The Top Cosmetics Ingredients to Avoid

I talk often about the importance of understanding the ingredients in your cosmetics products, because, ultimately, this is what separates the potent and effective skin care from the fluff. While i’ve recently wrote about copper peptides, ester c, alpha lipoic acid, alpha hydroxy acids and idebenone as some of the best, most cutting-edge ingredients for your skin, it’s also important that you’re aware of and looking out for the ingredients you want to avoid at all costs. While there are many, this is my list of the top four ingredients that that you want to avoid (and why).

1) Sodium Laurel/Laurelth Sulfate

  • Why it’s bad: Perhaps the most harmful ingredient in personal care products – sodium sulfates are used as the baseline skin irritant to compare healing properties of other ingredients. Sodium sulfates are so harsh they are commonly used as garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash. They are often the cause of acne around the hair line.
  • Commonly found in: Shampoos and conditioners. Look for shampoos that are “sulfate free”

2) Mineral Oil

  • Why it’s bad: Mineral Oil or liquid petroleum is a by-product in the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based products from crude oil. It creates a barrier on top of the skin which does not allow blackhead/whitehead debris to get out of the pores, and thus prevents acne from clearing. Read more.
  • Commonly found in: Eye creams, body moisturizers, liquid makeup, heavy facial night creams and moisturizers and chapstick

3) Propylene Glycol

  • Why it’s bad: Called a humectant in cosmetics, it is really industrial anti-freeze and the major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluid. Tests show it is very irritating to the skin and can cause liver and kidney damage.
  • Commonly found in: Shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, moisturizers and deodorant

4) Fragrance

  • Why it’s bad: Though it makes your creams smell good “fragrances” are synthetic perfumes that contain chemicals such as PBA’s, which are well known as one of root causes to cause disease. Many people who believe they have sensitive skin are often just reacting to the fragrance in their skin care products.
  • Commonly found in: Skin care products

BONUS TIP: When in doubt, cross reference your skin care ingredients on Skin Deep’s cosmetic database

13 thoughts on “The Top Cosmetics Ingredients to Avoid”

  1. […] When your skin is introduced to new products, sometimes you might get some initial blemish purging, especially if the products are giving your skin more exfoliation than normal. If it continues on more than two weeks, then they may not be a good fit for your skin or may contain ingredients that are actually causing you to break out. READ: The Top Cosmetics Ingredients to Avoid […]

  2. I hate blogs/article that CONSTANTLY tell individuals to not use Sodium Laurel/Laurelth Sulfate and then their reasoning is “it’s used in garage floor cleaners!!!” Is that the best argument available? Yes, it’s the same chemical but the potency of the chemical in face wash vs floor cleaners is COMPLETELY different. The same applies to Glycolic Acid (used in many toners, scrubs, and chemical peels) and salicylic acid (most common ingredient in acne medications). So should we avoid these, too? They are also found in industrial cleaners as well. The answer is No. Why? because it’s all about the amount and potency. AND IF ONE MORE PERSON SAYS NOT TO USE MINERAL OIL I AM GOING TO FLIP!!! So what it comes from crude oil. Glycerol(better known as glycerine, found in most lotions) comes from biodiesel. Or is biodiesel better? Both typically come from plants, right? Scientifically speaking, they are both the same on many levels. Do not let the media and “nature lovers” dictate what you can or cannot use. There is a thing call marketing and it is very real!

    1. Bethany — I have been in the skin care industry for over 25 years and the fact of the matter is sulfates are not good for the skin — they are harsh, clog the pores and cause breakouts. You can continue to use them if you wish, but there are healthier options available. Sulfates are a cheap filler ingredient.

    2. oh wow look at this. Another angry commenter defending the use of toxic chemicals in daily products. The main argument is that you’re promoting the use of toxic chemicals in every day products, REGARDLESS of the minuscule amount in said product. Have you ever thought your callous approach to the situation might be caused by chemical imbalances that are actually caused by the toxins introduced to your body every day? Studies show that air pollution in cities causes spikes in violence. Have you ever thought this happens on a much smaller scale as well? This is a fact, chemical imbalances cause anger, depression, apathy, anxiety and ultimately a flurry of emotional and cognitive disruption. Yes, it can cause short term and long term memory loss, a dullness of the senses, learning disabilities, and much more. So to disregard this information is no big surprise because guess what?! These chemicals shut down parts of the brain (pineal gland) that control creative and intuitive thinking. Its very common for people to rely on habits and justify these habits with logic. You’ve been using these products your whole life, so it won’t be easy to learn they are harmful because the truth is hard to adjust to. There is fear and anger involved, a feeling of betrayal by our FDA and Govt. who are supposed to keep us protected from things like this. Most humans suppress emotions they don’t want to deal with. Its ok. No one is at war with you.
      So to conclude this, I urge you to research each individual chemical in your daily products ingredients list that you use, and look up studies focusing on the effects these chemicals have on the body. You will then find evidence that these things cause cancer, or mutations that cause cancer, down the road. Should i rephrase this? The artificially synthesized chemicals and the chemicals derived from natural sources, then altered with other human facilitated processes, cause inflammation, DNA and cell mutation, that alters the quality of life, and eventually develops into cancer. So, while using these in the early years of your life may not show any irritation or harm, prolonged use will raise your chances of getting cancer by a whole lot, actual percentages depend on the chemical. Just research. research research research. and then you can choose to ignore if you must, but do not promote or believe the idea that this shit won’t make you sick. Mind and Body.

      Hope this gets to you even years later.

    1. Hi! thanks for this hpfleul video. By the way, I notice many people keep on talking about natural acne remedy known as Acnezilax Secrets (search on google), but I’m not sure if it’s good. Have you thought about Acnezilax Secrets? I have heard many awesome things about it and my friend finally clear her acne naturally, using it, but she refuses to tell me

  3. She’s become so used to being the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. Ironically, the bag smells like a box of chocolates. The product appeared to come from a number of bombs to clear before they tick down to 0. If you take in more calories than you burn. Tempering chocolate correctly assures that it will retain those new shoppers and plans to do so in the family.

  4. Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so
    I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything.

    Do you have any recommendations for novice blog writers?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  5. I just bought a fucking body shop face wash for 1000 bucks vch caused me srs breakout after years… all thanks to sulfate… hate bodyshop

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