What Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care

We all know the feeling: you’re standing in front of the aisle of cosmetics wondering which one to choose. There are literally thousands of skin care options out there, so which one is best? What ingredients should we look for, and what should we avoid?

To hopefully minimize the stress and to help answer your questions, Molly Rottschafer of Bloom Naturals, a homeschooling mother of 5 boys and a self-taught skin care expert, is shedding light on the topic in today’s sponsored post. Be sure to check out her special deal as well.
Bloom Skin Care on 100 Days of Real Food

About Molly and Bloom Skin Care

Bloom Skin Care on 100 Days of Real FoodBack in the early 2000’s, when Molly was beginning to clean up her family’s diet, she was stopped in her tracks when she heard someone say, “You shouldn’t put on your skin what you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” She began digging into research and her kitchen became her lab, her friends and family, her lab rats.


What started out as a mission to make healthy skin care for her family grew into natural remedies for acne to aging skin. All of this led to the start of her natural skincare company, Bloom, in 2009. In addition, she educates people through podcasts, speaking engagements, and social media on how to read the confusing labels and decipher ingredient codes so they’re able to make healthy choices for themselves and their family.

Molly’s Tips for Decoding Skincare Labels

Here are some suggestions from Molly on what to look for when reading skin care labels:
  • “Natural” or “Organic” (keep reading)
    While it may have natural or organic ingredients, it will most likely have other ingredients that are not as desirable mixed in. And, similar to food, just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
  • Key ingredients
    Why not list all of them? Nope. When it says “key ingredients,” these are the ones they want you to read about, but they don’t necessarily want you to know about the others. Companies should list ALL of their ingredients.
  • Ingredients are listed in descending order of quantity
    For instance, water is almost always listed first, which means that the product has more water than any other ingredient (more on this below). This is important because you can see where the beneficial/safe/natural ingredients fall on the list. If avocado oil is listed close to the bottom, that means that the product contains very little avocado oil.
  • Be wary of numbers or capital letters
    When an ingredient name contains numbers or capitals, those are made in a lab. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gone picking for “raspberry #5!”
  • Vitamins- not what you think
    When you see an ingredient such as Vitamin E, it has either been isolated from other ingredients or is a man-made version created to mimic the qualities of that nutrient. Either way, it’s not the healthiest option. It is best to use an ingredient like avocado oil, which is naturally high in Vitamin E, as well as many other nutrients to nourish your skin.
  • Petroleum ingredients
    Mineral oils disguised with names like baby oil, Vaseline, or petroleum jelly are everywhere in skin care. EVERYWHERE. They act as a raincoat on the skin preventing skin from breathing. Who would want to slather by products of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil all over their skin? Not me. These are the core ingredients in lip balms and many “baby care” products. Yuck!

    Some of the ingredients common to moisturizers, baby care products, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and more that include ingredients made from the petroleum industry (which by the way, are banned in European countries) are as follows:

    • Paraffin Wax
    • Baby Oil
    • Vaseline
    • Petroleum Jelly
    • Mineral Oil
    • Toluene
    • Benzene
    • Phenoxyethanol
    • The component PEG (polyethylene glycol)
    • Anything ending in ‘eth’ indicates that it required ethylene oxide (a petrochemical) to produce e.g. myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth
    • Anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)
    • Butanol and any word with ‘butyl’ – butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol
    • Ethanol and word with ‘ethyl’ – ethyl alcohol, ethylene glycol, ethylene dichloride, EDTA (ethylene-diamine-tetracetatic acid), ethylhexylglycerin
    • Any word with “propyl” – isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol, cocamidopropyl betaine
    • Methanol and any word with ‘methyl’ –  methyl alcohol, methylparaben, methylcellulose
    • Parfum or fragrance – 95% of chemicals used in fragrance are from petroleum
  • Watch out for water
    One last ingredient to be wary of: water. Yes, I said water. You may not have thought twice about the fact that water is the first ingredients in almost all personal care products. After all, water is so good for you, and it’s essential to us. But did you know that adding water to other ingredients breeds mold and bacteria? Think of it this way: if you leave a grapefruit on the counter, it will mold in a short time but if you dehydrate it, it will last indefinitely. Even the FDA knows this and requires a strong preservative to prevent mold and bacteria from growing. Read more about water in skincare here.

Molly’s Tips on What to Look for in Skin Care Products

  • Coconut oil
    The two best forms of coconut oil are organic extra virgin and organic expeller pressed. These are rich with antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal & antibacterial properties that help ward off infection, which helps reduce symptoms associated with skin irritations.Most companies use fractionated coconut oil because it stays liquid at all temperatures and thus is much easier to work with in formulating. Fractionated coconut oil is literally a fraction (hence the name) of coconut oil because the fatty acids that are solid at room temperature have been removed using high heat thus burning off the enzymes that make coconut oil so beneficial. It is not a whole or complete oil. If labeled correctly, “Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride” is the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name for fractionated coconut oil while “Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil” is the name of the real stuff.
  • Avocado oil
    It’s full of vitamins A, D & E, and avocado oil penetrates deep into the skin to deliver nutrients and soothing hydration while helping with age spots and sun damage. In 2001, a study published in Dermatology provided evidence that avocado oil could be a long-term topical therapy for psoriasis. France has given avocado oil Rx status because of its ability to counter the negative effects of arthritis. Now, this was when taken internally but remember, your skin absorbs what is put on it. Woohoo!
  • Lavender oil
    It’s more than just a lovely scent. Because of its antibacterial properties it can produce a calming effect on the skin, helps aid in regenerating the skin, enhances blood circulation and can minimize scar tissue. There are man-made versions of lavender oil out there so be careful.​​​​

Special Deal

Bloom Naturals is not only an expert on skincare, but they also offer products for face, body, eczema, acne and babies that are void of all the unwanted ingredients without sacrificing the natural ones you want! Try some with our discount code and let us know if you see the difference.

