4 Ingredients You Thought Were Bad For You That Actually Aren’t

Sometimes I wish life would be easier. I wish you could say that an ingredient is good for your skin, or bad for your skin, and that would be that. But things are never that easy. Allow me to confuse you with a few ingredients that I myself am not afraid of using in my skin care products, even though some people are.

Parabens is today seen as one of the main bad guys in skin care. Many skin care products proudly scream out on the front label that this product definitely does not contain any parabens. Paraben is used in a lot of skin and hair care products as a preservative, and is claimed to be a skin irritant and linked to cancer. While I do agree that some parabens can be pretty bad for you, not to mention the bad effect on the environment, I think this paraben hysteria is a bit exagerrated.
For one thing, parabens are always used in extremely small amounts in every product (around 0,02%-max 1%). You will need to use a lot of products with parabens for it even to be slightly irritant.  A lot. When it comes to the question of cancer, I haven’t found any reliable research that links parabens to cancer.
The other thing is that you have to remember that there are different kinds of parabens. The most common ones in cosmetic products are methyl-, butyl, ethyl- and propylparaben. A product that includes more different parabens is better, since that means that the percentage of each type of paraben will be smaller, thus causing less harm.
The bottom line is, I don’t know if parabens are good or not, but they are always used in such small amounts that I don’t see them as the worst cause of concern in skin care products. If you have parabens in each product that you use many times daily, you might want to reconsider your next buy, but I wouldn’t urge you to throw it all out straight away.


Vegetable oils This probably does not come as a surprise to most of you, but I would like to take this opportunity to clear up one of the most common mistakes, which is that if you have oily skin, you should not use oils on your skin. It actually goes the other way.
See, if you have oily skin, the reason is that your skin is producing too much oil. This means that you need to provide your skin with external oil, so as to balance out your natural oil production. Although it might be a good idea to look for drier oils, such as thistle, sunflower or sesame seed oil. If you have dry skin, it’s better to use fatty oils, such as good ol’ olive, or coconut or avocado.
And remember folks, mineral oils are always bad for you!


Many of the mineral make-up devotees worry about the use of talcum powder in mineral make-up products. Talc is often used as one of the main ingredients in mineral make-up (and those who don’t use it advertise it in large letters on the label). Talc is a cheap ingredient, and is therefore often considered a filling ingredient, but that is not only the case. Talc also enhances the gleaming from other ingredients like mica, giving your face a radiant and soft appearance, and can also soothe irritated skin. The downside, however, is that it might clog up the pores and it doesn’t give an as natural color as mica does. There’s also some talk about talcum powder being linked to cancer, but there doesn’t seem to be strong evidence to prove this (see here for instance). So it’s not a great ingredient, but not nearly as bad as everybody seem to think. My advice is, go ahead and use it in your hair and on your body, and also on your face if it’s not the very first ingredient on the INCI.


Alchohol is another ingredient that many are afraid of using. Alcohol is said to be drying and extremely bad for your skin. but wait a mintue, then why does Chrunchy Betty post a recipe with red wine in it, saying that the wine softens the skin? Last time I checked red wine contains alcohol (last time I checked was last night, and I do have a headache to support my theory). Well see, again there’s a difference between alcohol and alcohol. I’ve been doing a bit of research, but it seems people do not quite agree on which alcohols are good and which ones are bad. For instance in Rita Stiens’ book The Truth About Cosmetics, most alcohols got good grades, which confuses me a bit since I usually find her markings trustworthy. To be on the safe side, I would say go with products that include cetyl, cetearyl and stearyl alcohol. These alcohols are plant-derived (mostly from coconut) and will only be beneficial for your skin! Avoid isopropyl alcohol, and any other alcohols that you are unsure about.

There you go. Remember though, these are mostly my own opinions and you are most welcome to google around and read up on these ingredients. And challenge me.

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  1. Swati

    You are absolutely right with all the ingredients…..I would say avoid ethyl alcohol but other alcohols are actually good for skin and hair…and parabens have becomes a plague it seems tho they are so less in concentrations that I really doubt they can do nythin bad to the body….

  2. Dene Godfrey

    “While I do agree that some parabens can be pretty bad for you, not to mention the bad effect on the environment, I think this paraben hysteria is a bit exagerrated!”

    I am not sure which parabens you seem to think are bad for you, and I have no idea where you get the idea that parabens are bad for the environment! The parabens that are permitted in the EU Cosmetics Directive are not bad for you. They exist in nature and there is no evidence that they are “bad for the environment”. They actually break down in the environment. One study that measured paraben concentrations going into a sewage treatment works found only a few parts per trillion (1 part per trillion is 0.0000000001%), and even less in the outflow after treatment.

    I fully agree that the hysteria over parabens is exaggerated. If you want to learn a little more about the reality of parabens, please check out the following, which is an introduction to a series of 10 articles on parabens:

    Happy reading 🙂

    And, incidentally, mineral oils are NOT bad for you. There is an excellent article also on the Personal Care Truth site about mineral oil!

    1. hilda

      Well, I’ve seen studies that claim that parabens are allergenic and skin irritants but like I said I don’t see this as a big problem (in the study I think they dropped undiluted paraben straight into eyes of rabbits which of course is a lot different than using 1% on your skin).
      As for environmental impact, I unfortunately couldn’t find anything in English from a quick google. But the environmental friendly labels in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, who I think all based it on a study from around 2004 conducted by the SCCS in the EU, says that especially butylparaben is poisonous to water organism and can have bad long term effects on the environment. I tried to find the original study but I guess they don’t have it online.

      About mineral oils I definitely do not agree. Mineral oils will clog up pores and disturb the skin’s natural functions. Yes, mineral oils will work moisturizing at first, but to keep the skin moisturized one will need to keep applying the product, as mineral oils deprive the skin of its own ability to create and keep lipids and moisture. Also, unlike most vegetable oils (and that’s the main comparison I guess, as they would usually substitute one another) mineral oils do not contain any vitamins or fatty acids.

  3. Dene

    Parabens are preservatives and, as such, are biologically active molecules, as are ALL preservatives – otherwise they would not be effective! As biologically active substances, there is always some potential for sensitisation and/or irritation. he trick is to find a preservative that is active, but with a low sensitisation/irritation potential. Out of all the mainstream preservatives, parabens are amongst the lowest in terms of % of people adversely affected. On average, around 2% of dermatology patients (ie those who are already susceptible to skin problems) may have a response to parabens. I stress – patients visiting dermatology clinics – a small % of the general population.

    The environmental study I quoted earlier provides evidence that parabens are not environmental pollutants, and there are other supporting studies available. Again, parabens (and all preservatives) are intended to kill micro-organisms, so it is not surprising that there are studies that have found adverse effects on some water-based organsisms – but NOT at the concentrations found in the environment (for parabens, specifically).

    Regarding mineral oil – this is outside of my area of expertise, so may I suggest you check these links:

  4. Pingback: Your Homemade Beauty Questions Answered | Hildablue – Beauty Made By You

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