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  • Writer's pictureMaria

Ingredients to Avoid

Updated: May 30, 2022

It's very important for me to be conscious about what ingredients I use in my formulations. I began my business because I wanted to know what ingredients were in my own skin and hair products.

Many large 'natural' skin care companies (smaller ones too) will state their products are 'clean' .. then use synthetic or questionable ingredients. As a formulator who has studied what natural actually means, this is frustrating for me. Some of these large 'natural' brands have an ingredients directory. By all means, browse these lists and see what you can uncover. Below is a list of 5 ingredients and why you should avoid them. Some of these are hard to eliminate and not every ingredient affects each of us the same way. But sometimes, we continually have itchy skin, for example. Have you thought to eliminate a product. Sometimes these subtle irritations are the result of a product we are using. I am hoping the list below helps you understand some of these ingredients a little better.. because as you know.. the more we know, the more we know :)

1. Phenoxyethanol.

This ingredient is used as a synthetic preservative. I have a real issue with this one. Many 'natural' skin companies (big and small) use this ingredient. It is not permitted in Europe when formulating an organic skin product. In the United States, it is used everywhere. Phenoxyethanol exposure has been linked to various degrees of reactions. These skin irritations include rash, eczema, hives.

Phenoxyethanol goes by many names such as 2-hydroxyethyl phenyl ether and 2-phenoxy-ethanol. Another commercial name used is Optiphen and Optiphen Plus. Sometimes companies will simply list it as 'fragrance.'


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are detergents found in many bath and shampoo products. What makes SLS/SLES so appealing to most of us is their ability to form bubbles.

They are known skin irritants, drying out the skin and causing irritation. They do not affect everyone the same. Some individuals have no problems at all but others will find their skin becomes irritated; you will need to decide what works with your skin.

3. Parabens.

Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and body care products since the 1920s.

Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones.

Studies have raised questions about how they build up within the body over time and how they may be linked to hormone disruption; but equally much of the mainstream industry would argue that their use is safe and non-irritating.

The most commonly used six types are methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl- and isobutylparaben.

3. Mineral Oil.

Mineral oil, or 'paraffinum liquidum' is a by-product of the petroleum industry, literally a by-product of distilling crude oil. It is purified and is widely used in skincare. Especially in baby oil products, lip balms and products that need to 'slip' and 'glide' on the skin. It is also very cheap, which is another reason why it is so popular with skincare companies.

There are better alternatives including natural, organic oils containing antioxidants, which support our skin and improve its condition. Of course these natural oils are more expensive, which in turn means such products are more expensive to consumers. Only you can decide whether that is something that is worth it.

Mineral oil is listed as: Mineral Oil, Paraffin, Liquid Petroleum.

4. Silicones

Another widely used product in the skin and hair industry. Again, this product adds 'slip' to your hair conditioner and serums. Synthetic silicones are non-biodegradable. This causes concern about how they are building up in the environment over time. Synthetic silicones act like cling wrap over skin, blocking pores, trapping in impurities and bacteria.

It is harder to formulate with natural silicones but it's absolutely possible— and it's what I am doing with my formulations. These synthetic silicones will be listed as Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, or Dimethicone Copolyol.

5. Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol (referred to as PG) is a synthetic product obtained from the hydration of propylene oxide, which is derived from petroleum products.

Propylene glycol is found in thousands of cosmetic products as well as a large number of processed foods. This ingredient is in many personal-care products like shampoo, hair conditioner and styling products. Propylene glycol is widely used because of its relatively low cost and versatile nature.

Propylene glycol has been found to provoke allergic reactions in people with eczema and other skin allergies which includes mild skin irritation, including causing redness.

PG may also be listed on labels as “propane-1,2-diol” or E1520, 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol. This is a small list of the ingredients I avoid in my formulations. To learn more about my process, click HERE. To learn more about greenwashing, click HERE.


I hope the above content provides some helpful insight. Are you ready to shop clean skincare? Click HERE to discover beautiful skincare.

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