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Dangerous makeup ingredients: 5 You should avoid

With a background in fine arts and a passion for fashion, Sébastien Tardif has worked as a makeup artist in more than 20 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Sébastien has collaborated with award-winning fashion designers...

The culprits of cosmetics

Whether you like to shop online or in the actual aisle of your favorite beauty store, it's hard not to notice all the anti-aging and beautifying results the industry promises. With all the positive results these products promise, it's hard to believe that in the long run, they could turn out to be quite harmful to our health. Unfortunately, many ingredients in our favorite products do more harm than good.

Woman applying lip gloss

The beauty background

chemicals

Many big time corporations and their board of directors always want to squeeze more profit from every beauty brand and in doing so, they often leave the product development team with no other option but to use cheap ingredients and/or questionable filler options. Although some studies may have resulted in inconclusive findings about this topic, and/or may require further research, more often than not, a lot of said studies are funded by the very same companies pushing these kind of cheap ingredients.

Unless you possess a chemistry background, deciphering or even attempting to pronounce some of the words listed as ingredients of a cosmetic product can sometimes represent a bit of a challenge. To help identify some of the culprits next time you find yourself scrolling down the back of a skin care jar, here are five of my least favorite ingredients to zoom in on. It's up to you to decide whether to avoid them or not, but it's always better to be safe than sorry!

Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics to help prevent the growth of bacteria. They are controversial as they have been found in breast cancer tumors and also have shown slight abilities to mimic the estrogen hormone (which plays an important role in breast cancer development). Parabens also have been shown to contribute to increased skin aging and DNA damage.

Phthalates

Phthalates are used as a solvent in cosmetics to help other agents dissolve better in creating a solution. Phthalates are known to cause reproductive and developmental toxicity, which in turn can possibly lead to detrimental health issues such as cancer.

Triclosan

Used as an antibacterial agent, triclosan is suspected of interfering with hormone function and may increase incidence of allergies (irritant). It can potentially interfere with aquatic life as it does not easily degrade (from your shower to drain, to sewage system to rivers and lakes…). Triclosan may also contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Propylene glycol (also known as antifreeze!)

Used as a detergent, solvent, wetting agent, foaming agent and conditioning agent, repeat exposure to propylene glycol can cause buildup in the system and may lead to skin irritation, nausea, headaches and more.

Mineral oil (petroleum)

This is a moisturizing agent (used to lock moisture against skin) and is also part of the formulation for perfume in cosmetics. It is a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. Mineral oil is the leftover liquid. It is so abundant that it is more expensive to dispose of than it is to purchase! It has been known to potentially clog pores and could also decrease lung function, leading to pneumonia. Being a petrochemical, we all know that this industry is as non-environmentally sound as they come; a non-renewable source of energy/effective root cause to global warming.

The bottom line?

If we all paid more attention to what we put on our face and looked at the ingredient list instead of falling for the latest sensational ad campaign, the cosmetics giants would have no other choice than to revise their overall offerings. Your money is the clearest way to get through. As quarterly sales results pulse in with mediocre performance, make no mistake, the cosmetic giants will quickly change their tunes and turn to safer ingredient options, period, end of story. Let’s make this cosmetic world a safer place for us all and carry on shopping with better discernment.

More makeup tips

The top makeup trends from New York Fashion Week
The secret to getting illuminated skin
Make up your mind: Does your makeup make you look older?

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