The “Naughty Nine” Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare Products

January 24, 2021

Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products

Let's be real, your skin takes a beating each and every day, in both seen and unseen ways. On a daily basis we unintentionally harm our skin with abrasions, bruises and cuts. How many times a day do you realize you have scratched yourself and have no idea how it occurred, accidentally touched something that has irritated your skin, or forgotten to apply lotion to your body? Our skin is our body's largest organ and it is a key barrier to many harmful things in this world, so it deserves our attention and our care!

An essential part of any skincare regimen is keeping the skin moisturized. But not all moisturizers are the same. Taking the time to research the ingredients in a skin moisturizer is definitely well worth your time as there are many average products in the marketplace. There are also many ingredients to avoid or at least evaluate in skincare products as you will find out later in this blog. Some of the ingredients used in the formulation of over-the-counter skin moisturizing products unfortunately contain substances that are toxic and harmful to your skin.

Knowing what to look for on skincare product labels is the first step to taking care of your skin and keeping it in tip-top shape. If you are interested in finding out what ingredients are harmful to your skin, read on for our list of toxic ingredients often found in skincare products.

Petrolatum & Mineral Oil

Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, has been used for more than 100 years. Many people have used Vaseline to coat their lips or even their baby's bottom if they have a diaper rash. Unfortunately, there is a risk of encountering polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the product, which are known to be cancer-causing chemicals.

Petrolatum creates a barrier on your skin to trap moisture, but by doing so, it doesn't allow for moisture to be absorbed from the air. Your skin will begin to dry out quickly, which necessitates you to apply more lip balm or skincare products. In the end, these petrolatum-based products turn out to be less than moisturizing.

The product comes from crude oil and is therefore not a renewable resource. Many companies opt to use oils from olives, sunflowers, and coconuts in their products instead.

Mineral oil, which is a byproduct of petroleum, is often found in cosmetics, lotions, ointments, and creams. When applying to dry skin, it keeps the moisture from escaping, hence being known for its hydrating purposes and softening effects. However, because it creates a "barrier" on your skin, it can clog your pores and increase the likelihood of acne. Since mineral oil is not easily absorbed, it stays on top of your skin and can make you more susceptible to increased ultraviolet ray penetration, which could lead to sun damage to the skin.

But don't be discouraged, there are many oils that help keep your skin moisturized without the messy business of clogging your pores, such as flaxseed oil. Ideally, what you put on your face should penetrate through your skin and provide additional benefits.

There is an easy way to test if a face cream is too heavy for you. After putting on face cream, wait five minutes, and then lightly touch your face. If you can still feel the moisturizer, it's likely too heavy for your skin.

Artificial Colorants

Artificial dyes are added to products to change their color and make them more appealing to consumers. These additives are one of the ingredients to avoid in skincare products as they can cause inflammation, irritation and unwanted redness to your skin.

Artificial colorants can also irritate acne prone skin. They often will block pores and change the natural oil balance of the skin, increasing the probability of getting pimples.

Some of these artificial colors may contain things you really wouldn't want to put on your skin such as coal tar. Additionally, some colorants, especially if purchased from less trustworthy sources, can be contaminated with things such as lead, arsenic, or other heavy metals. Your body likely won't absorb enough to be dangerous, but it isn't something you want to introduce to your skin... no matter what!

Be sure to read the label on each product you consider. You'll likely see the color in the list of ingredients, such as "yellow 6." Sometimes, it might only say "colorant." Use your newfound knowledge of skincare to shop for products that don't use artificial colors. If you're unsure, look up our website for more information.

Artificial Fragrances

Nearly every mass-market skincare or cosmetic product uses artificial fragrances. It's not required for manufacturers to put on the label what is in their fragrances, so you'll often just see "fragrance" or "parfum" on the label, which most likely is a combination of things not good for your skin.

Fragrances are one of the main causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Synthetic or artificial fragrances can be composed of countless chemicals, exposing you to toxic ingredients.

If you have sensitive skin, you will want to use products without a fragrance. However, products that are scented with vanilla, melon, or aloe vera can often provide an alternative if you still want a product with fragrance because they tend to be more gentle. Using certain essential oils derived from flowers, leaves, roots, or other parts of a plant, and in a diluted concentration, can be a way to safely accomplish the task at hand. The additional benefit of essential oils in topical skincare products can be for their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, such as for acne or fungal infections.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium lauryl sulfate is commonly found in many cleansing products such as face cleansers, body washes, and shampoos. It is one of the more harmful ingredients in skincare products. While it helps create the foaming that is found in those types of products, it can also strip color from your hair if you dye it.

It can cause irritation and an allergic reaction in a person who is using a product with that ingredient. Also, if you don't completely wash it off, it can leave a residue on your skin that causes it to be dehydrated. Sodium lauryl sulfate can also contribute to the presence of canker sores.

When looking for more natural cleansers, explore making your own or finding a product that is castile-based. Castile is a vegetable-based soap that is made without any synthetic ingredients and animal products. It is safe to use in a variety of ways and as a base in personal care products.


