2021 was a game-changing year for all of us as we became more aware of “hero ingredients” and started incorporating those into our skincare. While we are all aware of ingredients that bless our skin with glow, health and shine, how much are we actually aware of its foes? So, without further ado, let’s list out five ingredients you should steer clear of as they are doing more harm than good.


01. High concentrations of alcohol

High concentrations of alcohol

When used in high concentrations, alcohol can cause excessive dryness, cause the skin to peel, and erode its structural integrity. It also stimulates oil production in the skin—a cause for concern for acne-prone skin. Alcohol in cosmetics is usually referred to as ethanol, methanol, denatured alcohol or ethyl alcohol and is found in products like perfumes, astringents, lotions, creams and serums. Alternatively, look for ingredients like Cetearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol that are comparatively milder.


02. Oxybenzone


Oxybenzone is one of the most perturbing ingredients found in sunscreen, usually used as a chemical filter. It can cause allergies and hormonal disruptions when absorbed by the skin. Instead, use mineral or physical sunscreens as their formulations contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that protect you by staving off the sunlight.


03. Formaldehyde


Had that burning sensation in your eyes and throat during a straightening job at the salon? That’s Formaldehyde. It is an ingredient many of us are already familiar with and is commonly found in nail polish, eyelash glue, hair serums, foundations and mists. This ingredient often goes unnoticed on the labels as it’s also referred to as formalin, glyoxal and bronopol. It causes inflammation in the eyes, nose and throat and is also linked with wheezing, nausea and skin irritation.

It is a powerful preservative that is used in preserving human cadavers. (so you can understand how strong and disruptive it is! ) Further, it is a known carcinogen and disruptor of hormones. Alternatively, look for products containing honey, olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil.



04. Parabens


Parabens—we have heard about it enough to know it’s no friend of your skin. But what are parabens really all about? They are synthetic compounds that are used as preservatives to give your products longer shelf life. Unfortunately, very few cosmetics are free of them as they are found in everything from shampoos to creams, makeup to shaving gels and even our toothpaste. New research has found links between parabens and cancers, allergies, hormonal disruptions and fertility issues. While parabens used in cosmeceuticals are in extremely low concentrations, the accumulated absorption increases with continued exposure to multiple products over time. Safer alternatives for this ingredient are extracts of grapefruit seed, rosemary and neem, essential oils of thyme, oregano and tea tree, phenoxyethanol and potassium sorbate.


05. Phthalates


Phthalates are generally used as binding agents, solvents and preservatives in products like hair sprays, perfumes, deodorants, shampoos, gels, and lotions. It is a dangerous chemical as it is associated with respiratory, neurological, behavioural and reproductive issues. It is best to steer clear of it completely.