Top 6 Ingredients to Avoid in Facial Cleansers, Body Washes & Shampoos

Natural and Organic Skin & Hair Care!

In the spirit of Halloween we are discussing some topics that may be, well a little scary. Today we’re sharing our top 6 ingredients to avoid in facial cleansers, body washes and shampoos:

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) – Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most irritating cleansing agents used in skin-care products. In fact, it is used in testing labs as the standard ingredient to irritate skin. That’s right, in scientific studies, when they want to establish whether or not an ingredient is problematic for skin, they compare its effect to the results of SLS. It has also been shown to cause allergic or sensitizing reactions. Um, no thanks! (Please Note: Sodium Hydroxypropylphosphate Laurylglucoside Crosspolymer, Sodium Coco-Glucoside Tartrate and Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate may sound similar, but are actually mild, non-irritating, all natural, plant based surfactants.)

2. Petroleum and Mineral Oil Derived Ingredients – A by-product of the distillation of gasoline, these ingredients will quickly rob your skin of its glowing beauty! Many cosmetic companies love to use petroleum-derived ingredients because they are cheap, have no odor and they never go rancid. However, petroleum/mineral oil forms a film on the surface of your skin akin to plastic wrap. (Yes, plastic is made from mineral oil, too!) This film does lock in moisture—but it also blocks pores, traps dirt and bacteria and it may ultimately accelerate the aging of the skin because oxygen cannot pass through. Yikes! Look for natural plant oils for skin nourishment, instead. Some cosmetic companies do a good job keeping their petroleum and mineral oil derived ingredients under wraps so look for these common petrochemical ingredients: Propylene Glycol, Parraffin, Mineral Oil, Butylene Glycol, Isopropyl Alcohol and Petrolatum.

3. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (momoethnanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine) – Commonly found in most personal care products that foam, including bubble baths, body washes, shampoos, soaps and facial cleansers, these hormone disrupting chemicals may be readily absorbed through the skin and can react with other ingredients in a cosmetic formula to form an extremely potent carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). To add insult to injury, these ingredients commonly cause allergic reactions, irritate the eyes and dry out hair and skin. Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor Emeritus of Environmental & Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois states that NDEA has been linked to stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder cancers and calls this perhaps the biggest concern with the cosmetics industry. Need we say more?

4. Parabens (Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, and Ethylparaben) – Parabens (also derived from petroleum) are among the most widely used group of preservatives in cosmetics. Some studies suggest that they act as estrogenic endocrine disruptors. This means that these chemicals may mimic your body’s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action that interfere with your body’s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body. Steer clear!

5. Synthetic Fragrance – An undisclosed mixture of petro-chemicals, synthetic fragrances can be drying and irritating to your skin. Also, many synthetic fragrances are stabilized with phthalates. Both the EPA and the US Department of Heath and Human Services have labeled some phthalates as “possible carcinogens” which means they may cause cancer in animals and humans. Look for products that choose essential oils blends and natural fragrance instead. Natural fragrance can be a blend of essential oils, oleoresins, distillates, fractions, isolates, and absolutes that obtained from plants without altering their chemical structures. 

6. Triclosan – A large number of liquid soaps labeled “antibacterial” contain triclosan. While many equate “antibacterial” with “healthy”, there is currently no evidence that antibacterial soap products containing triclosan are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water, according to Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a lead microbiologist at FDA. Studies have also raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. However, frequent washing coupled with soap can be drying. We suggest washing with a mild, soap-free cleanser.

We know it can be confusing. But armed with this list, you can steer clear of harmful ingredients and find products that are actually beneficial and healthy. Because as you can see, beauty is more than skin deep.


The experts at One Love Organics have an easy-to-understand list of their Top 6 Ingredients to Avoid in Facial Cleansers, Body Washes and Shampoos.

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