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5 Ingredients to Avoid in Beauty Products

Do you shop for cosmetics as you shop for groceries? Most likely not. We tend to select our makeup and lotions based on scent, color, or brand name. While those characteristics are important, we’re overlooking critical information: what’s actually inside.

Every mascara, lip gloss, or moisturizer has its own list of ingredients just like every box of food has a nutrition label. And similarly to how we should avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup and other harmful chemicals, there are ingredients to avoid in beauty products as well. Keep the following list in mind the next time you’re in the cosmetic aisle to make sure you’re choosing makeup and lotions that aren’t dangerous to your skin.

Propylene Glycol

A major ingredient in brake fluid, this chemical is a well-known skin irritant and can cause liver or kidney damage. Propylene glycol is a petrochemical (made from petroleum) and is related to other harmful cosmetic substances like petrolatum and parabens.

Synthetic colors or fragrances

These can be cancer-causing agents and, since companies are not required to reveal specific ingredients due to “trade secrets”, you never really know what you’re putting on your skin!

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate

Would you use laundry detergent to wash your face? This chemical is a common ingredient in household products like detergents and soaps. It can irritate your skin and possibly harm your nervous system if used in excess.


Similar to the other ingredients, phenoxyethanol is a skin/eye irritant and can suppress your immune system.


It’s used in “antibacterial” soaps and washes and studies have shown it can cause your thyroid to not function properly. Additionally, it has been linked to liver damage and cancer.

The best way to avoid these harmful side effects is to read the labels of each beauty product in the store before you make your purchase. You can also download the app from Good Guide where you can search any beauty products and find a detailed list of its ingredients as well as reviews and safety ratings.

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