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Ingredients we do not use

Numerous ingredients in skincare products can lead to irritation, contact dermatitis, photo-sensitivity, allergic reactions and hyper-pigmentation. While other ingredients may be toxic, carcinogenic, or they may disrupt the skin’s natural processes.

While this is not a big issue in wash off products, such as shampoos and cleansers as they are usually not left on the skin long enough to cause issues, when it comes to leave on products such as moisturisers, creams, and serums, which are left on the skin, it is important to avoid these ingredients.

As such Esoterance ensures that every single ingredient that goes into our products is meticulously researched to ensure that it is completely safe for you, as well as being environmentally-friendly. Here is a list of common cosmetic ingredients that Esoterance completely avoids and why:


Fragrances are one of the most common causes of contact dermatitis and skin allergy in skincare products. Fragrance ingredients can cause vasodialation which can lead to redness, and more likely to become irritated. Some fragrance ingredients can also be co-sensitising, which means that it can make it more likely to make you develop an allergy to another ingredient in the product. Furthermore, fragrance ingredients can oxidise into more irritating compounds. Some fragrance ingredients are photosensitising which can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, and cause more accelerated photo-ageing. Certain fragrance ingredients can also cause hyperpigmentation known as pigmented contact dermatisis.

The most common examples of this are limonene and linalool.

At Esoterance we do not feel the need to add fragrances to our products, as fragrance does not add any beneficial qualities for the skin.

However, while we do not use any added fragrances, we do use a preservative called Naticide, which legally we have to list it as “parfum” in our ingredients list. The reason we chose this preservative is because it ticks all our boxes, being broad spectrum, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-irritating, and environmentally friendly as it is not derived from palm oil.

Naticide is actually derived from vegetables, and has a light almond and vanilla scent which is imparted on our products.

Unfortunately, companies are not required to disclose exactly what fragrances are in their products, as such they can include any number of harmful and irritating ingredients as part of their fragrance and their product will only list “fragrance” as the ingredient. You can rest assured however, that our ingredients listing “Parfum” refers exclusively to the preservative Naticide only.

Essential Oils and Citrus Oils

Similar to fragrances, essential oils can contain sensitizing and allergenic compounds which can cause the same issues as synthetic fragrances. In fact some essential oils contain limonene and linalol as part of their chemical makeup.

Meanwhile citrus oils increase your sensitivity to sunlight. While manufacturers take measures to remove photo-sensitising compounds from them, but they do still contain different compounds that can oxidise, which can cause irritation and lead to allergy.

Common examples include Lime peel oil, lemon oil, citrus oil and bergamont oil.


Phthalates are used in cosmetics as lubricants/softeners. Certain types of phthalates are known to be endocrine and hormone disruptors linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, this is included in many “fragrances” so it is hard to detect in products, which again is also why Esoterance does not use any fragrances.

There are many different types of silicone, and vast majority are safe for the skin and the environment. However certain low molecular silicones have been found in blood plasma of animals (D4, D5 and D6) which are types of siloxanes, may have toxic effects on them.

However, the biggest problem with silicones is the sheer amount of energy it requires to produce them, as they require very high temperature as well as several chemical steps, as such produce large amounts of CO2. As such it is best to limit your silicone in your products to those that truly need them, such as sunscreen, in which case it is best to opt for dimethicone which is both skin safe and environmentally safe. 

Look out for any number of silicones (there are a lot of them), including ingredients that end with “-cone” (eg. methicone), “-conol” (eg. Dimethiconol), “-silane” (eg. triethoxycaprylylsilane crosspolymer), and “-siloxane” (eg. Cyclopentasiloxane).

Petroleum/Mineral oil derivatives

Mineral oil is derived from refined petroleum. Due to the large molecular size of mineral oils, they do not get absorbed into the skin and just sit on the surface creating an occlusive effect. This can be beneficial to some skin types, while detrimental to others. 

Nonetheless, the reason that Esoterance avoids petrolatum derivatives such as mineral oils is due to them being non-renewable, non-eco friendly, and significantly contributing to greenhouse gases and climate change.

There are quite a number of petroleum derived ingredients such as paraffin wax, isopropyl, ingredients with “ethyl” in them, as well as others.

Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is one of the most common preservatives used in skin care. In this form it has been clinically shown to cause inflammation and irritation in some people. 

The other issue with this ingredient is that it can react to form Benzene which is a known toxin and carcinogen. Sodium Benzoate reacts with vitamin C to form Benzene, and vitamin C is very commonly found in skin care, whether on its own or as part of plant extracts which contain vitamin C. Furthermore, exposure to heat, light and even longer storage periods also leads Sodium Benzoate to form Benzene.


