Why you should stay away from these ‘dirty dozen’ skincare ingredients

Your skincare routine is a regular practice that helps you to take care of your skin while also improving your look. But what if we told you that your favorite skincare products have potentially harmful ingredients that may be causing more harm than good? In the world of skincare, knowledge is power, and it's vital to understand what goes into the products you use. This comprehensive guide will shed light on the "Dirty Dozen" skincare components to avoid if you want healthy, glowing skin.

The skin is the largest and most significant organ in our bodies. It performs a variety of key functions in the body, including protecting other vital bones, organs, muscles, nerves, and ligaments. So it's obvious that we should be cautious about what we put on our skin.


Aluminum is almost present in every personal care product, specifically antiperspirant deodorants. These toxic chemicals can mimic estrogen in human bodies and can interfere with the endocrine system's normal functioning.

2. Diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA).

These harmful liquids are clear, colorless, and viscous, with ammonia-like scents.
Usually present in foamy products like face wash and soaps. They can also be present in eye makeup, fragrances, hair care products, and sunscreens.

3. UREA (Imidazolidinyl) & DMDM HYDANTOIN

These preservatives frequently emit formaldehyde, which can cause skin allergies, joint pains, insomnia, and headaches. It is commonly found in skincare, cosmetics, shampoos, detergents, and conditioners.


A petroleum by-product that, coats the skin and clogs its pores just like plastic. This is extremely dangerous since it interferes with the skin's capacity to clear toxins, increasing the probability of acne and other problems. You can find mineral oil in creams, lotions, cosmetics, and ointments.

5. PARABENS (Propyl, Methyl, Ethyl, and Butyl)

They are not always labeled, instead, they are used as preservatives and can contribute to hormonal disbalance. They are almost everywhere, including skin care items like deodorants and moisturizers.

6. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

PEG is an ingredient with the capacity to organically adjust and reduce the skin's moisture factor. It thickens and affects the temperature at the melting point of objects and that's the reason it is widely used to dissolve grease and oil in cleansers.


Phthalates are not often stated as constituents in the product, they are used to boost the strength and flexibility of plastics. Typically present in fragrance oils and classified as "fragrance".


Gaseous hydrocarbons that operate as a "surfactant" in liquid form. They penetrate the skin quickly and can damage protein and cell structure.


The two types of sodium lauryl sulfate are used in detergent that causes products to froth, bubble, and lather. Typically present in 90% of foaming personal-care products.


Any type of synthetic should be avoided at all costs. These are made up of hundreds to thousands of different ingredients that aren't listed on the label, so you never know what you're getting exposed to. Typically found in cosmetic and skincare goods, but also in a variety of household items such as candles, air fresheners, and scented garbage bags.


A synthetic antibacterial agent that degrades into a form of dioxin, a chemical class linked to a wide range of harms, including cancer. Typically found in soaps, shaving cream, mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorants, and other personal care products.


Look for components with the suffixes "-siloxane" or "-methicone”. Cyclotetrasiloxane is a suspected endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxin that can cause harm to fish and other creatures.

Some elements in personal care products can cause skin sensitivity, irritation, or a more severe allergy along with harm to overall health.

The symptoms are:

  • Skin irritation
  • Stinging and burning bumps
  • Blisters with scaling roughness

Some elements are related to more serious issues, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Concerns with development
  • Hormone imbalance

What are the alternatives?

Natural alternatives may not last as long as chemical alternatives, but they are better for us.

Tea Tree

An essential oil found in skin care products, shampoos, first aid kits, and hand sanitizers. Few studies claim that tree tea essential oil helps to disinfect hands when used in hand sanitizer, could help in wound healing, and also reduces pimples.


Glycerin is a humectant with fewer side adverse effects than PEG's this substance is used to retain moisture.

According to a study products containing glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and Centella Asiatica (gotu kola), could improve moisture & hydration.

Coconut Oil

The fleshy section of coconut is used to extract oil, also known as Cocus nucifera. It provides hydration and helps decrease mold formation in the skin.

A survey conducted in 2022 shows using a coconut oil serum mixed with deer antler stem cell extract for 14 days could smoothen skin, decrease wrinkles and fine lines, and enhance collagen density.

Elderberry Extract

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra extract) which is widely found in creams and serums gives "numerous benefits for our skin." It has antimicrobial effects as well as high quantities of vitamin C. According to a 2019 study, Elderberry Extract is taken as a dietary supplement, possessing anti-aging benefits.

Willow Bark Extract

Willow bark (Salix nigra extract) is an exquisite source of skin preservation, thanks to its antibacterial properties. It also contains a salicin ingredient that has exfoliating characteristics to reduce skin surface oil and cleanse pores.

According to a 2019 study, willow bark extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The Clean Beauty Movement

Clean beauty is more than just a trending term; it is a dedication to healthier, safer, and more environmentally responsible beauty products. The primary purpose of the Clean Beauty movement is to eliminate or minimize the use of hazardous ingredients in skincare, cosmetics, and self-care products.

Here's everything you need to know:

1. Choosing Safe Substances: Clean beauty companies carefully pick their products to eliminate compounds that have previously raised health concerns, such as parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. They prefer natural or scientifically verified safe alternatives.

2. Transparency and ethics: Clean beauty brands are frequently forthcoming about their products and sourcing methods. As more people become worried about the environment, they pledge to use cruelty-free and environmentally friendly practices. This ethical approach is consistent with the values of conscious customers seeking to make a difference.

3. Holistic Wellness: Clean beauty extends beyond the surface. It focuses on overall well-being and considers the long-term effects of skincare and cosmetic products in terms of personal care and environmental well-being.

Look out for Labels

The ability to read product labels is the first step towards becoming a mindful consumer. Here's a step-by-step guide to navigating the sometimes-complicated language of skincare and cosmetic labels:

1. Read Ingredient List: Keep an eye out for the "Dirty Dozen" and other potentially dangerous drugs listed above. The ingredient list of a product is the first hint as to what it contains. The components are normally given in descending order of concentration, with the components with the highest concentration stated first.

2. Know the Scientific Names: Some components may be listed by their scientific names. A fast online search might assist you in identifying them and determining their safety.

3. Be skeptical of marketing claims: While a product may claim to be "natural" or "organic," these labels might be deceptive. Examine the ingredient list rather than the marketing tactics.

4. Look for certificates: Some products, especially those in the clean beauty area, may bear certificates such as "USDA Organic" or "Cruelty-Free." These labels can provide further assurance about the quality of a product.

5. Know the Brand and Product: Before making a purchase, do research about the brand and product. Look out for online reviews, forums, and social media they can provide insight into the experiences of other customers.

6. Patch Testing: Perform a patch test on a tiny portion of the skin before applying a new product to your face or body to check for adverse reactions.

7. Seek expert advice: If you have specific skin concerns or conditions, you should seek the advice of a dermatologist or skincare specialist. They can make recommendations based on your skincare requirements.


When you buy skin care products, you're investing in your body's greatest organ. However, some components may be harmful to the skin or your overall health. With this information, we encourage readers to prioritize their health and make informed choices when it comes to skincare products.

A dermatologist is the best person to advise on the best and safest products and substances for your skin and general health.

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