Skincare ingredients to avoid

As a nation, we’re becoming more and more aware of the importance of what we put into our bodies, with many of us regularly checking food labels on the lookout for any untoward ingredients. But it’s not just about what we put into our bodies… Being aware of what we put on to our bodies can be equally important, whether that’s simply for keeping our skin happy, or to look after our long-term health.

Luckily for us in the UK, EU regulations mean that over 1000 harmful ingredients in personal care products have been banned (The USA is a bit more of a minefield, as they’ve only banned 11) but there are still a few around that we’re not so keen on.

Here’s what you should be avoiding and why:

skincare ingredients to avoid

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS is often the reason behind all that foam that most of us associate with being squeaky clean. It can be found in shampoo, face wash, body wash, and pretty much anything that lathers. 

But all those bubbles aren’t necessarily a good thing… SLS’s are a known skin irritant. They have a tendency to strip the skin of natural oils, leading to dryness, itching, and even conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

A milder alternative to SLS is Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate (DLS), which we use in our kóri exfoliating face wash. Although the name is similar (be extra careful when you’re checking labels), DLS won’t upset the skin. It’s non-irritating and known to be extremely gentle on the skin and hair, even in high concentrations.


Parabens are preservatives that are commonly used in a variety of skincare products in order to extend shelf-life and prevent the growth of bacteria.

Of course, it’s important to keep bacteria at bay, but there is some concern that parabens could have serious health consequences. Put simply, parabens can disrupt the normal function of the hormone system, specifically mimicking estrogen. Studies have shown that this can lead to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, as well as fertility problems in both men and women.   

There are a few different kinds, and the names are usually a bit of a mouthful (Butylparaben and Propylparaben are just two examples). They do all end with “paraben” though, so they’re pretty easy to spot in an ingredient list.

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs)

Like parabens, FRP’s are also used to control bacteria levels in cosmetic products. They’re a known allergen and skin irritant, and also have cancer causing properties – certainly not something you want to be putting on your face.

Formaldehyde releasers have a bunch of different names, so, unfortunately, they aren’t the easiest of things to spot in an ingredient list. Luckily though, EU regulations mean they aren’t so common in the UK anymore, and if they are used, they need to be under a certain concentration percentage. Here are the most common ones to look out for:

DMDM hydantoin

Imidazolidinyl urea

Diazolidinyl Urea




Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

Final thoughts

We’re not trying to say that you should avoid anything that isn’t completely natural. Chemical ingredients are often necessary for a product to do its job properly, and for the most part, they’re totally harmless. It’s simply a case of having some awareness. All of our products are made from a carefully selected formulation of both natural and safe synthetic ingredients. This way we can provide the best results, whilst always staying kind to the skin. 

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