Exfoliating our skin can be a great way to shed dull, dead cells, achieve a silky-smooth feel, and get that gorgeous glow. But have you ever wondered about which skincare ingredients are in your favorite body scrubs – and which ones you should be avoiding?

Keeping your skin happy and healthy should be one of the most significant factors in determining which ingredients to avoid in skincare products. However, you also need to consider how those ingredients may affect your body, not just your skin. And when you’re shopping for body scrubs, knowing what to look for is even more critical.


Are Body Scrubs Bad for Your Skin?

You may have heard that body scrubs can damage your skin, which is both true and false. Like many questions about skincare products, the answer to this question is: it depends. 

There are plenty of great body scrubs out there, including professionally-formulated options that can suit your unique skin care goals. Unfortunately, just as many contain harsh ingredients that can end up doing you more harm than good. 

Using a high-quality body scrub in moderation is an effective way to exfoliate your skin and boost brightness. The problem is that many body scrubs contain harsh, too-sharp exfoliating chemicals and ingredients. These ingredients can cause microscopic tears, disrupting your skin’s natural barrier and working against your skincare goals.

For example, any face or body exfoliants containing sharp or large particles, such as shells from various nuts, should be considered a no-no. Instead, look for scrubs made with sugar, salt, or biodegradable jojoba beads. 

Keep in mind that, even with a gentle body scrub, you can still accidentally over-exfoliate. Use gentle pressure while exfoliating, and avoid using scrubs too often. If you notice dryness, irritation, or redness, that’s a red flag.


What are the Ingredients to Avoid in Skincare?

Just like the food you eat and the air you breathe, skincare ingredients can be absorbed into your body and affect your overall health. And according to research, our body is not always able to differentiate between ingredients that are helpful or harmful.

Daily, we are exposed to countless substances, many of which can be detrimental to our well-being. The good news is that our bodies are incredibly efficient at filtering out unwanted byproducts. Small amounts of certain common chemicals may not be as harmful as higher doses. Regardless, it’s up to us to be mindful of the ingredients we are consuming – and putting all over our skin.

So, let’s get back to body scrubs and other skincare products. What ingredients should you avoid in skincare? Although we still have a lot to learn about common chemical ingredients and how they may affect our bodies, awareness is vital. Here are some of the most often-used chemicals in skincare that you may want to look out for.


  1. Phthalates (DBP, DEP, DEHP): Usually found in synthetic fragrances, hairsprays, and nail polishes, phthalates are a category of plasticizing chemicals. They are used to make fragrances stick to your skin or to make certain products more flexible.
  2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate: A common ingredient in face wash and scrubs, shampoos, shower gels, and bubble baths, these sulfates are used as foaming agents. However, they can irritate your skin and eyes and dry out your skin and hair.
  3. Parabens (PROPYL, ETHYL, BUTYL, METHYL): Parabens are most commonly found in cosmetics and moisturizers, used as a preservative. In small amounts, parabens are not believed to be measurably harmful. However, be aware of how many products with parabens you’re regularly using.  
  4. Mineral Oil: Also referred to as liquid petroleum or paraffin oil, mineral oil offers zero nutritional benefits for your skin. It is a comedogenic oil, meaning it will clog your pores and exacerbate breakouts.
  5. Synthetic Fragrances: Because manufacturers are legally permitted to include hundreds of chemicals under the umbrella terms “fragrance” or “perfume,” it is virtually impossible to know precisely what is in these chemical blends. For many, synthetic fragrances can also aggravate allergies or cause skin irritation.
  6. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): PEG is found in many cosmetics and is a petroleum-based compound that is intended to dissolve grease and oil. Unfortunately, on the skin, PEG destroys valuable protective oils.
  7. Propylene Glycol: Even though it is a highly common ingredient in moisturizers, cosmetics, and other personal care products, propylene glycol is generally considered a skin irritant. It can cause hives and even dermatitis in some people.


When you learn about all the chemicals to avoid in skincare, it’s easy to feel like you need to get rid of every product you own – but don’t panic. Understand that chemicals are in everything and that no product can be 100% chemical-free – even water is technically a chemical. Also, just because one of your favorite body scrubs or skincare products contains a specific chemical does not automatically mean that it is enough to be harmful.

Ultimately, the best way to empower yourself is to be informed and aware. 

Learn More About Your Skincare with Affiliated Dermatology

When you’re unsure about which body scrubs are best for your skin – or how to choose any other skincare product – our team is here to help. We can assist you in finding professional-quality products that meet your specific needs and goals, as well as work with you to eliminate any products that may be causing issues for your skin.

For more information about how to better care for your skin, contact Affiliated Dermatology near you today!