Top 10 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Products

We know to look for ingredients in the food we eat – but does anyone look for what toxic ingredients are in our skincare and makeup products? Not many people. But we should, because what we put on our body is just as important as what goes in them.

Everything from face washes to sunscreens can have ingredients that cause serious health issues.  With so many different studies on this topic, it can be tough to figure out what’s what. But something everyone can agree on is turning to natural products (or even making your own) for the safest choice for you and the environment.

So whether you’re making your own or having a keener eye when searching the shelves, here are the top 10 ingredients you’ll definitely want to skip over:

  1. “Fragrance” aka Phthalates

You’ll find this in just about anything, from deodorants and lotions to creams and shampoos – anything that includes a fragrance or scent.  The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label represents an undisclosed mixture of various synthetic scent chemicals used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate.  Phthalates are highly toxic and are known endocrine/hormone disruptors.

  1. Parabens

Found in everything from shaving gels, shampoos, moisturizers, and make up to personal lubricants, these estrogen-mimicking ingredients have been linked to skin cancer, breast cancer and decreased sperm count.

  1. BHA

Found in both perfume and exfoliants, butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA) has been deemed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program. Not only can it cause skin depigmentation, but animal studies reveal liver damage and stomach cancer.

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

You’ll find this in a lot of different body washes, face washes, foundations, shampoos, and dental products. SLS can cause skin irritation, eye damage, and canker sores, and has been linked to acne.  

  1. Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylendiamine (Coal Tar)

Mostly in hair dye and shampoos, coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing, which is widely known as a human carcinogen. Europe has banned a lot of these ingredients in hair dyes.

  1. Triclosan and Triclocarban

These two have been linked to everything from increased allergies to impaired immune function and muscle function, yet you’ll find it in toothpaste soaps and deodorant.

  1. Polyethylene/Pegs

You’ll recognize this from those small beads in various kinds of scrubs, makeups, body washes and toothpastes. They often contain 1,2-dioxane, which has been deemed as a likely human carcinogen.

  1. Petroleum Distillates

Mascara is the main culprit here, but cosmetics with this ingredient can cause dermatitis, since they often come in contact with cancer-causing pollutions.

  1. Toluene and Formaldehyde

Found in nail products, such as polish, these ingredients are called the “toxic trio,” and have been linked to serious health issues, including headaches, birth defects and respiratory problems.

  1. Oxybenzone

Sunscreen is supposed to protect your skin, but because Oxybenzone is a high-risk chemical, it can act as estrogen in your body or mess with sperm production.