5 skincare red flags — and what to swap out for glowing skin

Just like in the dating world, there are products and ingredients we should avoid for our own good! Here are 5 swaps to get the glow.

Hair & Beauty

While we know what to avoid in haircare products – sulphates, parabens and silicone, to name just a few – skincare nasties can be a little more evasive. However, as long as you know which words to avoid on that ingredients list, you can swiftly navigate the world of skincare products with ease.

If you’re thinking about indulging in your next skincare purchase, The Organic Pharmacy offers their expertise on which skincare ingredients you should watch out for, and what to incorporate into your routine instead.

Synthetic fragrances

Synthetic fragrances

Many skincare products feature synthetic fragrance ingredients, and while these can smell nice, they can be irritating for many people. Fragrances are normally listed under 'fragrance' or 'parfum' on the list of ingredients that you see on a product's packaging. Brands don't have to list the exact chemicals in the fragrance, and this means that it can be easy to end up purchasing a product that your skin finds problematic or irritating.

This is especially likely with fragrance ingredients. The term 'fragrance' can cover hundreds of chemicals and many of them are common irritants. One such chemical is phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors, and can affect your hormones, disrupting your body’s basic functions.

If you are sensitive to fragrance or want to avoid the extra chemical ingredients in your skincare, go for fragrance-free options, and those that list any components they use for perfume as opposed to just saying 'parfum'. Natural fragrances might be better for your skin if you are affected by these common fragrance chemicals.


Homosalate in sunscreens

When buying sunscreen, there are a variety of options on the market, which mainly fit into two categories: chemical and physical sunscreens. A physical sunscreen provides a barrier to keep your skin safe from the sun, usually using something like zinc oxide. Contrastingly, a chemical sunscreen contains chemicals that will react when exposed to the sun, creating protection that way.

However, when buying chemical sunscreens, you should watch out for homosalate, which is often used as a UV absorber in sun cream formulations. It is another potential endocrine disruptor and there are concerns that it might disrupt hormones. Look out for this chemical listed on ingredients lists and go for mineral sunscreens as another good option.


Yes, parabens exist in skincare too! They are officially safe by the standards of the EU, UK, and FDA regulations, however many people are wary of their potential to be endocrine disruptors. They can also be irritating to the skin, particularly for those with sensitive skin types.

If you would prefer to avoid parabens, there are many great options on the market using other types of preservatives, such as Phenoxyethanol, and there are also brands which disclose the proportion of any paraben chemicals used in their products. This way, you can double check whether they are being used in an amount that might irritate your skin or decide to avoid them completely.

Waterproof makeup

PFAs and PFCs

If you are a fan of waterproof makeup, particularly waterproof mascara, then you should watch out for PFAs and PFCs. They are a type of fluorinated chemical that acts as a water repellent. The health impacts of these chemicals are still being studied, but there are concerns building that this class of chemical could impact people's thyroids as well as being an endocrine disruptor.

If you want to avoid these chemicals, you'll need to double check any waterproof products, as well as hair products and sunscreens. Mineral make-up can offer a way to get the look you want without using these red flag chemicals in your routine.


Toluene is actually partially banned in the EU and UK for its harmful potential, but you can still find it in nail polish and hair dyes, as well as in other products including paint thinners, adhesives, and rubber. Unfortunately, this chemical has been linked to effects like cracked skin, dizziness, and headaches.

To avoid this chemical, you can read the ingredients of your nail and hair products, as well as buffing nails rather than using polish every time you do your own manicure. Brands are beginning to remove toluene from their formulations, but it's best to be observant until this happens more widely.

Margo Marrone, Co-Founder of The Organic Pharmacy, says:

"Skincare is a fun self-care pastime and can make us feel like we are having a treat at any time of the week. But you should make sure to pay close attention to the ingredients included in your products, as they might prove irritating to your skin.

"So, try to choose formulations that are primarily based on clean, simple, and natural ingredients. You should also look out for brands that are transparent about their ingredients, and let you know which preservatives they are using. Keep an eye out for brands that integrate organic ingredients and use herbal extracts along with science to create gentle products that work."

❤ Picked for you ❤

Go Up