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4 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

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There are countless skincare products on the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some can even have adverse effects on your skin – and your health. Some products may be harmful or cause reactions such as contact dermatitis. When choosing skincare products to incorporate into your skincare routine, avoid the following four ingredients.

Artificial fragrance

Artificial fragrance and scents derived from natural ingredients, including essential oils, can cause headaches, itching and asthma. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, fragrance is the most common cause of contact dermatitis, an allergic skin reaction that causes itchy skin, rash and blisters.

People with sensitive skin should avoid using products with fragrance, as they are more likely to have a reaction. To ensure a product is fragrance free, look for the Environmental Protection Agency Safer Choice label.


Sulfates are used as a foaming agent and can irritate the skin, scalp and eyes. Shampoo, lip balm, foundation, exfoliants, toothpaste, detergent and cleaners are products known to contain sulfates like sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate.

For those with sensitive skin, products with sulfates can cause irritation and dry skin. Sulfates can trigger rosacea. To avoid irritation, try sulfate-free shampoos and products.


Parabens are chemical preservatives found in shampoos, conditioners, skin care products, soap and makeup. It has been said that parabens interfere with hormone balance, as they imitate estrogen; parabens can thus affect pregnancy, menstruation and the growth of breast cancer cells in women.

Redness, irritation, itchy skin, flaking and hives can be signs of an allergic reaction to parabens. Currently, there aren’t any paraben regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Phthalates are known for endocrine disruption, or interfering with the hormones in your body that influence development and reproduction.

Phthalates are found in body washes, cosmetics and scented lotions. This chemical is even used to make toys and vinyl flooring. Phthalates are used in scented products to make fragrances last longer, and also as softeners in cosmetics. The FDA cited that it is unclear as to what effects phthalates have on human health.

If you are unsure if a product is right for you, consult with your physician.

Learn more about Dr. Jaren Kennedy. Make a dermatology appointment with Ochsner Health.

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