Sep 7, 2022

Skincare Ingredients to Avoid

There are a handful of ingredients proven to be harmful to our physical and environmental health that Allure Lab’s R&D chemists steer clear of when formulating custom blends clients offer to their consumers. Since cosmetic products aren’t regulated by the FDA, custom contract manufacturers such as Allure take responsibility to create and adhere to refined industry standards and best practices that ensure end-user safety. As seasoned experts in our field, we feel it is our duty to arm our audience with the knowledge and language needed to make informed decisions about how they position themselves competitively in the market.

Sales and growth aren’t possible without loyal customers who feel seen and confident in their investment. Brands must not only deliver on the promises they make via marketing but also stay up-to-date on scientific code. It’s no longer enough to have a product that works; consumers today want to know they’re putting their money where their mouths are, supporting brands with similar values and missions they feel good about contributing to. To build this trust, companies are strategically adjusting their approach to align with their target market’s rising concerns and demands.

While we can incorporate these ingredients into custom blends upon special request, here are the ingredients our chemists advise avoiding:

Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde releasers

  • Commonly found in: nail polish, eyelash glue, glues, adhesives

  • Health risks: known carcinogen (means it is known to cause cancer)

  • What to look out for on labels: (other cosmetic preservatives that don’t read ‘formaldehyde’, but actually release formaldehyde)

    • Formaldehyde

    • Bronopol

    • DMDM hydantoin

    • Diazolidinyl urea

    • Imidazolidinyl urea

    • Quaternium-15

    • Mineral oil

  • Commonly found in: creams, lotions, ointments, cosmetics

  • Health risks: clogged pores, acne (blocks skin from eliminating toxins)

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Petrolatum

    • Paraffin oil


In the beauty industry, “fragrance” is a broadly unregulated term and is used to loosely describe hundreds of chemicals that can be extremely irritating to the skin.

  • Commonly found in: everything from household products to cosmetics

  • Health risks: highly toxic allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins and carcinogens, is harmful to human reproductive and developmental health, can lead to birth defects and respiratory issues.

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Phtalates (proven to prompt early puberty in young girls and low sperm count in men)

    • Stearates

    • Parabens (any ingredient that contains “butyl”, “propyl”, or “ethyl” in the name)

    • Acetone

    • Benzaldehyde

    • Benzyl acetate

    • Benzyl alcohol

    • Camphor

    • Ethanol

    • Ethyl acetate

    • Limonene

    • Linalool

    • Methylene chloride

PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances)

  • Commonly found in: sunscreens, hair products, shaving creams, waterproof material, food packaging

  • Health risks: carcinogens, thyroid disease, reduced effectiveness of vaccines, hormonal and reproductive issues

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Fluorotelomer alcohol

    • Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid

    • Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid

    • Perfluorohexanoic acid

    • Perfluorononanoic acid

    • Perfluorododecanoic acid

    • 1,1,2,2-Tetrahydroperfluoro-1-dodecanol

    • Perfluorooctanesulfonamide

    • Perfluorohexane sulfonate potassium salt

    • Potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (potassium PFBS)

    • Perfluorooctanoic acid

    • Perfluorodecanoic acid

    • Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)


  • Commonly found in: laundry detergent, soap, shampoo (90% of foam cleansing products)

  • Health risks: impacts lung health and contributes to large part of the haze pollution

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Sodium Laureth Sulfate

    • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

    • Ammonium Laureth Sulfate

    • Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate


  • Commonly found in: nail polish, hair dye, glue, stain removers

  • Health risks: has been linked to brain toxicity

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Butylated hydroxytoluene


  • Commonly found in: antibacterial soaps, body washes, deodorant, mouthwash, shaving cream, toothpaste

  • Health risks: can significantly impact thyroid and reproductive hormones (so much so, it’s been banned in some countries, including in the U.S. for use in antiseptic soap)

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • 5-Chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol


  • Commonly found in: foundation, mascara, facial cleansers and soaps, eye makeup, fragrances, hair products, SPF

  • Health risks: allergens

  • What to look out for on labels:

    • Monoethanolamine

    • Diethanolamine

    • Triethanolamine

By providing guidance and visibility, Allure hopes to usher these ingredients out of product manufacturers’ “norms” when concocting skincare formulations. While we work with an array of manufacturing capabilities, we support the clean beauty movement and aim to play our part in evolving it from a trending topic into a timeless staple standard for all. 

This article is authored and approved by Sam Dhatt.

Interested in working with Allure Beauty Concepts? Partner with us.

Allure Beauty Concepts
30901 Wiegman Rd, Hayward, CA 94544
8388 E Hartford Dr #105, Scottsdale, AZ 85255