You probably read the ingredients list on your food, but do you check the ingredients on your makeup and skin care products? 

Remember, what goes on goes in because your skin is extremely absorbent. What you put on your body is just as important as what you put IN your body! That’s why it’s so important to know which skincare ingredients you should avoid. 

The trouble is, the beauty industry is a wild west where there’s not a lot of regulation. The FDA does very little to regulate what goes into your products or hold companies accountable for the ingredients they choose to use. 

So it’s up to you to know what you’re putting on your skin and choose the right products for you!

Here are some of the most common and most harmful ingredients you’ll find in popular skincare products and why you should avoid them. 

 

8 Nasty Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid at All Costs - The Portland Girl

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8 Gross Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid

 

#1 – Parabens 

You might see these listed on labels as propylparabens, methylparabens, butylparabens, or ethylparabens. These guys are in everything from facial cleansers and makeup to hairspray and sunscreen.

These are usually used as preservatives and are known hormone disruptors because they mimic estrogen in the body. Parabens are linked with breast cancer and fertility issues, so you definitely want to make sure your skin care (and all care products) are paraben-free.

 

#2 – Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Also known in the industry as “SLS” for slang, you want to avoid this in its many varieties!

These ingredients are harsh detergents that strip your skin of its natural oils. If the term “detergent” didn’t make you think of dish and laundry detergent and how that stuff really shouldn’t go on your skin, it should! 

Detergents like these can trigger allergic reactions and irritate your skin, not to mention leave you looking for a bottle of lotion, stat

 

#3 – Mineral Oil 

Wait, huh? Mineral oil sounds natural, so what’s the problem? 

While this name sounds sweet and innocent, mineral oil is actually a byproduct of petroleum. As in, the same material used to create gasoline and diesel fuel. 

Not something you want on your body! 

This stuff not only clogs your pores like crazy (hello, acne!) but it also messes with your skin’s natural detox process. What does this mean? Breakouts and rashes galore!

 

#4 – Fragrances and “Parfum”

We all love to smell nice, but sometimes that awesome peachy-coconutty-gardenia-vanilla scent comes at a high cost. 

The problem with artificial fragrances is that we don’t actually know what they’re made of because manufacturers aren’t required to list them on the label. Chemicals that go by the name “fragrance” can trigger a whole bunch of different reactions, and they’ve been linked with allergic reactions and reproductive issues because they can sometimes mess with your hormones.

It’s kind of like when you see “natural flavors” on your food ingredients list. What IS that exactly? No one knows. 

Instead, look for unscented products or products scented with essential oils, if your skin’s okay with that. (Even essential oils can cause issues for certain people and skin types.)

 

#5 – Phthalates

These chemicals affect the texture of products, make plastics more flexible, and help products adhere to our skin. These aren’t always labeled, but they often masquerade under the name “fragrance.” (Synthetic fragrances strike again!) 

These interfere with your endocrine system and are especially dangerous if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant because they’ve been linked with certain birth defects. Yikes! 

 

#6 – Formaldehyde

This stuff isn’t just a preservative for dead people and animals in your high school bio lab. Cosmetic companies use it as a preservative in lotions and sunscreens as well! While you usually don’t see “formaldehyde” on labels for obvious reasons, it’s sometimes listed as quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, and imidazolidinyl urea.

This chemical is a known carcinogen, so stick with small batch, fresh cosmetics containing only natural ingredients instead. 

 

#7 – Dyes

Like mineral oil, artificial colors usually come from petroleum and have been linked to cancer, skin irritation, and neurological issues, especially in children. These have actually been banned by the EU, but they’re still A-okay in the states. Luckily, these are easy to identify on labels because they actually give the name of a color. 

Opt for products with natural, vegetable-based dyes or with no color added at all. 

 

#8 – Propylene Glycol

This stuff is found in moisturizer, makeup, sunscreen, and hair products. It’s a major skin irritant and can cause skin issues like rashes and hives. 

 

Overwhelmed? Yeah, we don’t blame you. Here’s what to do. 

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the common, harmful ingredients you’ll find in all kinds of personal care products. 

The good news is that you can learn more about harmful ingredients and brands to avoid or look for in EWG’s Skin Deep Database. This is a great resource for locating healthier versions of your favorite care products and for learning more about ingredients to avoid. 

And of course, if you’re suspicious about any ingredients on a product label, you can always Google it. You’ll be a pro in no time!  

A Pure Promise 

Here at The Portland Girl, we don’t like nasty ingredients any more than you do and we never, ever use any of these in our products. 

Our products contain only truly natural ingredients like pure plant oils (no petroleum here!), plant-derived extracts and acids, glycerines, and minerals shown to heal and improve your skin without harmful side effects. 

We’re just as sick of crappy products as you are, so we’ve made our own. Check out our line of cleansers, moisturizers, masks, exfoliants, toners, and more here! 

We know how confusing it can be to just remember which skincare ingredients you should avoid, let alone upgrade all your products. So we also offer a free skincare consult to help you find the perfect healthy replacements for your favorite products without all the trial and error or giving up your favorite looks. Call our front desk team to learn more or come in for a facial so that our educated estheticians can get to know your skin and make recommendations. 

We’re on a mission to provide quality products that actually promote health, and we’re here to help!