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Scary Ingredients Found in Most Skin Care Products

Halloween JUST passed, so chances are, there’s not much that can scare you. But there really are a few things that SHOULD scare you! They are the ingredients hiding in your medicine cabinet or your cosmetic bag!

Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does very, very minimal regulation when it comes to beauty products. 

While this can be great for an entrepreneurial mom who wants to sell homemade lip balms out of her minivan, it’s not so great for the average consumer. Brands can get away with not listing a product’s ingredients by citing it as a “trade secret.” Plus, companies don’t have to report health complaints that they receive to the FDA. 

This means that you’re in charge of making sure what you use on your skin is safe. But don’t get spooked, we’re here to help.  The following are some of the nasty stuff you should look out for when buying skincare products:


1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (also known as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, SLS, or SLES)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the big bad monster.

It’s found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products — from acne products to body washes to mascaras — and it can cause a ton of problems in your body.

It’s hard to know exactly how SLS may affect you, but SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants. On top of that, their reaction with other chemicals in products have the potential to form a carcinogen called nitrosamines. 

If you suffer from canker sores or acne around your mouth and chin (especially cystic acne), it might be due to Sodium lauryl sulfate lurking in your skincare products. 


2. BHA & BHT

BHA & BHT are used to extend the shelf life of beauty products, you can find them in exfoliants, lipsticks, and moisturizers.

The synthetic antioxidants are “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” according to The National Toxicology Program

In animals, BHA has been shown to produce liver damage, stomach cancers, and to interfere with the reproduction system and thyroid levels. 

In humans, BHA can cause skin de-pigmentation, disrupt your hormones, and cause liver damage. 


3. Phthalates

This group of chemicals is used in cosmetics to help products stick to the skin by increasing the flexibility and softening the plastics in the product.

Congress has banned many kinds of phthalates from children’s products, but many types of phthalates are still present in lotions, deodorants, hair sprays, and scented products. 

In adult women, phthalates can mess with your hormones. In particular, the endocrine disruption caused by phthalates has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and birth defects in males and females. 

Unfortunately, these phthalates are often in the “unlisted” fragrance ingredients in a product, which is just another reason to stick to unscented (or naturally scented) products!


4. Formaldehyde

You’ve definitely heard of formaldehyde, a preservative that helps to prevent bacteria growth.

You may remember the awful smell of it from when you dissected a dead animal in high school biology class — can you believe it’s hiding in some of your skincare products?

While the prevention of bacteria growth is good, the long-term effects (and even the short-term effects) of formaldehyde on your skin is not. 

Formaldehyde has been linked to allergic reactions, immune system damage, and nasal cancers (mainly in those who work with formaldehyde on a daily basis). 

Moreover, The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) has classified the preservative as a human carcinogen. 


5. Parabens

Like BHA and BHT, parabens are used to extend the shelf life of a product, and they’re all too common in face creams.

To ensure parabens aren’t in your favorite night cream, look to ensure these common parabens aren’t on the ingredients label: butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.

Parabens have been linked to breast cancer, reproductive issues, and hormone problems.  

On top of that, parabens have been found polluting the environment (namely, in marine mammals) as well. 


6. Any Artificial Fragrance 

While there isn’t a big, scary name for this one, there’s a good chance it’s lurking behind the majority of your favorite products.

While Caramel Apple Lotion or Strawberry Shortcake lip-gloss may sound delicious — it’s not so great for your skin. 

The fragrance is one of the main instances in which brands can go without listing their ingredients due to it being a “trade secret.” These secret ingredients are more often than not chemicals that can cause allergies, irritation, dermatitis, respiratory problems, hormone disruption, and more.  

Of course, products with natural fragrance are totally fine — and natural scents just smell better, don’t you think? 



Hawaiian Healing Skin Care Products are FILLED with the finest natural and organic ingredients. Our glass and bamboo packaging help to support sustainability and are eco-friendly. By having some of the most luxurious ingredients sourced directly from the islands of Hawai’i, and all over the globe, Hawaiian Healing Skin Care is able to provide your skin with the best all-natural and organic skincare products available.


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