Skincare ingredients you must avoid

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Your skin is an organ that is easily upset by diet, sleep, hydration, environment and the ingredients that you put on it. The goal of any effective skincare routine is to maintain optimal skin health by nurturing the skin’s natural functions with nutrient-rich ingredients. 

The science of effective skincare is complicated and depends on many factors but the following ingredients are definite no’s if you want to be sure that what you are putting on your skin is not causing harm.


Parabens are commonly used as a preservative in many beauty products. They are highly penetrative and can be found in moisturisers, anti-aging creams, foundations and fragranced products. Industry reports suggest  that 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics may contain parabens.

Harmful effects of Parabens
Parabens penetrate the skin deeply and are known to disrupt the normal functioning of hormones. They are also known to cause skin irritation.

It’s advisable to avoid beauty products that contain parabens. You can identify parabens in your beauty buys by looking out formethylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben and isobutylparaben.  

Mineral oil

Mineral oil is a hydrocarbon that locks in moisture to heal dry skin and makes your beauty products feel smooth and luxurious.

Harmful effects of Mineral Oil
Experts warn that because of the barrier effect it has on skin, mineral oil can also clog pores. Many dermatologists agree that products with both mineral oil and paraffin actually damage the skin barrier and increase water loss.

Your skincare routine should include natural oils, especially if you suffer with excess oil production or very dry, tight skin. Choose natural oils that hydrate skin without greasy build-up – think grapeseed oil, natural rosehip oil, sunflower oil and jojoba.  


Silicone is a chemically derived product that ‘fills in’ fine lines and scars for an instant smoothing effect. Most makeup primers contain silicones to smooth the surface of the skin before makeup application.

Harmful effects of Silicones
Whilst silicones are not specifically harmful for skin, the problem is that they are not beneficial either. The negative effects of silicone on skin are largely physical as opposed to chemical. In this regard, they block absorption of other ingredients and prevent additional moisture from getting through which can throw your skin’s regulatory  processes off-balance. This means that the skin becomes less able to shed dead layers and hydrate itself.

Check if your product contains dimethicone or methicone (or usually any ingredient ending in ‘cone’) in the ingredient list as these are usually silicones. Opt for naturally hydrating skin primers  containing hyaluronic acid which instantly plumps up the skin and smooths the complexion. 

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Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) are usually found in foaming products like cleansers and shampoos.

Harmful Effects of Sulphates
SLSs and SLESs can cause acne, flaky skin and fine lines. They strip your hair and skin of natural oils and protective barriers leading to lack of moisture and disrupted repair processes.

Choose non-foaming cleansers that cleanse the skin without stripping. Your skin should never feel dry and tight after you cleanse – it should feel bouncy and nourished.  

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is used in small amounts in cosmetics to keep products from melting or freezing in high or low temperatures. 

Harmful effects of Propylene Glycol
This chemical is a strong skin irritant and has been implicated in contact dermatitis. It should be avoided at all costs.  

Synthetic fragrances

Fragrance is the biggest cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. Whilst both natural and synthetic fragrances can cause skin sensitisation, synthetic fragrances are the great unknown.

Harmful effects of synthetic fragrances
Synthetic fragrances can cause skin irritation, rashes and hives. It’s advisable to use skincare that is either fragrance-free or scented with a light natural extract that you know your skin can tolerate. 

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