12 Ingredients to Avoid in Your Beauty Products

At a minimum, you expect your cosmetic and skincare products to improve your appearance. You certainly don't expect your beauty routine to reduce the quality of your skin or health, but there are some ingredients commonly used in cosmetic and toiletry products that cause concern to many experts in the beauty field.

Aimee Phlegar of Beauty Empowered Wellness; Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and author of "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist"; and Terresa Clark, the creative director of all-natural, mineral-based cosmetics company Alima Pure, weigh in on the ingredients you should avoid when buying cosmetics or beauty products.


1. Fragrance/Perfume

One ingredient all the experts advise avoiding is artificial fragrances or perfumes. All recommend using fragrance-free products whenever possible, as added perfumes cause many allergic reactions.


2. Triethanolamine

Used to adjust pH and balance ingredients that don’t dissolve in water, triethanolamine can be found in many moisturizers, body and facial cleansers, shampoos, shaving creams and makeup removers. It can cause contact allergies, dry out your skin and irritate your eyes.


3. Parabens

Used as a preservative in deodorants, toothpaste and moisturizers. According to Clark, parabens are endocrine disruptors and neurotoxic. There is also evidence that parabens are carcinogenic.


4. Nanoparticles

These extremely tiny particles are used in products such as sunscreen, foundation, concealers and anti-aging creams. Some health experts are concerned that nanoparticles can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream, thus spreading to all areas of the body.


5. Triclosan

Commonly used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent in athlete’s foot medications, hand soap, toothpaste and face wash, Clark calls triclosan, “an endocrine disruptor that also enables bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant.”


6. Phthalates

Used as solvents in products such as nail polish, perfume, hairspray and deodorant, phthalates have come under considerable fire as potentially harmful. Animal studies suggest they can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system.


7. Retinal Palmitate

Jaliman comments, "I would avoid retinal palmitate in sunscreens. This ingredient is related to retinol. Since retinol makes you sun sensitive, retinal palmitate also makes you sun sensitive."


8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

A detergent used in many soaps and shampoos, sodium lauryl sulfate is a known skin and eye irritant. It can be overly drying and is best avoided by those with sensitive skin.


9. Formaldehyde

Used as a preservative and fixative in nail polish, deodorants, soaps and shampoos. Phlegar warns, “Also known as formalin, formal and methyl aldehyde, formaldehyde is a suspected human carcinogen and has caused lung cancer in rats.”


10. Talc

Used in many face and body powders, foundations and blushes, talc is similar to asbestos. The tiny talc fibers irritate the lungs and are associated with lung tumors and ovarian cancer.


11. Toluene

Used in nail polish and nail glues, toluene is a neurotoxin and potentially can damage the liver, disrupt the endocrine system and cause asthma, according to Phlegar.


12. Lead

Recent FDA testing revealed that trace amounts of lead are in many popular lipsticks. Though the detected amount of the heavy metal was low, lead is very toxic and can accumulate in the nervous system, along with damaging the kidneys, liver and reproductive system.

Most cosmetic and beauty products are completely safe for use, and though they might not live up to their lofty marketing claims, do at least clean your skin, even out your complexion, color your lips or whatever other purposes they are intended to serve. But to keep your body healthy, as well as looking good, check the ingredient list before buying a new beauty or toiletry product. If you spot an ingredient known to be a troublemaker, look for another product that is friendlier to your health.


1 Review
Richard Lumpkin Richard Lumpkin
Lawrenceville Ga
Great advice

This is great advice. thank you

January 2014

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16 Nov 2013

By by Michelle Ullman | Mar 1, 2013