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Something Scary’s Hiding in Your Skincare.

Some of the additives used in popular commercial skincare products are truly frightening. Some may seem harmless but we want to show you how they can still haunt your skin for years after they leave your routine. 

Before we get into specifics, here’s an easy rule of thumb to help determine whether a particular ingredient is friend or foe: if you can’t pronounce everything on the label, it’s no good. Ingredients that leave you tongue-tied are usually synthetic and can leave you dealing with adverse reactions (breakouts or irritation), worsened preexisting conditions or longterm damage. 

Here’s What to Look Out For…

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has gained incredible popularity in recent years as a great multi-use product, from cooking and baking to skin products that boast natural moisturizing properties. While it might make for tasty Halloween treats, coconut oil is highly comedogenic, meaning that the molecules are so big that they will clog your pores. If you use it as a makeup remover, you’ll find that your face is left with a waxy, greasy residue and a few blemishes.

Instead of using coconut oil to remove heavy makeup, try a different approach to natural makeup remover. Our cucumber-based Makeup Remover forms soft suds and gentle bubbles that collect makeup residue and easily rinses away, leaving you fresh-faced and glowing. Whether it’s glitter from a fairy costume or a dark cat eye for a fabulous kitty outfit, our makeup remover will surely do the trick. Plus, it’s gentle enough to use on kid skin, so you can keep your little monster clean when the costume comes off.

Glycerin and Synthetic Mineral Oil

Glycerin is a popular base in many skincare and cosmetic products due to its malleability and low manufacturing cost, but it poses multiple threats to the skin. Glycerin is a greedy humectant, which means that it holds onto all of the water and moisture for itself. Meanwhile, its sticky consistency forms a layer on the surface of your skin which locks in unwanted outsiders like dust and dirt and preventing it from breathing comfortably. If your environment is drier than your skin, cosmetic humectants like glycerin will draw out moisture from the lower layers of the skin. This ingredient actually dehydrates your skin from the inside out. Now that’s scary.

The notion that synthetic mineral oil can be used to hydrate and retain moisture for your skin is nothing but a myth. In fact, it has the reverse effect! Because it’s petroleum-based, it leaves the skin feeling greasy instead of moisturized. That’s when the villains of skincare would try to sell you a harsh scrub or an astringent toner to combat that greasy feeling, which only starts the destructive cycle all over again.  

Acid and Peels

There’s nothing wrong with a little exfoliation as long as you stay away from products that are abrasive and astringent. Crushed up nutshells that you find in many store-bought scrubs are too rough for your skin. Microscopic beads and harsh acids are also known to spook the skin into over-protecting itself. Using coarse ingredients to remove spent skin cells causes your skin to panic and make far more (and tougher) skin cells than it really needs to recover, demanding even more exfoliation to maintain a healthy complexion. This cycle ultimately damages your face, causing fine lines and wrinkles and more frequent breakouts for those with sensitive skin.

If you’re in need of an exfoliating product that won’t cause any lasting damage, check out our gentle Enzyme Exfoliating Mask! It lifts away dead skin without causing damage to existing skin cells. As a result, your skin will be left feeling soft, bright, and even-toned. 


As much as we love to indulge in a spiked cider during the fall, it’s common knowledge that having one too many can make you feel unwell. Unfortunately, alcohol has the same sickening effect on our skin. Alcohol dries out your face, forcing it to defend itself by overproducing oil and leaving it unbalanced. Most t-zone irritation and excess oil is caused by drying out the skin with alcohol-based products. A friendly reminder: your skin should never feel squeaky or tight – if it does, there’s likely an alcohol to blame. 


Phenoxyethanol is tough to pronounce and even tougher on the skin. It’s often used as a sneaky alternative to other preservatives that consumers have begun to recognize and reject. Phenoxyethanol is a combination of two harmful carcinogens: benzene and ethylene. Beware, it’s poisonous! If applied directly, it will burn your skin. When used regularly, it is known to cause rashes, breakouts and even affect your nervous system, lungs, and kidneys. You should never have to risk your health for the sake of skincare.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is commonly used to treat warts because it aggressively eats away at the skin. This harsh acid is made by fermenting glucose and belongs to a family of chemicals called salicylates, which cause all kinds of painful side effects, including headaches, itchy skin, congestion, respiratory issues, and stomach pain. 

You should be especially wary of using products with salicylic acid in the sun, since they are prone to cause heightened sensitivity to UV Rays. In extreme cases, this will lead to a higher risk of skin cancer, the most infamous villain of all.

Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid has been used to treat acne because it effectively penetrates skin cells, but many who sing its praises forget that it is made from formaldehyde. Glycolic Acid works by breaking down cellular bonds to create the temporary illusion of clear, plump skin. Once the initial swelling goes down, the smoothness of the skin disappears, leaving lasting effects of unwanted acne and blemishes.

Consumers may be under the impression that glycolic acid is safe to use on the skin due to its natural derivatives. Don’t be fooled, nothing could be further than the truth. It’s important to note its use in industrial leather factories for rapidly penetrating and processing cowhides. We’re all for a scary mask at Halloween, but with continued use of glycolic acid, you may not even need one next year.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Using a cleanser is an essential first step in every skin care routine, but all too many start with sodium lauryl sulfate. This common culprit includes petrochemicals – the same active ingredient used in dishwasher detergent. These severe chemicals are perfect for scrubbing dishes, not cleansing your delicate skin. 

Cleansers that use sodium lauryl sulfate produce a bubbly foam that feels like it’s leaving your skin squeaky clean (remember our rule?). The gruesome truth is that it is stripping your skin of its natural oils that are required to properly protect and heal itself. Don’t be fooled – you don’t need industrial ingredients to keep your skin pristinely clean. Look for products that use oils, enzymes, seeds, roots, and natural extracts. You’ll get the results you want (both long- and short-term) without any of the unnecessary damage.

Our hope is not to scare you, but rather to lift the mask on the most common skincare offenders so that you can stay vigilant about what you spend your money on. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, which is why it’s essential to provide it with quality, non-toxic products that allow your natural complexion to glow. 

Now that we’ve warned you about the harmful ingredients in the skincare industry, we also want to ensure that you are using safe, natural and effective products in your home. Branch Basics is a household company that sells refillable cleaning products with the use of natural ingredients that align with our values. Their products are toxin-free, plant and mineral-based, cruelty-free, biodegradable, and GMO-free. Using natural alternatives for household cleaning products will ensure your home is free of any toxic chemicals, just in time for your holiday guests.

Enjoy the tricks and treats of Halloween and stay safe!