Bad Ingredients To Avoid In Skincare Products (and Why)

I have always found it surprising that we spend such a huge amount of time following brands or reviews on the type of skincare products we use, but yet spend so little effort in understanding the ingredients they used.

Do you know that some of the common ingredients found are actually hazardous to our body?

In this article, I will share with you some of these bad ingredients (classes of ingredients) to avoid when choosing your skincare products.


Parabens are used as preservatives. They can be found in everything from soap to lotion to makeup. If it has water in it, it probably has a paraben to keep it from growing bacteria. There are many types of parabens, the more common ones are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben. If “paraben” is in the word, I will advise you to avoid it. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances, and possibly even breast cancer. A study has found concentrations of parabens, specifically methylparaben, in human breast tumours. Another study has found that parabens are likely to cause breast cell growth.

Artificial Fragrance/Parfum

Many of us like to use products that smell good ( just ask around and see how many of your friends choose a shampoo or body foam by opening the car and smelling it first ). A lot of what we smell in products today comes from artificial fragrances. While they make your products smell nice, you will be surprised at how they were made and what they were made from.

The biggest problem with artificial fragrances is that manufacturers are not required to reveal what’s actually in these fragrances, so you will only see the word "Fragrance" or "Parfum" on the ingredients list. Synthetic fragrances are mixtures of various chemicals which come from petroleum or crude oil that produce the desired scent and they could include harsh toxins like benzene derivatives, aldehydes, toluene and phthalates.

Artificial fragrances can actually be a cocktail of carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disruptors, and irritants.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used in many types of skincare and cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers, especially in lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen. It also functions as an absorption enhancer. It is important to note that PEG is not a definitive chemical entity in itself, but rather a mixture of compounds, of polymers that have been bonded together. Due to the manufacturing process of PEG, it is often contaminated with both ethylene oxide (a known carcinogen) and 1,4-Dioxane (which causes respiratory problems and is banned in Canada).


Phenoxyethanol is used as a stabilizer, anti-bacterial and preservative in skincare products. Phenoxyethanol is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, especially to nursing mothers or infants. Phenoxyethanol can have an effect on the brain and the central nervous system. It irritates your skin and eyes, and can cause blistering on the skin as well. Although many skincare products (even some organic products) use phenoxyethanol in small amounts that is “not harmful” to your skin, it can accumulate and possibly affect you if you use the products multiple times a day.


BHA and BHT are the common names for Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene. They found mostly in your moisturizers and lipsticks. BHA is a potential carcinogen and can affect hormone function, while BHT affects the reproductive system and can cause multiple organ problems and blood coagulation.


SLS is otherwise known as Sodium Lauryl/Laureth sulfate. It is a skin irritant and thought to be carcinogenic. This ingredient is also a penetration enhancer, which means it allows other toxic substances to pass through the skin and cell membranes.

Unnie Product Selection Principle

Every product that is presented to our customers is thoroughly reviewed with detailed testing. ALL of Unnie's curated skincare products DO NOT contain any of these harmful ingredients. Out of 100 products that I review, fewer than 10 gets selected. This is Unnie's commitment to only bring you the best skincare products from Korea!

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