5 Nasty Skincare Brands To Avoid

Everyone talks about their favourite skincare brands and products, but never the ones they despise. Sadly, not every company thinks it’s best to use nourishing, kind ingredients when formulating their products. Instead, they choose fillers, chemicals, and skin irritants because of their low cost. Oh, and if you don’t have any luck with their product they have a solution; try their extra-strength formulation! Which, lovingly, is filled with even more harmful ingredients. Now most people here would say natural and organic is best, but even if something is derived from a plant there is still a risk of irritation. Most of these products only exist because they are affordable to most people or they market to people without familiarity with the ingredients involved in skincare. I can imagine there may exist a few products in each of the following’s offerings, but it’s far easier to just avoid them.


The Devil in sheep’s clothing. Billed as the gentle cleansing option, Cetaphil hasn’t a single ingredient going for it. Water makes up the base, two alcohols serve to emulsify, sodium lauryl sulfate dries the skin under the guise of ‘cleaning’, and the rest are preservatives. Nothing in Cetaphil will help your skin, no matter what your dermatologist says. Cetaphil sends endless samples of their products to dermatologists around the world, and because there are no synthetic dyes or fragrances in the formulation doctors recommend it. That’s true, but it won’t do anything good for you either and I find the entire relationship highly unethical.

Clean & Clear

The Devil in plain sight. Held as the Holy Grail by teenagers around the world, Clean & Clear is a tried-and-true example of how disgusting a company can be. Their website is plastered with tips on treating acne, but it is obvious their products are far from being formulated for the purpose. Their cleansers contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sodium lauryl sulfate; all manufactured through a chemical-laden process. They use artificial fragrances and colours. Their toners are formulated with alcohol and fragrance. Their moisturizers use glycerin, which is the cheapest way to provide a ‘moisturized’ feeling. There is nothing to balance skin, nothing to calm inflammation, and nothing to nourish. Clean & Clear is just one chemical after the other.


A controversial addition to this list, I’m sure, but you should not be shopping for skincare at Lush. Most of their skincare products are formulated with essential oils for fragrance, which are known skin irritants for many people. Their famous Mask of Magnanimity? Peppermint oil, vanilla absolute, and other unlisted fragrances. Most of their cleaners also exist to physically exfoliate, which is abrasive and damaging to the skin. Tea tree oil, a skin irritant when applied to broken skin, is also a common ingredient in Lush formulations. Oh, and they want you to put it on blemishes. Skip the skincare at Lush.


While it may look like the ‘adult’ skincare brand of choice in your local drug store, Neutrogena uses plenty of fragrance in their products. They push their grapefruit line for acne treatment, even though grapefruit is very irritating to broken skin. Most of their cleaners are formulated with salicylic acid, even though the amount of it is so tiny you won’t even see a difference.
What is worse is the Neutrogena Naturals line, which uses the word ‘natural’ to appear safe and nourishing. Instead, they use ingredients like menthol and include tiny abrasive beads to ‘scrub’ skin clean. That this line even exists is an insult to other brands formulating good products with natural ingredients.


Perhaps the most ridiculous on this list, the entire Clarisonic line is a joke. A $200+ brush to scrub your face? All the Clarisonic achieves is abrasion causing inflammation, disruption to the skin’s acid mantle, and the elimination of necessary dead skin cells. The brushes harbour bacteria, cost $30, and will sit for years in the landfill. Their cleansers are formulated with fragrance and essential oils, all far from beneficial to skin.

I can imagine there are diamonds in the rough of all of these brands, but the bad products far outweigh any good. I don’t think skincare should be an expensive or elitist thing, and more expensive isn’t always the way to go. I will be doing two posts soon, one on my favourite drugstore skincare brands, and another post on Sephora/department store brands. There is a rewarding skincare routine for everyone if you do your research!


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