When we started to select and review skin care brands, we focused a lot on what actually goes into the formula of each product. Ingredient check is not an easy business and either requires a deep knowledge in chemistry/dermatology (we have by no means any of these) or a lot of patience to research (that we definitely have :)). In the end, you can check every single ingredient and even entire product formulation on reliable online platforms such as
We have put together a short list of ingredients that we suggest to avoid even though they are allowed in certain concentration to use in cosmetics products in the EU (and in Switzerland as well).
Parabens are synthetic chemicals used as preservatives in many cosmetic products. They prevent the formation of bacteria, yeast or fungus (yuk!). They come in different forms like methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, isobutyl or benzyl paraben.
They are known as hormone disruptors and have been found in cancer tissues. Regulators started to recognize the need to further limit the use of parabens, yet it is still allowed to be used up to a certain level of concentration.
Mineral oils and derivatives
One of the most controversial ingredients in the cosmetic industry. Many are maintaining the opinion that they are indeed good for our skin (and they are just as natural as any plant based oils), others are fiercely against their use.Here are some of the arguments that convinced us:
- It actually does not increase the moisture level of the skin, only prevents the loss of moisture
- it indeed contributes to clogged pores because it traps dirt and germs on the surface of your skin
- there is a lot of scientific questions around its health risks.The fact is that our body is contaminated by mineral oils after a while (which is not a major building element of human body, obviously!) and it is still questioned what exactly contributes to this contamination..
Formaldehydes or formaldehyde releasing ingredients are used as preservatives in cosmetics. They can get through into the deeper layers of skin and cause irritation and even cancer (!).
Here are the most common forms: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.
Their use in cosmetics products is allowed by the regulators however strictly limited.
SLS (sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfate)
Sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates are typical surfactants and foaming agents often found in facial cleansers. They have no proven health damaging effects and are very effective in what they are supposed to so, however they are highly sensitizing! Researchers are usually comparing the sensitizing effect of ingredients to the level of SLS. That should give you an idea of how strongly irritating SLS is...
Not everything that has "alcohol" in its name is bad for your skin :) There are different forms of alcohol used in cosmetics and some are good ones (like cetyl alcohol) while others are bad ones (like isopropanol).
Here is the list of alcohol types you should avoid in your cosmetics: ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol.
They are often used as "help" for other active ingredients to penetrate the skin. However, alcohols can dry out your skin and damage its layers of protection which can contribute for long-lasting negative health effects.
We need to note here that having any ethyl alcohol type at the very end of the ingredient deck is not going to have any effect on your skin, their concentration is so tiny!