Skincare

Here’s How These Common Beauty Ingredients Affect Your Complexion

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Pretty young woman wrapped in a white towel standing smiling in front of the mirror applying a cream or moisturizer to her face in a skincare and beauty concept

Image: JL-Pfeifer / Shutterstock

You’re very conscious about what’s in your food. You always choose organic products over processed foods, and scan the list of ingredients before you place anything in your shopping cart. But do you know what you’re putting on your skin?

Even though we are very concerned about what we put in our bodies, many of us don’t apply the same care to our skincare products. Many of our favorite makeup products contain toxic chemicals that can have a major effect on our skin and overall health over time. But it doesn’t stop there. Even though our food is regulated by the FDA, a big portion of our makeup isn’t. The next time you are looking at the label on your beauty products (which you should do often), make sure you avoid any that contain these toxic beauty ingredients.

1. Parabens
Parabens are a type of preservative that help slow down bacteria and mold. Even though this sounds like a great idea in theory, it actually has serious side effects on your complexion. If you have eczema, you’ll really want to steer clear of parabens as they will make your skin become inflamed. Parabens have also recently been linked to breast cancer. The scary part is that they can be found in many popular makeup and skincare products, especially in eye shadow and body wash.

2. Fragrance
This may not sound harmful, but don’t be fooled by its name. Whenever you see this ingredient on a label, it’s basically a code name for the product’s chemical formula. It’s hard to figure out what the “fragrance” is made of, which makes it one to avoid. If you have sensitive skin, a product that contains this ingredient may cause you to break out in hives or even cause respiratory issues.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Your mascara, body wash or shampoo may contain this toxic ingredient, which can irritate your eyes, skin and lungs. It gets even scarier. When it comes into contact with other chemicals, it can lead to kidney damage. Sticking to natural products is the best way to avoid coming into contact with this dangerous ingredient.

4. Phthlatates 
This is arguably one of the most common beauty ingredients around. It’s in your lipstick, body lotion, perfume and nail polish. Phthlatates are rumored to increase your chances of developing breast cancer later on in life; they may also lead to birth defects.What’s worse is that a lot of companies don’t disclose this ingredient and hide it behind the “fragrance” label.

5. Benzophenone, PABA (and various sunscreen ingredients)
Wait, so sunscreen can actually be bad for you? It depends. These chemicals help your body absorb and reflect UV rays. The problem is that they can eventually cause more harm than good, disrupt your body’s cell production. The next time you’re picking up sunscreen, find one that has more natural ingredients.

6.  Propylene Glycol
Take a closer look at your moisturizer. If it contains propylene glycol, put it down immediately. This organic alcohol causes dermatitis and makes you more prone to breakouts. The crazy part? It only takes a small drop to majorly irritate your skin.

Cassandra is a beauty and women's health writer. She spends most of her time treating herself to dinner and movie dates, pretending her life is a Marvel comic and figuring out how to keep her makeup on her face. Not necessarily in that order. She blogs about affordable outfits from her favorite movies and TV shows at Onscreencloset.com.