Top 10 Toxic Skincare Ingredients Dermatologists Say You NEED to Avoid


  • It is important to be aware of the ingredients to avoid in skincare, as some can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Common ingredients to avoid include parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
  • Dermatologists recommend looking for skincare products that are free of these ingredients to minimize the risk of skin irritation.

Are you new to skincare? Or maybe you've been using the same cosmetic products for years and think it's time for a change. Either way, it's important to know what ingredients to avoid in skincare.

Dermatologists have long warned us about the dangers of certain ingredients in skincare. But with the vast array of products on the market, it can be hard to keep track of what's safe and what's not.

Let's talk about the common skincare ingredients you need to avoid, so you can always make sure you're using products that are good for your skin!

1. Silicone

If you're a beauty junkie, chances are you've come across the ingredient silicone in your skin care products. Silicone is a synthetic polymer often used in skin care products because it's super smooth and helps fill in fine lines and wrinkles. 

However, there are some good reasons why you might want to avoid silicone in your skincare routine.

First of all, silicone is not biodegradable, so it can build up in the environment. Second, it can be difficult to remove from your skin, which means it can clog pores and lead to breakouts. 

Finally, some studies have shown that silicone can interfere with the body's production of collagen, which is essential for healthy skin.

So, should you avoid all skin care products that contain silicone? Not necessarily. If you're using a product that contains other beneficial ingredients and you don't have any sensitivities to silicone, then it's probably fine to continue using it. 

However, if you're looking for a more natural skincare routine, there are plenty of silicone-free products out there that can still help you achieve healthy, glowing skin.

2. Artificial Colors and Dyes

Many skin care products contain harmful ingredients like pure essential oils, antioxidant rich carrier oils, and artificial colors and dyes, which can be damaging to the skin. These synthetic substances are typically made from coal tar or petroleum, and they are often referred to as " FD&C" or " D&C" colors. 

While these chemicals may make products look more appealing, they can contribute to skin irritation and other problems. In addition, artificial colors and dyes can interact with sunlight, increasing the risk of sun damage. 

For these reasons, it is important to avoid skin care products that contain these synthetic ingredients. Instead, opt for products made with natural ingredients that are gentle on the skin.

3. DEA and TEA

Many popular skin care products contain harsh chemicals that can damage your skin like essential oil extracts such as coconut oil, and two of the most common offenders are DEA and TEA. 

DEA is short for diethanolamine, and it's often used as a foaming agent in cleansers and shampoos. However, DEA can also cause irritation and dryness, which has been linked to cancer. 

TEA, or triethanolamine, is another chemical commonly found in skin care products. It's often used to adjust the pH level of formulations, but it can also be drying and irritating. 

Moreover, TEA can react with other ingredients to create harmful byproducts. For example, when combined with nitrosating agents, TEA can form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. 

4. Sulfates

Sulfates are a class of chemicals that are commonly used as cleansing agents in shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products. They're effective at removing dirt, oil, and other impurities from the skin, but they can also strip away natural moisture and cause irritation. 

For these reasons, sulfates have come under fire in recent years, and many people now avoid them altogether.

There are a few different types of sulfates, but the most common ones used in skin care products are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). 

Both of these ingredients can be very drying and irritating to the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. In addition, sodium lauryl sulfate can cause eye irritation and contact dermatitis. 

Studies have also shown that SLS can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, interacting with other hormones and potentially disrupting the endocrine system.


5. Petrochemicals

Regarding skincare, we are constantly bombarded with new and "improved" ingredients, many of which are derived from petrochemicals. 

While these ingredients may appeal to our desire for instant results, they can actually be quite harmful to our skin in the long run. Petrochemicals are a group of over 4,000 different chemicals that are derived from petroleum or natural gas. 

They are often used in skin care products because they are cheap and readily available. However, petrochemicals can cause a number of problems for our skin, including dryness, irritation, and accelerated aging. 

In addition, they can disrupt our natural hormone levels and lead to serious health problems over time.

6. Phthalates

Phthalates are a class of chemicals commonly used in skin care products, from body lotions to fragrances. However, phthalates have come under fire recently for their potential health risks. 

