11 Ingredients To Avoid For Sensitive Skin

11 Ingredients To Avoid For Sensitive Skin

Having sensitive skin can be such a pain in the butt. You always have to be careful about the products you use, you spend hours on end reading labels, and you have to pay extra attention to your diet, lifestyle, and habits.

If you have sensitive skin, you're not the only one. There are millions of people out there who also devote time and effort to keeping their skin healthy. The silver lining is that nowadays, we know the culprit of some breakouts, which means it gets easier to avoid them.

Knowing which ingredients to look out for is truly a blessing. Think about it – yes, you might have to read labels and avoid certain products, but at the same time, your efforts will be rewarded. Your skin will look as healthy as ever, and you won't be putting harmful ingredients anywhere near your body. If you want to avoid unpleasant reactions from the products you use, knowing bad ingredients is a must!

In this article, we'll explain all the potentially harmful ingredients to avoid for sensitive skin.


Methylisothianzolione is recognized as one of the most common culprits of allergic reactions and skin irritations. If you have sensitive skin, avoiding this product is highly recommended.


Any kind of fragrance is bad news when it comes to sensitive skin. No matter how little fragrance a product contains, if it's present on the list of ingredients, it means it can cause havoc on sensitive skin and irritate the skin barrier.

The easiest and quickest way to avoid purchasing any kind of product that contains fragrance (which is often marked as perfume) is by looking for a 'fragrance-free' label on the packaging. This means the product uses fragrance-free formulas that won't irritate your skin.

Essential Oils and Plant Extracts

Another common irritant on this list is plant extracts. You might think that anything coming from plants is healthy and good for the skin, but in this case, the opposite is true. Although the name sounds innocent enough, these extracts are not your friend if you have sensitive skin.

Essential oils are not your best option. While essential oils can provide some benefits (such as relaxing us), putting them directly on our skin is not the best idea in the world. Many people have declared that essential oil has caused breakouts, even if the percentage of the essential oil present in the product itself is very small.

Since you can find them everywhere (from makeup to lotions), you can't avoid them altogether. Still, it's best to avoid these irritating ingredients whenever possible. 


Helioplex is most often found in various kinds of sun protection products. Although it does a remarkable job at protecting the skin from harmful UV rays, it can cause adverse reactions in some sensitive skin.

Since applying sunscreen is a must, there seems to be no way around this particular ingredient. If you have to use an SPF that contains helioplex, make sure you wash it off before going to bed. Otherwise, try looking for a sun protection product that doesn't have this problematic ingredient.


Parabens are notorious for causing bad reactions. While they aren't universally classified as bad for the skin, some people have a hard time with them.

Parabens can lead to irritation in sensitive skin types, which is why it's best to avoid them. Many brands have chosen to become 'paraben-free' lately, so it's easier than ever to stay away from them.

What many people fail to remember is that not only do parabens exist in skincare products, but they can also be found in makeup and body care products as well. Be wary of the ingredients list at all times.

Mineral Oils

You might want to stay clear of mineral oil. These are known to cause trouble for people with overly sensitive faces.

They clog your pores and create oily skin. This leads to all kinds of acne and congestion, as well as a build-up of bacteria, so it's no wonder why so many people are choosing to ditch these oils from their skincare regime. (If you have acne-prone skin, we suggest you do the same!)

A good alternative is plant oils, which score low on the comedogenic scale. This scale is used to determine whether or not a product can lead to clogged pores. If a certain ingredient scores low on the comedogenic scale, it means it's unlikely to clog your pores. Natural oils low on the comedogenic scale include jojoba oil, argan oil, tea tree oil, and rosehip oil.


The debate of whether or not alcohol leads to skin irritation is still ongoing in the skincare community.

It's important to mention that, when it comes to alcohols that are applied to the skin, there are two kinds: one which is potentially harmful and can lead to negative side effects, and one that is necessary for certain products.

Let's talk about the so-called bad alcohols. Names such as ethanol, denatured alcohol, methanol, SD alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol have a purpose. They help the products penetrate deeper into the skin, making them more effective.

However, these might not be great if you have skin sensitivity. They are known to harm the skin's natural barrier, leading to dry skin, irritation, and bad skin reactions. They can also damage the skin barrier. It's best to stay away from them if your plan is to keep your skin healthy in the long run.

As far as alcohols that are deemed useful and safe within the community are concerned, there are a couple of types. Today, we'll be discussing benzyl alcohol, a name that is probably familiar to you since it's so widespread.

Surprisingly enough, this ingredient is used to preserve organic and natural skincare and keep harmful bacteria away from them. Some brands have even gone as far as to label this ingredient as absolutely safe for skin application. The rule of thumb is – there shouldn't be high concentrations of benzyl alcohol present in the product. Otherwise, it can also lead to redness, dryness, and irritation. The last thing people with sensitive skin want is skin flare-ups.

Harsh Beads and Grains in Physical Exfoliants

Exfoliators come in two types: physical and chemical. Physical exfoliators can be detrimental to people with sensitive skin, and here's why.

Physical scrubs contain harsh ingredients like beads, salt, and sugar grains, which can cause extreme and permanent damage to the skin, resulting in micro-tears and acne. This is even worse for those with a sensitive skin type. The above-mentioned ingredients are too rough for the delicate skin on your face, and you should keep away from them.

Chemical exfoliants usually contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and other acids.

However, exfoliation is important for healthy skin, so you shouldn't avoid it entirely. Instead, use chemical exfoliators or fruit enzymes to get the same benefits without the side effects.


Cinnamates can be found in various kinds of sunscreens under the name methylcinnamate. Just like the name suggests, they're derived from cinnamon.

