Ever since I was a child, I loved to make people feel and look beautiful.

Top Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare Products

Okay so I’m not the ‘cleanest’ living person on the face of this planet… I enjoy Lucky Charms, I use skincare products with ‘chemicals’, I like vodka tonics… So…. I’m not the best practice what you preach sort of girl, because I absolutely know the importance of eating more antioxidants, drinking red wine instead of vodka tonics and avoiding dairy whenever possible… but sometimes life just gets in the way. Or sometimes I just can only focus on so many things at once. Sure, I’ve definitely cut back on eating Hot Pockets and going for Amy’s Organic instead, but there is only so much organic food I can take in my life. And the same thing is said for my skincare products…. I try to avoid the really crappy, chemicall-y brands and opt for the more natural whenever possible. Or, I can probably safely say I’ll pick a product and then be happy it’s not full of crap… That’s probably the more honest truth.

But with all that said and despite that clean living is probably not my thing, nor ever will be. And trust me, I can TOTALLY appreciate anyone who is super conscious of that… I get it. You’ll probably live longer than me and you’re an amazing human being for doing that, but my life is all about moderation. So for skincare, I try to pick the brands that are environmentally conscious or don’t test products on animals, but there are also certain ingredients I am weary of. The big one that comes to mind is parabens for me, because they are cancer causing. But ya know, in the same token, I’m sure there is some really bad crap in Hot Pockets, so my goal in life is to do the best I can and don’t over-obsess. I’m telling you all this because this blog is all about ingredients you SHOULD be avoiding when ya can! I’m certainly not recommending you go through your entire skincare cabinet and throw out everything you’ve got, but like I said before, try things in moderation. I still have some Hot Pockets in the freezer 😉

Okay, so here are top ingredients you should avoid in the skincare realm. This isn’t to say that these are the only ones to avoid or again, that if your skincare products contains it to panic, just take it as a word of caution and go about your day!


Parabens act as a preservative commonly found in moisturizers, hair products, and cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria, yeast, and mold. The big kicker with this is that parabens are known to effect hormones and it’s widely associated with breast cancer and reproductive issues. The European Union banned parabens in 2012, but the FDA has yet to regulate this ingredient in America. Go Europe!

I think you’ll be really surprised by how many of our day to day products contain parabens.. I know that my face wash does… Again, do your best to avoid it, but don’t go crazy. Or if you have history of breast cancer, be really careful!


Think back to science class – this is the same crap! I used to hate having to dissect animals. Looking back, I’m pretty surprised it was ‘forced’ upon us… I don’t think I could do it now. Anyways, this is a preservative that can be found in your mascara, nail polish, cleansers, and more. Formaldehyde is actually deemed as a human carcinogen and it’s pretty harmful. You may not always see the word formaldehyde listed on the label, instead you may see one of these guys – according to EWG.org

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Bronopol (2bromo2nitropropane1,3-diol )
  • 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
  • Hydroxymethylglycinate


Phthalates are key components of plastics and are widely found in lotions, nail polish, perfumes, and hair spray. And lord knows I use a shit ton of hair spray… so I’ve gotta look out for this. Though, I will happily say that the Tresemme products I use are 100% free of phthalates. Go them! This product is another one that is hard to spot on ingredient labels. It’s actually a loophole in the FDA law protecting cosmetic companies from revealing their “industry trade secrets”, so it technically doesn’t have to be listed at all…. Sneaky Pete’s! So specifically look for products or brands that market ‘100% phthalates free’.

Oxybenzone or Avobenzone

Chemical sunblocks that include ingredients such as oxybenzone or avobenzone can cause irritation and dryness. For gentler options, reach for physical sunblocks with zinc and titanium dioxide instead. Other synthetic chemical sunscreen agents including benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate, and ethoxycinnmate may cause cellular damage and cancer.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

Found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products, most often foaming type products. SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants and can also lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, body wash, cleanser mascara and acne treatments.

Propylene glycol

It can be found in moisturizers, sunscreen, makeup products, conditioners, shampoo and hair sprays. This is an ingredient I do definitely recognize. How about you guys? Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It’s classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. Not the most deadly ingredient, but not good nonetheless.

This blog was certainly a reach for me and I don’t know a ton about chemicals to avoid… and I still don’t. I learned a lot while researching, but these ingredients stuck out the most for me. If you or someone you know can chime in on this, please do so. I’d love to be more well-versed. If someone stopped me in the streets on this topic, I would still be sadly speechless…..It’s all very overwhelming. For more information regarding chemicals found in skincare products, visit EWG.org

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