8 Toxic Skincare & Beauty Ingredients To Avoid {And Why}

Sep 20, 2021

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Last updated on November 13th, 2021 at 04:21 pm

I generally talk a lot about safer skincare and non-toxic living because I really do believe it is such a big part of our well-being and something that has helped my day-to-day health so much.  For me removing a huge portion of toxins was a key component to feeling vibrant.

Have you ever walked through the store and wondered, what are all those ingredients in my shampoo, conditioner, or even my lotion? Just like we have learned over time that we should probably read food ingredient lists (instead of the labels) we need to learn to read the ingredient lists of our cosmetics, skincare, and body care products.  It can get so overwhelming – and I have actually left the store on a few occasions, feeling very discouraged.

It has become easier over time, and today I thought I would share everything that I have learned to hopefully make it a little easier and less intermediating for you.

8 Toxic Skincare & Beauty Ingredients To Avoid And Way 2

My goal is to break it down plain and simple and list some of the most common offenders on the toxic list, as well as why you should avoid them, and I will also share some safer alternatives.  This list is by no way completely inclusive because that would take a very long time, so I picked a few common ones to start with.

If you would like a little more information you can always check out this Never List from Beautycounter.  I love that they have removed over 1,500 questionable and/or harmful ingredients from all their products.

So, why should we all strive to remove these toxic, harmful chemicals from our skincare routine?

Skin is the largest organ and actually absorbs chemicals faster than we are able to apply them.  Skincare products, like lotions, serums, deodorant, and foundations, are some of the ones we use each and every day and it tends to sit on the skin for the majority of the day – so it is as good as taking a pretty toxic bubble bath.

Infertility, hormone issues, cancer, acne, birth defects, and allergies are on such a rise in this modern life we live, and switching to safer products, and eating whole real food is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our families.

I have done a bunch of research on specific brands, and have chosen ones that work for me.  I encourage you to do the same – there is more than one awesome safer skincare brand out there.

8 Toxic Skincare And Beauty Ingredients To Avoid And Why:

Parabens are preservatives that are found in all the most common beauty and skincare items. These preservatives are designed to help increase the shelf life and stability of the products.  They are found mostly in makeup, foundation, face wash, lotions, and moisturizers.  Parabens are pretty scary as they tend to mimic estrogen.  They have been linked to breast cancer, skin cancer, and decreased sperm count – to just name a few.  They also tend to disrupt the endocrine systems and this can affect our hormones, reproduction, and even a baby’s development.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Beautycounter Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation, Beautycounter Skin Twin Creamy Concealer, Primally Pure Cleansing Oil, Primally Pure Citrus + Mint Body Butter, Neil’s Yard Remedies Wild Rose Beauty Balm

This sounds so pretty and alluring, I mean who doesn’t want to smell good? But the reality is this is truly one of the worst offenders.  This term was created to simply protect a company’s “secret formula.”  Fragrance can contain tons (like hundreds) of chemicals, and the ingredients don’t have to be disclosed to the consumer.  Fragrances have been known to cause allergies (which in turn can disrupt your digestive system, and this can have a profound impact on your overall health) respiratory issues, dermatitis, hormonal imbalances, and it can even affect the reproductive system.  Fragrances are mostly found in creams, moisturizers, and hair products.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Primally Pure Deodorant, Beautycounter Shampoo, Beautycounter Conditioner, Beautycounter Renewal Eye Cream, Primally Pure Goat’s Milk Soap Bar, Primally Pure Plumping Cream.

8 Toxic Skincare & Beauty Ingredients To Avoid And Way 3

Phthalates are a large group of plasticizing chemicals that help to make products more pliable and also help the fragrance stick to the skin. Phthalates greatly disrupt the endocrine system and can even cause birth defects.  They are found in most items that also contain fragrance and therefore can fall under the “trade secret” dilemma.  They are also found in deodorants, perfumes, lotions, and hairsprays.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Neil’s Yard Remedies Rose Perfume, Primally Pure Deodrant, Primally Pure Plumping Face Serum, Primally Pure Citrus + Mint Body Butter, Beautycounter All Bright Vitamin C Serum Innersense Sea Salt Styling Spray.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and/or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
SLS and SLES are probably some of the biggest ingredients to avoid and are sadly found in more than 90% of makeup and skincare products. It is actually even found in laundry detergent – and think about it, we wash our clothes and sheets – and then we wear our clothes all day and night, and we sleep on those sheets that were all doused with this questionable ingredient.  SLS or SLES causes skin irritations to the skin and eyes, and these irritations can lead to acne, eczema, and more.  This specific chemical contains compounds that can react with carcinogens.  These compounds can trigger allergies as well – an issue that is on the rise in both adults and children.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Beautycounter Citrus Mimosa Hand Wash, Primally Pure Goat’s Milk Soap Bar, Branch Basics Laundry Detergent, Molly’s Suds Laundry Detergent, Beautycounter Dew Skin Foundation.

BHA and BHT:
BHA and BHT are synthetic antioxidants generally used to extend the shelf life of products. It is mostly found in lipsticks and glosses, moisturizers, diaper creams, and some other cosmetics.  These synthetic antioxidants are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and may cause damage to the liver.  When we have liver damage, the body cannot detox properly, and this can lead to a whole list of serious health issues.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Beautycounter Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick, Beautycounter Beyond Gloss, Beautycounter Illuminating Cream Highligther, Primally Pure Citrus + Mint Body Butter, Primally Pure Plumping Cream. Primally Pure Baby Balm

Lead in the body is a neurotoxin and is found in most lipsticks, lip glossed, and a few other makeup items. Sadly the highest levels of lead are found in products from leading drug and department store brands.  A research study found that woman applies lipstick from two to fourteen times every single day.  This translates that as much as 87 milligrams of the product are being absorbed or ingested in just one day.  Scientific studies have indicated that there are no safe levels of lead exposure, as lead is a neurotoxin linked to learning and behavioral disabilities, menstrual irregularities, reduced fertility, and delayed puberty; all these issues seem to be on the rise.

Replace with these safer solutions: Beautycounter Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick, Beautycounter Beyond Gloss, Primally Pure Rose + Mint Tinted Lip Balm, Beautycounter Satin Powder Blush, Beautycounter Color Define Eye Pencil.

Retinyl Palmitate and Retinal (aka Vitamin A):
I was surprised at this one, as I always thought it was a decent ingredient, I mean it helps soften wrinkles – but it turns out not without a few negative effects. It is mostly found in moisturizers and anti-again skincare.  Retinol may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used on the skin.  Pregnant women especially should avoid this ingredient at all costs.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Beautycounter Countermatch Line, Neil’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Line.

We all know the chemical we all most likely used in high school biology to preserve dead animals, well I was kind of taken back when I found out it was used in cosmetics. It is commonly found in shampoo, body wash, and bubble baths.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that has been linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.

Replace with these safer solutions:: Beautycounter Daily Shampoo, Primally Pure Goat’s Milk Soap Bar, Neil’s Yard Remedies Rose & Pomegranate Foaming Bath.


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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