Skin Care Routine

Top harmful chemicals to avoid in skin care.

Chemicals You Need To Aware When Choosing Skin Care Products.

Every skin has a different way to react with ingredients, that’s unique. However, there are some common irritants, allergens, sensitizers, especially for who with sensitive faces. One survey in 2015 showed that more than 50% of women have identified their skin as having sensitive skin. So I feel it is necessary I write this post to introduce you some ingredients that you might hold off to prevent any unfortunate incidents. Let’s join with me!

Reading ingredient list:

skin care ingredientThis would be the first thing you need to look for when handing a product. It provides you with the overall view of the product, what will that product do and is it irritated or not, you can nearly answer all of this if you look in its ingredients. Usually it’s put at the back of the product or some time on the package. I know it looks really frustrating with all the weird words on it, I don’t need you to understand it all, so here is my suggestion:

1. Look for the first 6 ingredients: This gives you a good general idea of what is most prevalent in this product. For example, you look at the aloe vera product and you look at the first six ingredients and you don’t see the aloe vera extract or aloe vera juice, you are able to claim that this product is probably a scam because it is not formulated in the high concentration. Now it is isn’t to say that product advertises using a certain ingredient and it isn’t in the first six ingredients that this isn’t going to be effective because ingredients are all effective at a different percentage.

Looking at the first six ingredients give you an idea what is the majority in this product. This is a very fast way for you to recognize an alcohol- base products (I will explain why you should realize this in the next few lines).

2. Look for the word “phenoxyethanol”: Some of you may know this is common preservative used in cosmetic, but this is not allowed to used above 1%. While ingredients are listed from high concentration to low concentration. What this means is that any ingredient below phenoxyethanol is likely to be less than 1%. This is easier for you to determine what ingredient you want it in high concentration and what you need to keep it at low concentration. So same, if an aloe vera product and you find aloe vera extract below phenoxyethanol, that product definitely bullshit.

3. CosDNA: This is the very useful website that analyses all of the ingredients within the product. Just type the product name on the search bar and it will immediately show you, the function, the safety scale of each ingredient. Pretty easy! Here is it:

What to avoid?

1. Denatured Alcohol

Ingredients to avoid: SD alcohol, Alcohol, Alcohol denat, Methanol, Ethanol, Alcohol isopropyl

Where it’s used: Cleanser, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, … basically, everything, it used to create a solvent and base for products. There is still so much conflicting information about these ingredients, some believe that alcohol- base product is not really damaging your skin at all. However, no matter how many people believe in that, research has shown that: Alcohol in skin care products is the main cause of skin problems.

Explain: I know some of you will argue with me that if alcohol is toxic so why there are still so many products toxic skin ingredientscontain alcohol out there. Right? Of course, there are a few reasons, but from my knowledge, I can state out that 2 primary explanation.

Firstly, it can create a fake quick absorb feeling of the products. Skin care companies add alcohol as they know, people like to feel the product is absorbed to skin right after applying it, they believe that this product will affect the skin faster. Wrong, this maladaptive feeling is caused by the property of alcohol: Easy to evaporate. Alcohol will evaporate immediately in the environment, it will bring humid in your skin with it. This trigger a chain reaction of damage that continues long after it has evaporated. Once alcohol is done raiding your skin, your skin’s barrier is like a fragile elder, and it won’t protect itself from further damage.

Secondly, you may hear some says: “Alcohol helps actives ingredients like Vitamin C and Retinol penetrate in to the skin more effectively. But they don’t know the story behind that. True, Vitamin C and Retinol go into the skin deeper with alcohol help, but it does that by breaking the skin’s barrier, destroying substances that keep your skin healthy in the long term.

Alternatives: Fatty alcohols include Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Decylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol. These fatty alcohols are used as an emollient (a type of moisturizer) and solvent in skin care products. Fatty alcohols are not irritating, indeed, can be beneficial for skin, especially for dry skin.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Where it’s used: Mostly in cleansing products, used to create foam in cleanser and shampoo. As a foaming agent, SLS can help a product

Explain: As this is a really harsh surfactant These will over- dissolve your skin barrier, not only sebum, dirt, but also it will be sweep away the natural lipid and your skin barrier that you want to protect. No barrier, your skin will open the allergic reactions, itchy, cracked, skin dryness and terribly, damage your eyes. However, as I say it also depends on the concentration, the percentage of it in the formation, if you look at the ingredients list of Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, a very skin-friendly cleanser which is commonly recommended by dermatologists, it does also contain a minimum of SLS at the end of the list, but still, this is not stripping your skin al all.

