Top 10 Harmful Chemicals to Avoid in Skin Care

5 min read 13 Comments

Many of the chemicals used today in various skincare and cosmetic products are gaining attention because of the negative effects it can have on our skin and health. Here is a list of the top 10 chemicals to avoid if possible. (Orgaid does not include any harmful chemicals or chemical preservatives for maximal safety of skin health, but has developed a way to naturally preserve the product and effectively deliver beneficial ingredients deeper into skin.)

Parabens

Parabens are used as chemical preservatives in wide array of personal care products such as moisturizers, shampoos, foundations and many more. Over the past few years there has been a huge debate whether parabens are safe to use or not. Some say excessive amount of exposure to parabens may lead to breast cancer, but some argue that daily cosmetic exposure to parabens does not cause you any harm. Basically, everyone’s skin reacts differently depending on various chemicals and skin type. If you would like to take caution, you can definitely find many products without parabens.

Sulfates

Again, one of the ingredients that is widely disputed whether it is safe to use or not. You probably are contacting with sulfates on a daily basis. Sulfates are also found in variety of products from toothpaste to cleansers to also help with foaming. There are a lot of different types of sulfates, but the ones that are used most commonly are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates are known to strip away valuable moisture and protective barriers, irritating the skin more. Some say it causes no problem in small amounts, but others say it can cause cancer when combined with other substances or is heated. 

Phthalates

Phthalates are used in cosmetics as lubricants (softeners). You can find these in products such as nail polish, moisturizers, shampoos, hair sprays, toys, detergents, and other variety of products. They are known to be endocrine disruptors that is linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Phthalates is also known to have some possible effects on hormones. Unfortunately, this is included in many "fragrances" so it is hard to detect in products. Here are some ways to avoid phthalates.

Fragrance

"But I like nice smelling things!!" some people say. Why is fragrance (also called perfume) bad for your skin? Fragrance is basically a blend of aromatic extracts from natural and synthetic ingredients. Used in nearly 50% of beauty products, it actually has a LOT of unknown toxic chemicals that can be harmful to you. Without you knowing, fragrance can irritate skin, have toxic hormonal effects, and may even cause cancer. It may smell fabulous, but it can lead to not-so-fabulous effects on your skin and health. As an alternative, try to find natural fragrances that are chemical free.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas. Widely used as preservatives in skincare and cosmetics, it is mainly used in nail polish, makeup, lotions, and deodorants among many other products.  Short term exposure can cause skin irritation, difficulty in breathing, watery eyes and burning in the nose when inhaled. Also, according to The International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen. If your job (such as nail artist, salon stylist etc) requires you to be exposed to copious amount of formaldehyde, make sure your work environment has ventilation or windows so that you can reduce exposure to it.

Phenoxyethanol

Used as an anti-bacterial in cosmetics and stabilizer in perfumes, phenoxyethanol is actually very harmful. It is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through skin, especially to nursing mothers or infants. Phenoxyethanol can have an effect on the brain and the central nervous system. It irritates skin and eyes, and can cause blistering on skin as well. Although many skin care products (even some organic products as well) use phenoxyethanol in small amounts that is “not harmful” to skin, if you use the product multiple times a day, every day, it can cumulate and possibly affect you.

Alcohols

There are good and bad alcohols. Bad alcohols are methanol, isopropyl alcohol, propanol, benzyl alcohol, and sd alcohol (alcohol denat.) to name a few. They can be extremely drying and irritating to skin, but also may even cause inflammation because they strip the skin off of its natural protection. By breaking down the skin’s barrier, alcohols destroy the substances that protects your skin’s health over then long term. Although alcohols may feel good because they are light and make your skin not feel greasy, because it damages the skin barrier, it leads to increase of acne causing bacteria and makes inflammation worse. 

PEG

PEG (polyethylene glycols) compounds are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners and softeners. It also functions as absorption enhancer which allows both good and bad ingredients to be absorbed faster into deeper parts of skin. If used on broken or damaged skin, it can cause irritation and system toxicity. In addition, PEGs can reduce the skin’s moisture levels and speed up skin aging.

Propylene Glycol

Also called PG, is used in variety of products from lipsticks to shampoos. It actually is classified as an irritant by the National Library of Medicine. Due to its property as penetration enhancer, it aids harmful chemicals to enter into your skin faster, causing irritation. PG is derived from petroleum. PG tends to sit on the surface of skin after you rinse it, dissolving the fats and oils your skin needs to stay nourished. Your skin reacts by becoming parched and dry and requiring more applications of moisturizer, which make skin dryer, requiring more moisture. It’s a sad cycle.

Butylene Glycol

But..but.. what is this?! Derived from petroleum, Butylene Glycol is used as a preservative, solvent (dissolves other ingredients), and humectant (holds moisture to skin). It is used in many products from mascaras and concealers to sunscreens and hairsprays. Some say that small exposure to butylene gylcol isn't harmful, but some say no matter what, it is harmful for you. Side effects could be depression, drowsiness, skin irritation, dermatitis and hives. It is found in so many personal care products that it is difficult to keep track of how much a person is exposed.