You'll often find formaldehyde in nail polish or hair straightening products, but it is definitely not something you want to put on your skin. Formaldehyde is one of the “bad” ingredients used in skincare products. It's not just found in nail care products -- it is often used in makeup remover and baby shampoo and soap.

It can be used in skincare products as a preservative to stop bacteria from growing; however, it is detrimental for humans if they are exposed to large quantities of it. The strong-smelling gas formaldehyde off puts is often or routinely linked to cancer, birth defects, and even asthma.

Because of its controversial use, many beauty retailers will put a label on their products letting consumers know that their products are formaldehyde-free. Some stores only stock products that are formaldehyde-free.


When alcohols, more specifically ethanol, isopropanol, and methanol, are the central ingredient in a skincare product, it is a problem. These types of alcohols will irritate your skin and cause harsh reactions. While your skin might look great immediately after using an alcohol-based product, this ingredient can have long-term negative effects.

Alcohol will cause your skin to become dry, can damage the protective barrier of your skin, and can create problems with how your skin renews and replenishes itself. Alcohol-based products are most frequently advertised as reducing the skin's oiliness. Although they might immediately have that effect, over time the excessive dryness alcohols create will actually do the opposite -- causing your skin to increase its oil production in response, making your already-oily skin look even more so.

However, there are types of fatty alcohols that don't irritate your skin and can provide some topical benefits. Small amounts of those can be fine for any type of skin. These include ingredients you might see on the label such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, or lanolin alcohol. Look for skincare products that use natural ingredients to improve the appearance of your skin tone, while increasing hydration and decreasing oiliness. A quality product will be able to do all that while also reducing fine lines and wrinkles.


Phthalates are a sneaky group of compounds that can be hidden under the “fragrance umbrella.” They are a large group of chemicals that soften plastics, but personal care companies use them to help perfume stick to skin and make the scent linger, and to improve the ability of products to penetrate the skin. Additionally they are found in eyelash adhesive and nail polish. The most common type of Phthalate used in skincare products is diethyl phthalate (DEP), others are DBP, and DHEP. According to the FDA, Phthalates contained in skin care products don’t pose any significant health problems however they are known endocrine disruptors. This means that in our bodies, they can disrupt the normal regulation, production and effectiveness of our hormones. This can lead to early puberty in girls and boys, trigger birth defects, and reduce sperm count in men.

Phthalates can be harmful to the environment and some retailers have started to ban products that contain them. Your quest to avoid products with Phthalates is difficult because they are usually not listed on the ingredients, but rather are included in the listing of “fragrance” on the ingredients list. Your best bet to avoid Phthalates is to use products that are fragrance-free or labeled as “Phthalate-free.”


What is Triclosan? Should it be avoided? Triclosan is an antibacterial agent once found in antibacterial soaps. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that the manufacturer had not proven its safety in repeated daily use for long periods of time and banned the soap’s use in healthcare environments. However, this ban was not extended to personal care cosmetics such as deodorant, mouthwash, shaving cream, and toothpaste.
Triclosan has been shown to contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria as well as being linked to the disruption of thyroid function. In short, it is wise to avoid personal care products that are formulated with triclosan!


Resorcinol is a compound that is used to treat acne, seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, corns, calluses and warts. It is commonly found in hair dyes, shampoos/hair lotions, peels and products used to treat acne, eczema and other dermatological conditions. This chemical works by helping to remove hard, scaly or roughened skin. Resorcinol is primarily used by the rubber industry, especially in the production of tires. It is also used in high-quality wood bonding, dyes, chemical fertilizers and in the manufacturing of certain chemicals.

Use of products that contain Resorcinol may lead to irritation, redness and peeling of the skin; or at toxic levels, this compound can lead to diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, headache (severe or continuing), nervousness or restlessness, slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, troubled breathing, sweating, and unusual tiredness or weakness. Resorcinol can also disrupt the function of the central nervous system and lead to respiratory problems. It has also been shown to disrupt the endocrine system, specifically thyroid function.

Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare Products

Figuring out what ingredients to avoid in skincare products can feel like a daunting task. The list of unsafe and toxic chemicals that are included in many mass-market cosmetic and skincare products can seem overwhelming. Find a brand that you trust - like Aprisa - that uses only the best ingredients in its products. Once you know more about the skincare ingredients to avoid, you will be closer to having healthier and happier skin. Our skin does so much to protect our bodies, so in turn, we need to protect it!

At Aprisa, our primary focus has always been and always will be developing scientifically based, high-quality skincare products that are pleasant to use, and that actually work! We carefully choose the ingredients which we feel will create a product that appropriately balances safety, quality and cost, as well as allergy and sensitivity concerns, while providing a satisfying end-user experience.

For example, when Aprisa utilizes fragrance in its products, we source natural and essential oils, which give potential skin benefits as well as providing natural fragrance. In some cases to enhance the product experience, we source additional high quality fragrances that are known to have low potential for allergic reactions. Check out our full skincare line to find the perfect product for your needs. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

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