Acne/Breakouts, Bath & Body

Cosmetic Ingredients to avoid

I often wonder whether the benefits of my skincare products outweigh the negatives. There are other times when I find myself irritated by the fact that after continued use of a product my skin conditions flare.

Here are some ingredients that are known to cause irritation, allergic reaction and in some cases they are linked to nerve damage and caner. Scary stuff…

Mineral Oil (aka paraffinum liquidum): This is petroleum. It’s cheap and is currently widely available. This won’t be the case in the future. Mineral oil can lead to dry skin conditions.

Parabens Ethyl, Butyl, Methyl, Propyl, and Parahydroxybenzoate : A common preservative, lab made for cosmetics. This ingredient poses some serious health concerns, it mimics estrogen in the bloodstream and is linked to breast cancer (parabens were found in tumors) Although further testing is needed parabens they are known irritants.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate: This is a detergent that causes foaming action in our shower gels and shampoos. It is extremely irritating and drying to the skin. The CIR are re-evuating its safety.

Diethanolamine & triethanolamine: These react with another chemical to form carcinogens (cancer causing). The FDA are currently investigating. Can cause eye irritation and allergic reactions. The CIR recommend using these only when they can be washed off, yet they are common ingredients in hand creams.

Propylene Glycol: Has been shown to cause allergic reactionl; dermatitis, eczema, hives…

Synthetic colours: Tests show that this is potentially carcinogenic. (FD&C or D&C on labels) These are regulated by the FDA but rather alarmingly the FDA have taken some of these off the market after further testing. They are currently testing the synthetic colours used in cosmetics today. When these colours are listed on the ingredients label they must be followed by a warning stating ‘For external use only’, the problem with that the skin absorbs them into the blood stream.

VA/PVP copolymer: Can be toxic when inhaled by sensitive people, causes lung irritation. Rats who ingested PVP developed tumors (gross animal testing people). Found in bronzers, eye makeup, and hair products.

Diazolidinyl Urea/Imidazolidinyl urea: These may release formaldehyde, known to be highly toxic. Studies also show that this is a major cause of dermatitis. Found in body powders, cleansers and soaps, lotions and moisturizers, make-up and make-up removers, shampoo, shaving products, fragrances.

Synthetic fragrances: Reactions include vomiting, coughing, dizziness, headaches, hyper-pigmentation, rash and other skin irritation.

Scary eh? My intention is not to scare-monger but rather to inform. Consumers should be aware of products that are gaining free access into their bloodstream and affecting the health. Once we are aware we can then make informed choices about which products we want to use. At the end of the day we love makeup but wouldn’t it be great if we were assured that all of our favourite products don’t pose any risk to out health. Dream on Amy!

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  • Mariga Sheedy

    Parabens: This is one of those internet ‘health scares’ that just won’t go away! The original study used to scaremonger was published by a Dr. Darbre who has since denied that any such claim was made by her study and was taken out of context. Parabens actually have an excellent safety record. Here is a link to what the FDA have to say on the subject:

  • Jono Grant

    hi melissa, anything that burns is pretty bad. the products you are trying may have diethanolamine (which is a petroleum based product) and can be prone to causing severe skin, eye and respiratory irritation amongst others. while this is pretty bad – the good news is that there are a lot of good products out there.

    i use an iphone app from the which lets me know what is good and bad – although for me i use it mostly for food additives and not cosmetics.

  • Ally

    there’s no evidence parabens mimic estrogen, it’s only a theory and lab testing didn’t support it. the jury is still out

  • melissa

    Its so annoying, at first i thought it was my id bare minerals foundation coz i had my first reaction after applying that so i stopped using it. Then i reacted after using my estee lauder double wear foundation so i stopped that, then it happened using neutrogena 2 in 1 wash and mask! Arghhhhh!! Nightmare!
    I am now using doublewear and im fine, its so odd. Altho sometimes if i apply it using my estee lauder foundation brush it starts to tingle :S I think my brush maybe real hair? Dunno if that has any bearing…. i wonder of my id bare minerals brush is real hair too….? But then that wouldn’t explain the neutrogena. Its all very weird and annoying!

  • Lyndsey

    This is exactly why I only use organic or natural products – too many scary chemicals in everything else! I buy nearly everything I can without any chemicals added at all. (I get my Neals Yard from there) is a good website for this and also . Another good bath and body line is Naked from Boots.
    For general cleaning and household products – Ecover is the best I have found. (from supermarkets)

  • Jeannine

    Hey Amy,
    do you probably know if the mineral oils are also known as silicons?

    love your blog

  • Sasha

    Wow thank you for doing a post on this! I might just type up a little card to put in my wallet of all of these common ingredients so I will know to stay away from them next time I purchase makeup!

  • Hannah

    I just got the chills… yucky

  • nicola-x

    Thanks for this Amy :)

    Ive been wanting a list of ingredienst to avoid I will be alot more wary now! x

  • Laura J

    Scary stuff! this is why I try to use natural products by brands such as Liz Earle and Simple

  • Claire

    Bit freaked now as I was just about to wash my hair and looked at the ingrediants now I feel a bit of OCD coming on and I wanna try scrub my head to get the crap off it! It’s amazing that these ingrediants are allowed to be used when there is alot of findings as to why they are harmfull to us, they need to stop this and take people into account it’s ridiculous to know what’s out there and nothing is done about it…. I’ll stop my rambling now :)

  • Sinead

    omg omg omg is there any brands or products that have any of these???

    • Amy

      @Sinead Too many to list. A wee bit scary. Check out your labels x

  • melissa

    Hey Amy, i’m having such a stressful time at the moment and my skin is going haywire! I wasn’t sure if it was a certain product as my skin randomly will start to burn and itch and ive immediatly got to wash off whatever ive applied. There doesnt seem to be a certain pattern, I cant put it down to one product. After the initial reaction it leaves my skin with like almost burnt, kind of all rough and flaky and make up looks horrendous! Do u think this could all be stress? Or is it def an allergic reaction to something?

    • Amy

      @Melissa You poor thing! Sounds like a reaction. Stress can reek havoc on skin but unlikely that it would make your skin look burnt. I had burnt looking, flakey skin after an allergic reaction to an avon mask, it was a mild chemical burn. I stayed away from products as much as possible and let my skin heal. A reaction can involve an immune response, that could be why it flares up randomly, possibly when the body has had too much exposure to the allergen or something. Unfortunately it could mean giving your skin a little rest from chemicals or start process of elimination :( x x x

  • Bec

    i would love to see a post about makeup brands that i could buy that are organic and wouldn’t contain these ingredients!

    • Amy

      @Bec My new video on Liz Earle products meet that criteria. Will do some more posts on products like that x

  • Jo L

    Thankyou so much for this post, since you have started you organic type streak of posts, I have been much more careful about the sorts of things I have been buying.

    Loved this post!

    I also wanted to let you know about the Yes to carrots eye and face make-up remover was named number 1 in the Sunday Mirror’s, celebs magazine in their beauty survey!


    • Amy

      @Jo L Woo Hoo!! :) I loves it. Delighted you liked the post x

  • Bonnie

    Thanks Amy! I’ve been wondering about what ingredients to avoid, but trying to find a list like this is so hard. And looking through the ingredients on the packages is overwhelming. Now if I can just have this list with me it’ll be so much easier. I might even be able to stay away from all the fancy, yummy smelling, goodness that come from makeup and body wash.

    • Amy

      @Bonnie So hard to resist! haha

  • marcia

    omg, its enough to put me off make up for life

    • Amy

      @marcia haha nooooo!

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