12 Toxic Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid for Healthier Skin

toxic skin care

Did you know that since 2009, 595 cosmetic manufacturers have reportedly used 88 chemicals in over 73,000 products linked to cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm? Shockingly, the FDA has only banned 11 chemicals in skincare products in the United States. In contrast, the European Union has banned nearly 1,400 chemicals, highlighting a much stricter regulatory approach.

What does this mean for you? It means your favorite shampoo, moisturizer, or skincare essential could be filled with chemicals potentially harming your body and psyche (as they wreak havoc on your hormones and brain function as well). This is why it is crucial to be mindful of what we apply to our faces and bodies. While skincare products promise miracles, most of them contain ingredients that can do more harm than good, leading to irritation, allergies, long-term health issues and even infertility.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! This article aims to guide you through the world of skincare safely by highlighting 12 toxic ingredients to avoid for healthier skin.

12 Toxic Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid

  1. Parabens

Parabens are usually odorless, colorless, and have a waxy texture. They are added to products in small concentrations to extend their shelf life. They are a group of synthetic preservatives commonly used in cosmetics, skincare products, hair care products, and personal care items to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast. 

While parabens are effective preservatives, there is concern about their potential health effects on humans. Some studies suggest that parabens may disrupt hormone function by mimicking estrogen in the body, leading to hormone-related issues. They have also been detected in breast tumors, although there is no conclusive evidence linking their use in cosmetics to cancer.

Parabens are commonly found in a wide range of skincare and cosmetic products, including moisturizers, lotions, creams, shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, makeup, deodorants, and sunscreens. 

Paraben is commonly listed as:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propylparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are surfactants commonly used in personal care products such as shampoos, body washes, facial cleansers, and toothpaste. 

They are responsible for creating the foaming action and lathering effect in these products, helping to remove dirt, oil, and impurities from the skin and hair. Additionally, SLS and SLES are used in household cleaners, detergents, and industrial applications due to their ability to effectively break down grease and grime. 

However, they can be harsh on the skin and scalp, potentially causing irritation, dryness, and sensitivity, especially in individuals with sensitive skin or conditions like eczema. As a result, some people prefer to avoid products containing SLS and SLES, opting for gentler alternatives.

These are commonly listed as:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
3. Phthalates:

Phthalates are clear, scentless, oily compounds incorporated into plastics to prevent them from becoming fragile.

Additionally, they serve as gelling agents, aiding in the blending of typically incompatible ingredients, and are found in certain shampoos and other grooming products to enhance adherence to the skin. 

However, these substances have raised concerns due to their association with birth defects and hormone disruption, prompting FDA monitoring.

Phthalates is listed as: 

  • Diethylphthalate
  • Monoethyl 

4. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas commonly used as a preservative in various products. It can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat and has been classified as a carcinogen by several health organizations.

Formaldehyde is listed as:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Formalin
  • Methylene glycol
  • Methylene oxide
  • Paraform
  • Formic aldehyde
  • Methanal

5. Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil, sourced from petroleum, is a common ingredient in skincare products. While it's often used as a moisturizer due to its ability to lock in moisture, it can also have negative effects on the skin. Mineral oil has a heavy texture that can clog pores, potentially leading to acne breakouts. 

Additionally, it forms a barrier on the skin that may interfere with its natural detoxification process, hindering the elimination of impurities and toxins the body is trying to expel.

Mineral Oil is listed as:

  • Paraffinum liquidum 
  • Petrolatum
  • Cera microcristallina
  • Microcrystalline wax 
  • Ozokerite
  • Ceresin paraffin
  • Paraffin
  • Synthetic wax
organic skin glow

6. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent commonly found in various personal care products such as cleansers, hand sanitizers, and even some toothpaste brands. It is added to these products for its ability to kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infections. 

However, concerns have been raised about the potential negative effects of triclosan on both human health and the environment.

Research suggests that triclosan may disrupt hormone function in the body, potentially leading to hormonal imbalances. 

Additionally, there is growing evidence that triclosan exposure may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance, making it harder to treat bacterial infections effectively.

