Ingredients to Avoid

A list of ten ingredients to avoid in skincare products. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but eliminating these ingredients from your skincare routine would be a good start. This list was compiled by my dear friend Arjun.

1. Sulfates

(Laureth Sulfate and Lauryl Sulfates)

It can dry skin out, upset the acid mantle and cause eczema, acne, dandruff and other skin problems. It also mimics the activity of oestrogen, which can potentially cause cancer.

2. Petroleum and its By-Products

(PEG, mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, dipropylene, glycol, butylene glycol, disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, polybutene, triclosan, polyethylene)

Clogs pores, contributes to acne.

3. Parabens

(methyl-, butyl-, ethyl-, propyl-)

There is scientific evidence to suggest that this may cause breast cancer by elevating estrogen levels. It is sometimes linked to hormonal imbalances, including early onset of puberty in young girls.

4. Silicones

(ingredients that usually end in -cone, -conol, -siloxane)

Silicone is essentially the cosmetic equivalent of putting cling wrap on your skin. The plastic-like synthetic emollient can clog pores and aggravate acne. It can also build up in the environment and harm aquatic organisms.

5. Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol


This is the same ingredient used to make anti-freeze. It can be a strong irritant and has the potential to cause kidney, liver and brain damage.

6. Urea

(diazolindyl urea, imidazolindyl urea)

A common skin irritant, it also releases formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

7. Phthalates

(di-butyl-phthalate, di-ethylhexyl-phthalate)

It’s an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to breast cancer.

8. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

Skin irritant and carcinogen.

9. Artificial Colors

(EC followed by a number)

Some artificial colors are linked to neurotoxicity. Colors like Acid Yellow 23, Aluminum Lake, and Red No. 2 have been banned by the FDA.

10. BHT

Yet another skin irritant and potential carcinogen.