Watch Out! 7 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products

Watch Out! 7 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products


How confident are you when it comes to your products’ safety?

Skincare products are made to improve your skin’s overall condition.

But, unfortunately, not all ingredients in those skincare products are good for you.

Some of them can irritate your skin while others pose more serious threats.

Scared? You should be.

Now, to help you be more proactive about your skin’s health, here’s a list of ingredients you should avoid in skincare products.

Watch Out! 7 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products
Watch Out! 7 Toxic Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products

1. Parabens

Found in: Makeup, moisturizers, and facial cleansers

Listed as: Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, or Ethylparaben

Parabens act as a preservative. They help prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast in skincare products to avoid contamination and extend their shelf life.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well, not really.

They’re carcinogenic, which means they can change healthy cells and transform them into cancer cells. In fact, various studies have linked them to the development of breast cancer.

Parabens also have properties that mimic estrogen to create hormonal imbalance.

Hormonal imbalance can lead to problems in your endocrine system. Your ability to bear a child, the way your tissues and cells grow or even how your heart beats are affected when your endocrine system fails.

2. Synthetic Fragrance

Found in: Face creams, body washes, lotions, and deodorants

Listed as: Fragrance, Perfume, or Parfum

The reason why fragrance is added to skincare is pretty straightforward. It masks the products’ unpleasant smell to make them more enjoyable to use.

Some even say fragrances help hide a product’s “secret formula.”

But, here’s the catch.

The EWG states that synthetic fragrances cause skin, lung, and eye irritations. So, aside from rashes, too much exposure to fragrances can also lead to breathing problems, headaches, and dizziness.

3. Triclosan

Found in: Antibacterial soaps and antiperspirants

Listed as: Triclosan or Triclocarban

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that is supposed to make products “more effective.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to be the case.

There isn’t much evidence showing that washing with soaps containing this ingredient is better than using plain soap and water.

Studies even suggest that it can make bacteria resistant to antibiotics and irritate the skin. It’s an endocrine disruptor, too, and can cause problems to the reproductive and thyroid hormones.

4. Propylene Glycol

Found in: Sunscreens, moisturizers, and cleansing creams

Listed as: 1,2-dihydroxypropane or 1,2-propanediol

Propylene glycol is a type of organic alcohol used to condition the skin. It is an odorless and colorless liquid that helps lock moisture into the skin.

This chemical also helps products retain their freshness when shipped or stored.

For example, we all know that oil and water don’t mix. But once this chemical is added to lotion, it combines the two together and makes it into one homogenous mixture.

However, this report states it causes skin irritations in concentrations as low as 2%.

It can lead to allergies once it gets absorbed by the skin, causing rashes, dermatitis, and even hives.

5. Sulfates

Found in: Face cleansers, body washes, and shampoos

Listed as: SLS (Sodium lauryl sulfate) or SLES (Sodium Laureth sulfate)

Sulfates are chemicals that act as surfactants and are used as foaming agents. They are found in any skincare product that produces foam.

Admit it: foams make bath times more enjoyable. But, are they really worth it?

Sulfates can cause skin irritations, inflamed skin, and damaged hair follicles. They can even lead to blindness or severe eye damage when exposed to high concentrations.

Those with sensitive skin can get clogged pores and have breakouts when exposed to these chemicals. That’s why it is best to wash the product off immediately to avoid further irritation.

6. Ammonia Compounds

Found in: Soaps, facial cleansers, body washes, and bubble baths

Listed as: Diethanolamine (DEA) or Triethanolamine (TEA)

Ammonia compounds are added to skincare products to act as emulsifiers or foaming agents.

Ammonia is naturally found in the environment and in the body. But, when exposed to high levels, ammonia can cause throat, eye, and skin irritation.

Problems include burns, coughing, difficulty in breathing, and even blindness. It can also lead to lung damage and death when a person is exposed to very high concentrations.

Tests are available to see how much ammonia is present in urine and blood. Unfortunately, they are not sure-fire ways to know if you’re overexposed as ammonia is naturally present everywhere

So, to reduce the risk of overexposure, keep ammonia-containing products away from children and make sure there is proper ventilation while using the said products.

7. Mineral Oil

Found in: Lotions, creams, and ointments

Listed as: Liquid paraffin, Light liquid paraffin, or Baby oil

Mineral oil is from petroleum and is added to skincare products to help lock in moisture. It’s an odorless and colorless oil which is a cheaper and more lightweight alternative to other emollients.

But, if having clear skin is your goal, I suggest staying away from this ingredient.

First is because it causes clogged pores. It has large molecules that don’t get absorbed, so it just sits on the surface of the skin.

It creates a physical barrier and is most likely to “trap” any bacteria living on the skin’s surface. This can make you more prone to breakouts.

Mineral oil also reflects the sun’s rays since it only sits on top of the skin. This can lead to discoloration and even more sun damage.


Skincare products aren’t created equally.

We use them to deliver nutrients to our skin and improve its condition. Sadly, some companies still add ingredients to their products that cause more harm than good to our skin.

And there’s no way to know if it’s intentional or not.

This list of the ingredients to avoid in skincare products has hopefully made you take a second look at what you put on your skin.

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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