Due to these concerns, many companies and regulatory agencies have started to phase out the use of triclosan in consumer products. Some countries have even banned its use altogether in certain products. 

Triclosan is listed as:

  • Hydroxy 
  • Diphenyl 
  • Ether
  • 7. Fragrance/Perfume

    Fragrance, often listed as "Fragrance" or "Perfume", is a blend of scent chemicals added to products to provide a specific aroma. It's found in nearly ALL skincare, hair care, body care items, makeup, perfumes, and household products. 

    While it may enhance the user experience with a “pleasant smell”, the term "fragrance" or "perfume" can represent numerous undisclosed harmful chemicals due to trade secret protections.

    Fragrance/Perfume is listed as:

    • Fragrance
    • Perfume / Parfum
    • Aroma
    • Essential Oil Blend
    • Flavor (in lip products)
    8. PEG Compounds

    Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are commonly used in skincare and cosmetic products as thickeners, solvents, and moisture carriers. 

    However, PEGs are often contaminated with carcinogens like ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which can penetrate the skin and cause systemic harm.

    PEG Compounds are listed as:

    • PEG followed by a number (e.g., PEG-6, PEG-40)
    • Polyethylene Glycol

    9. Oxybenzone

    A common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, oxybenzone can disrupt hormone function and has been linked to coral reef damage. It is widely used for its ability to absorb UV rays, protecting the skin from sunburn. 

    Oxybenzone is commonly found in sunscreen lotions, creams, sprays, and lip balms.

    Oxybenzone is listed as:

    • Benzophenone-3
    • BP-3
    • 2-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzophenone

    10. Toluene

    Found in nail polishes and hair dyes, toluene is a solvent that can cause skin irritation, headaches, and damage to the central nervous system with prolonged exposure. 

    It is commonly used to help nail polish apply smoothly and to maintain its color.

    Toluene is listed as:

    • Methylbenzene
    • Phenylmethane

    11. Coal Tar

    Used in treatments for psoriasis and dandruff, coal tar is a known carcinogen that can cause skin sensitivity and photosensitivity. 

    It is commonly found in medicated shampoos, scalp treatments, and topical ointments formulated to relieve itching and flaking associated with psoriasis and dandruff.

    Coal Tar is listed as:

    • Coal Tar Solution
    • Coal Tar Solution USP

    12. Hydroquinone

    Often used in skin-lightening products, hydroquinone can cause skin irritation, and ochronosis (a bluish-black discoloration of the skin), and may be linked to cancer with prolonged use. 

    It is commonly found in skin creams, lotions, and serums marketed for brightening and evening out skin tone.

    Hydroquinone is listed as:

    • Hydroquinone
    • Quinol
    • 1,4-Benzenediol
    schizandu organics

    Why Switch to Natural and Organic Skincare Products?

    Switching to natural and organic skincare products isn't just about personal safety; it's also about the safety of the earth and its other living beings. 

    We're committed to avoiding toxic ingredients or products, which is why we ensure that all of Schizandu Skin Glow products are made with organic and pure natural ingredients that are safe for all. 

    From Cleansing Bars crafted with organic and wild ingredients like the French Pink Clay, Green Alchemy Beauty Bar, Charcoal Detox Bar, and Lemon Poppy Seed, to our shampoo bar, we prioritize using ingredients that nourish and protect your skin without harming you or the environment. Sustainability is at the core of our ethos, ensuring that you give your skin the best it deserves while being mindful of the Earth's well-being. 

    The Bottom Line

    Whenever you're looking for skincare or essential products for your body, always choose organic, biodegradable items for a healthier you and a healthier environment. Always remember this crucial tip: take a moment to read the ingredients list before reaching for your 'go-to' shampoo, moisturizer, or skin care products.

    Always opt for natural products, and remember, your skin absorbs anything you put on it. This prompts reflection on the severity of toxic skin ingredients. 

    We never use harmful chemicals, artificial fragrances, or unnecessary additives, fillers, or emulsifiers in our Schizandu Skin Glow products

    They are paraben and sulfate-free, fragrance-free, 100% natural, and safe for you, your family (including pets), and the environment. Your skin is your largest organ, your first line of defense and it deserves the best care possible just as nature intended.

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