Toxic Beauty: 7 Terrifying Ingredients to Avoid 😲

toxic beauty ingredients

A few weeks ago, a friend and I started discussing skincare. I’m constantly facing sensitivity issues, so it’s challenging for me to find skincare products and cosmetics that heal and conceal.

When I shared my little sob story, my friend suggested that my issue may not be “problem skin” after all. Toxic beauty ingredients may actually be to blame.

Initially, I scoffed at the idea. But I buy quality products, I thought. While we were on the phone, I looked at my daily concealer just to prove to myself that its ingredients are A-OK.

Surprise, surprise: The very first ingredient made her list of major no-nos.

Could she be right? Are chemicals wrecking my skin? And if so, what else are they doing to my body’s overall health?

The Case for Green Beauty: Do Chemicals Really Matter?

Here’s an interesting fact: Europe has banned over 1,200 chemicals from its manufactured beauty products. On the other hand, the United States has only banned 10.

To replace most of these toxic compounds, companies need to use costlier natural ingredients.

Furthermore, these toxic go-tos usually boost beauty products’ shelf lives. From a business sense, using toxic ingredients is a smart move. But for the consumer? It totally sucks.

The term “toxic” is primarily used to describe three specific reactions in the human body:

  • Carcinogens (cancer-causing)
  • Hormone disruptors
  • Neurotoxins (poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue)

Um, yikes. Up until now, I assumed that using shampoo with sulfates only led to hair breakage.

Apparently, the truth is way worse than I ever imagined.

7 Toxic Beauty Ingredients to Avoid Altogether

Get ready to examine your labels. Here are seven of the worst offenders:

1. Propylene Glycol

This solvent is the principle ingredient found in antifreeze… oh, and skin cleansers, deodorants, shampoo, and toothpaste, for that matter.

In fact, propylene glycol is even used in packaged baked goods. But there’s nothing sweet about this toxic chemical.

It’s actually banned in Europe due to its associations with brain, liver, and kidney malfunction.

2. Mineral Oil

This petroleum by-product suffocates the skin and clogs pores, plus it interferes with the skin’s natural ability to release toxins. But even more shocking?

It’s linked to testicular tumors and poor nutrient absorption in developing fetuses.

Look for this “gem” in baby oil, styling gels, and a wide variety of moisturizers and cosmetics.

3. Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide is found in Drano and a long list of popular kitchen cleaners.

It’s also a staple ingredient in toothpaste, soaps, and facial cleansers — despite the fact that it’s officially classified as a poison.

4. Parabens

We’ve all heard of parabens — and for good reason. These chemicals are used as preservatives in plenty of beauty and skincare products (even though they mess with your body’s hormone levels).

Another perk? They’re linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity.

5. Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium laureth sulfate is actually used in 90% of personal care products. Sounds super safe, right?


Instead, this foaming detergent is linked to eye damage, skin irritation, and even death in laboratory animals.

So much for thinking sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners only prevent split ends.

6. Diethyl Phthalate

Did you know that fragrances contain around 4,000 ingredients, and animal urine is usually one of them?

Yeah, me neither.

Diethyl phthalate is one of these ingredients, and it’s associated with all kinds of fun side effects like allergies, dermatitis, hormonal disturbances, headaches, dizziness, and asthma.

7. Triclosan

The best thing I’ve read about triclosan? It’s “similar to Agent Orange.” Wow.

This ridiculous ingredient is found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, and deodorants… but it’s classified as a pesticide.

Furthermore, it’s linked to cancer and endocrine disruption.

There are so many toxic beauty ingredients out there, it’s almost impossible to list them all.

Even scarier? The average woman uses 12 beauty products each day, exposing herself to anywhere from 120 to 515 chemicals in the process.

Time to check your labels, ladies! Which of these toxic beauty ingredients are hiding in your products?

Lesley Sheridan is a high-maintenance fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer who thinks she’s low-maintenance. (Yes, she stole that line from When Harry Met Sally.) In addition to writing for The Local Lifestyle, her work regularly appears on Zenni Optical and Slickdeals. Make her day by sending her a tweet.

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