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Five Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid (and why)

September 15, 2017Mikaela Ian

If you’re reading this, chances are you either care about what you put on your skin or you want to learn more about what you put on your skin. Clean beauty has been super trendy over the years and more so these days now that we are paying more attention to ingredients in our favourite products.

I’ve been inadvertently using a clean beauty routine for a few years but before that, I never paid attention to the ingredients in my beauty and skincare products. I had no idea they were toxic and potentially harmful for me. I bought products because they had great reviews or were highly recommended by the person selling them. I never stopped to read what I was putting on my skin.

After buying more natural and clean products recently, I decided to do a bit more research into what was going into the products we use on a daily basis. And I was shocked! From soaps, to cleansers, to sunscreen to lotion, toxic chemicals are found in all of these items.

Get ready to be shocked. I guarantee you the majority of these ingredients are in products you use every single day.


Parabens are found in makeup, moisturizer, shaving gel, shampoo, personal lubricant and spray tan products. They help preserve the self-life of products and pretty much are everywhere in items we use on a day to day. The problem with parabens is they can mimic estrogen in the body an disrupt our hormonal balance. The FDA acknowledges several studies linking parabens, which mimic estrogen, to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count, but has not ruled that it is harmful. Super scary so look out for parabens in your products and toss them.

Sodium lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

SLS is commonly found in shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash and toothpaste. It is known to cause skin irritation and trigger various allergies. SLS can also contribute to canker sores, disruptions of the skin’s natural oil balance and eye damage. It’s also widely believed to be a contributor to acne around the mouth and chin. Basically, you don’t want products containing SLS.


Polyethylene is commonly found in scrubs, body wash, makeup and toothpaste. They are those tiny beads in face or body scrubs. They are used because they are more gentle on the skin that natural exfoliators but they are horrible for your skin and the environment. According to this article on Hello Glow, polyethylene is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which the U.S. government considers a probable human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. Not to mention, polyethylene is a skin irritant and shouldn’t be used on broken skin. polyethylene beads in scrubs and body washes also are not filtered by our sewage systems, meaning they can collect pollutants and travel into waterways, where they’re consumed by fish and marine animals. Just throw it out!


Fragrance is commonly found in moisturizers, hand creams, deodorant, lotion, face cream and hair products. Now it doesn’t sound scary but fragrance is basically what companies put on a list of ingredients when they don’t have to tell you what it actually is. Usually “fragrance” contains a ton of chemicals that can cause allergies, hormone disruption and eventually lead to bigger health problems. Definitely check out your products to see if fragrance is listed and if it is, get rid of that item. But fragrance-free wherever you can!


BHA is found in exfoliants, perfume and various cosmetics and is used to extend the shelf life of products. It’s full name is butylated hydroxyanisole and the national Toxicology Programme classifies it as reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Eek! BHA can casue skin depigmentation and is like a hormone disruptor that may cause liver damage. Ladies, check your lipsticks, perfumes and exfoliants to make sure BHA isn’t in there.

How your products rank? Which ones were you the most surprised about? Did you toss anything? Let me know in the comments.

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