Alternatives: Cocoyl, Lauroyl Sarcionate, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Glucosides, Succinate. These are barrier-friendly surfactant and its cleaning effect is as good as SLS.

3. Sunscreen Chemicals:

Ingredient to avoid: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, homosalate, octinoxalate.

Where it’s used: In sunscreen (Obviously!) and also in some facial products have UV protection.

Explain: Sunscreen ingredients are a tricky bunch to navigate. Although we know sun damage is bad for us and it is essential to use sunscreen. On the other hand, there is researching show that some sunscreen chemicals even worse for our skin than the sun damage they prevent. Many sunscreen chemicals mimic our hormones and some causes skin irritation. Moreover, in some research, they have shown that sunscreen chemicals can readily be absorbed into the body, they have been found a lot in blood, urine and breastmilk samples. For these reasons, the Food and Drug Administration is now proposing changes in how sunscreen ingredients are evaluated for safety.

Alternatives: Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Octyl Salicylate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane.

4. Fragrance

Where it’s used: Found in everything. The term fragrance can be used to cover 3000 different types of fragrance, so, I encourage you to check in on CosDNA to make sure cause sometimes I can’t even know what the heck am I reading. To check for fragrance, look for “Fragrance/ Perfume/ Parfum, sometimes it is listed separately: Citrus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Essential oils, Rose flower, Geraniol and many many out there. I know how luxurious the entire experience can be by adding some fragrance and nice aroma interior skincare products, it does make your entire skin care routine is more of an indulgence, some people even choosing products by its smell.

Explain: Research has shown that fragrance under influence of sunlight causing skin irritation and pigmentation, it can cause collagen to breakdown, get in the way of skin’s ability to fight environmental damage, and hamper the skin to heal. But this is not visible, you may not see the impact on skin’s surface, but it is silently occurring every day, causing minor problems in the short term and worsen it in the long term. It’s really important for whom do have sensitive and really vulnerable skin, especially if you do have severe skin conditions such as Rosacea or broken skin barrier.

Alternatives: I think an odourless routine is not really a big problem. Just stay away from fragrances.


In this section, I will list down some products pass “green” principles, from drugstore to high- ended, that I know for you to widen your choice (Cause I live in Australia, so these are much easier to find within here. I really apologize with who from other nation). Click on the products for more details.

1. Cleansers:

COSRX Low-pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser

2. Toners:

Simple Kind To Skin Facial Toner Soothing

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner – For Normal to Oily Skin

3. Moisturizers:

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Soothing Repairing Balm

KLAIRS Midnight Blue Calming Cream

4. Sunscreens:

AZClear Action Day Moisturiser SPF 30

Cetaphil Pro Acne Prone Moisturising Lotion SPF 25


Paula’s Choice SPF30 RESIST Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense

Besides, there is a lot of brands that guarantee to be alcohol- free and fragrance- free you can consider: CeraVe, Ren Clean Skincare, Drunk Elephant, …

Final thought:

If you have used it for a long time but haven’t seen any result or constantly got trouble with redness on skin, you may have to have a look at your routine again and find the core problem. However, in case you find that there is ‘ungreen’ ingredients exist in your routine but that product works well on your skin, so there is no excuse for you to throw it away. Well, I hope this post is clear enough for you, see you on next posts. If you have a question or problem, feel free to leave it below, I would more than happy to work it out with you.



  • Tom


    Thank you for sharing such an informative and insightful article. I have skin problems and I need to avoid certain skincare products.

    Reading your review of the products in your article, I am pretty sure I can use these ones. So if I purchase any of them I will let you know and give you my review of them. Hopefully they will help me and I can stop itching my face as much 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing and keep up the great work on your site.

    All the best,


    • Stephen

      Hi Tom,
      Yeah, of course, I will help you as much as I can, feel free to send me a link of products you intend to buy. If you wish, I can recommend some products to help you deal with your skin problems.
      Hope your skin will get well soon,
      Thanks a lot!

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