10 Harmful Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

Hello Lovelies! A couple of months ago, I met with Tata Harper (founder of Tata Harper Skincare). Tata was beautiful and had healthy looking skin. Her skincare collection promises 100% natural and nontoxic ingredients which I found impressive. During our chat, she handed me a little booklet titled “Top 10 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid.” I was intrigued and wanted to know more.  I hope this post inspires you to take a look at the ingredients of your skincare products.

Skincare ingredients to Avoid

Before we start, let me just say… Selecting skincare products and developing a skincare routine is a very personal decision. There’s also 2 sides to the conversation of whether these ingredients are or are not harmful. I’m not here to say one is right or not. I’m just here to pass along information that I personally found interesting. Whichever side you’re on, I think it’s good to be aware. 🙂 Here we go!

Top 10 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

  • 1,4-Dioxane: aka sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureate sulfate, PEG.
    • Found in: Cleansers and shampoos to create suds.
    • Health Debate: Cancer and birth defects.
    • Regulations: Banned in Canada and PEG is banned in E.U.
  • Benzophene: aka benzophenone, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, sulisobenzone sodium, ingredients containing the word benzophenone.
    • Found in: Lip products, foundations, moisturizers, and fragrances.
    • Health Debate: Cancer, endocrine disruption, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity, irritation, and ecotoxicity.
    • Regulations: Restricted in E.U. and U.S.
  • BHA: aka butylated hydroxyanisole
    • Found in: Lip treatments, color cosmetics, and fragrances.
    • Health Debate: Endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, development/reproductive toxicity, cancer, and irritation.
    • Regulations: Banned in E.U.
  • Ethanolamine Compounds: aka triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide, DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, olemide DEA, stearmide MEA, and TEA-lauryl sulfate.
    • Found in: Moisturizers, shaving creams, color cosmetics, and fragrances.
    • Health Debate: Cancer, bioaccumulation, organ system toxicity.
    • Regulations: DEA banned in E.U.
  • Formaldehyde: aka formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinylurea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-brom-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
    • Found in: Soaps, body wash and color cosmetics.
    • Health Debate: Cancer, sin irritation, sensitization.
    • Regulations: Banned in Japan and Sweden, restricted in E.U. and Canada.
  • Hydroquinone: aka hydroquinone or tocopherol acetate.
    • Found in: Cleansers, skin lighteners, and moisturizers.
    • Health Debate: Cancer, organ-system toxicity, respiratory tract irritation.
    • Regulations: Banned in E.U., restricted in Canada and U.S.
  • Parabens: aka ethylparaben, butylaparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, ingredients ending in paraben.
    • Found in: Cleansers, moisturizers, body washes, body scrubs.
    • Health Debate: Endocrine disruption, cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity.
    • Regulations: Some forms banned in Denmark.
  • Phenoxyethanol: aka phenoxyethanol, 2-phenoxyethanol, euxylK400, phE
    • Found in: Moisturizers, lip treatments, color cosmetics, hand lotion, body washes, and soaps.
    • Health Debate: Allergies, nervous system effects.
    • Regulations: Restricted in E.U.
  • Phthalates: aka phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP, and fragrance.
    • Found in: Color cosmetics, moisturizers, and body washes.
    • Health Debate: Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer.
    • Regulations: Some forms banned in E.U.
  • Polyacrylamides: aka polyacrylamide, acrylamide, polyacrylate, polyquaternium, acrylate.
    • Found in: Moisturizers, anti-aging products, color cosmetics, and body lotion.
    • Health Debate: Reproductive and developmental toxicity (when Polyacrylamide breaks down into acrylamide, which is a carcinogen)
    • Regulations: Banned in E.U.

I hope this post was helpful. 🙂 Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Bloglovin



  1. Confused
    February 24, 2017 / 9:26 am

    Tocopheral acetate is vitamin e…

    • March 11, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      I don’t see tocopherol acetate on my list…

  2. August 2, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    Great list. Very useful. Please include these ingredients as well – Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin

    • March 11, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      Thank you! What do these ingredients do? I’m always learning from my readers! Thanks so much for adding to the list.