Operation: Decode Bad Beauty Ingredients

Did you know that toxins are more easily absorbed through your skin than even your mouth? Gasp! I know.

You see, when we consume toxins, they have to go to a mandatory body boot camp, where the toxins must be present at various checkpoints. They have to go through Sergeant Saliva and Captain Stomach, as well as Lieutenant Liver and Commander Kidney. When all that is said and done, the toxins get a real good “shaping up” and are detoxified at different levels, making them far less harmful for the rest of the body. As opposed to this obligatory process, toxins absorbed through the skin just get to skate past the checkpoints and go straight to partying in your bloodstream and tissues.

I know, that sounds a little scary, but there’s no need to fear — knowledge is here! So let’s get down to business and decode some of the most common harmful beauty ingredients in our shampoos, toothpastes, body products, face makeup, and nail polishes. Don’t worry though; I’ll share a few fabulous alternatives so you aren’t left hanging high and dry!

  • 11 Bad Beauty Ingredients 1 of 23

    Follow along as I decode the ingredients lists of common beauty products we all use ...

  • Haircare 2 of 23

    Sodium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate

    Although sulfates give you that luxurious lather and squeaky-clean feel, they also strip away your hair's natural fatty acids and cause allergic reactions.


    Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, and Ethyl)

    One of those sneaky preservatives with more than one motive. Parabens DO increase the shelf life of many beauty products and help slow down growth of bacteria; however, they can be incredibly dangerous. These toxins act like estrogen in the body. They mess with hormonal balance, can create many allergic reactions, and are linked to multiple disorders and cancers.



  • Acure 3 of 23

    I love Acure's company slogan, "Acure for your skin - Acure for the planet." Not only can you trust that Acure products will be safe for your hair and skin, but they will also be safe for the environment. A win-win makes us all smile!


    Acure Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo Clarifying Keratin Boosting is a great everyday clarifying shampoo, using the awakening smell of lemongrass to both cleanse and invigorate you and your hair.


    Note: color safe, vegan, gluten free, sulfate free, paraben free, phthalate free, and cruelty free  


    To Purchase: Acure 'Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo', $11 

  • Aubrey 4 of 23

    Aubrey Organic's Protein Balancing shampoo is infused with vitamins, strengthens hair with soy and milk proteins, and softens with organic aloe and shea butter. 


    Note: sulfate and paraben free, gluten free, vegan, and cruelty free


    To Purchase: Aubrey 'GPB Glycogen Protein Balancing Shampoo- Rosemary Peppermint', $10 

  • Shea Moisture 5 of 23

    This safe and oh so scrumptious baby shampoo and body wash will leave you and your babies feeling silky smooth.


    Does not contain: parabens, phthalates, paraffin, gluten, propylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, animal testing, PABA, synthetic color, DEA, sulfates


    To Purchase: Shea Moisture 'Raw Shea Chamomile & Argan Oil Baby Shampoo', $10 

  • Toothpaste 6 of 23


    A synthetic antimicrobial agent that can potentially alter hormone levels in the body, which could affect child development and reproduction. It is also suspected to be cancer-causing.


    Diethanolamine (DEA)

    A big offender in foaming products, especially toothpaste. This harmful ingredient disrupts hormones and has been know to cause liver, kidney, and other organ damage.   



  • The Honest Co. 7 of 23

    The Honest Co. is a fantastic company that does exactly what their name says! They are honest about the safe, non-toxic ingredients in their home and health products. The Honest Toothpaste is not only filled with clean ingredients to polish those pearly whites, but it also has powerful antioxidants and is packed with natural peppermint to keep your mouth feeling extra fresh!


    Note: Free of SLS, sulfates, saccharin, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, parabens, triclosan, gluten, dyes 


    To Purchase: The Honest Co. Honest Toothpaste, $6

  • Tom’s of Maine 8 of 23

    One of the many things I love about Tom's of Maine is that they are not afraid to list every ingredient, its purpose, and where it's sourced. They are THAT good. They want you to feel safe and comfortable using their natural ingredients. 


