top of page

5 Harmful Chemicals to Keep out of your Self Care Products

by Meredith Labuda

woman holding her face

This article contains affiliate links.

Finding the perfect skincare routine can feel impossible. There are a million products to try, and you have to keep trying all of them until you find the perfect combination for your skin. We try the hottest products, whatever we’ve seen in Vogue Beauty Secrets, hoping to find the right routine. But sometimes we forget to pay attention to what’s in these products.

There are some ingredients that can be incredibly harmful to your health which can be found in your skincare, and even in other daily products. But don’t get too stressed! So many brands are trying to be more eco-friendly, which often means using cleaner ingredients. It’s not hard to switch over to products that are healthier for you.

Below is a list of 6 ingredients to avoid as best you can in your skincare products and other products:


What are they: GMOs are any organisms that have been genetically modified. Scientists will extract DNA from one organism and put it in another. We know that GMOs can be harmful in our foods, but now we need to look out for them in self-care products as well. GMOs commonly found in our products include canola and soy oil, amino acids, sodium citrate, and more.

Why are they dangerous: According to Andalou Naturals, the long-term effect of GMOs is unknown. However, we do know that short term, using GMOs in skin care and other products may lead to clogged pores, breakouts, and could even cause you to feel fatigued.

What products are they found in: GMOs aren’t found in anything in particular, just anything that includes GMO products. It’s best to just check for the GMO-free label.

Examples of brands with GMO-free products:

Andalou Naturals products

Beach Organics hand and body soap (and other products)

Tata Harper cleanser


What are they: According to the FDA, parabens are preservatives that prevent the growth of mold or bacteria in cosmetics products. Some of the most common parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Why are they dangerous: Parabens have been found to affect both the male and female reproductive system and can unfortunately have negative effects on fertility. A study done by Harvard University found that parabens may be associated with the loss of eggs, and therefore the loss of reproductive ability.

What products are they found in: Parabens could be found in many products, from shampoo to foundation to lotion. In general, just check your products for a paraben-free label.

Examples of brands with paraben-free products:

OGX Beauty products

Lush shampoo bars, massage bars, bubble bars, and bath bombs

CeraVe moisturizers and cleansers

Facetheory anything


What are they: Phthalates are used to make plastic flexible and keep it from breaking. They’re also used as a binding agent.

Why are they dangerous: An article from the Guardian lists the dangers of phthalates, which range from disrupting hormones and leading to lower sperm count and infertility to increasing the risk of miscarriage. In children, phthalates have been linked to allergies, eczema, asthma, and more. They’ve even been found to be a probable carcinogen, harming the thyroid, liver, kidneys, and immune system.

What products are they in: Phthalates are found in cosmetic products such as shampoo, perfume, feminine products, and hairspray.

Examples of brands with phthalate-free products:

The Organic Project feminine products (toxin and synthetic-free)

Just The Goods perfume and aromatherapy fragrances

Shea Moisture hydrating shampoo (and other products)


What are they: Healthline defines sulfates as “...salt that forms when sulfuric acid reacts with another chemical.” They are usually used to create lather.

Why are they dangerous: Sulfates can irritate your skin, eyes, scalp, and even lungs. But the biggest problem with sulfates is that they are usually tested on animals to test their irritation, and they cause cancer in these animals.

What products are they found in: Sulfates are found in shampoo, soap, toothpaste, dish detergent, hand soap, and face cleansers.

Examples of brands with sulfate-free products:

Sensodyne toothpaste

Target hand soap


What is that: Talc is a powder of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen which is supposed to help absorb moisture.

Why is it dangerous: According to the American Cancer Society, talc which has asbestos in it can cause cancer when inhaled. It’s not really clear if talc without asbestos is still harmful, so it’s best to just avoid all talc.

What products is it found in: Baby powder, facial powder, and other powders.

Examples of brands with talc-free products:

● Cornstarch, arrowroot, and tapioca are all-natural alternatives to baby powder

Swanson baby powder

For as many products there are that have harmful chemicals, there are just as many clean products that you can easily substitute. These are easy switches that can help prevent harm to your body. Keep an eye out for these five chemicals and do some research of your own!

To further your knowledge of chemicals in self-care products, check out Pyt Beauty’s list of chemicals to avoid. Pyt is one of our favorite clean beauty brands! For some of our favorite products, check out Meet Clean Beauty Brand Pyt.



bottom of page