because good skincare shouldn't be made with bad stuff.
10 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid
Published May 2021
10 Skincare Ingredients To Avoid.
Truly O2 is uniquely clean and effective because of what we put in it: Oxygen microbubbles, all-natural moisturizers and humectants, and natural ingredients with antioxidative and skin-healing properties. Our skincare products are uniquely safe because of the bad stuff we keep out. Astonishingly, many of the ingredients we swear against are legal in the U.S. and are found in many widely available beauty products … even though when banned or highly regulated in other countries.
If you look at our skincare ingredients labels, you will notice that there aren’t many ingredients to begin with. That’s because the stuff we use really adds value for your skin. All the other stuff? We simply choose not to mess with it.
To be clear, there are over 1,500 ingredients we would never use in our products, but here’s a short list you can consult when trying to decode long and complicated skincare ingredients lists to make smart decisions.
10 skincare ingredients to avoid:
- Propylene Glycol
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
- Diethanolamine (DEA)
- Polythylene Beads
- Animal Products
Why you should avoid these skincare ingredients:
Parabens (short for parahydroxybenzoates) are a family of chemicals used as preservatives in food and in many beauty products. They are known to have many negative health effects, which include disrupting hormones in the body. Hormone disruption is known to cause harm to the reproductive and endocrine systems, and increase risk of breast cancer among other types. Many parabens with identifying names will be listed on labels (butylparaben, methylparaben, etc.). Watch out for those and always look for skincare and beauty products that say paraben-free.
Phthalates are a practically ubiquitous class of chemicals used to increase the flexibility of plastics. They are especially common in foods and food packaging, but many beauty products use them as well. Like parabens, phthalates are an endocrine disrupter — chemicals that interfere with the body’s production of hormones. This has led to many of them being banned in the European Union. Studies in the U.S. have linked phthalates to increased risk of asthma and developmental issues in children, increased risk of miscarriage, and a number of other health effects.
Although phthalates are banned in Europe, they are still found in many U.S. products. Unfortunately, phthalates are usually not listed as ingredients in products that contain them. So, how do you now when they’re present? A good rule of thumb is to stay away from products with added fragrance.
3. Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is a synthetic humectant that can irritate your skin if you have sensitive skin or skin conditions. Additionally, many people are allergic without even realizing it. To put a fine point on it, Propylene Glycol was the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s Allergen of the Year in 2018.
You might expect to find formaldehyde in a mortuary, or the lab of a mad scientist, but considering that it is highly toxic and a known carcinogen, you would probably not expect it to be found in your body wash. In fact, formaldehyde is still used in many beauty products from nail polishes to lotions, despite being banned in the EU. Here’s a list of known formaldehyde aliases that you should avoid at all costs. Oh, and for all of you that love professional hair-straightening systems … sorry to break it to you, but most of those contain formaldehyde, too.
5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is another chemical banned in the EU that is extremely common in US cosmetics, shampoos and other beauty products. It is used as a foaming agent and surfactant — something that allows liquids to interact. It is banned in the EU because it is a known skin irritant; in fact cosmetic companies even use it to induce irritation when conducting trials. Keep your skin happy by avoiding this ingredient.
Petrolatum, aka petroleum jelly, aka Vaseline™, aka Aquaphor™, is an occlusive found in many over-the-counter creams, lotions and cosmetics. Petrolatum is a petroleum product which means it is derived from crude oil. For this reason, less refined grades of petroleum jelly can contain carcinogenic substances and are therefore regulated or banned.
While the stuff that makes it into our skincare products is highly refined and widely considered safe, a German consumer watchdog found high levels of Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH’s) in 25 common products containing petroleum ingredients ... including lotions made by Nivea and Dove.
MOAH’s are considered carcinogens by the European Food Safety Authority. But even beyond the safety concerns, we also don’t like the the idea of putting petroleum products on our face because of how heavy, greasy, and non-breathable it is. Because of this, it can foster bacterial growth if your skin is not perfectly clean before use, even triggering acne outbreaks.
Like petrolatum (and mineral oil), liquid paraffin is a petroleum product, with many of the same possible adverse health risks as those listed above. Like petrolatum, products with paraffins have been found to have high levels of MOAH’s.
8. Diethanolamine (DEA)
This chemical is found in many moisturizers, sunscreens, and soaps. By itself it is not known to be dangerous, but in combination with other chemicals it forms carcinogenic compounds. Exposure to high doses of these chemicals has been shown in laboratories to cause cancers and precancerous conditions in the skin and thyroid. EWG.org ranks Diethanolamine as among the most dangerous cosmetic ingredients and cites ‘robust’ evidence.
9. Polythylene Beads
Remember these? Polythylene beads, or microbeads, were found in many scrubs, body washes and toothpastes until a 2015 law passed making them illegal. The ban was inspired by the fact the microbeads are an ecological nightmare: Too small to be filtered by water treatment, they enter the water supply after being washed down the drain and are ingested by fish and other marine life that mistake them for food. This introduces toxic chemicals into the ecosystem, thus negatively everything/everybody along the food chain. The ban went into effect in 2019, but only for some products. It’s possible that you still have some kicking around the house, and chances are, you will want to kick them to the curb. This article covers how to dispose of them properly.
10. Animal Products
Collagen, elastin, keratin, beeswax ... We avoid these not because they are unsafe, but because we like animals. We think hooves and bones belong in and on animal bodies, not on our faces, and we doubt the efficacy of applying collagen and elastin to our skin anyway. We prefer to use plant-based, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients that do an equally good (if not better) job as their animal-based counterparts.
Sometimes it’s not what you put on your face that counts, but what you keep away from it. We hope we’ve put these bad actors on your radar, and perhaps piqued your curiosity to learn more about what’s in your skincare. We also hope you glance at our skincare ingredients and learn more about our oxygen technology to see what clean, ethical, and technology-driven skincare products can do for your skin.