4 Scary Ingredients Hiding in Your Skincare Products

Avoid at all costs.

You scour your food labels to avoid bad-for-you-ingredients, so why aren’t you doing the same for your skin care products? Turns out, there can be some pretty nasty stuff hiding in your cleansers and moisturizers. The U.S. only bans 11 chemicals from use in cosmetics. To give number some major perspective, the European Union bans over 1,300 chemicals. (Just let that sink in for a moment.)

But transitioning to an all-natural skincare routine can be time consuming, expensive, and overwhelming. To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of five ingredients you should cut out of your skin care routine stat. (They’re more common than you’d think.)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This ingredient lives up to its scary-sounding name. “This is a harsh and inexpensive surfactant that foams,” explains esthetician and certified holistic nutritionist Pearl Dworkin. “It can be especially irritating when combined with other inflammatory ingredients, like synthetic fragrances.” Because it has been found to be sensitizing, it can cause skin issues and trigger allergies.

Commonly Found In: Cleansers


While oxybenzone protects skin from most UVB and UVA rays, it raises concerns because it has been linked to skin irritation and allergies. Most troubling: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises not to use products containing this chemical because it may disrupt your hormones.

Commonly Found In: Sunscreen and Moisturizers

Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, and Benzisothiazolinone 

These icky preservatives are sensitizing and can cause contact allergies. The EWG states that lab studies have suggested that methylisothiazolinone could be neurotoxic. Other reports have suggested that it is not sensitizing when used at a concentration of 0.01% or less, the jury is still out on just exactly how sensitizing this product is.

Commonly Found In: Cleansers and Moisturizers


Yes, fragrance may make your products smell pretty, but they’re one of the top allergens in the world, according to the EWG. What makes added fragrances in beauty products even more worrisome? In the United States, fragrance formulas are considered “trade secrets” — so companies are not required to disclose the chemicals used to create the scent formula.

Commonly Found In: Moisturizers and Cleansers

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