Keep It Clean: 6 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare and Safer, Natural Alternatives

It’s become apparent that the wellness focus is here to stay; not for a moment, but as a movement. We are more aware than ever that what we put in our bodies has a direct impact on our health—and this also extends to our skincare.

When looking for answers, there seem to be endless articles that can lead to information overload. Many argue that over 60% of what we apply topically gets absorbed into our skin and “26 seconds is all it takes”. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that straightforward and dependent on a number of different factors.

One thing that is for certain is that skin is permeable—in fact it is the largest and most permeable organ in our bodies—protecting other vital organs, bones, muscles and nerves. It stands to reason that if we are seeking to decrease our exposure to harmful chemicals, skincare is a great place to start.

Decreasing our “Toxic Load”

The volume of chemicals we are exposed to continues to increase at rapid rates. Between 1970 and 1995, the volume of synthetic chemicals produced and used in society tripled from approximately 50 million tons to 150 million tons. And today, it is so much more.

Synthetic chemicals in the environment are so prolific, that our exposure begins before we have even taken our first breath. Shockingly, more than 287 different industrial chemicals and pollutants have been detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.

Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate ingredients in cosmetics, allowing many corporations the opportunity to incorporate cheaper, but harmful, synthetics in their products. 

Clean beauty gives us more choices and offers safer and more environmentally-friendly alternatives for all skincare needs—from soothing sensitized skin to a pregnancy-safe skincare routine. Understanding labels on cosmetics can be overwhelming, so we have outlined a few harmful ingredients to avoid and some safer alternatives to use instead.

PARABENS (Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl, Iso, Benzyl, Etc.): 

Often used as artificial preservatives to increase shelf-life and stability of products. They can mimic estrogen and cause disruption to the natural function of hormones and reproductive system. Parabens are currently being studied for links to breast cancer.

Clean Alternatives: Coconut oil, table salts

TEA + DEA (Triethanolamine and Diethanolamine): 

TEA or DEA compounds are often used to give products a creamy, silky texture and found mostly in moisturizers or sunscreens. Both ingredients are extremely harmful known carcinogens and banned in Europe.

Clean Alternative: Horsetail


Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals used to make plastics more durable. They unfortunately found their way into cosmetics to help products stick and give them more long-lasting wear. Frequent exposure has been shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and endocrine disruption, which can be toxic to our reproductive glands. 

Clean Alternatives: Sodium Gluconate, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin


Formaldehyde is a highly toxic chemical banned in many countries and certain states in the U.S. Its poisonous vapor can cause severe respiratory problems and skin irritations. DMDM Hydantoin and UREA are formaldehyde releasers, which means the toxic chemical may permeate into your product as it sits in your cabinet. Yuck!

Clean Alternatives: Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Gluconate, Sorbitan Palmitate, Sorbitan Oleate


A foaming agent found in many conventional cleansers, body washes and shampoos to lather the product. It is often derived from petroleum and not environmentally sustainable. It can increase skin sensitivity and strip skin of its natural oils—hence the tightening sensation many foam cleansers leave on the skin.

Clean Alternatives: Kaolin, Sweet Birch Oil


This petroleum by-product is usually found in creams, lotions and ointments. It coats the skin like plastic, which suffocates it and severely clogs pores. This hinders skin’s natural cell development and interferes with its ability to eliminate toxins, which can cause premature aging and increase the likelihood of acne. 

Clean Alternative: Coconut Oil

These are just a few of the ingredients we avoid in formulating our highly active performance-based, but above all, safe skincare products. All our ingredients are naturally-derived and tested in a controlled lab (never on animals!) to ensure exceptional efficacy and clean formulations that skin can recognize, accept and process.

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