Have you ever looked at the ingredients list on your skin care products? These lists get longer and longer every day and include toxic ingredients. It can be hard navigating through the long list of ingredients on your skin care products. I have been there. I also understand how difficult it is to know what ingredients to avoid in skincare products. 

If you have felt that frustration in the cosmetics aisle of your local store, I have some exciting news to share with you. Before I tell you this secret that I’ve been holding in for over a year, I want to talk about the ingredients to avoid in skincare products and why it matters. First, let’s talk about the beauty industry. 

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The Ugly Truth Behind the Beauty Industry

An average of 7 new industrial chemicals get approval by the U.S. government every day, and 80% of these chemicals are approved in three weeks or less with little or no safety testing performed on them. Many of these industrial chemicals end up as the basic ingredients in our cosmetics and personal care products.

Even more shocking than the incredibly high volume of chemically-laden products, is that our government does not regulate the safety of these products. It’s true! The FDA does not investigate or test for the safety of personal care products before consumers buy them. That is extremely troubling. Instead, an industry-appointed and funded panel of “experts” called the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviews the safety of cosmetic ingredients.

According to the Environmental Working Group, there are approximately 12,500 ingredients used in cosmetics in our country.1 In the CIR’s 30-year history, the group has screened only 11% of those ingredients. This means that nearly 90% of the ingredients in your beauty products are not reviewed or tested for your safety. 

The cosmetic industry says these ingredients are not harmful because only very small amounts are used in each product. However, if you factor in that the average person uses 10-15 different beauty products every day you could be exposed to more toxic ingredients in skincare products than you realize. 

How Toxins Get Into Your Body

Even if you live a “clean lifestyle” and buy non-toxic cleaning products, toxic-free clothing, and have water filters throughout your home, you are still likely exposed to thousands of toxins every day. They’re found in the air you breathe, the food you eat, and in the cookware you use every day. Even your food storage containers expose you to toxic chemicals. Here are three primary ways toxins get in our bodies. 

We Breathe Them In

People spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors.2 Considering that indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, it’s no surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top 5 environmental risks to your optimal health.3 Of course, there’s pollution outside your home as well from environmental pollutants. Toxins can easily build up in your body when you are constantly breathing them in.

We Eat and Drink Them

A conventional diet is full of pesticide-treated produce and animals who have been given artificial growth hormones and antibiotics. The National Research Council claims that, in children especially, dietary intake of pesticides accounts for most pesticide exposure.4

Since more than half of your body is made up of water, the quality of your water is important to your health. Heavy metals, chemicals from plastic, and other pollutants can get into your body through your drinking water, or through your skin when you bathe. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered in a 3-year study that 85% of the population in the US consumes water with about 316 contaminants, most of which are completely unregulated.

We absorb them through our skin

Your skin is your largest organ and your main barrier to the outside world. Substances ranging from the beneficial to the bad come into contact with your skin and can be absorbed into your bloodstream. That includes the chemicals in soap, makeup, lotions, and skin care products.  

The Bad Ingredients In Skin Care Products

Your skin is the most important organ in your body. It performs so many vital functions in your body, including protecting your organs, bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels. 

Did you know that 60% of what comes in contact with your skin is absorbed? It’s true. That means the skin care products you use affect the health of your skin. As I mentioned earlier, the skin care industry is not heavily regulated in terms of safety. That means any ingredient a company wants to use can be put into your face wash, lotions, and creams. 

I understand this can be confusing or overwhelming, and even a little frightening. Don’t worry. I’m going to give you the tools to know the ingredients to avoid in your skincare products. First, here are “the dirty dozen” ingredients to avoid in skincare products.

Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare – Bad Ingredients in Skincare Products – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare - Bad Ingredients in Skincare Products - Infographic - Amy Myers MD® https://content.amymyersmd.com/article/ingredients-to-avoid-in-skincare/Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare – Bad Ingredients in Skincare Products – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®

Parabens and Phthalates

Both of these bad ingredients in skin care products are widely used as a preservative in cosmetics. They are also used in fragrances, however you may not find it on the label.5 Fragrance recipes are labeled as trade secrets, so companies aren’t required to list the ingredients on labels. Parabens and phthalates can easily get into your skin and interfere with hormone production and mimic estrogen. Methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben are some of the most common parabens in cosmetics. Other chemicals in this class generally have “paraben” in their names (e.g., isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, etc.).


BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in most face moisturizers on the market, among other cosmetics. These are classified as human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. BHA & BHT also mimic estrogen and can lead to a hormone imbalance. While these chemicals are not regulated by the FDA, the state of California requires a warning label on skin care products that contain BHA and BHT. 

Coal Tar Dyes

Coal tar-derived colours are used extensively in cosmetics and skin care products.  P-phenylenediamine is a particular coal tar dye used in many hair dyes. Darker hair dyes tend to contain more phenylenediamine than lighter colours. Coal tar is made up of many chemicals derived from petroleum, a well-known crude oil used to make gasoline and plastics. Coal tar is recognized as a human carcinogen. What’s more, coal tar can be contaminated with low levels of heavy metals and aluminum


Also known as diethanolamine, DEA compounds are used in skin care products to make them creamy. DEA is more commonly found in soaps, however, they are also in your skin moisturizers, sunscreen, and face washes. DEA is a pH adjuster to balance out the acidity of other ingredients in skin care products. The ironic part is that while it is in your skincare products, it can actually irritate your skin. DEA compounds also react with nitrates in cosmetics to form nitrosamines, which is classified as a carcinogen. MEA (monoethanolamide) and TEA (triethanolamine) are related chemicals. Like DEA, they can react with other chemicals in cosmetics to form carcinogenic nitrosamines.


Formaldehyde-releasing agents are used as preservatives in cosmetics as well as in your skin care products. Even though the United States and Canada have declared formaldehyde to be toxic, many cosmetic companies still use this toxic chemical to make your skin care products last longer. Formaldehyde may off-gas from cosmetics containing these ingredients and be inhaled and absorbed by your skin, causing irritation to your skin, eyes, and lungs. Formaldehyde is also classified as a known human carcinogen. 

Undisclosed Fragrances

Remember, fragrances are considered a trade secret and not required to be disclosed on a label of skin care products. One study found 14 undisclosed ingredients in products that had “fragrance” listed.6 It’s obvious that fragrance is in deodorants, body washes, perfumes, and lotions. However, even products marked as “fragrance-free” or “unscented” likely contain fragrance with a masking agent, meaning your brain cannot recognize the smell of it. Of the thousands of chemicals used in fragrances, most have not been tested for toxicity, alone or in combination. Many of these unlisted ingredients are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, and asthma symptoms.

PEG Compounds

These are also called polyethylene glycols and are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as moisture-carriers, thickeners, softeners, and solvents. It is common to find PEGs in face creams. The EWG rates polyethylene glycol low itself; however, clean beauty experts’ primary concern with the ingredient class is the products it releases: ethylene oxide and dioxane. These are heavy-duty sterilizers that the federal agency the Environmental Protection Agency notes, “chronic, long-term exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and damage to the nervous system” as well as evidence of being a human carcinogen. 

Petrolatum, PAHs

You likely know this ingredient to avoid in skincare products as petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is mineral oil and skin care product manufacturers add this ingredient to lock in moisture to the skin. It’s found in almost every moisturizer and in your hair care products. It’s what makes your hair shine. The issue with this ingredient is that it can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This happens during the manufacturing process. Exposure can come from burning carbon-containing compounds, burning wood and fuel for homes, and even in foods such as coffee, barbecued meat, and sodas. The European Union allows petroleum to only be used in cosmetics if the full refining history is known and that it can be shown that the substance was not exposed to PHAs. Mineral oil and petroleum distillates are related petroleum by-products used in cosmetics. Like petroleum, these ingredients may also be contaminated with PAHs.


Siloxanes are silicone-based compounds used to soften, smooth, and moisten skin care products. This ingredient to avoid in skin care products is used to make deodorant to slide on your armpit easier and your hair products to dry quicker. They are also used extensively in moisturizers and facial treatments. Siloxanes are toxic, persistent, and accumulate in animals in the seas. Some studies have shown that siloxanes interfere with natural hormone production. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) silicone polymers used in skincare products are produced from siloxanes. Dimethicone is a common PDMS ingredient in cosmetics.


Finally, Triclosan is another ingredient to avoid in skin care products. You can find this primarily in deodorants and hand sanitizer, because of its antibacterial properties. However, it is also used in some face washes, your laundry detergent, and antiseptics for cuts and wounds. Triclosan can get through your skin barrier and can interfere with natural hormone function. 

Now that you know about the “Dirty Dozen” ingredients to avoid in skin care products, I want to share my exciting news for how you can find worry-free skincare – I developed my own skincare line!

