Common Toxic Skincare Ingredients To AvoidCredit : Shiny Diamond / Pexels

The list of toxic skincare ingredients is getting longer. As more beauty brands are going clean and green, cosmetic chemists are working harder to find effective alternatives to previously used ingredients that have now been deemed unsafe.

While cosmetic standards still differ, some ingredients are generally agreed upon to be toxic. If you're unsure of what those are, here are the most common toxic ingredients to be wary of.


Parabens are commonly used in almost every type of face, body, and hair product. Scan the labels of your moisturizer, body lotions, deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner. If they're not organic, you'll most likely find parabens on the ingredient list.

If you can see the words methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl, and isobutyl, that means your products have parabens. Parabens increase the shelf life of products, but pharmacology expert Dr. Anne-Claire Walch tells Who What Wear that they can also cause itching, serious allergic reactions, redness, and even hormonal abnormalities. They are also potentially carcinogenic.


Sulfates make cleansing products foam up, so they're typically found in cleansers, soaps, shower gels, shampoos, and conditioners.

While more serious risks have yet to be determined, cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson says that sulfates are harsh on the skin and strips it of its natural oils. They are especially drying on the hair. Good thing that there are a lot of sulfate-free hair care products already out in the market.

Some recommendations from Allure are Carol's Daughter Coco Crème Curl Quenching Shampoo, Aveeno Pure Renewal Shampoo, Moroccanoil Extra Volume Shampoo, Pantene Gold Series Sulfate-Free Shampoo, and L'Oréal Paris EverPure Moisture Shampoo.


Robinson shares that phthalates help products spread easier, and that's why it's common in skincare products, body washes, hair care products, and nail polish. However, they are potential endocrine disruptors and carcinogens.

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Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, but it's a well-known endocrine disruptor and will negatively impact fertility. Pregnant women should also avoid chemical sunscreens because it has been connected to congenital disabilities.

Real Simple reports that The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of chemical sunscreens for children. Dermatologist and dermatological surgeon Dr. Dennis Gross suggests mineral sunscreen instead. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients when looking for sun protection.

Coconut Oil

Surprisingly, while many people sing the praises of coconut oil, dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon Dr. Howard Sobel says that coconut oil is comedogenic (clogs pores) and will make breakouts worse. He advises against using pure coconut oil and says that to be safe, avoid skincare products formulated with it.

However, coconut oil in hair care is fine, as long as you don't use too much of it on the scalp.


When choosing skincare products, it's best to avoid anything with fragrance. According to Dr. Walch, it's known to cause skin allergies, nausea, headaches, pigmentation, and other skin rashes. While organic brands use natural essential oils, they can still cause allergic reactions. So, for those with sensitive skin, it is best to avoid fragrance in skincare altogether.

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