The lowdown on synthetic parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates and phthalates, and why you should avoid them

Navigating the skincare world can be tricky, you just need to attempt to read the label on the back of most products to be bamboozled. Often brands claim to be natural, however their products can still contain harsh ingredients like synthetic parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates and phthalates. If you just read all of those words and have no idea what they mean, don’t stress, beauty! We’re here to give you the lowdown on all these ingredients, and why you should be avoiding them.

Synthetic Parabens

Let’s start with the basics. Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in products ranging from cosmetics through to food. If you were to read the ingredients list, common parabens you may come across are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben.

Parabens are there to extend the shelf life of products and prevent the growth of bacteria or mold. The situation gets sticky when you realise parabens can be absorbed through the skin or by being swallowed via food, so the small amounts you take in add up over time and linger in the body. If this happens, instead of only getting those small doses that are allowed in products, we instead exceed recommended limits because they stay in the bloodstream and accumulate over time.

Our recommendation is to not only be conscious of what you put in your body, but to go even further and be careful about what you put on your skin. That’s why our skincare range is 100% natural, so you don’t have to worry about putting any nasties on your skin where they can be absorbed into your body.


Petrochemicals are commonly derived from (you guessed it) petroleum or natural gas. Not only are these ingredients problematic for your skin, but they’re damaging to our environment as well. Petrochemicals are often used to extend the shelf life of products or disperse fragrances in products. While there isn’t any definitive evidence, petrochemicals have been linked to some serious illnesses, and some have reported them to be irritating, sensitising and drying to the skin, effectively doing more harm than good. We think it’s best to avoid these types of ingredients where you can.


Sulphates are derived from Sulphur or petroleum and are added to products to create a lathering effect, so you feel cleaner after using them. The two sulphates you’ll come across most often are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Both of these ingredients can cause irritation to the eyes, scalp, skin and lungs (especially when they’re being used long term!).


Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to ‘plasticise’ products or make them more durable. The European Union have banned phthalates in all of their cosmetics, but they are still found in products all over the world. There are still conflicting ideas around just how harmful these are to us, but studies have flagged the dangers of them for pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding.

Although most of these ingredients are part of ongoing studies to investigate their impacts on people, even the chance that our skincare could contribute to a myriad of health issues is enough to put us off. We are passionate about safe and ethical skincare, which is why Bohemian Skin is 100% natural, organic certified, vegan and cruelty-free. We want to help your skin feel amazing and put your mind at ease knowing you aren’t putting anything harmful on your skin.

Click here to view our full range.

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