Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare and Beauty Products

Skincare and Beauty Products

Did you know: Every day, we routinely add dozens of dangerous chemicals into our bodies. How? You may not be aware of it, but conventional beauty and skincare products are full of synthetic chemicals. These harmful chemicals cross the skin barrier and are then transported around the body via the bloodstream. They are toxins that the liver filters out, but large quantities build up before the liver is able to finish its job. 

Avoiding Toxins in Daily Life 

First, it is important to note that avoiding all toxins in today’s age is next to impossible. A baby born today is already exposed to 287 different chemicals. Even those who live in remote areas, away from civilization, were found to have hundreds of toxins in their bloodstream.

Second, avoiding these chemicals starts with knowledge and education on the harmful ingredients. These ingredients listed in this blog post are extremely common in the North American beauty industry, yet their long-term effects are rarely discussed. In Europe, over 1000 chemicals in cosmetics are banned due to studies showing they may be associated with cancer, genetic mutation or birth defects. On the other hand, the FDA (US) has only banned 11 of these chemicals. They are not strict with their safety laws, so it is up to us make the best decision for ourselves. 

The Danger of Conventional Beauty and Skincare Products

Many of the popular products you find in drugstores, or even department stores, will contain synthetic chemicals that are known as endocrine disruptors. 

The endocrine system consists of organs that send hormones (chemical signals) around the body, based on what it needs at the moment. The hormones are essential to make sure your body functions as it’s supposed to. Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that mimic your natural hormones.

This is a problem because it will either send a weaker or stronger signal than the original or even worse, it will change the signal entirely. When the new signal is the original one your body needs, detrimental effects can occur – weakened immune system, early puberty, disrupted bone health, increased cholesterol production, lowered testosterone levels, abnormal inflammation, weight gain, and much more. 

The best place to start is to look at the ingredient list of your current products. The toxins summarized here are well-known endocrine disruptors that should be avoided as much as possible. Some of these chemicals may show up under different names, so use EWG Verified to check your specific products. 

Ingredients to Avoid


This group of chemicals is used as preservatives in many skincare and beauty products. They can mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances like PMS. In men, it may decrease testosterone and fertility levels. Some people may also experience skin irritations from long-term use.


This ingredient is used to make skincare products or makeup stick to your skin better. In fact, phthalates were originally used to make plastics softer and are still used in many household products. When it is absorbed through the skin, phthalates are linked to thyroid hormone irregularities, asthma, ADHD, and fertility issues.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate

Many toothpastes, body washes, skincare, and shampoos will contain this foaming agent. Although it gives the product a nice texture, it can cause skin irritations and trigger allergies. These sulfates harm the skin and maybe a carcinogen – the FDA has recommended companies remove this ingredient from their products, but it was not a requirement. SLS is still extremely common in skincare and beauty products!

Artificial Fragrance

If you see the word “fragrance” on your product, it can mean almost anything – from endocrine disruptors, skin irritants, allergens to carcinogens. There is no standard as to what this ingredient entails.


This preservative is commonly used in makeup and is linked to neurotoxicity and asthma. It is especially known for causing skin irritations like redness and itchiness.

Reducing Your Toxic Load for Good 

Every person’s personal chemical burden is different. There is no universal “safe” level of toxins that applies to every person. However, we can all benefit from reducing our toxic load and the number of endocrine disruptors in our lives. 

Think of how many products you use in a day – deodorant, moisturizer, sunscreen, toothpaste, makeup…Start to switch out products when you finish them, and slowly transition to safer alternatives. Once you start to find new products that you love, it becomes easier to continue the switch! 

Here are a few tried and true non-toxic favorites to get you started:

Deodorant – Routine Superstar

Moisturizer – Skin Essence Moisturizer

Foundation – Mineral Fusion Foundation

Lotion – Weleda Skin Food

Shampoo – Carina Organics Daily Shampoo

Lipstick – Benecos Lipstick

Body wash – Dr. Bronner Castille Soap

Hand soap – Everyone Hand Soap


Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.