While they do have some benefits in conjunction with the other ingredients, cinnamates can lead to irritation and redness, so it's best to steer clear of them. This is not to say that you should avoid the spice altogether, but this particular ingredient has been linked to a couple of adverse reactions in consumers.

Other than sunscreen, you can also find cinnamates in lipstick, but it's not likely to lead to any irritation.


Dyes can be irritating if you suffer from sensitive skin. We're not just talking about hair dyes - clothing dyes can cause uncomfortable skin too.

Most clothing contains a generous number of dyes. This doesn't mean that you should avoid shopping altogether, but be wary of what you put on your body. Always make sure you wash your new clothes before you wear them. This will not only remove all the dust that's been sitting on them in the store and factory, but it will also remove the excess dye so that it doesn't end up on your skin.

Chemical Sunscreens

We've touched on a couple of sunscreen ingredients to avoid like the plague. But here's a sunscreen you should avoid altogether.

Chemical sunscreens, just like the name suggests, contain different kinds of chemicals. Chemicals aren't inherently bad for your skin, so you shouldn't panic if you can't recognize an ingredient from the list. But, in this case, chemical sunscreens have been shown to irritate some people's skin and cause them to break out.

This is due to the fact that some chemicals found in the product are comedogenic, meaning they cause the pores on our skin to become clogged with dead skin cells and sebum. Clogged pores mean that the skin can't breathe, which leads to acne and other types of congestion. 

Furthermore, some chemicals found in sunscreens can interfere with your hormones. These are labeled as 'endocrine-disrupting chemicals.'

If you can't trust sunscreen to not cause trouble for the skin, which product can you trust? Don't worry - there's no need to avoid the sun any time soon. There is an alternative to chemical sun protection, which is called physical sunscreens. These are recommended for people who have sensitive skin. So if you're one of them, rest assured that you can easily find an alternative that won't cause you any trouble.

Should Silicones Be Avoided?

Silicone is a common substance that's derived from silica. It's used for various purposes because of its smoothening, healing, and binding properties. 

There are a couple of different forms of silicones, all of which can be found in hair and skin care products, makeup, and other toiletries. It's tricky to find silicones on the ingredients list because they're not always stated as silicones. Multiple names of different kinds of silicones are used, the most common ones being: cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane, dimethicone, and phenyl trimethicone.

As far as silicones are concerned, there's one major reason why people are so afraid of using these products, and that's the claim that they can lead to breakouts.

Does this hold any truth, or is it merely a myth?

Sufficient research on the topic is currently lacking. Some people have reported that silicones cause them to break out, while others have no problem using them regularly. The relationship between acne and silicones is yet to be thoroughly examined and researched, and until we get there, all of us have to rely on anecdotes and personal experiences.

Some dermatologists claim that silicones can even be helpful for the skin's moisture levels. Using harsh treatments for a long period of time can cause the skin to become incredibly dry, and silicones have been reported to help in terms of providing ample amounts of hydration.

So, if you have sensitive skin, should you continue using products that contain silicones? Unless you notice that a specific product is causing you to break out, there's no reason why you shouldn't since there's no current research that says otherwise.

A Word on DIY Ingredients

One of the most common reasons why people delay their treatment is because they take it upon themselves to diagnose and heal their sensitive skin. Although we've talked about ingredients found in conventional skincare products, certain ingredients found in DIY recipes can cause just as much damage.

Not everything that comes from the kitchen can be used in skincare. More importantly, if something is good for us to eat, that doesn't inherently make it beneficial for topical application.

Whether you have sensitive skin or even normal skin, be wary of the products you use in DIY recipes. Always do your research on them, and use soothing ingredients. If you're not sure about something, consult a dermatologist about it. After all, a professional can give you a proper diagnosis.

Patch Tests Are Crucial

If you've never heard about a patch test before, you can find out all about it here. To explain the process briefly, it's basically a method of testing whether a product agrees with your skin or not. It's the only way to avoid contact dermatitis (allergic reactions). This will appear in various symptoms, including itchy skin, red bumps, red patches, and more. Even if you think you're using calming ingredients, it's still best to test products.

To perform a patch test, all you need to do is apply a small amount on a small area of your skin and wait for a day or two. If there are no negative reactions, then you can proceed to use the product all over your face.

If you do see any redness, irritation, or breakouts, stop using the product and double-check with your dermatologist.

Patch tests are a great way to test whether the skincare ingredients mentioned in this article agree with your sensitive skin or not. After all, some of these might not be a concern. We're all different.

The Number #1 Skincare Routine for Acne

If you're sick of having easily irritated skin and looking for skincare products to combat acne, try Misumi's Complete Clear 3-Step System. Using ingredients like salicylic acid, this cleanser, toner, and moisturizer will calm breakouts, clear dirt, and debris, and give you the clear skin you've been craving. Try it now!

Final Thoughts

Skincare is complicated in general, but if you have sensitive skin, then you have to put even more effort into choosing the correct products you use. You also have to pay attention to the habits you accumulate and keep your diet and sleeping schedule on track. It's a messy process, and none of us are perfect, so you're bound to make a couple of mistakes here and there.

Make sure to always choose fragrance-free products and avoid ingredients that will clog pores, as these will do more harm than good. Always check the ingredient label.

There is still a world of ingredients out there to avoid for sensitive skin. Be wary of sulphates such as sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, and ammonium lauryl sulfate. Other ingredients like hyaluronic acid should be safe.

If you have sensitive skin, hopefully you'll find this article helpful. Next time you're picking out a skincare product to try, you'll know which skincare ingredients to avoid.

This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.

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