This preservative and formula stabiliser is made from petroleum. It is known to cause skin reactions and has a harmful effect on the nervous system. Even the commission on Health and Safety has deemed that this compound is only safe at levels of 1% or lower,  however this safety margin is only necessary for each individual product, and they stated that when using multiple products a day, or the same products daily, it can lead to overexposure.

Drying Alcohols

Not all alcohols are bad, in fact there are some very good ones which help the skin, providing moisture and other benefits, which you will find in our products. However, there are also bad alcohols which include methanol, isopropyl alcohol, propanol, benzyl alcohol and sd alcohol (denatured alcohol) among others. These alcohols are highly drying and irritating to your skin, and may cause inflammation as they strip the skin of its natural protection. These harmful alcohols break down the skin’s barrier, destroying the substances that protects your skin’s health over then long term, leading to worsening of skin issues such as acne, and speeding up ageing.


Polyethylene Glycols (PEG) compounds are commonly used in cosmetics as thickeners and softeners. They also function as absorption enhancers which allows ingredients to be absorbed faster and into deeper parts of skin (which can be a very bad thing if the product contains harmful ingredients).  PEG compounds themselves show some evidence of genotoxicity, and if used on broken skin, they can cause irritation and systemic toxicity. Depending on the manufacturing process, PEGs may also be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both of which are known carcinogens. In fact researchers found as many as 46% of products are contaminated. If this wasn’t bad enough already, PEGs can reduce the skin’s moisture levels and speed up skin ageing.


There are a lot of different types of sulfates, but the ones that are used most commonly are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates are known to strip away valuable moisture and protective barriers, leading to irritation and speed up skin ageing, especially for people with sensitive or dry skin.


EDTA is used as a preservative in skincare products, which comes in either Disodium or Trisodium EDTA. While EDTA itself is quite safe in skincare as it is quite a large particle, the problems with EDTA arise from a couple of other things. For starters EDTA is a penetration enhancer which disrupts the surface of skin cells so that other chemicals can get into your skin. So if a product you are using contains harmful ingredients, it is going to allow more of those harmful ingredients to penetrate your skin. This also means that it allows chemicals in your environment to penetrate more easily, such as chemicals that may be present in your shower water.

The other big problem is that EDTA behaves as a persistent substance in the environment, as it does not biodegrade easily, and we do not yet have the technology to remove it efficiently. This unfortunately means that EDTA contributes to heavy metals bioavailability and remobilization processes in the environment, which is a major concern. Especially because it can end up in drinking water and soil used for agriculture as consumption can cause kidney damage, dangerously low calcium levels, hormone disruption, and death.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is derived from petroleum. The main concern is that it has been clinically shown to cause contact dermatitis in some people. Especially those with sensitive skin, eczema or other skin disorders. The other concern is that it is also a penetration enhancer, which may make your skin more prone to pollutants, which would otherwise not be able to penetrate your skin.


Hydroxyethylcellulose is made by reacting ethylene oxide with alkali-cellulose, a process known as ethoxylation. Like PEG, the process of Ethoxylation creates small amounts of 1,4-dioxane as well as leave residual ethylene oxide in the product. Both 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide are carcinogenic, and penetrate readily into the skin. Skin contact with these chemicals can also cause redness, blistering, ulceration and allergic contact dermatitis. Manufacturing processes attempt to remove this, however studies found that as many a 46% of skincare products were found to be contaminated with these compounds. Unless every single batch is tested for contamination, it is impossible to know which products are contaminated, unless ingredients created with ethoxylation are  avoided entirely.

Palstic (Carbomers/Crosspolymers)

Yes it might be surprising, but a lot of cosmetic products contain plastic in them. While in their purest form they are not significantly harmful, as their particle size is too large to penetrate the skin, however the problem comes from the fact that they are derived from petrochemicals, and often polymerized in benzene. As such when used in skincare products, they often contaminate the product with harmful chemicals such as benzene, ethylene, and dioxane. The other problem with these of course is their environmental impact. 
Look out for ingredients which these in their name: Carbomer, polyethylene, acrylates, alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dimethicone crosspolymer etc.

 Palm Oil and its derivatives

The palm oil industry is responsible for vast amounts of deforestation, habitat loss, killing of animals, as well as trafficking, slavery and forced labour of both adults and children. Investigations have uncovered that even certified palm oil is guilty of these, and often uncertified palm oil is sold as certified.

Unfortunately palm oil sneaks into cosmetics in so many ways, including active ingredients, emulsifiers and preservatives. For more information and a list of palm oil derived ingredients check out our article on palm oil.

Other ingredients we do not use

Along with the previously mentioned ingredients, Esoterance also does not add parabens, formaldehyde, synthetic colours, dioxin, triciosan, diethanolamine, monoethanolamine, and triethanomlamine to any of our products. We ensure that all our products are of the highest safety.


We will be posting more detailed articles about some of these ingredients on our blog, so make sure to check them out!