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8 Toxic Skincare Ingredients To Avoid & Why

There are few ingredients that we absolutely love and look for in our daily skincare routine. However, at times we miss out on reading the list of other ingredients to avoid in skin care products such as artificial fragrance, perfume, bht for skin etc which are some of the harmful chemicals for skin. While we all have a favourite pick in the skincare aisle, it is imperative to make a conscious choice and choose products and ingredients that are right for your skin. 

Of course, it is hard to avoid all of the harmful chemicals for skin but you can always minimise the risk by understanding a few ingredients that should be avoided  in skin care products at all costs. 

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together a list of eight  common ingredients you can totally do without, so that you can make a better choice the next time you go looking for some beauty and skincare products.

List of Toxic Ingredients To Avoid


    A common form of preservative, parabens for skin are used in many products from food to cosmetics. These preservatives help increase the shelf life of a product by preventing bacteria, mould, and yeast formation in the products. While most of us might think of it as an important ingredient, it gets problematic because parabens for skin can disrupt our hormones. This disruption can also often lead to complications in reproduction systems. 

    Artificial Fragrances:

      One spritz of your deodorant and you are immediately reminded of a tropical vacation. But these artificially derived fragrances can do more harm than you think. Since fragrances can be listed without having to disclose the ingredients that the fragrance is made of, it can easily contain many unlisted toxic chemicals. These chemicals often lead to itchy scalp, dry skin, rashes, and eventually hair fall when used in shampoo. Check out our blog on the side-effects of perfume in skin care to learn some tricks to avoid perfume as a skin care ingredient.

      Artificial Colours:

        While we want you to stay away from artificial colours, we also know it is impossible to ignore it everyday due to how extensively it is used in everyday products. Artificial dyes are synthetic additives mixed to make a single colour. It takes about 25 synthetic additives to create an artificial dye and that only means extreme use of harsh chemicals. These artificial colours make our skin sensitive and also leave toxins into our skin which results in blocked pores. In short, it’s a not-so-good idea to have it in your skincare routine. 


          Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in countless skincare products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics, which helps products stick to the skin. They are known to be endocrine disruptors, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system.


            Solvents such as alcohol are commonly used in harmful chemicals in skincare products. Certain creams and lotions work best with it since it helps absorb the products better. However, alcohol is harmful to your skin.  Skincare products containing alcohol (drying alcohol) can leave the skin feeling dry and flaky. What’s more, alcohol inhibits skin renewal. While most alcohol may not be as harmful, it is best to stay clear of all kinds of them. 


              Very similar to parabens, formaldehyde is used to prevent the unnecessary growth of bacteria and moulds in the skincare products. While the effects of formaldehyde on skin sounds like a good addition into  skincare products, the carcinogen present in them leads to neurotoxicity and is also often linked to asthma, one of the side effects of formaldehyde on skin and health.


                A naturally occurring bluish-grey heavy metal, lead can be found in trace amounts in the environment, in a wide range of foods, and in many products. Since lead is an element that occurs naturally, it is not intentionally added as an additive to beauty products. However, small amounts can still be found, most frequently in lipstick and be one of the harmful chemicals in skincare products.


                  For dry skin, petroleum is recommended because of its softening effect. Petroleum is commonly found in lip balms and moisturisers. This barrier prevents water from escaping, but also prevents moisture from entering the building. Lip balm is reapplied frequently because your skin is prone to drying out. Furthermore, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), if not refined well, can remain in it.

                  How Do I Know If A Product Contains Harmful Chemicals?

                  • Read the labels on your skincare products before you invest in them and look for the  harmful ingredients in skincare. If you are still not sure, buy a trial pack. 
                  • SLS for skin(sodium lauryl sulphate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulphate) are some common sulphates that you will find occurring on the labels of your shampoos and other skin care. So, avoid them completely.
                  • Chemicals under methyl, butyl, propyl are all kinds of parabens that should be avoided.
                  • PEGs can be labelled in numbers like 100, 120, 14M, 30, 32, 40, 75 and so on.
                  • Formalin, formaldehyde, glyoxal and bronopol on the labels of skincare products hint at the presence of formaldehyde.
                  • Ethanol, methanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol are all drying alcohols.
                  • Mineral oil, benzene, paraffin wax and ingredients that end with -eth are also petroleum ingredients.
                  • Look for brands that are transparent and disclose all their ingredients in all honesty.
                  • Consider natural beauty brands that do not only take safety measures with regards to ingredients but also have safe and better alternatives. 
                  • Patch- test every new ingredient you introduce to your skincare.

                  If you are looking for an all-natural face care products, you can use the Coco Soul face care combo containing a face scrub and face wash. Start your day with the goodness of coconut oil and potent herbs to rejuvenate and replenish your skin to its full potential. Now that you know about the ingredients that are harmful for your skin, head over to our blog on the benefits of organic skin care products to learn how to maintain skin healthy with organic products.

                  Frequently Asked Questions on Toxic Skincare Ingredients:

                  1. Why are parabens and SLS for skin harmful?

                    Both SLS and parabens are known to be hormone disruptors and can cause skin sensitivity, itching, irritation, and dry flakes too. 

                  2. Is BHT bad for skin?

                    Like parabens, BHT for skin is used as preservatives and can be one of the harmful ingredients in skincare when used in excess.

                  3. What toxic ingredients should I avoid in skin care?

                    • Synthetic Fragrance
                    • Phthalates
                    • Parabens
                    • PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)
                    • Retinol
                    • Formaldehyde
                    • SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)
                    • SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate)


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