10 Harmful Beauty Ingredients One Must Avoid

Sweta Mookerjee

Updated At  14 Sep 22

The beauty industry is quite an unregulated one in terms of ingredient approvals. There are ingredients that are banned in some countries but being freely used in others. Most of our daily use products are loaded with ingredients that do more harm than good. Here are the top 10 harmful beauty ingredients one must avoid.


1. Parabens

Parabens are very popular, well actually more infamous but we’ll get to that. They are preservatives that prevent bacteria, mold and yeast growth. What they also do is mimic estrogen and are thus related to an increased risk of breast cancer.


Their toxic effects include reproductive and developmental complications, damage to the brain & nervous system and skin irritation.


While banned in Japan and Europe, India still has a lot of products with Parabens in it. They can be found in makeup products, body washes, shampoos, body scrubs etc.


2. Phthalates

The most common variant of Phthalates is present in a number of our products like nail polishes, moisturizers, lotions, perfumes and hairspray.


Phthalates disrupt our endocrine system that is related to our hormones. They are also linked to breast cancer and reproductive birth defects.


What is more alarming is the fact that it is often an undisclosed ingredient in fragrances and listed as a “secret formula”.


3. Triclosan

Found in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps and deodorants, Triclosan is a popular antimicrobial chemical.


Triclosan upsets our endocrine system especially thyroid and reproductive hormones.


There have been studies that raise concerns about the fact that Triclosan may make bacteria antibiotic-resistant. Its effectiveness as an antibacterial ingredient has also been questioned.


4. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

You may have heard of this particular ingredient, it is found our personal care and beauty products like shampoos, body wash and makeup products.

They are skin, lung, and eye irritants that can form carcinogens (cancer causing substances) when mixed with other chemicals. These combinations can also cause kidney and lung damage in later on.


5. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is used in a number of products to prevent bacteria growth.

But it is a known carcinogen and is linked to leukemia, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, skin irritation and cirrhosis. It is found in nail polishes, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, cleansers, eye shadows etc. It often goes unnoticed because it is listed under various names like DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15 and Bronopol.


6. Toluene

Toluene is a petrochemical sourced from petroleum or coal tar. If that wasn’t enough to put you off, it also harms your respiratory system, causes nausea, irritates the skin, is toxic to our immunity and can cause developmental damages to a fetus.

It is often found in nail polishes and hair colour products.

You may find it listed as benzene, methylbenzene, toluol or phenylmethane.


7. Propylene glycol

This is an organic alcohol that is often found in moisturizers, sunscreens, makeup products and hair products as a conditioning agent.

But its effects include skin irritation, dermatitis and hives.


As low as 2% of Propylene glycol concentration is enough to cause harm.


8. Aluminum:

It may sound surprising but aluminum is actually used as a pigmentation and thickening agent in a number of products that we use, like deodorants.

There are studies that show a link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s, it is also closely linked to breast cancer and brain disorders.

Apart from that, it causes skin irritation, disrupts our hormones and causes birth disorders in animals.


9. Dioxins

Dioxins are pollutants that have made way into the skin care industry. They are also found in non-organic tampons.


Once they enter the skin, they remain in the body for long and disrupt the endocrine system.


They are also cancerous and harmful to human growth and development.


10. Lead


Banned in Japan, Canada and Europe, lead is a neurotoxin that causes reduced fertility in men and women even in small dozes.


Yet, it is commonly found in hair colour and lipsticks.


Although it will be difficult to avoid every single product that is laden with damaging chemicals, what we can do is avoid them as much as possible.

Research a product before you invest, read the labels, learn what chemicals are hiding in it and gradually make move towards organic products.


Related Articles: