Helpful or Harmful? A Look at Common Skincare Ingredients Big Brands Are Using


We live in a time when everyone strives to be better and do better. And what better way to start your clean life, than taking care of yourself and your skin with the best ingredients. 

Although there are so many natural alternatives, a lot of big brands still decide to use harmful ingredients. Those can do more damage than good. 

This is the perfect time to educate yourself and learn what you have to avoid when buying skincare products. We prepared a short list that will help you be more prepared next time you’re doing a shopping haul.


Hydroquinone is a chemical compound that has the ability to brighten hyperpigmentation. It’s often added in skincare products and affects the melanocytes in the skin. Melanocytes produce melanin, the skin pigment that can cause discolourations, hyperpigmentation, spots, melasma, and more. 

As we’re all striving for an even skin tone trying to get rid of imperfections, brightening ingredients sound like a solution to so many problems. This compound attacks and decreases the production of melanocytes, leading to brighter skin. But the effect is only temporary. Unfortunately, hydroquinone is possibly considered as a carcinogen, and some researches show that it can cause dryness, irritation, alterations, black and bluish skin pigmentation and more.

You can actually find skincare products containing natural skin-lightening ingredients and avoid ‘chemical’ parts. Opt for kojic acid, niacinamide, Vitamin C or ellagic acid. All these have a similar effect to the one provided by hydroquinone, but you’re choosing harmless way to treat your skin. If you still decide to use a product that contains this chemical compound make sure to protect your skin with sunscreen and consult a professional.


Sure, we all want our skincare products to smell nice, but what a lot of people don’t understand is that fragrance can be very harsh to the skin. The true problem is that it is not a necessity when formulating a product, but so many brands unfortunately still decide to use it. Keep your eyes open and stay away from fragrances in skincare! This is especially important for ladies with dry and sensitive skin. Fragrance-free products will lead you one step closer to that flawless complexion without a sign of irritation, redness or dryness. Another huge side effect of these chemicals is the possibility of an allergic reaction.

The only reason why so many brands still decide to include fragrance in their lines is that customers are attracted by the nice smell. Artificial fragrances are also much cheaper compared to natural scents. Once you properly educate yourself, you will never ever want to buy another thing with this group of unnecessary ingredients. If you want to smell nice, there is a much easier and safer way to go- buy yourself a nice perfume with the help of an online guide.

Salicylic Acid

Reading the word acid in a skincare product sure sounds scary and unsafe, but that’s not quite the case. In modern skincare, so many people prefer to use chemical exfoliation instead of mechanical. Salicylic acid is an ingredient that you’ll often stumble upon these days. You might wonder what it does for your skin since the name sounds so harsh. Worry not, this beta hydroxy acid is great at fighting acne, delivers deep exfoliation, unclogs pores, treats inflammation and more. It’s becoming more and more popular in the skincare world and comes as a part of different products, including toners, face washes, serums.

Salicylic acid is completely safe when properly used. The secret is to start small and work your way up. In the beginning, this acid can cause mild tingling and redness, but your skin will slowly build a tolerance. That is why you should follow the instructions labelled on the product. The best way to start, as with any other new product you’re trying, is to do a patch test. If you notice that it’s too drying for your skin or it’s causing a more noticeable irritation, you should stop using it. It’s not the ideal ingredient for sensitive and dry skin.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has long been praised as a great friend to the skin in so many ways. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is a very common ingredient so many people love. Vitamin C belongs to the group of antioxidants, which treat dull skin, uneven skin tone, fight signs of ageing, promote the production of collagen, treat hyperpigmentation and spots, and many more.

Aside from taking this vitamin as a pill, all these benefits become even greater once you apply it directly on your skin. It’s officially time for you to find a new favourite Vitamin C serum that will give you a youthful glow. As with any other skincare product, make sure to read the instructions and follow them properly.

Two bottles of vitamin C on a yellow background. Food additives scattered on the surface. Mock Up.


The fact that some skincare ingredients are present in a number of products does not make them safe. There is no way that you can know every single ingredient, but what you can do is read, learn, and find out what is best for your skin type. By switching to clean beauty you will notice huge benefits while also finding products that don’t break the bank. The skincare brands that are currently leading a revolution in beauty are the ones that are ditching chemicals and swapping them for natural alternatives. Not all products that are advertised as natural are really natural, so taking the time do to research will be worth it.

Meheret Hailemelekot

Bio: Meheret Hailemelekot is a Marketing Assistant at Myer and has worked with such iconic Australians brands as Jetstar, Snooze, and UniSuper.