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Chemicals in Beauty Products to Avoid

We all want to look and feel beautiful.

But at what cost?

There are a surprising amount of chemicals found in beauty products that may irritate skin and cause certain conditions.

Most Americans have no idea what they’re putting on their bodies and tend to just look for pretty packaging and claims like “look younger.”

It’s important that we know what we are putting on our bodies without falling subject to promising and sweeping, unsubstantiated claims.

Here are some of the most commonly used ingredients in beauty products that you might want to avoid.

Common Beauty Product Ingredients to Watch Out For

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Start looking at your beauty products and you’ll probably see this ingredient listed.

Sodium lauryl sulfate is in many common products such as shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash, and toothpaste.

So, you could potentially have this ingredient in your hair, all over your body, on your face, and in your mouth.


This ingredient is very harsh on the skin and tends to dry it out more than help it.

The worst part:

It’s widely believed that sodium lauryl sulfate is a major contributing factor in cystic acne, especially around the chin and mouth.

That means that you could be using a face wash that claims to help with acne but could be the root cause of your breakouts.

Très tragique!

Gentler products without this ingredient do a better job at cleansing skin without causing skin irritation and acne.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

BHA is commonly found in exfoliants and fragrances such as body spray or perfume.

Get this:

BHA can actually cause skin depigmentation.

Although, studies and research are limited, BHA has been classified as a possible human carcinogen.

Long-term exposure in high doses has caused liver, thyroid, and kidney problems for mice and rats.

There are also people that claim that BHA interferes with normal hormone levels and reproductive system development.

The European Union has actually determined the ingredient unsafe for fragrances.


This is another extremely common ingredient that you have problem seen.

Makeup, moisturizer, shaving cream, shampoo, and spray tan products have all been known to contain parabens.

Start noticing that there are now a lot of products that are labeled “paraben-free.”

And for a good reason.

The FDA has actually acknowledged certain links between parabens and breast cancer, skin cancer, and decreased sperm count.

However, parabens have not been deemed harmful by the FDA despite these links.

Parabens mimic estrogen which is why it’s also been linked to certain reproductive and developmental disorders.


Retinol is the magic product that gets rid of wrinkles and makes skin firmer.

This has become increasingly important as the emphasis of aging well, which means no wrinkles, has become vital.

Why are wrinkles such a bad thing anyway?

There are moisturizers, lip products, sunscreens, and anti-aging creams that contain retinol.

There are also retinol pills and other oral products which have been known to cause birth defects.

For this reason, doctors will also usually tell pregnant women to stay away from retinol topical products, just in case.

Here’s the kicker:

Retinol can become a carcinogen when it’s exposed to sunlight. This makes sunscreens with retinol extra dangerous.

Talk about ironic…

This is often why you’ll see retinol in night creams when you’re less likely to be out in the sun.

Personally, I’d rather have the wrinkles.


Body and lip scrubs are the most common culprit for containing polyethylene.

Those tiny little beads that are used for exfoliating lip and body scrubs are tiny beads of polyethylene.

This chemical was created because it’s gentler on the skin as an exfoliant instead of natural materials like walnut.

Despite your body scrub’s claim to help make your skin “glow”, polyethylene has actually been labeled as a skin irritant.

This means it shouldn’t be used on broken skin which could cause further damage.

Ready for this?

Polyethylene is not filtered in the sewage system.

This means that those little beads can collect pollutants then stack up in the waterways. That means that not only is polyethylene bad for you, it’s bad for marine life as well.

Think about Nemo next time you use your favorite “glowing” scrub.


Everyone loves the smell of their favorite beauty products.

How many times have you stood in the deodorant aisle smelling all of the different varieties until you’ve decided which one smelled the best?

My guess is…a lot.

The smell of our beauty products is very important to us. It helps us feel better and cleaner when products have an added scent.

Basically, anything that smells good can contain fragrances. Things like shampoos, deodorants, and lotions are typically full of fragrances.

Here’s the problem:

Federal law doesn’t require companies to list the ingredients in their fragrance mixture. So you’ll commonly see the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list.

What’s in the “fragrance?”

Well, anything the company wants to put in the product to make it smell good.

Fragrances are a really common allergen and can be the cause of a lot of skin problems including rashes.

Babies are particularly susceptible to skin irritation because of fragrances. Gentle fragrance-free lotions and washes are usually the best for little ones.

A More Natural Approach

There are so many natural products that can be used as alternatives to products containing harmful chemicals.

Many of these products you’ll most likely already have in your home! That means you’ll save yourself from buying an expensive jar of anti-aging cream because you’ll have a home remedy for it in your cupboards.

Here are some home remedies for all your beauty needs.


Not only can you use turmeric to give your food a classic Indian twist, you can also use it to reduce inflammation in the skin, clear dandruff, and get rid of cracked heels.

Turmeric can either be consumed as a supplement for certain benefits or it can be applied directly to the skin without the worry of toxic chemicals.


Rosewater naturally smells good so there are no added fragrances.

Rosewater is great to spritz yourself with to keep smelling fresh, or to put on your face as a toner since rosewater is a natural astringent.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has started to become more popular as people realize it’s true potential.

It can be used as a hair mask, moisturizer, makeup remover, or chapstick.

Don’t stop there!

Add some coconut to your coffee or smoothies for a dose of healthy fat and added flavor.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial. This combination makes it perfect to help balance the pH levels on your skin.

Using apple cider vinegar on your skin will get rid of bacteria and tone it at the same time. It can also remove residue buildup from hair.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a natural astringent which means it’s great for toning.

It’s also been said that witch hazel has a little bit of its own magic.

Put a little bit of witch hazel around your eyes and watch as the puffiness and tiredness disappears.

Witch hazel can also be used to treat acne and get rid of bruises.

Your beauty repertoire might not be complete without this.

There’s the Rub

So, what’s the bottom line?

Well, pay attention to what you’re putting in and on your body!


You might be distracted by the shiny packaging and fancy claims that are often associated with beauty products but don’t let that distract you from taking a quick look at the ingredients list.

You could prevent exacerbating a problem you’re buying the product to remedy, after all.

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