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12 ingredients to avoid in beauty products

Updated: Apr 11


Hey there!

I cleaned up my beauty products a couple years ago when I was first starting cosmetology school. Now that I’ve been licensed for a few years, I’ve learned lots and here are my top 12 ingredients to avoid in your beauty products.

We have lots of toxins in our environment that we cannot avoid. Since we can’t change everything around us, we can start by watching what we put in and on our body.


There is a VERY common theme between all of these ingredients.

First they are carcinogenic, meaning cancer causing. And we ALL want to stay away from that!

Second they are endocrine disruptors. Meaning that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. Read more here

Your endocrine system controls a LOT of functions in the body. You can read more about It here.


If you are experiencing infertility issues or hormone imbalances, I HIGHLY recommend looking into your beauty products. Shampoo, conditioner, face products, makeup, hair care.

Alrighty, lets dive in…. Don’t let these overwhelm you. But PLEASE look at the labels on your products before you purchase them. Most American products are full of chemicals because they “do not need FDA approval before they go on the market…In order to take action for safety reasons against a cosmetic on the market, we need reliable information showing that it is unsafe when consumers use it according to the directions in the labeling or in the customary or expected way” this is bullshit if you ask me. The FDA clearly doesn’t care…but that’s a topic for another day. I’m just here to educate you.

  1. Formaldehyde-donating preservatives > is a known human carcinogen that is also linked to asthma and developmental toxicity, therefore we do not use formaldehyde-donating preservatives. This includes, but is not limited to, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, and methylisothiazolinone.

  2. Hydroquinone > is a skin lightener that causes skin irritation and may be linked to certain cancers.

  3. Parabens > Some parabens have been linked to endocrine disruption, which may increase the risk of certain cancers. This includes ethylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.

  4. Petrolatum > commonly known as petroleum jelly, is a skin protectant that is a by-product of petroleum, In other words GASOLINE! It typically contains the impurity polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been linked to cancer.

  5. Phthalates > [i.e., dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), diethylphthalate (DEP)] are plasticizing ingredients commonly used in fragrances as a solvent and skin fixative. Phthalates have been linked to endocrine disruption and may cause birth defects.

  6. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) > are harsh surfactants that can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Moreover, SLES often contains the impurity 1,4-dioxane, a by-product from its manufacturing process, which is a potential carcinogen. I have multiple clients who are extremely allergic to this ingredient and they either break out in unexplainable hives or terrible cystic acne.

  7. Synthetic fragrances and dyes > Since many synthetic fragrances and dyes are petroleum-derived, they may contain components which are potential hormone disruptors, allergens, and environmental toxins.

  8. Triclosan > is an antibacterial agent which causes skin irritation and has been linked to endocrine disruption. It is also bioaccumulative and potentially toxic to aquatic organisms.

  9. Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA) > Frequently used in cosmetics as emulsifiers, foaming agents or pH adjusters. Based on studies, they are linked to organ system toxicity, cancer, and environmental concerns of bioaccumulation.

  10. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)/Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) > Petroleum-derived antioxidants used to extend shell life of product, BHA and BHT can induce allergic reactions in skin. They are also likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

  11. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCT) > Together commonly called as Kathon CG. Chemical preservative widely used in cosmetics that are the most common irritants, sensitizers, and causes of contact skin allergies. Also linked to lung toxicity and possible neurotoxicity.

  12. Talc > Is used in cosmetics as an anti-caking or bulking agent. Talc can be contaminated with asbestos fibers which possess risks for respiratory toxicity and cancer.

If you are looking for a clean brand that doesn’t allow these ingredients in their products check out arbonne.