8 Common Ingredients in Skincare Products That Are Harmful to Your Skin

Did you know that 884 of the chemical ingredients used in skincare and cosmetic products are toxic according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health? The market is flooded with products that are loaded with chemical ingredients that are long, difficult to pronounce and can in fact be dangerous to your skin.  This is among the many good reasons why it’s almost always better to use a product with all-natural ingredients.  Here are a few ingredients found in common skincare products that are actually destructive to your skin.

1. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives.  What that means is that these skin care ingredients increase the shelf life of skincare products or, in other words, extends the expiration date.  It is one of the most frequently used ingredients in cosmetics.  Studies are not definitive, but it can disrupt hormone production and have been found in breast cancer tumors.  Examples of parabens include

-Methyl paraben
-Ethyl paraben
-Propyl paraben
-Butyl paraben

2. Synthetic fragrances

Phthalates is a common skin care ingredient in fragrances.  Phthalates are used to stabilize the fragrance but, like paraben, phthalates can also disrupt hormone production. Common effects of synthetic fragrances include dizziness and allergic rashes.  Except for making the product smell better, synthetic fragrances are not good for your skin at all.

3. Synthetic colors

Synthetic colors are usually made from skin care ingredients deriving from coal tar.  Studies have shown that color pigments derived from coal tar have the potential to cause cancer.  Other possible effects include increased sensitivity and skin irritation.   Synthetic colors usually show up in ingredient labels as FD&C or D&C.  Unless synthetic color is an important part of your skincare, try avoiding products with synthetic colors.

4. Mineral oil

Mineral oil is another skin care ingredient common to many skincare products because it is cheap and stable.  Many women also use mineral oil to remove make up.  But, mineral oil can actually clog pores and prevent the skin from expelling waste and toxins, which can then cause acne.  Other ingredients similar to mineral oil include:

-Paraffin wax
-Paraffin oil

5. Ureas

Urea, like paraben, is another preservative. They are also known by the names Germal II and Germal 115.  Germal 115, in hotter temperatures, can release formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a key ingredient in creating many ink and glue products and is, of course, toxic to your skin.  Examples of ureas include:

-Imidazolidinyl urea
-Diazolidinyl urea
-DMDM hydrantoin

6. Alcohol

Alcohol by itself is often used as a disinfectant.  But if used as a daily skin care ingredient, alcohol can irritate or dry your skin out and can also make it easier for bacteria to penetrate your skin.  Increased dryness of the skin can also cause brown spots and wrinkles. Examples of alcohol include:

-Isopropyl alcohol
-Ethyl alcohol

7. Sulfates

Sulfates is a key skin care ingredient that makes shampoos and soaps bubbly when you rub it.   But did you also know that sulfate products are used in industrial-strength detergents such as car washes and engine degreasers? Sulfate won’t harm your skin if it’s only there for a short while.  But if you leave sulfate products on your skin for a long time, it will irritate your skin and cause dryness.  Sulfate products can also cause eye irritation. Examples of sulfates include:

-Sodium lauryl sulfate
-Sodium laureth sulfate

8. Glycol

Glycol is a skin care ingredient used in skincare products to help keep moisture. But, did you know that glycol products are used in brakes and anti-freeze? Some glycol products are so strong that it is used to de-ice planes and remove barnacles from boats.  Glycol can cause skin rashes and allergic reactions.  Extended contact with propylene glycol can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.  Examples of glycol include:

-Propylene glycol
-Butylene glycol


It’s hard to resist the marketing techniques of so many of these products. They say it’s good for your skin but in reality, the product is often loaded with preservatives and other compounds that are toxic to your body. How can it be called skincare if it’s not good for you? The next time you’re in the bathroom, try checking the skincare ingredients in your cosmetic products.