When it comes to minimalist beauty, I believe the most important place to start is identifying which skin care ingredients to avoid. Our skin is the biggest organ that makes up our body and absorbs anything you put on it.
Knowing this, you should know what is in your skin care products and what you don’t want in your skin care products.
In my personal minimalist journey, I transitioned from conventional products to more natural products. The simplest explanation is that my skin does not like lab-created chemicals.
I have issues with acne, large pores, premature wrinkles, and redness. It is hard to feel comfortable in my own skin.
My hair is in even worse shape. It seems like no matter which “quality” products I tried, nothing changed.
Once I did some research on these problems, one thing became apparent to me. The chemicals within all of my products were definitely not helping my natural beauty!
So I looked for solutions, skin care ingredients to avoid, beauty products to avoid, and researched for what to use instead.
Here is what I learned.
Minimalist Beauty Tips: Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid!
This list does not include ingredients that are specific to a person, diet, or sensitivity. It is a general overview of common ingredients found in conventional products that I highly encourage you to steer away from altogether.
BHA [butylated hydroxyanisole] and BHT [butylated hydroxytoluene] //
Both of these ingredients are in beauty products, foods, deodorant, and more. They are preservatives to prevent products from going bad.
However, studies have shown that both of these ingredients are linked to organ-system toxicity, cancer, reproductive toxicity, and more. [Source]
DEA [diethanolamine] //
DEA is used to make products creamy or sudsy by adjusting the PH level of a product. It is commonly found in beauty creams and sunscreens.
It can irritate the skin and eyes, and it can cause liver cancer and other precancerous concerns, especially with the skin and thyroid. [Source]
Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives //
Just typing the words feels icky! Formaldehyde is used as a hardener in many cosmetics and household products. The problem with this ingredient is the gas inhalation.
It is known as a human carcinogen and irritant. It is currently under investigation for further research into all of the harmful side effects it can cause. [Source]
Parabens are one of the most popular preservatives found in the world. They are most often used in cosmetics and fragrances and are absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream.
Parabens affect the hormone levels in men and women and have been detected in breast cancer tissues. This ingredient is also under investigation for extensive research into the damage it can cause to our bodies.
Parfum / Fragrance //
First of all, the fragrance ingredient is protected as a trademark secret, so you may never know what it contains. Testing is not regulated either. People who are naturally sensitive to fragrances can suffer from headaches, migraines, and allergies/sinus issues.
Certain ingredients within a fragrance can affect early hormonal changes and organ failure in children. If a product of any kind includes fragrance, it will be listed within the ingredients list. Be sure to read through all of your cosmetics, hair care, skin care, etc., to see if they contain fragrance. [Source]
From personal experience, once you cleanse your palette of chemical fragrances, it is easier to distinguish real and natural smells from chemical fragrances.
PEGs [polyethylene glycols] //
This ingredient is an interesting one. Derived from petroleum, this product is used in all kinds of cosmetics, skin care, LAXATIVES, etc.
Because it is petroleum-based, it does not degrade and pollutes the environment once it is washed down the drain. It is recommended to not be used on areas of the skin that are broken. This can cause irritation and possible toxicity. [Source]
Petrolatum is basically mineral oil jelly. It creates a barrier on your skin and gives your hair shine.
It is linked with cancer, skin irritation, and allergies, as well as being very bad for the environment due to slow degradation. [Source]
Silicone-based products are everywhere! They are loved because of the smooth texture they provide for other products to layer on top of easily.
However, they are very detrimental to not only your health but also the environment. These products are toxic to aquatic and human life. This ingredient family can interfere with fertility and hormones and create tumors. [Source]
This is a very scary ingredient. Triclosan is in a lot of household cleaners, deodorants, toys, clothing, antiseptics, and much more. It can be labeled as an “anti-bacterial” ingredient.
It seeps through the skin and can cause hormone changes, eye and skin irritation, and adverse effects on the aquatic environment due to slow degradation. This is a very toxic ingredient! [Source]
How to Avoid These Harmful Skin Care Ingredients
Now that you know which harmful skin care ingredients to avoid, how do you avoid them? The process is actually rather simple, so you really don’t have any excuses to keep using toxic skin care products.
Read the label //
The first thing you need to do is read the ingredients label. Just because something is labeled as natural or organic doesn’t mean that it is a good product to use.
Whether you decide to only use products that have ingredients, you can pronounce or know what it is or look for specific ingredients to avoid, the important thing is that you look at the label and make sure it is free of toxic ingredients.
Use natural products instead //
You’ll still need to read the labels, but it is easier to avoid the ingredients mentioned above compared to conventional products.
A few brands I trust are:
You still need to vet these brands for yourself, but these are all great places to start.
There are many other great brands available to you, but these are the few that I’ve personally tried and have had good results.
Use the less is more approach to skin care products //
While the 10-Step Korean Skin Care System is fun to do for special care, you don’t need ten different products to make your skin healthy.
I prefer a less is more approach. The skin care products I currently use are oil cleansers, toners, face masks [1-2 times per week], serums, and moisturizers.
This is more than a lot of minimalists, but it is what works well for me.
Related Post: Minimalist Beauty Routine
Final thoughts about skin care ingredients to avoid
Now that you know which harmful skin care ingredients to avoid, I challenge you to look through your products to see if any of these ingredients are in them. The first time I did this, I tossed out more than half of what I had.
As we go through the month of November, my friend Sarah at Pretty Simple Ideas and I will share with you some green alternatives. This month is full of beauty tips that we both use. We have some tricks up our sleeves, so be sure to stick around by subscribing via email!
[I left off a couple of ingredients from this list… Check out this post to see why! See you then!]