5 harmful substances to watch out for in common skincare products

Ask yourself “What do I use for my daily skincare routine?”. Some stick to the basic skincare products, while others put importance into a repertoire that includes makeup, lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, and everything in between.

With so many complex chemical compounds in our skincare products, even if we memorize the ingredients, do we know which beauty products are good for us and which ones are toxic?


A lot of people claim that ‘parabens’, found in a wide variety of personal care products such as moisturizers, shampoos, and foundations, are full of chemical preservatives that lead to toxic skincare. The discussion on whether parabens are good for us or not has been controversial, with claims ranging from ‘no problems at all’ to ‘Parabens cause breast cancer’.

Analysis, however, indicates that parabens can move through your skin and into your body easily. This is troublesome because they linger in the tissues and fluids of the body. In women with breast cancer, parabens have been found in the breast tissue, but no depth case study has firmly connected it to a high risk of developing cancer.

Studies have shown that parabens can move through your body and linger in the tissues and fluids of the body. However, there have been no studies to prove that parabens are the causation of the high risk of developing breast cancer.

The theory is that by imitating estrogen, a hormone that plays a crucial role in sustaining the reproductive system in women, Parabens may also interfere with hormone development. Your body can start to produce less estrogen when this happens. Some research indicates that in both men and women, this may adversely affect normal reproductive activity.

To try and ensure that one stays away from Parabens, it is suggested that one stays away from ingredients such as methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, and isopropylparaben.


A broad group of chemicals sometimes used to soften plastic are phthalates. They are also used as softeners in cosmetic products. To make the scents linger, they are also used in many fragrances found in skincare items.
Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is the most popular kind of phthalate used in skincare products. DEP allows moisturizers and lotions to go deeper under the skin. DEP is also used to make the smell of fragrances linger.

Found in products such as nail polish, moisturizers, shampoos, sprays for hair, toys, detergents, and other products of different kinds, they are believed to be endocrine disruptors that are associated with male and female breast cancer and reproductive birth defects. Phthalates are also considered to have certain potential hormone effects. Unfortunately, many “fragrances” contain this, so it is difficult to detect it in products and can lead to toxic beauty effects.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

One does not use the same things they use to clean their car on their body but that’s exactly what you’re doing if you use goods that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (aka SLS). This chemical is a surfactant, which ensures that it helps generate a foamy lather. High amounts lead to irritation on the skin, lungs, and eyes and might interfere with other chemicals. Look out for this ingredient in remedies for shampoo, body wash, face wash, and acne.
Sodium laureth sulfate (also known as SLES) is one of the more common sulfates found on the labels of certain personal care products (including some mascara). Sulfates are generally considered harmful chemicals that cause a range of problems. In fact, there’s an ongoing debate about how sulfates are essentially potential threats to the environment, being toxic for marine life when washed away. They are also generally derived from palm oil, which can lead to the destruction of rainforests.


Cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, shower gels, nail polishes, and hair straightening products contain formaldehyde, as well as chemicals that release formaldehyde over a certain time period.

Formaldehyde can cause allergic reactions and eye and respiratory problems. When tested on animals, some studies have found associations of the chemical with cancer.

While small quantities are used, formaldehyde is found in many daily skincare items such as soaps, moisturizers, and cleansers, and it can still be dangerous and irritating to your skin. Research shows, for instance, that even short-term use on normal skin can trigger contact dermatitis.


Who doesn’t like great-smelling skincare products? The usage of fragrances is a rampant trend, frequently applied to things like conditioners, perfumes, and cleansers. Unfortunately, many fragrances are developed with harmful chemicals that can lead to allergies, respiratory disorders, and in some severe cases, they can even affect the reproductive system!

What’s more, the composition of fragrances in products is often not revealed because there is no central organization restricting manufacturers that use them. This leads to fragrances that could potentially heighten the risks of cancer, irritation, and more. Make the switch to unscented alternatives.

Chemicals In Sunscreens

You may have heard a few cases against sunscreen in recent years. It’s true that sunscreens are good at protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, but there are often chemicals that are incorporated into these products. Components like PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, ethoxycinnmate, and homosalate are used to absorb light, but they can also lead to gradual damage to the body.

This is because these chemicals are endocrine disruptors – compounds that interfere with the endocrine or hormonal systems. This type of disruption can potentially lead to several developmental disorders including birth defects and cancerous tumors.


For various reasons, alcohol is used in many beauty products. It can be used as a preservative, or to improve the absorption of the products on your skin more easily. It’s used to help strengthen the skin and reduce the presence of pores in items such as toners and cleansers.

Methanol, isopropyl alcohol, propanol, benzyl alcohol, and sd alcohol (alcohol denat) are just a few alcohols that lead to toxic skincare. They can be very dry and painful to the skin, but since they strip the skin of its natural defenses, they can also cause inflammation. Alcohols kill the substances which protect the health of your skin over the long term by breaking down the skin barrier. Although alcohols can feel good because they are light and make your skin feel greasy as it weakens the skin barrier, it contributes to an increase in bacteria-causing acne and exacerbates inflammation.

Editor note:
OLUMES Clean beauty products are very mindfully created and crafted without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients, to us and to our mother earth, but still promise to deliver efficacious products with amazing and spectacular skin results.

All OLUMES products are vegan & cruelty-free. All our products are also formulated without Silicones, Mineral Oil, Fragrances, Essential Oils, Chemical UV filters, Diethanolamine (DEA), Triclosan, Phthalate, Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), Formaldehyde, Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Parabens.

OLUMES is a clean beauty brand harnessing the wisdom of the rich heritage of Kadazan-Dusun culture that practices an age-old beauty secret using Borneo’s rich botanical treasure.