Halloween Beauty: Scary Skincare Ingredients

We’re really not trying to be controversial with this blog, but as a health and planet-conscious beauty business, we feel like Halloween is an appropriate time to highlight some frightening skincare ingredients you should know about! Unfortunately, here in the United States, there are very few laws regulating the cosmetic industry. In fact, marketers are allowed to label their products “non-toxic” with no regulations in place to ensure it’s not misleading—and that’s downright scary!


In this blog, we’re doing our part in promoting safe beauty standards by looking at some skincare ingredients to watch out for. This list includes substances that may not be suitable for all skin types and even some proven harmful or carcinogenic. You can protect yourself by learning about the possible risks involved in using some skincare products. Keep reading for a list of scary skincare ingredients! 




Unless you only ever purchase beauty products that have zero fragrance, the chances are that you currently use a product with “fragrance” listed as an ingredient. Why is this problematic? Because the word “fragrance” is an umbrella term for almost anything! As brands typically have signature scents, “fragrance” is considered a trade secret. According to the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), over 3000 materials are currently reported as being used in fragrance compounds. Of these ingredients, several have evidence linking them to allergies, endocrine disrupters, and even reproductive toxicity. This is a tricky skincare ingredient to avoid, but as a general rule of thumb, try to steer clear of products when no information is given other than “fragrance.”



Retinoids are highly effective skincare ingredients that help reduce fine lines and increase collagen production, as well as helping keep acne under control. It’s important to note that Retinyl Palmitate is FDA-approved and used in many beauty products. However, a study from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found that using retinyl palmitate could lead to skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin exposed to sunlight. Retinyl Palmitate can also make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays, so it’s crucial to wear sunscreen if you use it daily.  




As we all know, it’s vitally important to protect skincare and makeup products from exposure to bacteria and molds. Propylparaben is a common preservative used to extend the shelf-life of products by preventing microbial contamination. Although preservatives are important in cosmetics, concerns surrounding parabens have been discussed for the last few decades. A 1998 study found that parabens can bind to estrogen receptors, potentially leading to hormone disruption. Hormone imbalance is linked to some cancers, such as breast and ovarian, and can also affect reproductive activities, including fertility and menstruation. It’s important to note that the cosmetics industry generally considers low levels of parabens to be safe; however, longer chain parabens like propylparaben and isobutylparaben are more likely to be disruptive.




If you have sensitive skin, Lilial is a skincare ingredient that you should know about! Lilial, also known as methylpropional, is a pleasant-smelling aldehyde used for its floral scent. Although it works great to improve the smell of skincare products, Lilial is a known dermal and respiratory irritant. Due to its sensitizing nature, companies must indicate in the ingredients when leave-on products (such as moisturizers) have a Lilial concentration exceeding 0.001%. If you experience dry skin and redness, be sure to check your skincare products for methylpropional. 



Although most phthalates are now banned from cosmetics, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is still used in many beauty products. DEP is used to help fragrances last longer; however, you might not realize you’re using it, as it’s typically lumped under the ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ term we discussed above. Phthalates are problematic because they can decrease thyroid hormone levels. Certain studies have even linked phthalates to hormone-related diseases, such as endometriosis. If you’re looking to avoid phthalates, keep away from heavily scented products with no obvious fragrance source. 


The Bottom Line


When it comes to choosing the right cosmetics for your skin, it’s essential to educate yourself and listen to your body. In general, products that use a majority of naturally sourced ingredients tend to be kinder on the skin, but it’s crucial to find out what works for you. If you’re looking for sumptuously indulgent skincare products with high-performance, natural ingredients, check out the Avari Beauty online store. 

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