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Skincare Ingredients To Avoid

Posted by Ellie Swain on Feb 17th 2022

Skincare Ingredients To Avoid

As sustainability and natural ingredients become more and more important to people, today, transparency in the beauty industry is valued more than ever.

As a result, this transparency has brought light to many nasty ingredients lurking in skincare products.

Naturally, you may be wondering what skincare ingredients are okay to use and what you should aim to avoid.

It all comes down to your personal preference to decide how far you want to reduce certain ingredients. But know that the amount and frequency of use play an essential role in toxicity.

If you don’t have a chemistry background, reading ingredient labels on the back of beauty products may feel like reading a foreign language.

That’s why we’ve helped you out by collecting some of the key skincare ingredients to avoid next time you shop for new products.


Parabens are typically used in cosmetics and are a preservative to make products last longer. They’re endocrine disruptors that can cause some serious problems.

They also function like estrogen, which can lead to boosted cell growth.

Additionally, parabens have been linked to a myriad of other problems , including allergies, thyroid disruption, and breast cancer.

Due to their bad reputation, many brands have proactively removed parabens from their products and labeled their formulas paraben-free.

Scanning for these labels is the easiest way to avoid parabens. If a product has caught your eye, but it’s not listed as paraben-free, check the back of the packaging and look for ‘paraben’ in the ingredients list.

Synthetic fragrances

While it’s nice for a product to smell pleasant when an ingredient label lists ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’, this is usually an umbrella term for hundreds of chemicals that companies don’t have to disclose. This makes it more difficult to pinpoint an ingredient that may cause a reaction.

Synthetic fragrances can be found in everything from makeup to shower gels to household cleaners. Many companies even use fragrances as part of their branding.

Airlines like United and Delta even spray scents throughout their cabins and lounges while some hotels diffuse their own-brand fragrances into lobbies and hotel rooms.

One huge problem with using fragrance is how many different chemicals may make it up. According to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners , brands can choose from over 4,000 scent ingredients to create perfumes. However, they only must list the concoction as one ingredient on their labels.

Fragrances are known to irritate the skin, so while your favorite moisturizer may smell sweet, it may be the reason for your red and inflamed complexion.

Fortunately, it’s easy to find fragrance-free products. For searching for scent-free products on our website, browse using our handy filter here .


Phenoxyethanol is often used as an alternative to parabens, but unfortunately, it causes similar adverse health effects.

While marketed as a safer option, the ingredient has caused reproductive and developmental concerns in the past. This means many brands can use the ingredient to label their products as ‘paraben-free’ without actually making it safer to use.

Be sure to read the ingredients label properly when searching for safer and healthier beauty products. Japan and Europe have already restricted phenoxyethanol’s use in cosmetics, and the FDA has issued a warning about its use in nipple cream.


Oxybenzone is a potential endocrine disruptor. It can be hidden in many skincare products containing sunscreen, including lotions, cleansers, lip balms, fragrances, and even baby products.

For a safe and healthy sunscreen, we recommend the iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50 , formulated for daily use and extended outdoor activities.

The sunscreen is a unique blend of scientifically advanced physical sunscreens, including transparent titanium dioxide, micronized zinc oxide, and pure vitamin E.

Plus, the sunscreen is an ultra-sheer, lightweight formula that absorbs into the skin quickly so you can avoid the shiny sheen that many sunscreens give off.


Formaldehyde is commonly found in nail polish and is used as a preservative. It’s often lurking in cosmetics, hair smoothing formulas, pressed-wood products, and even food.

While this ingredient is found naturally in the environment, concentrated levels have led many agencies to classify formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.


Phthalates are used in a lot of plastics to make them more flexible. They’re found in various products, from garden hoses to beauty products.

But like many, you may agree that a plasticizer certainly doesn’t belong in your skincare.

While it’s not yet clear how phthalates affect human health in the long term, animal studies show that they disrupt hormones and the reproductive system.

Even more worrying, women of child-bearing age are most likely to be exposed to the ingredient, which has been linked to fertility problems and cancer.

Discover which ingredients are good for you – here are five powerful skincare ingredient combinations .