all about organic makeup and skin care — going as natural as we can
Organic Skin Care and Organic Makeup header image... Refresh for more!

Common ingredients to avoid in your skin care routine:

Sometimes you are lucky. You walk into a store, and spot a perfectly organic box of makeup or skin care, which also happens to be exactly what you were searching for – right shade, right price, the right thing, period. There are no suspicious ingredients, no hints of allergens, and a sales girl with a glorious fresh face assures you that that is exactly the thing she uses all the time…

And sometimes you are desperate. Your skin is dry as a parchment, your forehead is so red, it could stop traffic, and your lashes are as good as gone.  And you are miles away from that health store you trust.

What do you do then?

You search for something new. You search for something as natural as possible, trying to avoid the worst that the skin care industry has to offer.

And to help you in your search, I’ve spent the last few nights compiling the short list of the most harmful ingredients out there. It is now presented here for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

May the next addition to your bathroom sink avoid the following:

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum

These are byproducts of petroleum. Yes. When they produce gasoline, the by-products of the distillation process. I’m still getting over the fact that another name for mineral oil is baby oil. As in, the baby oil most touted for “soothing gentle baby skin” is petroleum derived mineral oil!!! What’s next? “dip your baby in natural gasoline?” Are people insane?

Petroleum products block your skin – they coat it like plastic, and clog up the pores. Naturally that way your skin can’t function properly. It can’t breath properly. It builds up toxins and leads to all kinds of issues. It is also a suspect cause of cancer. Which makes sense – cells that can’t breath or function properly, are bound to die or mutate…


Chances are, if you heard of one ingredient you’d be best to avoid, it’s paraben. And you probably are having the hardest time avoiding it. Cause it is, literally, everywhere. Your odds of finding paraben-free products in a main stream cosmetics isle are almost equal to your odds of finding snow in the Sahara desert. This widely used preservative finds its way even into many so-called “natural” products. And that is despite the fact that it has been linked to cancer and is known to disrupt hormones (it mimics estrogen). Arguments about it’s safety go back and forth, ever since the first studies pointing to the danger emerged. FDA currently thinks it’s safe, until further notice… Kind of reminds me of that “smoking is perfectly safe” argument…

Phenol/Carbolic Acid

This precious little thing can be found in your faithful lotion and skin cream. What are its benefits? Let me quote Dr. Mercola for you: .”Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure.”
Holly c@#$…


Acrylamide is a known carcinogen. It made a strong impact on the media when it was found in fast food. You might be interested to know that it can also be found in your hand and face cream…

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS) = sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

It’s a skin irritant. It can lead to hair loss. It breaks down the skin barrier, allowing itself to penetrate, as well as other chemicals. It’s corrosive. It may or may not be linked to cancer (depending who’s arguments are louder), but heck, no one argues it’s an irritant…

So why is it in so many of your cleansing products? Cause it’s cheap. It’s used as for car-wash, for engine degreasing, for garage floors , and… for your lovely facial cleanser and shower gel… Yup… Cause, presumably, your skin gets as dirty as that garage floor, and nothing milder could handle it…


1,4-Dioxane is a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer”. In fact, it’s carcinogenicity has been reported since the mid sixties. So, for a change, there is no controversy that it is harmful per se. Yet it finds its way into a myriad of common skin care products – lotions, body washes, soaps…

Dioxane has been making lots of fuss in the green blogosphere due to being spotted even in “organic” labeled products. You can check the shocking Organic Consumers Association press release here. Now, honestly, how do you go about trusting anyone after this? Remember I said in my post about organic certifications, that things aren’t always what they say? Goes to show… Now, if the “naturals” are detected to carry it, I can’t even begin to imagine what the main-streamers do…

The Organic Consumer Association recommends that To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, consumers should search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names.


These words may evoke the sexiness of Chanel, or the sent of a daisy field, but they really are a cover-all words for thousands of different chemicals. A typical cosmetic can contain 50-100 chemicals in the perfume. About 2,600 chemicals are commonly used in perfume; 95% of chemicals used in perfumes and as fragrances in cosmetics are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum. Because perfumes are of low molecular weight they can easily penetrate the skin. (I got this information from here.) Realistically, companies cannot list all these ingredients on a bottle. So, you’ll probably never know the truth of what is hiding inside. Sometimes it’s better to err on a side of caution…


The above list is by no means exhaustive or authoritative. It is merely a result of my personal search for information. And by no means do I want it to cause you a panic attack next time you are searching for a foundation.

