7 Bad Beauty Product Ingredients You Didn’t Know You Were Using

Beauty products are meant to make you beautiful, but what if they’re making you sick instead? Yep! Some ingredients hurt your skin and health, instead.

Do you know that you are more likely to absorb harmful chemicals directly in your blood stream if you put them on your skin, rather than if you ingested them? The fact that side effects are common in topical ointments supports claim of high absorption rates through the skin. I’m not just talking about topical medication here, but even ingredients from everyday beauty and skin care products. This includes most of the stuff we mindlessly slather on like lotion, shampoo, soap, makeup and creams.

I am no alarmist, and I don’t like to frighten people with unfounded facts. But as an avid beauty and skin care product junkie, I am quite particular about the things I put on my skin. In my continuous quest for health and beauty (i.e. softer and clearer skin, acne-less forehead, brighter underarms – don’t ask, whiter teeth and the like) I want to make sure that I get results without compromising my health. That said, I did a lot of research and I’ve compiled a list of some rather “bad” beauty product ingredients that I have been using for some time and didn’t know were bad for my health.

#1 BHA

As a preservative and stabilizer, Butylated Hydroxyanisole or BHA is a common ingredient in almost all sorts of skin care products. This ingredient is anticipated to be a carcinogen, especially when used on the lips and in higher concentrations. While the concentration of BHA in your regular beauty products may not be enough to cause cancer, it still pays to be extra cautious. This ingredient has also been found to increase skin sensitivity to the sun’s rays.

#2 Mineral Oil


Mineral oil comes from petroleum, so repeated exposure to non-purified versions of it may cause skin cancer, too. Mineral oil is also comedogenic, meaning it clogs pores and can lead to acne breakouts and other related problems. This ingredient is usually found in lotions, makeup, bubble bath, makeup remover, concealer and lip gloss. But don’t just stop at your beauty products, if you have a baby, you may want to take a look at her products as well because mineral oil is a common component in baby butt cream, lotion and baby oil.

#3 Talc

You know that asbestos is bad, right? What if I told you that by using talc, you’re putting asbestiform fibre on your skin? We’re not talking about all types of talc here, but you can never be too sure. This ingredient is usually found in powder-like products such as face powder, foundation, concealers, eye shadows, blush and bronzer.

#4 Parabens

Parabens are very common ingredients in skin and beauty products, as they are present in a whopping 75 to 90 percent of all products available in the market as they are used as preservatives. This ingredient has been known to disrupt the endocrine system, causing low sperm count (warn your partners!) and increasing the risk of breast cancer in women. Skin care companies argue that the amount of paraben in most products are very minimal and are not concentrated enough to interfere with the hormones, but still, it can be a cause for worry.

#5 Phthalates


These are used in personal care products to increase the softness and flexibility of some plastics. Phthalates are usually found in lotions, perfumes, hair sprays and nail polish and have been linked with reproductive health problems, increased risk of breast cancer and early breast development for girls.

#6 Formaldehyde

Remember your college or high school biology? Well, formaldehyde is the very same compound used to keep frogs in to preserve them for dissection. This ingredient is also used in many cosmetic products to prevent bacterial growth and is unfortunately recognized as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Carcinogens or IARC. It can also cause skin irritation and allergic reaction and is found to be harmful to the immune system. Formaldehyde is present in many products such as shampoos, conditioners, body washes, nail polish and other nail treatments.

#7 Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLES/SLS)


These are surfactants that are present in cleaning products such as soap, shampoo and cleansers. SLS and SLES’s are known to irritate the skin, eyes and lungs. However, one of the major concerns about these ingredients is that they have the possibility to combine with other chemicals and form nitrosamines, which are carcinogens as well.

Here’s What You Can Do

Most mainstream beauty and skin care products have one or a few of these ingredients in it, making it completely impossible to avoid these synthetic chemicals. So what’s a girl to do?

You can start by making it a point to limit the amount of toxins that you expose your body to. Educate yourself before buying and research about better alternatives and substitutes. Read labels and see if they contain these ingredients. You can also do a complete overhaul of all the products that you own and replace them with organic ones instead.

Lastly, don’t just stop with your skin. If you can manage to reduce the amount of toxins that you eat and drink on a daily basis, then by all means, do so. Your body will thank you for it.

About the author

Justine R

On an eternal quest for happiness, Justine tries to lead a positive lifestyle by giving back to the universe and following natural approaches to parenting, health, food and beauty. When she's not on the beach, she keeps herself fit (and sane) by running and doing yoga.

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