Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare

So, not that long ago, many of us were probably were completely clueless that any beauty or skincare products had toxic and potentially harmful ingredients in them. Like, what? Was that even legal? Unfortunately, yes, the U.S. has very few laws regulating the cosmetic and beauty industry, though we’re fighting for better regulation.

Therefore that someday, we won’t have to worry about reading labels. Therefore, try to avoid these ingredients listed below when it comes to your skincare ladies.  Since they are very toxic!

Surprisingly, the skin absorbs up to 60 percent of chemicals in products that it comes into contact with directly, straight into the bloodstream.  This is according to a scientific study conducted by The Herb Research Foundation.  In reality, if the average woman uses around 12 personal care products a day and containing 168 different chemicals, you can only imagine how many toxins we are absorbing without any awareness.

Something I hadn’t considered was how products I was putting on my body affected my health.

But, navigating which ingredients to avoid can be tough, especially when you can’t even pronounce them—how are you supposed to remember which ones to avoid. Ladies, are ready to dig through your own beauty cabinet and see what’s in there?!

Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid


Parabens are a whole family of chemicals (methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens) that help preserve shelf-life of products. When going through my own products, parabens were the most common offender. Consequently, I found them in nearly every product from face wash, night cream, makeup, masks, body wash and shampoo—they were everywhere.

Moreover, Parabens can mimic estrogen in the body disrupting our delicate hormonal balance. With this in mind, they’ve been linked to breast cancer, and since they act as a hormone disruptor they can lead to reproductive and fertility issues.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • face cleanser
  • body wash
  • body lotion
  • foundation
  • shampoo


Phthalates group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics in cosmetics. This helps products stick to our skin.

Phthalates can be extremely dangerous to children, but it’s best to avoid them all together as they can be serious endocrine disruptors and even cause birth defects. Congress has actually banned several types of phthalates already from children’s products.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • deodorant
  • lotion
  • fragrance
  • hair spray


Certainly, this one doesn’t sound so scary, but “fragrance” is considered a trade secret which means that companies don’t have disclose what ingredients are inside. Often, the ingredients include tons of chemicals that can cause allergies, hormone disruption and lead to bigger health problems reproductive issues and infertility.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • moisturizers
  • hand creams
  • hair products

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and/or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are known to cause skin irritation and trigger different allergies.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • shampoo
  • body wash
  • bubble bath


These are synthetic antioxidants that are used to extend shelf life and are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors that may cause liver damage. To emphasize, our liver is our bodies’ main form of detoxification and if that’s not functioning at its best, it’s likely that other organs are functioning at their best either.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • lipsticks
  • moisturizers
  • diaper creams
  • other cosmetics

Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (aka, Vitamin A)

This one really surprised me.  I always thought retinal was a good ingredient.  It might help soften wrinkles, but it’s got some negative sides too.  In reality, it turns out that it may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used on your skin. Two things you don’t ever want.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • moisturizer
  • anti-aging skincare


Lead is a heavy metal and is a neurotoxin. It can cause serious behavioral and learning problems, like lowered IQ. It’s already been removed from things like paint and gasoline, but not the things we’re putting on skin. Notably, if you wear lipstick or lip gloss, think about how many times you reapply it during the day. Some of it will come off when you use a napkin, but plenty of it gets gets absorbed and ingested. Yet,  speaking of lipsticks, it is also recommend avoiding products that include petrolatum as well.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • lipstick
  • lip gloss


Yes, the stuff we used in high school biology to preserve dead animals. I was shocked to find out that it was used in cosmetics! It is a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.

Most Commonly Found In:

  • shampoo
  • body wash
  • bubble bath

Triclosan and triclocarban

Most Commonly Found In:

  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • antibacterial soap

Triclosan was all the rage as antibacterial products became ubiquitous in the 1990s. Surprisingly, even the FDA agrees that there is no health benefit to humans who use triclosan, and in 2013 ruled that manufacturers using it had to demonstrate that there were no long-term detrimental effects. Triclosan (in liquid products) and triclocarban (in bar soaps) have been linked to hormonal disruptions, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies. Instead, use naturally antibacterial and antiseptic agents like tea tree oil.

Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine (Coal Tar)

Most Commonly Found In:

  • hair dye
  • shampoo

In detail, Coal tar, a byproduct of coal processing, is a known human carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. In Reality, hair stylists and other professionals are exposed to these chemicals in hair dye almost daily.

Seeing that, Europe has banned many of these ingredients in hair dyes. While FDA sanctions coal tar in specialty products such as dandruff and psoriasis shampoos, the long-term safety of these products has not been demonstrated.


Most Commonly Found In:

  • sunscreen

Oxybenzone is one of the highest-risk chemicals found in sunscreen. While, it acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. Since, studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system. With this is mind, opt for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide or avobenzene instead.


Most Commonly Found In:

  • skin lighteners

As a result, the FDA warns that this skin-bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with “disfiguring and irreversible” blue-black lesions on exposed skin. Since, illegally imported skin lighteners can contain mercury, which can poison adults and children and is especially toxic during pregnancy. Be wary of imported skin lighteners, don’t buy products without ingredients clearly labeled, and always avoid products with “mercury,” “calomel”, “mercurio” or “mercurio chloride.”

Surprisingly, the cosmetics, shampoos, lotions and other products we put on our bodies can be just as harmful as anything we put in them. Because of ingredients found in face washes, sunscreens and more, have been linked to everything from hormonal disruptions to cancer.  Yet, what’s worse is that they go directly into your bloodstream when applied to the skin or hair.

While there are certainly lots of studies with different perspectives on this topic, everyone can agree that using more natural products is.  Or, even better yet, try making your own, it is the  safest bet for you and the environment.

We know it can be difficult to let go of skincare or cosmetics that you’ve used for years. At Alpstories, we challenge ourselves to find the safest alternatives for you and your family, products that we believe are healthy AND more effective.

What must-have products do you use on your skin today that you think may have questionable ingredients?

Let us know in the comments so we can be on the lookout for safe alternatives to share with you!

“Live Green, Love Green, Be Green, We are just mankind….without earth, we are nothing.” Unknown

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