I remember watching the movie “Aviator”. In a scene where Howard goes completely nuts cause everything seems unclean to him, (mind you, I watched the movie once, so I don’t remember all the detail…) his girlfriend comes through for him. And she says, something like this: “Nothing’s clean… But we do our best”.

So do your best. Buy as natural as possible. Try to avoid the offending ingredients. But don’t go crazy if you can’t find that one tried and true 100% certified organic bottle. Or you’ll risk offsetting the benefit of a more pure product by all that stress you put yourself through while searching.

Related Articles


1 Heidi { 06.13.08 at 10:24 pm }

Good information, thanks.

And crazy timing, I’m watching The Aviator right now for the first time! Haven’t seen the scene you refer to yet, but how weird!


2 Maria Mills { 02.24.09 at 1:12 pm }

Hey everyone,

Another great LOCAL organic skincare company that is certififed is MADE FROM EARTH. I have been using their products for the last 6 months – and now stopped!! Because my skin has naturally improved itself and I have seen a real decline in the amount of wrinkles on the side of my eyes. I would recommend the “VITAMIN ENHANCED FACE FIRMING SERUM”. This is the cream I only used for 6 months and now stopped because it naturally has improved my owns skins ability to heal itsefl and become firmer.

As a body lotion, I use the HONEY HONEY cream. Smells like honey. Definitely check them out and they are way better priced than most organic skin care lines. . .the website is

3 maria mills { 03.01.09 at 9:53 pm }

I use a face cream that has powerful antioxidants from real blue berries. . .its from this organic and chemical free company called Made from Earth. It’s the “Three Berry Serum”. . .It has actual berries in it which are mixed with the lotion and applied to your face. Plus, I have sensitive skin and don’t put any chemicals in my body, and this one of the few face creams I have found that is 100% chemical free . .

Seriously – toxic synthetic chemicals in your lotions are not necessary. Human skin is porous which means that substances we put on our skin are absorbed directly into our bloodstream. This means these chemicals may end up in your liver or other organs.

4 Norma Braga { 02.04.10 at 3:06 pm }

Hi, Julena! I really would like to thank you for all the information you present us in your website and blog! I am from Brazil, where it is more difficult to find safe certified products, but I am trying. We have some good organic-natural lines for skincare (açai and chocolat, aloe vera, olive etc.), but no makeup. My search began because I had some years of a terrible migraine and had to change everything in my food (no sugar, no artificial ingredients and so on…). So I started to research and found out that I had to change what I put in my skin too. I am very happy to find all this precious information here!

5 samantha mann { 03.13.11 at 7:33 pm }

My friend lent me her Sun Putty on our trip to Seychelles and
I’m not giving it back! This stuff is amazingly effective, natural, goes-on-clear
SPF 30 sunscreen that has great moisturizing effects on my skin…
they are 100% vegan and cruelty-free…

I’ve learned that Sun Putty Products are natural, plant-based, vegan,
cruelty-free sunscreen and skin nurturing products that don’t use synthetic
compounds…no alcohol, petrolatum or even added water!…each jar is
100% composed of effective ingredients.

Concentrated sunscreen and skincare in a 1 oz. jar!…helped me travel light
and my skin looks amazing…my friend had to get another jar…lol

Find Sun Putty at

6 Common Ingredients to AVIOD in Your Skincare Routine « Cosgo { 05.18.11 at 3:17 pm }

[...] Common Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Routine [...]

7 Chris { 09.26.11 at 8:10 pm }

bravo! I love that you list ingredients to avoid. I have a makeup line that is free of these ingredients too. Here is my list of ingredients to watch out for…I try to keep it simple.

8 What’s In That Brand? – OLAY — Organic Makeup and Skin Care { 02.25.12 at 10:56 pm }

[...] a favour.  Read the the labels before you put anything on your face.  Consult the list of ingredients to avoid if you are not sure what you [...]

Leave a Comment