5 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid & Why You Should Replace them with Silk

Here at This Is Silk we are advocates of natural skincare, and are always trying to find ways to reduce the number of chemicals in our own lives. It is impossible to be scrupulous, but the more you know, the better your choices will be. The chemicals listed below are commonly used and have been linked to serious health issues.


Why You Should Care about Skincare Ingredients

We are becoming more knowledgeable about what we eat but the skin is the body’s largest organ and we are less discerning in what we apply to it.

The average woman in the UK apparently absorbs 2 kg of cosmetic and skincare ingredients a year.

An article in the Guardian in 2015 said that women apply around 168 chemicals to their bodies daily.

If that doesn’t make you stop and think, the following list of ingredients to avoid certainly will.

It is thought that our skin absorbs about 60% of everything we apply to it.

The products we buy from the High Street - even the premium ones - often have cheap fillers in order to inflate profit margins and pay for huge advertising budgets.

Whilst there is an argument to say that the law governs what ingredients are permitted within skincare, and that therefore you can presume it is safe, this presumption needs more analysis.

Firstly, science continues to develop our understanding of chemicals and their effects and by the time something is banned, it has already caused damage. As an example, the EU banned methylisothiazoline and related substances in leave-on products and restricted their use in wash-off products because it was linked to allergic reactions and lung toxicity.

But before it was banned it had been used extensively used in shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, mascara, hairspray and baby shampoo.

Additionally, as the cosmetics industry is so profitable, the big companies spend a lot of time and money on lobbying the regulators on whatever is in their own best interests, which is of course, profit.



  • 1.  Parabens (butyl-, isobutyl-, isopropyl-, propyl-)

  • Used as: a preservative

    Used in: deodorants, make-up, shampoo and moisturisers. 18 are currently permitted in the UK

    Risks: Have been shown to speed up the growth of specific breast cancer cells, because of their oestrogen-imitating abilities. High levels of oestrogen are associated with an elevated risk for breast cancer. Breast Cancer UK say parabens should not be in products which sit on our skin. Link

    1. Petrolatum / Petroleum / Mineral Oil / Petroleum Jelly / Paraffin Oil

    Used as: the base for many cosmetics products, acts as a barrier to aid moisturisers

    Used in: creams, emollients, balms, cleansers

    Risks: Petrolatum products are widely defended by those who use them as safe, and some companies defend its usage by seeking to reassure consumers that they use ‘food grade’ , ultra-refined petrolatum in their products only. However, an impurity (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been found in 22% of all petrolatum-based cosmetics, and that impurity has been linked to cancer in animals. The EU permits the use of petrolatum where the full refining history is known and proven to be non-carcinogenic.

    1. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

    Used as: a surfactant (used to help products foam)

    Used in: personal care products, emollients, household cleaning products

    Risks: SLS is used extensively in the cosmetics industry. It is a known skin, eye and lung irritant and has potential to interact with other chemicals to form a carcinogen. SLS should not be used in products used to moisturise skin as a small study recently found that areas of skin with SLS applied were thinner and had increased moisture loss. Anyone with sensitive skin or suffering with eczema would be well-advised to use products without SLS in them.

    1. Triclosan & Triclocarban

    Used as: an antimicrobial agent. Marketed as something ‘good for you’

    Used in: soaps and washes

    Risks: This substance is so widespread that it was found in the urine of 75% of people tested. The chemicals are known to be endocrine disruptors. If you are wondering what that is, it means that thyroid, testosterone and oestrogen functions were disturbed. The consequences are disturbing - disruptions of these sorts are linked to early puberty, infertility, obesity and cancer. Children who have been exposed to these chemicals at an early age are at increased risk of developing the ‘atopic march’; allergies, asthma and eczema.

    1. Ethanolamines (diethanolamine - DEA, monoethanolamine - MEA, and triethanolamine - TEA)

    Used as: a foaming agent 

    Used in:soaps, conditioners, hair dyes, shampoos, eyeliners, mascara, fragrances and sunscreens

    Risks:Impurities found in these chemicals (called nitrosamines) are known to cause cancer in more species of animal than any other chemical carcinogen. There is evidence suggesting that nitrosamines are skin toxicants for humans and there are studies linking them to respiratory and organ toxicants.

    These are just 5 of the ingredients to avoid. There are others and whilst it is impossible to remove them from our lives completely (and you would go mad trying), it is important, as with all things, to find balance. It is clearly sensible to try and minimise the sources of these chemicals and where possible choose natural products with labels you understand.


    Silk on the other hand is a wholly natural product, and owing to the fact it is made from similar proteins, (building blocks) as our hair (called 'keratins') there is a synergy between our skin and hair and Silk. We consider it to be a biodynamic fabric which actively nourishes our skin. 

    Silk not only positively benefits our skin and hair, but also helps your skincare creams and serums work harder as the Silk does not absorb them like cotton does. 

    It is worth looking at the ingredients on your creams and wondering which ones you could switch out for 'cleaner' products. Sleeping on Silk will make a huge difference to your skin and you will notice the difference overnight.