When shopping for skin care products, facial cleansers, or even makeup, what do you look for? Do you look for a label on the front that tells you what the product can do? Do you look at the brand name? Do you judge a skin care product by its bottle? Or do you flip it over and read through the long list of words that are too fancy not to be made up and determine if the ingredients are good for your skin?

We doubt it’s the last one. But it should be! The ingredients in your skin care products are important in keeping your skin healthy and beautiful. There are many products that contain ingredients you should and shouldn’t put on your skin. At Azeal Dermatology Institute in Boulder, we believe that you should know what you are putting on your face. In a previous blog, we have talked about some of the ingredients you should have in your skin care products that are healthy and can benefit your skin.

While finding skin care products with the right ingredients, you also want to ensure that these products don’t have ingredients that are harmful to your skin. There are many ingredients that you should avoid, but we don’t expect you to know all of them. We are sure you have heard about some, like parabens and fragrances, but we want to help you learn more about these harmful ingredients and why you should avoid them.

In this blog, we are going to be discussing some of the most common ingredients found in skin care products that have no business being in there. Read on to learn more and start checking the back of your skin care products.


Since we already name-dropped this ingredient above, we figured we would talk about it a little more. While you may have heard about parabens, you may not know why they should be avoided. Parabens are chemicals that help preserve the products, giving them a longer shelf-life. While these chemicals help prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, they are not as beneficial as they sound.

Parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties, which can throw off hormonal balance. They have also been linked to increasing the risk of breast cancer. According to a Huffington Post article, paraben chemicals have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.

Parabens can be found in all types of skin care products and even in some foods. They will be listed as propyl parabens, methyl parabens, ethyl parabens, among others. Next time you use your skin care products, check the list of ingredients to see if these harmful chemicals are included.


We also mentioned fragrances as an ingredient you should avoid. But what exactly do fragrances refer to? The Huffington Post article mentions that the term “fragrances” was created to protect a company’s secret formula. This basically means that the companies don’t have to state the actual ingredients in this formula. You could be getting a whole bunch of chemicals that could cause many problems. Fragrances have been associated with dermatitis, allergies, respiratory problems, and even potential reproduction system issues. If you see “fragrances” listed on the back of your perfumes, colognes, moisturizers, or other beauty products, ditch it now!


This is one you may not have heard of before but another ingredient that should be avoided. Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial agent that has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. This ingredient is a potential endocrine and thyroid disruptor and can cause skin irritation. Triclosan can often be found in antibacterial soap, deodorants, and toothpastes. While it has antibacterial properties, there is not enough evidence that using antibacterial hand soap containing triclosan is more beneficial than using regular soap.


What? Formaldehyde is in skin care products? Sadly, yes. While you may recognize formaldehyde as the chemical used to preserve dead animals in your high school biology class, it is also used in your skin care products. This chemical has been added to the known carcinogen list by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens. Formaldehyde has been linked to occupational related cancers, is known to cause allergic reactions on the skin, and can harm the immune system. You will find this harmful chemical in body washes, conditioners, shampoos, nail polishes, and more.


This is a chemical that is used to increase the softness and flexibility of plastics found in cosmetics, which help the products stick to your skin. This is a very harmful chemical but it is often added to fragrances, the secret formula that does not have to be disclosed. This chemical is a known endocrine disruptor, has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive birth defects in males and females, and is extremely dangerous for children. It is surprising that companies are allowed to hide the use of this chemical by adding it to the harmful concoction of chemicals that are listed as fragrances.


Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are surfactants that are used in shampoos because of their detergent and foaming properties. They are found in more than 90 percent of cleaning and personal care products. SLS and SLES are easily absorbed into the body tissues and can cause irritation to the skin, lungs, and eyes. One of the biggest concerns with SLS and SLES is its potential to combine with other chemicals to create nitrosamines, which is a carcinogen. When this chemical combination happens, it can cause additional issues including kidney and respiratory damage.

Synthetic Colors

Synthetic colors will be listed on your products as “FD&C” or “D&C.” The D and C stand for drug and cosmetics, while the F stands for food. These letters will be followed by a color and a number. While a little color doesn’t seem like it should be harmful, these synthetic colors are created from petroleum or coal tar sources. Synthetic colors are expected to be a carcinogen. They may cause skin irritation and have been linked to ADHD in children.

Sunscreen Chemicals

While sunscreen chemicals sound like something that would be more beneficial than harmful, they can cause a few problems. These chemicals absorb ultraviolet light, acting as a sunscreen agent. However, they are endocrine disruptors and are expected to be absorbed into the body easily. They may also cause cellular damage and increase the risk of cancer in the body. You may see these sunscreen chemicals listed as PABA, benzophenone, homosalate, methoxycinnamate, and avobenzone and are often found in sunscreen products.

Okay, we are done scaring you. While you may have been getting more and more nervous to look at the back of your skin care products as you read through this list of harmful ingredients, we believe that knowledge is power. It can be difficult to find skin care products that avoid using all of these ingredients, but now that you know what to look for, it can be easier to find better products.

We all want to keep our skin healthy and beautiful as long as possible, but when your skin care products may be causing harm to more than just your skin, you need to make a change!

At Azeal Dermatology Institute, we can help you find the right skin care products for your skin type. We offer a variety of products that we think are some of the best in the industry and we are sure you will love! If you want to learn more about your skin and the types of products you should use, schedule a skin care consultation.

Feel free to contact us today to learn more about our services, our products, or get any other questions answered. We will be happy to help! Schedule your appointment today and check the labels on the back of your skin care products.