Check the Label: 9 Chemicals that Shouldn’t Go Near Your Body

checkthelabel_featured_image Beauty freaks are rarely science freaks (except maybe for some freaks of nature). Even if you are an expert contourer or an eyeshadow maven, you might not be an expert label scrutinizer. Designer makeup is not necessarily safer than drugstore brands. Marketing monikers can be misleading too–“mineral” makeup doesn’t necessarily mean safer, and “natural” doesn’t automatically mean healthier. Some ingredients cause breakouts, rashes, and even cancer. It might be difficult to avoid these chemicals–especially if your holy grail foundation or favourite shampoo has them–but if you can, please do. It’s for your own good, pretty girl.

1. BHA


Usually found in your lovely eau de parfum. Butylated hydroxyanisole is a carcinogen that can cause liver damage and stomach cancers. It also damages your skin pigmentation and your thyroid (the organ that regulates your metabolism hormones).

2. Parabens


Check your shampoo, makeup, or moisturizer for this. Probably the most famous of the dangerous ingredients, parabens mimic estrogen and may lead to breast cancer and decreased sperm count. If you don’t want reproductive problems, watch out for any variation of the word “paraben” on the label.

3. Triclosan


You’ve probably seen this in foot powder and deodorants. It can also be found in toothpaste and antibacterial soaps. As with any antibacterial chemicals, it can cause problems with your immune system and create extra-resistant bacteria. If you can’t live without antibacterial products, choose natural bacteria-fighters like tea tree oil, coconut oil, aloe vera, and sea salt.

4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Mostly found in shampoos and body washes, this chemical can also be in your foundation, face wash, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Especially for sensitive folks, it can cause skin irritation, canker sores, and eye damage. Have acne? SLS is probably one of the main culprits.

5. Retinoids


Retinol is a godsend when used in the evening (it’s an anti-ageing ingredient that promotes new cell growth). But when exposed to the sun, it becomes a carcinogenic evil. If you must use retinol, avoid it in sunscreens and lip balms. Remember: use with caution, and only before going to bed. Sweet dreams.

6. Hydroquinone and Mercury


Wanna be whiter? Beware of hydroquinone and mercury, found in most skin-lightening products. The skin-bleaching chemical can cause ochronosis, an irreversible skin disease that show up as bruise-like lesions. Mercury, on the other hand, is a super-toxic chemical that is harmful to humans even in tiny amounts. Never buy whiteners that don’t have clear labels, and steer clear of ones that contain the word “mercury” and “hydroquinone.” Use glutathione-based products instead.

7. Coal Tar


Also known as Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine. We love coloring our hair, but this ingredient is a carcinogen found in most hair coloring products and some shampoos. Stylists exposed to it daily may develop cancer, so this ingredient has actually already been banned by the FDA. But not all products are regulated, so be careful.

8. Oxybenzone

We’ve always advised to never skip sunscreen, but please skip anything with oxybenzone in it. It’s an estrogen-like chemical that disrupts our hormones, alters sperm count in men, and causes endometriosis in women. Read your sunscreen’s label and make sure the main ingredients are either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

9. Formaldehyde and Toluene


Pregnant? For the sake of your baby, avoid anything with these two in it. It has been proven time and again to be the cause of birth defects. Not pregnant? It will still give you headaches and lung problems. Nail salon workers can’t avoid these (there are almost zero nail products that don’t contain these ingredients), but you can at least lessen your mani-pedi sessions. Preggos should avoid doing their nails altogether.

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