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Seven toxic ingredients to watch out for in makeup, skincare products


Everyone loves to look and feel good, and for this reason, we invest a lot of money in beauty products. The downside, however, is there are a lot of chemicals in these products you may not be aware of that are actually harmful to your skin and health.

The government isn’t very strict with regulating cosmetic products and for this reason, there is very little to no pre-product approval before a product hits the market and enters your home. A minuscule approval process exists, but only for colour additives and ingredients classified as over-the-counter drugs.

Many of these synthetic chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters and are carcinogenic, in other words, very harmful and should be totally avoided.

Always be on the lookout when you see the following ingredients and avoid products that have them.


Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
This can be found in shampoo, body wash, foundation, face wash, mouthwash, and toothpaste. SLS has been shown to cause or contribute to skin irritation, canker sores, disruptions of skin’s natural oil balance and eye damage. It is also widely believed to be a major contributor to acne, especially cystic acne around the mouth and chin.

This can be found in makeup, moisturiser, shaving gel, shampoo and personal lubricant products. Several studies have linked parabens, which mimic estrogen, to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count, but has not ruled that it is harmful. According to studies, longer chain parabens can also disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Always look out for ingredients with the suffix “-paraben” as well. Paraben-free products will be labeled as such.

Usually found in skin lighteners, this skin-bleaching chemical can cause ochronosis, with disfiguring and irreversible red, black and green lesions on the exposed skin. Illegally imported skin lighteners can contain mercury, which can poison adults and children and is toxic during pregnancy. Be wary of imported skin lighteners, don’t buy products without ingredients clearly labeled, and always avoid products with “mercury,” “calomel”, “mercurio” or “mercurio chloride” in them.

Found in many products such as perfume, cologne, conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers, this particular category is pretty scary, because what does “fragrance” mean anyway? This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer, you could be putting on a concoction that contains tons of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. Fragrance mixes usually have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows and nail polish treatments, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen and has been linked to occupational related cancers. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and may also be harmful to the immune system.


Petroleum jelly and mineral oil
Found in Skincare, body care, lip balm and makeup, petroleum jelly and mineral oil are commonly used as emollients and lubricants. But these ingredients are sometimes contaminated with impurities linked to cancer, and can cause skin irritation and acne.

A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it is added to fragrances. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturizers.

Educate yourself and do your research before you buy any products and, also look out for healthier alternatives or, if you can, do them yourself.


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