My Favorite Toxin-Free Body Products

After years of frustration looking at face washes, moisturizers, wrinkle creams, and thousands of skin care products that contained bad ingredients. So, I decided to formulate my own.

The cosmetic industry argues that it’s perfectly fine to use toxic ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives on your face because only tiny amounts are used in each product and are therefore not harmful. However, with daily use, these toxic chemicals add up and wreak havoc on your body and your health! 

The high-performance, doctor-designed formulas in my line are nontoxic and rich in the purest forms of bioactive botanical ingredients so you can experience healthy skin without sacrificing results!

I formulated a hydrating cream, a vitamin C-based cleanser, and an age-defying serum from the cleanest ingredients to keep your skin healthy without the bad ingredients in skin care products. Let me tell you about them. 

Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser

The Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser is a carefully chosen blend of exotic oils and organic botanical extracts that gently nourish, purify, and revitalize your skin.

The majority of face cleansers on the market contain mineral oil (petrolatum) and fragrance, however, mine is free of both. Formulated with pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C, rosehip seed oil, and reishi mushroom extract, the Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser is fast-acting to combat the effects of sun exposure and cell damage that comes naturally with age. Its lightweight texture foams easily to swiftly lift impurities and promote the appearance of youthful, fresh-looking skin.

The Replenishing Vitamin C Cleanser contains a potent dose of highly bioavailable antioxidants and age-defying botanical extracts to promote a youthful bounce to your complexion. Rosehip seed oil and reishi mushroom extract fights age-progressing free radicals while regenerative essential fatty acids, minerals, and antioxidants rebalance and fortify your skin’s natural protective barrier.

Age-Defying Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The Age-Defying Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a rapidly-absorbing serum designed to plump, rejuvenate, and hydrate dry skin. This physician-formulated serum is paraben-, phthalate-, and fragrance-free, unlike a lot of wrinkle creams you’d find at your local cosmetics store. 

Featuring a potent concentration of hyaluronic acid, your skin’s most powerful moisture retainer, as well as retinol, glycolic acid, vitamin E, and gotu kola extract, this advanced doctor-designed formula dives beneath the surface to help skin cells retain long-lasting hydration.

The Age-Defying Hyaluronic Acid Serum features exotic botanical extracts including white willow bark, horsetail grass, and wild geranium flower to promote the formation of healthy new skin cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid binds to existing collagen, restoring essential moisture to promote a noticeably plump, dewy, and hydrated complexion.

It also contains purifying glycolic acid, which dissolves epithelial cells on your skin’s surface to reveal fresh cells untouched by sun damage or affected by discoloration, so you present a bright, clear complexion.

Hydrating Ceramide Cream

This physician-formulated cream features a rich blend of replenishing botanical ceramides and physician-formulated essential oils that is free of toxic ingredients. These bespoke ingredients deliver maximum hydration deep below the surface of your skin to restore youthful elasticity and encourage a noticeably plump, radiant, and supple complexion.

The Hydrating Ceramide Cream supports your skin’s natural moisture barrier to lock in nourishing ingredients such as palm oil, green tea extract, and vitamin C for consistent, long-lasting hydration.

Botanical ceramides protect your skin’s surface from environmental stressors, toxins, and ultraviolet light, reducing your risk of discoloration, slowing the progression of fine lines, and exfoliating epithelial cells for a polished, youthful glow.

I’ve got more good news for you. I designed the Essential Beauty Kit to include everything you need to nourish and protect your skin from the signs of aging. Your complete hydration routine includes three physician-formulated skincare products that replenish, restore, and rejuvenate your skin to reveal a noticeably healthier-looking, youthful complexion. What’s missing? Toxins. 

You don’t have to sacrifice your health by exposing your skin with bad ingredients in your skin care products. Understanding the ingredients to avoid in skincare products and knowing what to look for on the label will lower your body’s exposure to toxins and give you healthy, glowing skin. 

Article Sources

  1. Cosmetics Safety . Environmental Working Group. 2008.
  2. Reviewing New Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Environmental Protection Agency. 2020.
  3. The Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) Study. Lance A. Wallace. Environmental Protection Agency. 1987.
  4. Pesticides. Environmental Protection Agency. 2021.
  5. The Dirty Dozen: Parabens. David Suzuki Foundation. 2020.
  6. Hidden Chemicals in Perfume and Cologne. Environmental Working Group. 2010.