Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid

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Toxic chemicals in makeup and skin care ingredients to avoid have been netting a lot of press lately. It's easy to get caught up in fears about ingredients with long names and processed origins affecting your body. Some ingredients in skin care are obvious to avoid -- we all know that mercury is an unsafe element and that it should not be anywhere near the human body.

Unfortunately, some skin-lightening products, especially non-US products, still contain mercury. Skin-lightening, in general, is bad for your skin and body; mercury makes it even more dangerous.

Chemicals to Avoid in Skin Care and Makeup

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Burt's Bees'

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Some ingredients may seem more benign but can still cause a variety of issues, especially for acne prone skin. You should avoid any ingredients that unnecessarily dry or irritate skin.

We asked Michelle Wong of LabMuffin, a blog that investigates your makeup from a scientific standpoint, and I F***ing Hate Housework (NSFW) about the ingredients she tries to avoid most in skin care. She says that alcohol is one of the biggest culprits of skin issues. "Alcohol dehydrates the skin, which can make acne worse (plus it stings)", she says. If you see any form of alcohol in the first few ingredients, you may want to put the skin care product you're holding down.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is another skin care ingredient to avoid. "It's an irritating surfactant that disrupts the skin barrier," Michelle explains. "It's okay in some cleansers for normal skin, but for acne-prone skin, it's best to avoid it." If you tend to react to skin care and makeup frequently, try cutting out any products that contain added fragrances. 'Parfum' or 'fragrance' in an ingredient list can mean a wide variety of ingredients, many of which are irritating to sensitive or acne prone skin.

Other commonly questioned skin care ingredients include talc, triclosan, parabens, coal tar and phthalates. It's important to note that the science behind the toxicity of these chemicals is still in progress and none have been conclusively proven to harm your body. Despite this fact, it is still better to avoid ingredients that are questionable rather than exposing yourself to the potential of harm later down the road.

'Natural' Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid

Too often, people fall into the trap of believing that because an acne or skin care solution is natural, it's good for your skin. Unfortunately, this is not always true. A number of popular DIY acne solutions could actually tear your skin up more. They even still contain some of the ingredients that you should avoid in formulated products!

Alcohol is a problem not just in drugstore products. Natural sources of alcohol, like witch hazel, can also severely dry out your skin. If you already have acne-prone or dry skin, you should avoid using astringents like witch hazel.

One of the most popular acne DIYs is a dab of toothpaste onto acne. Michelle warns that "toothpaste typically contains a lot of sodium lauryl sulfate, which disrupts the skin, especially if it's left on for an extended period." Toothpaste also typically contains baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, two more ingredients to avoid in skin care.

Michelle also suggests staying away from lemon juice, due to the low pH and oils. These can lead to photosensitivity, sunburn and just plain old irritation. Many acne DIYs are a matter of finding what works for you. For example, many people react quite strongly to cinnamon on the skin. It can cause burning, redness and pain. Others don't have an issue. Be sure to patch test any DIY cure before putting it all over your face.

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