10 Common Ingredients in Your Skincare Products That Will SHOCK You

S.W. Basics
Sponsored by S.W. Basics

When you hear words like formaldehyde, preservative, and petroleum, your mind goes to embalming, processed food, and gasoline, right?! Well, not exactly. For many major skincare brands, these words are prominent in the ingredient lists for face wash, moisturizer, makeup, lotions, and more.

Aside from the gross factor (no, we don’t want formaldehyde in our body wash, thank you very much!!), there are some serious health implications from using these harmful skincare ingredients.

So what’s wrong with using products that contain preservatives? Aside from causing long term damage to our waterways and wildlife, preservatives are also potential carcinogens, increasing your risk of cancer.

And preservatives are just one of the many harmful ingredients that you’ll find in common skincare products . . .

Here Are 10 Harmful Skincare Ingredients You Should Avoid In Your Skincare Products:


1. Parabens

Parabens are used to extend the shelf life of skincare products. The Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine found that parabens increase sensitivity to the sun and cause premature aging. But did you also know that parabens have been linked to breast cancer, male reproductive issues, and are a known endocrine disrupter? Yikes!

2. Formaldehyde

Skincare products contain formaldehyde to prevent bacteria growth. But formaldehyde is no joke. It can cause adverse or allergic reactions, has been shown to decrease your immune system functions, and has even been linked to cancer. No thanks! Avoid any ingredient that has words with “eth” such as “sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.”

Ready to say no to harmful ingredients? We Review S.W Basics – The Fully Organic Skincare Line (Video)


3. Foaming Agents

We’ve all seen the “lather, rinse, repeat” commercials that glorify a rich lather, but foaming agents that create this lather are made from chemicals that are known lung, eye, and skin irritants. These chemicals hurt marine life when washed down the drain and have also been linked to cancer. Look for sulfates, DEA, and TEA in the ingredients list and steer clear.

4. Fragrance

One of the more commonly used skincare ingredients, “fragrance” is a vague, blanket term used for many different things. Harmful ingredients can be slipped under this umbrella term that can cause allergies, reproductive issues, neurotoxicity, and you guessed it – cancer.

5. Preservative

Preservatives can disrupt hormones, cause an increase in estrogen, and lead to breast cancer. This is why preservatives getting into our water is so detrimental to ourselves, our water, and our marine wildlife. Look for – and avoid – methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl (parabens used as preservatives) and BHA or BHT in the ingredients list.

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6. PEG Compounds

PEG is a chemical used as a thickening agent found in creams and moisturizers. Unfortunately, PEG is also a known carcinogen that can cause genotoxicity, or in other words, cell mutation. Pretty scary stuff.

7. Artificial Color

Synthetic, or artificial, colors like Red 40 or Blue No. 1 contain heavy metals that can seriously impact your brain function and development. These colors are made from petroleum or coal tar – not something you’d ideally want to put on your body!

8. Petroleum

Doesn’t petroleum belong at a gas station, instead of on your face? We thought so too, and yet this nasty ingredient is often found in skin care products to create shine and lock in moisture, and is also linked to an increased risk of cancer. We’re thinking it’s not worth the risk . . .

9. Phthalates

Unfortunately, phthalates are a commonly-found ingredient in skincare products. Yet from reproductive defects in males and females, to increased hormones and premature breast development in young girls, to endometriosis and testicular cancer, there are many sad yet compelling reasons to avoid phthalates at all costs.

10. Antibacterial Agents

Triclosan is one common antibacterial agent found in acne treatments, moisturizers and more. Antibacterial agents have been found to compromise your body’s natural defense against bacteria and infection (seems a bit counterproductive, doesn’t it?), and have also been known to disrupt endocrine, thyroid, and reproductive systems.

Your Skincare Ingredients Should Be Natural, Not Harmful

We all use skincare products, and many of us use many products every single day. The good news is that not all skincare products are bad! Skincare products themselves are not our enemy or the root issue – it’s the ingredients found within these products that we need to be aware of and on the lookout for.

With the continuous rise of cancer and illness in our world, it’s enough to make us stop and think what we can change as individuals to keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Look for skincare products and brands that boast small, natural, and organic ingredient lists.

One easy hack? Make sure you can pronounce everything on that ingredient label. The less ingredients the better, and organic is always a big plus. That’s why we recommend brands like SW Basics that are dedicated to using only natural, safe ingredients.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed!!

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