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From harsh chemicals to potential allergens, the world of skincare is filled with ingredients that can have detrimental effects on the skin. This includes irritations, breakouts and more. In this blog post, we’ll take at 5 of some of the most harmful ingredients in skincare today and so you can make informed and knowledgeable choices when creating an effective skincare routine.


Parabens are chemicals that are used frequently in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products as preservatives. It often prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and mould which is one of many benefits it can provide, but with these benefits comes a wide range of disadvantages too.

Studies have found that parabens don’t just sit on the surface layer of the skin, but are actually absorbed by the body. They are then distributed systemically once they enter the body through dermal or gastrointestinal absorption. Parabens have been detected in human tissues, blood, breast milk, placenta, and urine. Some research has shown it has a direct link to breast cancer and even mimic the effect of oestrogen which can again lead to cancer and development of the reproductive tissues.

Moisturiser/cream up close texture - some moisturisers can contain parabens which are skincare ingredients to avoid


Fragrance is added to skincare products to enhance the sensorial feel of the product as well as for therapeutic properties, however fragrance has no additional benefits on the health of the skin. Individuals who have skin conditions that are dry or sensitive are more susceptible to suffering with issues after using skincare that contains fragrance. This includes symptoms such as; redness, irritation, burning and itching. It can even cause conditions like rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis to begin or worsen if you are already dealing with them. Continual use can additionally damage the overall health and strength of the skin barrier.

Perfume and beauty accessories on black background - Fragrances are a skincare ingredient to avoid


Oxybenzone is a chemical compound used mostly in SPF and in some other skincare ingredients too. It works as a UV ray blocker that is highly effective in absorbing ultraviolet rays. It is a hazardous eye irritant and can also irritate the skin by causing skin allergies. This can inflame the skin and cause symptoms such as redness, itchiness and cause conditions like dermatitis and eczema to occur or worsen. There are even studies that suggest low levels of oxybenzone can disrupt hormone sensitive organs.When absorbed by the body after being applied on the skin, it enters the body and can mimic oestrogen and interfere with testosterone production.

SPF on a woman's face close up - SPF often contains the ingredient oxybenzone which is a skincare ingredient that should be avoided


Sulfates are made from a group of mineral salts that are either naturally sourced or synthetic. It is often added in skincare products as it has properties that create lather and achieve that ‘clean’ feeling. It can remove dirt or sebum which is why it is often found in face cleansers. However, sulfates can cause varying levels of irritation on the skin due to these deceptive benefits, the biggest being skin and eye irritation. The more sulfate based products are used on the skin, the more it can dry out the surface of the skin. The skin’s defence mechanism when suffering from dry skin is to produce an excessive amount of sebum (natural oil made by the skin). This excess about of sebum will then clog the pores, which is how acne or pimples form.

Salt on a spoon on a black background -sulfates are made from a group of mineral salts that are either naturally sourced or synthetic


Alcohol is a very common ingredient in skincare, especially in products such as toners are they provide faster absorbing properties. Regardless of this quality, alcohol can actually cause many negative effects on the skin. The biggest issue is massively drying out the skin, causing irritation, redness and damaging the skin’s barrier. This will not only trigger conditions like rosacea and eczema but also cause premature ageing and lead to issues such as wrinkles and fine lines appearing on the skin. It also disrupts the skin’s natural pH level, resulting in further inflammation.

Pipette, drop and splashes on a pink background - alcohol is an ingredient you should avoid in skincare

Alcohol-free skincare at Refine Pharma

Spectriskin Facial Mist 50ml bottle and box on a blue background

If you are looking for multi-use toner that is alcohol free to add to your skincare routine, we recommend Spectriskin Facial Mist All in 1 Clean Tone & Repair. It is the newest product in the Spectriskin range that cleanses the skin, removing any dirt or excess sebum without drying out the skin. It is ideal for those with dry or sensitive skin conditions and reduces issues like redness or irritation.