What to Avoid in Cleansers: Top 6 Harmful Ingredients to Watch Out For

natural cleanser uk

Choosing the right cleanser is crucial for maintaining healthy, radiant skin. However, many cleansers contain ingredients that can be harmful, causing irritation, dryness, and long-term damage. To help you make an informed decision, here are six ingredients you should avoid in your cleansers and why.

fragrance free cleansing

1. Sulfates

Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), are commonly used as foaming agents in cleansers. While they create a satisfying lather, they can strip your skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation.

Why Avoid:

Opt for sulfate-free cleansers to maintain your skin's natural moisture balance and avoid irritation. Consider a gentle cleanser that effectively cleans without stripping your skin of essential oils.

2. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives used to extend the shelf life of skincare products. However, they have been linked to hormonal disruptions and can cause skin sensitivity, especially in individuals with sensitive skin.

Why Avoid:

Choose paraben-free cleansers to reduce the risk of hormonal imbalances and skin irritation. Look for natural preservatives that offer the same benefits without the potential side effects.

3. Fragrance

Artificial fragrances can make cleansers smell pleasant, but they are often made from a mixture of chemicals that can irritate the skin. Fragrance is a common cause of allergic reactions and can exacerbate conditions like eczema and rosacea.

fragrance free cleanser

Why Avoid:

Select fragrance-free or naturally scented cleansers to minimize the risk of irritation and allergic reactions. A natural cleanser with light essential oils can provide a pleasant scent without harmful chemicals.

4. Alcohol

Alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and benzyl alcohol are often used in cleansers for their astringent properties. However, they can be extremely drying and irritating, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin.

Why Avoid:

Choose alcohol-free cleansers to prevent dryness and maintain your skin’s natural barrier. Hydrating alternatives will clean your skin without causing irritation.

5. Phthalates

Phthalates are used to enhance the fragrance and flexibility of skincare products. They have been linked to endocrine disruption and may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Why Avoid:

Avoid cleansers with phthalates to reduce your exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals. Opt for products that use natural ingredients to achieve the desired texture and scent.

double cleanse products

6. Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Releasing Agents

Formaldehyde and its releasing agents (such as DMDM hydantoin and quaternium-15) are used as preservatives in some skincare products. They can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, and have been classified as human carcinogens.

Why Avoid:

Select formaldehyde-free cleansers to ensure your skincare routine is safe and gentle. Natural preservatives are a safer alternative for preserving the shelf life of your products.


Choosing cleansers with safe, natural ingredients can significantly improve your skin's health and appearance. By avoiding harmful components like sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, alcohol, phthalates, and formaldehyde, you can prevent irritation and long-term damage. Opt for gentle, natural, and nourishing products to maintain a healthy, radiant complexion. Make informed choices and enjoy the benefits of clean, safe skincare.

Reading next

ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate
best facial moisturisers