10 Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare and Beauty Products

Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare and Beauty Products

Healthy living is not just about food and exercise, it’s about everything you put on and in your body and it’s also about the energy you surround yourself with among many other factors. This is why I chose to switch to using clean beauty, safer beauty, all natural, and non-toxic beauty and skincare products.

When I was in Nutrition School, we took this course called Nutrition and the Environment. Sounds kind of dull, doesn’t it? Well it was actually one of my favourite classes. It was filled with amazing discoveries as well as infuriating information and facts. Facts about the environment and the mounds of plastic flooding the ocean, facts about GMOs and the lack of labelling, and facts about our skincare and beauty products. That was the beginning of the end of my toxic relationship with chemical laden products.

In this article, I’ve decided to break down the 10 most toxic chemicals that are also the most commonly found in convention make up and could very well be making you sick.


are a class of preservatives and are used to keep products from expiring too quickly. Parabens are potentially carcinogenic and are known endocrine disruptors, which means they effect our hormone levels in the body.


(or parfum or perfume) is a class of chemicals that do not have to be disclosed on the ingredient label of products. Fragrance can have up to 1000 different ingredients in it and companies are not required to disclose these ingredients due to the “proprietary blend”. Fragrance can contain; carcinogenic ingredients which are known to cause cancer, act as skin irritants, and can be hormone disrupting toxins.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate:

also known as SLS is a foaming agent used in shampoo, hand wash, body wash, cleansers and bubble bath. SLS can be contaminated with 1, 4 Dioxane which may cause cancer. Also beware of “sodium lauryl sulfate” which is a similar chemical with similar issues.

BHA and BHT:

are used as preservatives in both food and make-up especially lipsticks. BHA and BHT have been known to cause skin irritation and reactions, are possible carcinogens, and are also classified as priority 1 endocrine disruptor. This means that studies on mice and rat show that prolonged exposure to BHA and BHT have been connected with increased thyroid, liver, and kidney issues.

Coal Tar Dyes:

used to pigment make-up and hair dyes, specifically eyeliner, brow pencils/gel and mascara. Coal Tar Dyes are derived from petroleum and are known carcinogens, which means they are known to cause cancer in humans. Look for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes and in other products colours listed as “CI” followed by five digits. The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”). These chemicals may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.


are petroleum based products which are used as thickening agents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. PEGs are often contaminated with measurable amounts of 1, 4 Dioxane which as I noted above, may cause cancer. PEGs have been shown to be possibly carcinogenic and evidence has indicated genotoxicity. PEGs should be avoided as they increase permeability, meaning products with PEGs are absorbed more quickly into the skin and bloodstream. Also keep an eye out for the ingredient: Propylene glycol which is related to PEGs and causes the same issues.


used in products to lock in moisture and increase shine. Petrolatum is found mainly in hair products and moisturizers. Petrolatum is classified in the European Union as a carcinogen and skin irritant and is banned for use. Related products which you should look out for are: mineral oil, petroleum distillates.


are silicone-based products used to smooth, soften, and moisten. Siloxanes, also known as cyclotetrasiloxane and cylcopentasiloxane or D4 and D5. The European Union classifies D4 as a endocrine disruptor, based on evidence that it interferes with human hormone function and a possible reproductive toxicant that may impair human fertility. In laboratory experiments, exposure to high doses of D5 has been shown to cause uterine tumours and harm to the reproductive and immune systems. D5 can also influence neurotransmitters in the nervous system. When reading labels, keep in mind any ingredients ending with “–siloxane” or “–cone” are related chemicals.


is used mainly in antiperspirants, cleansers and hand sanitizers as a preservative and an antibacterial agent. This chemical can be found in many household items from garbage bags to linens to kleenex and even toothpaste and makeup. Tricolsan is a possible hormone disruptor, it also is harmful to the good bacteria in our gut and therefore can impair our immune system. Tricolsan accumulates in the body and because it’s found in so many products, even small amounts do harm to us.


these are used as plasticizers in nail polish and kids toys and can also be found in many products as a fragrance enhancer. Phthalates are shown to cause developmental defects, changes in the testes and prostate and reduced sperm counts. The European Union classifies phthalates as a suspected endocrine disruptor on the basis of evidence that it interferes with hormone function and as toxic to reproduction on the basis that it may cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility.

What Can You DO? 

Start by looking at the products you use, think about what products you use everyday and which you only use once in a while. Prioritize which you’d like to change as soon as you can versus which can wait. Use the EWG app or head to the Environmental Working Group site and rate your products.

Shop around for cleaner alternatives. My favourite clean make-up brand is Beautycounter, it’s make-up that works REALLY well and is also super clean. My favourite clean skincare brands are Province Apothecary, Consonant Skincare, and Beautycounter.

Ask questions, read labels, reach out to your local government officials and tell your family and friends. We all deserve better. We all deserve safer beauty and skincare products.


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