10 beauty ingredients to avoid

10 beauty ingredients to avoid

When it comes to your skin, you can never be too careful

By Jaime Morton-Hawley, digital content creator, professional photographer and makeup artist

Published: Thu 7 Mar 2019, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 15 Mar 2019, 10:04 AM

It's 2019, and being clever is cool. Being informed on the products you put on your skin can only make it better. After all, skin is your body's largest organ so you might as well respect it and take care of it.
First of all, it's completely fair to wonder why we even need to read up on ingredients in beauty products. Aren't skincare products supposed to clear our skin? In which case, shouldn't they be clean themselves? But every country has its own rules and regulations when it comes to beauty products. Combine that with easy access of e-commerce and you'll realise why it's increasingly difficult to decide what's best for one's skin.
But how do you find the time to do your research? Well, you're in luck. If you're reading this, you're about to get a crash course. Here are some ingredients found in skincare, makeup and beauty products that may not be right for you.
Found in: Perfumes and exfoliates
Butylated Hydroxyanisole is known to be a human carcinogen. Some studies have shown that they can cause skin depigmentation and may even contribute to liver damage and a host of other problems. This one is a big no.
Found in: Nail polishes and nail products
They are used in cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth. This ingredient has been linked to all sorts of aggressive issues like allergic skin reactions and endocrine disruption. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid nail salons that use products with this ingredient.
Found in: Most beauty products
These are extremely sneaky as they can be found in everything from conditioners to moisturisers. They are known to cause hormone disruptions and are one of the top allergens in the world. So, if you're sensitive, it's best to buy fragrance-free.
Found in: Skin lighteners
Be wary when buying 'skin lightning' products in general. This skin-bleaching chemical may cause a condition called ochronosis which is irreversible. While you're at it, read labels and avoid ingredients such as mercury, calomel or mercurio chloride - all found in skin lightening products.
Mineral Oil
Found in: Moisturisers
This ingredient is both good and bad. When used, it forms an oily layer over the skin that can trap water in, but in doing so, may cause irritation. If mineral oil contains impurities, those impurities may be problematic, though mineral oil is usually refined before use in skincare products. Some beauty retailers will not give a product with this ingredient a 'clean' seal.
Found in: Sunscreens
Opt for sunscreens without this ingredient whenever possible. Studies have found that it may disrupt the hormone system. While you're at it, avoid ingredients such as avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate when buying sunscreens.
Found in: Moisturisers, makeup, shampoos and spray tans
They are widely used as preservatives in beauty products, but studies have shown a link between parabens and breast cancer. They may also cause reproductive and developmental disorders - just another reason to keep away.
Found in: Nail polishes, soap, hair sprays, shampoos and perfumes
Used as a solvent in cosmetics, this ingredient is known to cause damage to the kidneys, liver and lungs. It is also linked to increased risk of breast cancer.
Retinyl Palmitate
Found in: Lip products, sunscreens, anti-ageing products and moisturisers
Another ingredient that is both good and bad. Retinol products are great for anti-ageing but become carcinogenic in sunlight. It is best to use any/all retinol products during the evening/night and avoid any/all sunscreen containing this ingredient.
Sulfates, SLS and SLES
Found in: Shampoos, body wash, face wash, mouthwash and foundations
These ingredients may cause or contribute to issues like skin irritation and eye damage, and is widely believed to be a major contributor to acne, including cystic acne around the mouth and chin.
You may find this list of side effects rather scary and overwhelming, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Brands are becoming increasingly aware and "woke" as customers educate themselves about harmful ingredients. The result: brands are less likely to include them in their products. So, breathe a sigh of relief - but don't forget to read the label the next time you pick up a product.

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