We are recommending some safer ingredients. You can eliminate those harmful ingredients product by choosing some alternatives such as:

  • Natural surfaces.
  • Tint-based color.
  • Use more natural shades.

FACT: The stronger the makeup pigment, the higher the concentration of rich chemicals. As a result, makeup looks more vibrant and has long-lasting colors. 

9- Sulfates:

Sulfates are one of the toxic cosmetic ingredients. Without SLS, SLES, and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS), no list of toxic ingredients in skincare products would be complete. It is used in body, hand, facial cleansers, toothpaste, and shampoo as a cleaning and lather agent. Sulfates are considered safe by regulatory agencies FDA.

Although they do not alone qualify as carcinogens, 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, which are known to cause cancer in humans, disturb the nervous system, and be toxic to development, could potentially be contaminated during the manufacturing of SLES (a possible human carcinogen and environmental pollutant that does not degrade easily).

They are considered safe for short-term application, but high concentration causes:

  •  Eye and Skin irritation.
  • Sulfate elevates skin dryness.
  • It triggers eczema.
Some Of The Variant Of Sulfates Are:

Sulfates are often listed in products like Sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS), or sodium laureth sulfates (SLES)

How To Reduce The Effect Of These Harsh Chemical:

  • Use plant-based surfactants.
  • Opt for a brand that makes sulfate-free products.

Products without sulfates may not produce as much lather, but it doesn’t mean they are less effective at cleaning the skin.

Tips To Choose Products With the Best Skin care Ingredients:

Here are a few tips to check are these ingredients safe to use or not. 

  • The most important thing is to know your skin type. Sometimes products are formulated safe but don’t suit your skin type.
  • Find out the concerns and specific problems of your skin.
  • Search for the brands that are cruelty-free and “USDA Organic certified”
  • Read the ingredients list carefully.
  • Ingredients are always listed in descending order in terms of concentration so the first few ingredients are more important.
  • Opt for products that include a high concentration of natural and organic ingredients.
  • Choose a product with air-tight or opaque packaging to minimize exposure to light and air because they degrade the ingredients in your product.
  • Don’t buy those products that are not transparent in terms of their ingredients.
  • Always check the expiry date.
  • Choose products labeled as hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
  • Try to get some genuine reviews of the product from different sources.
  • Do a patch test first.
  • Start with a minimalist skincare routine.
  • Last but not least, always listen to your skin. Pay attention in case of any signs and symptoms, stop using the product, and consult your dermatologist.

We know the names of the chemicals are difficult but it’s provided for your ease to easily check chemicals in products while reading a list because the list of ingredients is often confusing but next time when you buy any product read the list of ingredients confidently 🙂

What Not To Mix Skincare:

Check out the list of ingredients that do not work well together and your skin bears consequences:

  • Vitamin C With AHA, BHA:

It is recommended to use these products in alternate days to avoid irritation and over-exfoliation.

  • Retinol, AHA, BHA:

Don’t use all these ingredients within the same skincare routine or product having these ingredients all together.

Always use retinol at night time routine.

  • Niacinamide And Vitamin C:

Well, experts say that one can use both these ingredients together but there have been concerns about potential interactions so as a safe side use both of them at different times.

  • Retinol And Benzoyl Peroxide:

The use of both chemicals at the same time leads to excessive dryness.

  • Chemical Exfoliant And Exfoliating Scrubs:

Both are exfoliant methods one is a physical scrub with abrasive material while the other is a chemical process with AHA and BHA. The use of both at the same time can lead to microtears.

  • Multiple Active Ingredients In Different Products:

Don’t use products with multiple active ingredients at the same time. Always start with a minimal routine and stick to your routine with a few active ingredients at the same time.

  • Sunscreen And Certain Oil:

Don’t use oil-based products before applying sunscreen as the oil in products may reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen.


1- What are 15 toxic ingredients to avoid in skincare products?

There are 15 ingredients that you should avoid while choosing your beauty product.

  1.  Paraben.
  2.  Sulfates.
  3.  Formaldehyde.
  4.  Fragrance.
  5.  PEGs.
  6.  Oxybenzone.
  7.  Alcohol.
  8.  Heavy metals.
  9.  Petrolatum and paraffins.
  10. Toluene.
  11. Triclosan.
  12. Hydroquinone.
  13. Retinyl palmitate.
  14. Synthetic colors.
  15. Fragrances and perfumes.

2- Role of paraffium liquidum for skin?

Paraffium liquidum for skin is also called mineral oil and is widely used in skincare products as an emollient agent. However, some may find it comodogenic, clogging pores and leading to breakout.

3- How long do paraben stay in body?

Usually, paraben has a very short life in a body and is eliminated within a few days or a week but the traces of paraben remain present in tissue which is a matter of concern, and research on it is ongoing.

3- What is the role of polyethylene in skin care?

Polyethylene is used in skin care products in the form of microbeads or microplastic. Many countries have banned or restricted the use of it because it increases environmental concern and contributes to plastic pollution.

 4- What are some of the worst shampoo ingredients?

Some of the worst shampoo ingredients are:

  • Sulfates.
  • Formaldehyde.
  • Alcohol.
  • Silicone.
  • Diethanolamine(DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA).

5- How are Paraben listed in ingredients?

Paraben is mostly listed at the end of the ingredient with the names Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, and butylparaben.


There are dozens of toxic ingredients used in skincare and beauty products. Find the correct product with skin-friendly ingredients to boost your skin and overall health. A long list of ingredients does not ensure quality and effectiveness, always try to choose a product with simple yet effective ingredients.

People with skin conditions such as eczema, acne, rosacea, or dermatitis should visit a dermatologist before applying any product. Remember, every skin is different, so the result they experience is also different. That is why each ingredient may affect your skin or overall health differently.






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