Try Bloom Naturals
Take 15% off of your purchase with code YAY!100DAYS

There are a few products that are excluded from this coupon because they are bulk or a seasonal item. The shipping is fixed at $6.99 in the continental USA. Bloom Naturals also ships to Canada, Alaska and Hawaii but the shipping charges are actual.

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but 100 Days of Real Food will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us spread our message!

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6 thoughts on “What Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care”

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  1. This page is a great find. I’ve been hunting “propylene glycol” since I found out PEG was the same thing, and then another, and another…

    I need to share this with my CD support group next time we meet. Thank you for the work on this.

  2. I have a question about what they are required to put on the label. Are they allowed to leave things off the label that are actually in the product? For instance I use a rosewater that says its ingredients are, “Vor-mag Water and Rosa Damascena (Hydroessential Rose) Flower Oil.” I have copied it exactly as it is written on the bottle. Does that mean they included something to keep the water from growing bacteria but didn’t include it on the label? Also, does the capitalization indicate that this is man made rose water and not from natural roses?

    I stopped using my other rose/aloe facial spray because the ingredients were as follows: Aqua (Water, Eau), Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Rosa Canina Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Parfum (Fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Chloride, Citronellol, Geraniol, CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 42090 (Blue 1).

    YIKES! I thought I was doing so well by changing to the new one. Can you shed some light on my questions above? Thanks!

    1. Hi Joy. I can jump in here to try to explain. First, nice work reading labels and making choices based on what you know!

      Regarding labeling, a company must put all the ingredients on the label but on their website, they often include only the ingredients they want you to know about.

      With that being said, a popular “natural” preservative ingredient is called Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). It is made using a 7 step process that involves the addition of an acid and I have yet to find a GSE that doesn’t have a preservative added to it in the end. This allows GSE to be a preservative while sounding healthy. That final ingredient, GSE, only needs to be listed on the label. The ingredients that go into making GSE do not. The FDA allows companies to have a “proprietary ingredient” where they are required to only list the final ingredient, not what makes up that ingredient.

      As far as the Rosewater you mentioned, I cannot speak to that product as I do not know what they do to make Vor-mag water but it sounds much like a proprietary ingredient.

      About the capital letters, I only see capitals at the beginning of the word not capitals like CI 17200 (Red 33) like in the second example you gave. Those would not be from nature.

      Does that clear it up a bit?

  3. I didn’t understand your case against petroleum. You say “as bad as by products of the distillation of gasoline to crude oil.” What are you trying to say? Why is it bad? What are the scientifically proven problems when using these ingredients on our skin?

    1. Hi Amber,

      I’m happy to clarify and shed a bit more light on this.

      Here are the reasons petroleum ingredients that have no place on our skin, both in toxicity and in purpose.

      1. They act like a raincoat on your skin and don’t allow your skin to breathe. Skin needs to breathe. Think plastic wrap.

      2. Skin absorbs what is put on it, so when these ingredients are applied on the skin they are absorbed into the body. The trouble is that petroleum ingredients are not able to be metabolized (processed/eliminated/detoxed out, etc.) by the body so it stays in there. Think of how much is applied and absorbed over a year, 5 or 10 years time.
      EWG or environmental working group states, “These trace contaminants in petroleum-based ingredients often readily penetrate the skin according to government and industry studies, and their presence in products is not restricted by government safety standards — they are legal at any level.” Notice the words “readily penetrate.” Currently, there are no restrictions for using them in personal care products in the USA. This is unfortunate.

      3. A common condition, called Estrogen Dominance is when a sufferer has a high estrogen ratio with little to no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. Chemicals called Xenoestrogens are one of the biggest culprits. Petroleum ingredients are classified as Xenoestrogens. Again, we go back to the idea that the skin absorbs what is put on it, including Xenoestrogens. Yikes.

      3. Most petroleum ingredients contain 1,4-Dioxane. It is classified as a prohibited and restricted ingredient for cosmetics in Canada.

      Here is an excerpt from the EWG (environmental working group): “The carcinogen 1,4-dioxane contaminates up to 46% of personal care products tested (OCA 2008, EWG 2008). The chemical is an unwanted byproduct of an ingredient processing method called ethoxylation used to reduce the risk of skin irritation for petroleum-based ingredients.”
      Translation: 1,4 Dioxane is added to petroleum ingredients to reduce the risk of skin irritations. Thus, there is cause for concern about petroleum ingredients causing irritation, too.

      There is quite a bit of evidence that supports the dangers of these ingredients.

      Does that help clarify a bit?