Studies have linked phthalate exposure to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. As a result, many skincare companies have pledged to remove phthalates from their products. 

But while avoiding phthalates may seem like a no-brainer, it's not always easy. That's because phthalates are often listed under different names on ingredient labels. 

So while you might not see "phthalates'' listed on a product, it may still contain these harmful chemicals. To avoid phthalates in your skincare, look out for ingredients like dibutylphthalate, Diethylphthalate, and Benzylbutylphthalate.

7. Parabens

When it comes to skincare, there are a lot of ingredients to avoid. Parabens are one of them. You'll often find them listed on products such as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. 

They're used as preservatives and can be found in a lot of skincare products, including moisturizers, face and body washes, and makeup. 

While they're effective at extending the shelf life of products, they can also be harmful to your health.

Parabens have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and reproductive toxicity. They can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, where they can wreak havoc on the body. 

Studies have shown that they can disrupt the hormone estrogen, which can lead to breast cancer. They've also been shown to interfere with the body's natural reproductive process. 

While more research needs to be done to confirm the exact effects of parabens on human health, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid them altogether.

8. Triclosan

Antibacterial soap may sound like the perfect solution to preventing illness and keeping your family healthy. However, some antibacterial soaps are actually more harmful than helpful.

One of the key ingredients in antibacterial soap is triclosan. Triclosan has been linked to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as endocrine disruption. 

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly common, as triclosan helps them survive and thrive. Triclosan is also known to disrupt the endocrine system, leading to many problems, including infertility, congenital disabilities, and cancer. 

9. Synthetic Fragrances

Anyone who's ever used a conventional skincare product knows they typically come with a strong, synthetic fragrance. While the scent may be pleasant at first, it's important to understand that synthetic fragrances are a skincare ingredient you must avoid. 

Not only can they cause skin irritation and trigger allergies, but they can also disrupt your body's natural hormone balance. Studies have shown that exposure to synthetic fragrances can increase your risk of obesity, depression, and even cancer. 

Synthetic fragrances are made from a combination of chemicals and many known skin irritants. In fact, fragrance is one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis. And because fragrance ingredients are not required to be listed on product labels, it can be difficult to know if a product contains them.

Fragrance ingredients can also disrupt the natural balance of your skin's microbiome, leading to inflammation and other skin problems. And studies have shown that certain fragrance chemicals can interfere with the body's hormone production, leading to various health issues.

10. Alcohol

Alcohol is a skincare ingredient often used in toners, astringents, and other products designed to cleanse the skin. 

While it can be effective in removing dirt and oil, alcohol also strips the skin of its natural moisture, leaving it dry and vulnerable to irritation. 

In addition, alcohol is a known irritant that can cause inflammation, redness, and flaking. It can also disrupt the skin's natural barrier function, making it more susceptible to dehydration and environmental aggressors. 

For these reasons, alcohol is a skincare ingredient that should be avoided, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin. Plenty of other options can effectively cleanse the skin without causing these types of problems.

Tips on How to Read a Skincare Label

Now that you know which ingredients to avoid in skincare, it's time to learn how to read labels so you can make sure your products are safe.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Look for products that are labeled "fragrance-free." This means they do not contain any synthetic fragrances.
  2. Avoid products that say "paraben-free" or "phthalate-free." While these ingredients may not be present, the product may still contain other harmful chemicals. Choose products that are labeled "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologist-tested."
  3. Read the ingredient list carefully. If you're unsure about an ingredient, look it up online or ask a dermatologist.
  4. Choose products that come in glass or metal containers. These are less likely to leach chemicals into the product.
  5. Make sure the product is not tested on animals. Many companies that do not test on animals will put a logo on their products to indicate this.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to skincare, it's important to be an informed consumer. By knowing which ingredients to avoid, you can make sure you're using safe and effective products that will help improve your skin health.

Not only will you avoid the potential risks associated with these ingredients, but you'll also be able to choose products that are better for your skin type. So take the time to learn about your skincare products' ingredients and ensure they're safe for you to use.

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