5 Skincare Ingredients That Damage Your Skin – Get The Facts!

by Jamie Wilson
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Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Your skin is something to take care of. After all, you want it to look good for as long as possible. There is an array of products claiming to be good and beneficial for your skin, but do you really know what’s in them? We’ve dug deep and found some skin care ingredients to avoid.


Cosmetic lotions, shampoos and everything in between don’t shy away when it comes to advertising. Most brands love to say why their products are better than the rest. As well as this, they try to home in why you, as the consumer, should buy into their products. However, after lots of research on cosmetics, there are chemicals and other ingredients that come to attention for the wrong reasons.

With some being chemically harmful and others causing irritation and making skin issues like eczema or rashes worse, it’s time to take charge and see what you’re buying into. So, if you want something that will help clear up acne, claim to reduce wrinkles or get rid of your dark under eye circles then being aware of what goes into them is a good place to start.



What Is Paraffinum Liquidum?

The name might be scary and, truth be told, the product may also be slightly scary too. However, it’s not all bad news. Paraffinum liquidum is a distilled petroleum by-product that, in basic terms, means it’s a liquid petroleum jelly. This is a highly refined mineral oil that’s used in cosmetics, lotions and creams to help reduce water loss. So, is paraffinum liquidum safe for skin? In small doses, yes, but from some research (but still not enough) it has been found that a lot of usage does contain contaminants that could potentially affect your health.

The paraffinum liquidum in cosmetics can clog your pores which can lead to blackheads and outbreaks. The more purified the oil is, the less likely this is to occur. However, there’s no way of knowing how purified it is unless the company is willing to tell you, which is fairly unlikely. The mineral oil will trap other ingredients in your pores which forms a barrier on your skin, reducing the loss of moisture. This means the paraffinum liquidum side effects can include an increased chance of outbreaks due to having product or bacteria already on and trapped in your skin, which is exactly why you’re using the lotion in the first place.

Paraffinum Liquidum


What Is Phenoxyethanol?

Phenoxyethanol (which is recognised as a paraben) is a synthetic preservative that’s used in facial and body cleansers, moisturisers and as a stabiliser for perfumes and soaps. The preservative is used to increase the shelf life of a product and stop any potential contamination of the product when in use. Phenoxyethanol in cosmetics can have potential concerns or dangers which include allergic reactions such as eczema, hives and anaphylaxis. It can also cause reproductive damage and have some effects on the brain and nervous system in infants. This may sound scary but tests have shown that only for larger doses can it be concerning (more than that in your cosmetics). However, phenoxyethanol dangers can still occur if the toxin is used in moderation and but over a long period of time.

What Is Triclosan?

Used mainly in anti-bacterial soaps and deodorants, triclosan is an antibacterial agent and preservative that’s used to kill bacteria and fungus and prevent odours. This agent is known to effectively kill all bacteria, which is ultimately the problem as not all bacteria is bad for you. Many studies have shown that this is developing into a bug and that harmful bacteria’s have become resistant too. As well as this antibody resisting bacteria over time, it’s seen to be a hormone or thyroid disrupter. When taken into consideration, triclosan is an unnecessary ingredient to have in soaps and deodorants as there is some proof that it brings no additional benefit to the product.



What Are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a class of substances that are used to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. This may not sound like something widely used in cosmetics but it’s commonly used in hairsprays to help form a flexible film on the hair, nail varnish to reduce cracking and as a solvent or fixative in fragrances. There have been links to a few reproductive risks and issues concerning individuals who are exposed to these chemicals regularly and in moderate amounts. The most confusing part is that ‘phthalates’  won’t be seen written on the label of any products. Instead, it’s included as part of the ‘fragrance’. This means that if you want to avoid any phthalates then buying products that are naturally scented with essential oils is your better bet.

What Is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colourless gas that’s often used in the cosmetic industry for hair gels, hair smoothing and washing products, body washes and any colouring cosmetics. In its natural form, formaldehyde is a flammable gas, but it can’t carry out its cosmetic uses as a gas. Formaldehyde is therefore dissolved in water and used as a solution. This solution is then added to your products to help prevent bacterial growth. This has a fair few problems with some being more serious than others. It’s known widely as a respiratory irritant that can cause chest pains, throat and nose irritation. With other evidence linking it to a cancer cause and ALS or other nervous system consequences, it is not something you’d really want to be using all over your body.



The Best Ingredients For Your Skin

If you want the perfect skin then there are a few things, and fairly obvious things, that you can do. You can do these without having to use any harmful chemicals or toxins. Firstly, as most people would tell you, a healthy lifestyle leads to better skin. These include good food, enough water, plenty of sleep and minimal stress. Shop bought products will sometimes work wonders with many people swearing by them. These can be used in good, recommended amounts without any side effects or damage. Thinking you need to get rid of everything you own shouldn’t be the answer. Nonetheless, buying into natural products, or if you want to take it that one step further, homemade remedies, maybe the road you should take.

There are plenty of oils, essences, creams and masks that you can make yourself that won’t break the bank. They also won’t keep you up at night worrying about how that moisturiser is going to cause you a lot of irritation. With a lot more research happening in recent years on skincare and grooming, there have been natural home remedies that have been around for years that actually do work. These should be tried and tested out more often.

men skincare hazelnut oil benefits


The Top 5 Ingredients That Damage Your Skin

  • Paraffinum Liquidum. This is a distilled petroleum by-product that can clog pores and cause skin breakouts.
  • Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative that can damage the skin causing eczema or hives. It has been found that it can affect the brain and nervous system in infants
  • Triclosan is an antibacterial agent and preservative. It’s used to kill bacteria and fungus, however, some bacteria’s can be good for us.
  • Phthalates are a class of substances that are used for flexibility and softness of plastics. The chemicals in this can cause skin problems.
  • Formaldehyde is a colourless gas. It can cause chest pains, throat and nose irritation with found links to ALS or other nervous system consequences.

On That Note

Next time you’re purchasing a new (or existing favourite) skin or hair care product, it’s worth checking the label. Quite often marketing claims can mask the truth. Lot’s of ‘natural’ products contain things that we wouldn’t want on our faces, let alone touch in their natural form. So, when shopping for your skincare lotions, read the labels and hopefully, this has made the chemicals a lot clearer. Many shop-bought products aren’t always completely harmful and this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying all the products out there. Many of these chemicals are only really harmful chemicals when used in moderation.

Feature image from Pinterest

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