Commercial Skincare and the Harmful Ingredients You Should Stop Using

Hey friends!

Today I wanted to share something that’s really really important to me and rant a little in the process. So… harmful chemicals in our skincare…isn’t that crazy?!

Commercial skincare hasn’t changed much from when it started in the late 1800’s. People, particularly women, were excited by the promises this new packaged skincare would bring and they didn’t think much about it. Fast forward 100 years, we’re in the same boat except now we actually have tests and data that shows us that what’s in our skincare is actually killing us! 

Below I have listed the worst of the worst. I want to strongly urge you to look closely at your labels and toss out products that contain any of the below. You’ll see most of them are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. For those of you not familiar, the endocrine system regulates your hormones. Hormones are messengers that control most major bodily functions, from simple basic needs like hunger to complex systems like reproduction, and even the emotions and mood. The extra scary thing about these chemicals is that they store in your body for years silently and bam one day you develop something and have no idea what caused it. 

Sodium lauryl sulfate

This stuff irritates the skin and disrupts the oil balance which causes cystic acne. If you have cystic acne around the mouth and chin, this could be the culprit.


This stuff is very similar to asbestos and is linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.


Dont be fool, this stuff might be in everything but experts acknowledge BHAs are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” It can cause skin depigmentation, liver damage, and causes stomach cancers. Not to mention it interferes with normal reproductive system development and thyroid hormone levels. 

Siloxanes and Cyclomethicone

You can thank these things for helping deodorants glide on more easily and for hair products to dry more easily. You can also thank these for messing up your endocrine system and interfering with fertility.

Triclosan and triclocarban

This antibacterial was banned from hand sanitizers in 2016 because it was proven to be an endocrine disruptor. This stuff is also linked to bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies. 

Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine (Coal Tar)

The National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have named this stuff as a known carninogen. It’s generally used in specialty products such as dandruff/psoriasis shampoos but guess what it blocks your pores! This leads to acne and baldness, not a good look!


By now you guys have already heard that this is a nasty carninogen. It’s linked to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count. Some parabens are worse than others. Isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are the worst ones.


Those tiny plastic beads in face or lip scrubs and exfoliating washes are considered by the U.S. government as a probable human carcinogen and which readily penetrates the skin. And if the US government has a problem with them (we’re pretty laid back with things like this compared to Europe), they really must be bad. Also they travel into waterways, where they’re consumed by fish and marine animals.

Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinol

Retinol products become carcinogenic in sunlight, making it extra important to only use them at night and to avoid any sunscreens containing retinol-derived ingredients. Also high doses of vitamin A (>30,000 IU) are linked to developmental effects. Definitely avoid and quit using at lease 6 months before you are planning on conceiving. 

Petroleum distillates

This stuff is contaminated with cancer-causing impurities. They are also produced in oil refineries at the same time as automobile fuel. Would you rub gasoline on your face?


The most common borates include sodium borate (borax), boric acid, sodium perborate and perboric acid. Lab tests have shown it leads to shrunken testes, reduced sperm count in males and birth defects in females. Exposure to borates caused chromosomal rearrangements and mutations in hamster cells.


Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. 


Oxybenzone is one of the highest-risk chemicals found in sunscreen. It acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. 

Dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde

These ingredients have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruption, headaches and respiratory problems. It’s advised that pregnant women avoid nail products altogether just in case.

It is a known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.


This stuff causes tumors and sometimes companies lace it with mercury. Yikes, pass!


This helps products stick to our skin. Phthalates can be extremely dangerous to children because they can be serious endocrine disruptors and even cause birth defects. It’s so bad that congress has actually banned several types of phthalates from children’s products.


Tricolson is an antimicrobial chemical that's also a known endocrine disruptor; especially thyroid and reproductive hormones. What is also scary is that it contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant aka super germs.

Synthetic colors

Wow look, another carninogen. This will appear on your label as something like “F-25 Red”. It is also linked with ADHD.


A petrochemical derived from petroleum or coal tar sources. You may see it on labels listed as benzene, toluol, phenylmethane, methylbenzene. Toluene is a potent solvent able to dissolve paint and paint thinner. It can affect your respiratory system, cause nausea and irritate your skin. Expecting mothers should avoid exposure to toluene vapors as it may cause developmental damage in the fetus. Toluene has also been linked to immune system toxicity. It can be found in nail polish, nail treatments and hair color/bleaching products.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is a small organic alcohol commonly used as a skin-conditioning agent. It's classified as a skin irritant and penetrator. It has been associated with causing dermatitis as well as hives in humans.

Mineral oil

This stuff creates a film that impairs the skin’s ability to release toxins, not cool.

Sunscreen chemicals

Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. 

Michelle Wu