Chemical Free Skincare: What Harmful Ingredients Should You Avoid

 When we purchase a moisturiser, lotion, toner or serum, we hope for one thing - for the product to make our skin healthy and beautiful. We hope these products will get us to that goal and help combat various skin issues like dryness, acne, pigmentation and wrinkles.

We don't expect, though, for our skincare to actually do the opposite and harm us. Unfortunately, often that's precisely the case because of various harmful ingredients used to make those products.

Many mass-produced skincare products are full of toxins and have been causing us serious health problems for decades. It's scary, but as always, knowledge is power. 

Once you learn more about toxic chemical-free skincare and what harmful ingredients should you avoid, you can make a smooth transition to clean beauty and feel in control. 

So, let's dive into chemical-free skincare, discuss the toxic ingredients, and what available alternatives.

Why should you avoid them?

It's easier to understand why you shouldn't eat something toxic than why you shouldn't use some products on your body. Topical use is much safer, right? Not really. 

Our skin absorbs up to 60% of what we put on it. It means that more than half of the toxins in your skincare will enter your body and affect your health and wellbeing.  

Many ingredients found in such skincare products as lotions, creams, face washes and others have been linked to various health issues. Among them are different allergies, hormonal disruption, reproductive problems, eczema and cancer.

Nobody wants that. Let's dig in.


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Harmful skincare ingredients

There is a lot of information about toxic skincare ingredients. A lot. But all you need to avoid toxic skincare products is to know what ingredients are harmful and then read the labels to identify them. 

Here's a guide of ingredients to avoid in skincare.

Sulphates. Sulphates are produced from petroleum (yes!) and sometimes palm or coconut oil and are highly irritant to your skin, eyes, lungs. They're also harmful to the environment (palm oil is the leading cause of rainforest deforestation). For people with sensitive skin, sulphates may also clog pores and cause acne.

ParabensParabens are one of the more well-known toxic ingredients often used in skincare products because they keep them fresh and germ-free. It isn't easy to find any lotion, cream or face wash without them. But we should try our best as parabens may cause increased estrogen production, disrupt reproductive health, brain function and even lead to breast cancer. 

Phthalates. These chemicals are used in various skincare products as solvents and could damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system. Besides cosmetics, phthalates are used to produce various other consumer goods, from toys and food packaging to detergents. That doesn't sound good, right?

Mineral oil. Usually used in creams, lotions, ointments, and cosmetics due to its ability to help reduce water loss from skin and keep it moisturised, this petroleum by-product coats the skin like plastic and clogs the pores. It blocks the skin's ability to eliminate toxins, can cause acne, redness, swelling, itching, or rashes.

Synthetic colours. Is your cream bright pink or maybe green? The added colours can cause skin irritations, cancers, acne breakouts, and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Fragrance. Yes, a lovely smelling moisturiser or lotion is nice. But unfortunately, most of the fragrances found in skincare products are made with chemicals associated with respiratory disorders, skin allergies, dermatitis and side effects in the reproductive system. As if that's not enough, they've also been linked to cancer development. 

Alcohol. It's commonly used in skincare products as a solvent and because it helps the skin absorb moisturisers, creams and lotions better. It sounds pretty good, but alcohol is drying and can leave your skin flaky and rough. It also hinders its renewal process, which is key to healthy-looking skin. But there's an exception! Fatty alcohols derived from natural fats and oils and are great moisturising agents. 

Diethanolamine. You know how your face cleanser foams? That's usually because of diethanolamine. Unfortunately, the nice bubbles come at a cost as this toxic chemical can cause cancer and respiratory issues.

Polyethylene Glycol. This ingredient is used as a thickening agent in your creams and lotions, but it strips off your skin's natural oils, can cause overproducing of oils, make the skin greasy and break out. It's also linked to cancer and respiratory disorders. 

Formaldehyde. If your moisturiser expires in 10 years, it's because of formaldehyde that's a common preservative in various skincare products. It also prevents bacteria growth. And though the intentions are good, it's been found that formaldehyde can cause asthma, neurotoxicity, dizziness and suffocation. It is also linked to skin irritation such as dermatitis and itching.

Hydroquinone. It's a common ingredient in products that have skin lightening properties and are used to treat pigmentation, acne scars, freckles, melasma, age spots etc. Unfortunately, it can cause skin irritation, burning, stinging, dermatitis, dryness and redness. It's also linked to cancer.


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How to choose non-toxic skincare

While you might want to toss all your skincare products right this minute and buy everything new, take your time. 

Start slowly and exchange every product gradually. This way, you will save money and will not feel overwhelmed by urgency. If you want to do something now, review your current products and eliminate those that stay on your skin the longest, like moisturiser or lotion. 

Now, before you purchase anything new, you might wonder how exactly to find and choose non-toxic skincare products and how to understand all the labels.

Words non-toxic can be interpreted in many ways (too much of anything can be toxic!), but when it comes to skincare, it usually means that the product doesn't have ingredients that have been linked or proven to cause adverse health side effects.

On your search for cleaner beauty products, you might also encounter products labelled vegan, which some people sometimes consider the same as non-toxic. That's not the case. Vegan only means that the product doesn't contain animal products such as honey, beeswax or lanolin. Vegan and non-toxic are not mutually exclusive, though, so double-check. 

Another common label is sustainable, which means that ingredients harmful to the plant, such as preservatives, microbeads etc., are not used in producing this product. Often non-toxic and sustainable will overlap. 

We are strong supporters of sustainable products as the planet's health and our health are closely interlinked.

In the end, your best bet is to remember the most common toxic ingredients and always read the labels carefully. Many non-toxic skincare brands will also have various clean beauty certifications, which makes this task a little easier. 

If you're just starting the switch to non-toxic skincare products, use this chance to explore different brands and give a chance to small businesses that often offer incredible quality and experience.


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SCOUT Organic Active Beauty

Our skincare and other beauty products at SCOUT provide a safe alternative to toxic products with chemicals and harmful ingredients.

We're very strict with our ingredients and use only pure, organic and natural products. We align ourselves with recognised organisations and manufacturers that share our commitment to responsibly and ethically source the best beauty for you.

Our mission is to empower you to feel and look beautiful safely. We are certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO), COSMOS Organic, and vegan and 100% cruelty-free. We are one of the first Australian natural beauty brands to earn both ACO and COSMOS Organic certifications. 

Our toxin-free skincare products are gentle and non-irritating and free of potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, sulphates, artificial fragrances and colours, heavy metals, MEA/DEA/TEA, Phthalates, Triclosan, petroleum-derived ingredients or fillers.

Check out SCOUT toxin-free skincare products.