 

Final thoughts

It is really on you to make a decision to use products that include these chemicals or not. While they may be helpful in keeping the products safe from bacteria and help other ingredients perform better, some chemicals can also irritate and harm your skin and health. You should look carefully at the labels and use products with right ingredients for your skin, as everyone’s skin type and sensitivity varies. Be wise, think, and know what’s best for your skin!


13 Responses

Alex
Alex

May 06, 2019

That’s the thing, Freja. We are made up of chemicals and are natural too – they’re in everything! I’m curious about caprylyl glycol also. I am trying to make a facemask but it needs to have a real preservative in it, but I want it to be the least actually or potentially harmful to skin as possible!

Belle Ang
Belle Ang

March 14, 2019

I checking on this information because i smell the strong chemical smell while someone cleaning the stain using a “very effective” detergent. I checking the ingredients used and found this blog.
I was a science student and familiar with chemical smell. My classmate burn my skin just using the tube (joking) and the chemical didn’t touch my skin directly.
If u have sit in lab for the experiment to see how the chemical “boiling”. You will believe and stay far from it.
I am not saying all the contents are 100% true but it is definitely worth you to take note on these harmful products to your body/skins.
And there are many times the standard said within a certain content/weight is acceptable. We always omitted the “accumulated” content/weight may exceed the limited.
Be pre-caution then sorry.
Thanks for the information and i feel these information are very helpful. Individual may like to access your own risk though. Either you decided to continue using your products (it may be only a small amount that no harmful enough).
Best wishes to all.
Belle

Grace
Grace

February 17, 2019

Remove phenoxyethanol from all healthy products you put into creams cosmetics makes me sick when I think I’m buying a healthy products then I read that s*** is in there is there any healthy products out there organic products that don’t have all these hideous chemicals people use all this misleading products not knowing that harmful things are in there a lot of people don’t have any chemical education so public don’t know even if they read that they won’t know what they using people trust companies when they say product is natural organic it makes me very sad and upset everywhere you turn around somebody’s lying about something to make money at somebody else’s health don’t we have enough poison in everything it’s time to stop

Grace
Grace

February 17, 2019

Remove phenoxyethanol from all healthy products you put into creams cosmetics makes me sick when I think I’m buying a healthy products then I read that s*** is in there is there any healthy products out there organic products that don’t have all these hideous chemicals people use all this misleading products not knowing that harmful things are in there a lot of people don’t have any chemical education so public don’t know even if they read that they won’t know what they using people trust companies when they say product is natural organic it makes me very sad and upset everywhere you turn around somebody’s lying about something to make money at somebody else’s health don’t we have enough poison in everything it’s time to stop

izmir beauty
izmir beauty

February 15, 2019

Very much informative. I love your blogs and already a follower of it. I think that when it comes to Beauty stuff so it’s very necessary for new business to have beauty techniques and products that perfectly resembles their business and provides complete solution to connect with its consumers.

Freja
Freja

January 24, 2019

Just because something is chemical, doesn’t mean it’s bad. EVERYTHING is chemicals. Whether made in a lab or in nature.
It would really be beneficial if you’d post your findings as to why all of these are bad. The lack of sources is unnerving.

People who study bacteria know that there is no such thing as a natural perservitive. it just doesn’t really exist. On the microscopic level, even the strongest antiseptic, antibicrobial natural substance isn’t enough.

While companies often don’t care much about putting crap in their products, the whole organic movement isn’t any better, eschewing anything that they think sound chemically as dangerous and unnatural.

Uranium is natural, petroleum is natural, lavender is natural, we are natural. The term means nothing. Do yourself a favor and look at ncbi or other reputable scientifically studied and proven sources on research into these preservatives or any thing in make up or food, not a company trying to sell you a product like this one is. They are motivated to say their product is the best and everyone else is trying to harm you or passively doing so.

Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown

January 20, 2019

You have essentially, said all preservatives are bad. How can there be any water-based products without preservatives? What is the solution?

M
M

January 06, 2019

What about Caprylyl Glycol?

shahid
shahid

August 07, 2018

hi,kindly advise me safest preservative for my cosmetics products and its dose.thanks

Tanya
Tanya

June 01, 2018

May I use this information?
It will definitely help me show why my chemical free skin care products should be used!! Www.Getglowingtk.com

Becky
Becky

April 17, 2018

I recently bought a shampoo with Hexylene Glycol in it. Have not used it yet, Was wondering if I should?

Mariange Marti
Mariange Marti

January 20, 2017

Good day to you,
Two questions
May you private label?
Annd second what is your minimum purchase for retail at the Salon,I will love to try first and pursue the conversation.
But I have a very good feel about your product!

Milena
Milena

September 21, 2016

Hello, I’m wondering if you private labeling your products. Thank you!

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