Harmful Ingredients skull and crossbones

Many people are heavy users of various skincare products that promise us to look and feel more beautiful and healthier. Despite this, people must be very careful in choosing which products to use, since many skincare products on the market contain numerous harmful ingredients. It is therefore important that you look out for any of the following components.

Paraben Free product label
A Good Label to Look For


Parabens are a common preservative in skincare products to help keep them fresh and prevent harmful bacteria from developing in the product. However, it has been widely reported that parabens can cause breast tumors.

Warning label for the dangers of formaldehyde
Formaldehyde IS dangerous

2. Formaldehyde

This compound functions as anti-bacterial agents in skincare products. Though it is a common embalming chemical, they are naturally present in plants, food, and smoke in small amounts. However, many companies have already stopped using formaldehyde in their skincare products because it was found out that it can cause skin irritation as it can act as allergens or sensitizers.

Even formaldehyde-releasing preservatives such as Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Bronopol, DMDM hydration, Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, and Quaternium-15 must be avoided.

3. Sodium lauryl sulphate/ sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

SLS is a chemical compound made up of a mixture of non-volatile alcohols. Many skincare products contain SLS because of their surfactant properties, skin-conditioning agents, and emulsifier nature. Being a surfactant, it allows body washes to have bubbles which enable trapping and easy rinsing-off of dirt. As an emulsifier, it helps stabilize and thicken solutions which allow the product to be more uniform in viscosity for easier and smoother application.

However, SLS is one of the harshest sensitizers and causes skin and eye irritation. It can also cause skin flaking, redness, dandruff, dermatitis, and allergies. SLS can also act as a detergent that can remove natural oils from your skin. Moreover, there are studies that show that SLS exposure has a link to cancer. It has the ability to make nitrosamines, a carcinogen product. When SLS is mixed with triethanolamine, toxic substances called metabolizes will be formed.

4. Petrolatum

This is the most common ingredient for dry skin and is usually used around the eyes. However, this can be a harmful skincare product since it is always at risk for contamination. Many moisturizing products such as lip balms and moisturizers contain petrolatum but do not have moisturizing capabilities. This is because it creates a barrier that retains moisture but it also prevents the absorption of moisture from the outside. This results in the suffocation of the skin that will lead to drying out. Always beware of petrolatum products because they give quick but temporary results. It gives an illusion that the skin is soft and hydrated even if it is not.

Air bubble in coal tar
Do you want this on your face or hair?

5. Coal tar

Coal tar is a product composed of hydrocarbons and water which form a thick, light black, and viscous liquid.  Many vibrantly-colored lipstick and eyeshadows contain this compound. Despite this, coal tar is a very heavy substance that weighs down the skin. It results in skin irritation which is the prerequisite of acne breakouts and allergies. There are also researches that imply that coal tar is a carcinogen.

6. Fragrances

Fragrances help cosmetics smell good, but many can cause toxic effects on the body. It is mostly made up of petroleum and coal-derived chemicals which are skin and nose irritants. An example of this is hydroquinone. This is a pleasant-smelling compound that is used in skin lightening skincare products. It used to bleach the skin and in treating hyperpigmentation as it increases the number of melanocytes present. This chemical can be dangerous, especially when it is used for a long time because it destroys the skin through its forced and harsh alteration. This results in blemishes and pre-aging. Hydroquinone can also cause patches of black or blue to remain in the skin, otherwise known as the skin disease ochronosis. It is also a carcinogen and has other toxic substances.

7. Triclosan

Triclosan can be found in soaps and skincare products. Many manufacturers use this because of its anti-microbial properties that prolong shelf-life.  On the other hand, it has been reported that triclosan causes skin allergies and eye irritation. It can also be linked to hormone disruption which can be detrimental to the body in the long run. It is  prone to contamination by chloroform and other toxic substances, making it an anti-environment compound because of its slow breakdown.

8. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP-3) is used to stabilize and strengthen the scent and color of beauty products. It is also a common ingredient of sunblock. It absorbs UV-B and UV-A rays and easily dissolves creams to be easily absorbed making it a common ingredient of skincare products with SPF. This compound has been discovered to cause skin irritation, allergies, and redness. Since it is easily absorbed, the accumulation of this product in the body can increase toxic levels in the body which may damage or disrupt the functions of the endocrine system. Also, this chemical is a hormone disruptor since it mimics estrogen so it may cause skin or breast cancer.

9. Phthalates

Phthalates, otherwise known as plasticizer, is used in cosmetic products to make them soft, more flexible, and less likely to break. This is a potentially harmful product because it may disrupt hormones and cause negative effects on the reproductive system. It is also linked to many illnesses such as ADHD, diabetes, and cancer. This, however, is a chemical that is very difficult to detect because manufacturers are not obliged to list phthalates in their list of ingredients.

10. Alcohol

Alcohol is a widely used ingredient in the cosmetics industry because it is a solvent for mixing components together, but it is actually very harmful to the skin. It may cause dryness of skin and flakes because it eats away the skin surface especially after prolonged use. It also poses stress to the skin because alcohol interrupts with the renewal of the skin. There are many claims that it is good for people with oily skin and it can reduce pimples. However, the results are contrary to this claim because alcohol caused damage to the skin such as blemishes.


Next time you go shopping for your skincare products, make sure none of these chemicals are present in the ingredients list. Instead, opt for products with natural ingredients because they are not only safe but more effective on the skin as well.