    Note: Free of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan, DEA; cruelty free  


    To Purchase: Tom's of Maine Clean & Gentle, $6 

  • Kiss My Face 9 of 23

    Kiss My Face — I'm sold on the name alone! In addition to the cute brand name, this toothpaste uses organic aloe vera gel to help prevent plaque/tartar buildup and peppermint oil to keep your breath stay cool and fresh!


    Note: Free of triclosan, parabens, phthalate, fluoride, SLS, fragrance; cruelty free


    To Purchase: Kiss My Face Triple Action Toothpaste, $6

  • Deodorant 10 of 23


    Active ingredient in antiperspirants used to temporarily plug sweat ducts. Large amounts of it have been linked to Alzheimers disease and breast cancer.


    Propylene Glycol

    A penetration enhancer — this chemical is like a school bus, carrying the other chemicals and making sure they get safetly dropped off into our skin and bloodstream. Aww, that's so sweet of you ... not! Large concentrated amounts have been shown to cause damage to liver, kidneys, and the brain.



  • LUSH 11 of 23

    Feeling a little bored of your average stick deodorant? Get adventurous and try Lush's herbal deodorant powder! You might be wondering how powder is actually going to keep your pits dry AND fresh. Lush uses thyme, rosemary, and tea tree to cover the stink department. As far as the wet factor goes, magnesium trisilicate and sodium bicarbonate are used to keep you covered!


    Note: Lush uses natural and effective herbs and ingredients


    To Purchase: Lush's 'The Greeench Deodorant Powder", $10

  • Bumble & Bee 12 of 23

    With only five ingredients (including organic lemon and clove oils), your pits, body, and nose are bound to be happy!


    Note: Free from harmful chemicals, animal cruelty, gluten, and synthetic chemicals


    To Purchase: Lemon and Clove 'Pit Putty Organic Deodorant with Baking Soda'$11

  • Weleda 13 of 23

    Lemon peel oil is used to both freshen underarms and lift your spirits with its purifying aromatic properties. Multi-purpose deodorant? Sounds great to me!


    Note: natural and eco-friendly


    To Purchase:  Weleda 'Citrus Deodorant', $14

  • Makeup 14 of 23


    Fragrance is kind of like The Big Bad Wolf; it sneakily hides hundreds of chemicals into products, causing various health issues and skin irritations.


    Triethanolamine (TEA)

    Used in many cosmetics to adjust pH levels. Can cause allergic reactions related to hair, skin, and eyes. 



  • Tarte Blush 15 of 23

    The Amazonian clay in this incredible 12-hour blush has amazing properties, including minimizing oil, hydrating, and nourishing the skin. These benefits assure beautiful results for all skin types! 


    Note: Made without synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, GMO's, triclosan, and phthalates


    To Purchase: Tarte 'Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush', $26 

  • Boscia 16 of 23

    Who doesn't love a good BB Cream? Better yet, this BB cream is free from parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, and it's packed with SPF 27! I'm ready to give it a go!


    To Purchase: Boscia 'BB Cream', $18

  • Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics 17 of 23

    These babies have the staying power of a lipstick, with the ease and shine of a gloss. Sounds like two perfect peas in a pod! 


    Note: 100% vegan; free of cruelty, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates


    To Purchase: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics 'Lip Tar Stained Gloss',icon $18

  • Tarte Eyeshadow 18 of 23

    These convenient eyeshadow quads are bursting with pigment and apply like butter! Just like the Amazonian Clay Blushes, the clay in this product reduces oil and nourishes lids.


    Note: made without synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, GMO's, triclosan, and phthalates


    To Purchase: Tarte 'Beauty & The Box Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Quad', $22 

  • Nail Polish 19 of 23

    Dibutyl Phthalates (DBP)

    Often hidden in the "fragrance" ingredient, DBP keeps polish from becoming brittle and chipping. Now who doesn't love that? Unfortunately, this ingredient can cause reproductive harm.



    More commonly used as a preservative to embalm bodies, this ingredient is also used as a nail hardener and is a known carcinogen.



    Helps polish apply more smoothly, but has a long list of possible side effects ranging from dizziness to liver damage and birth defects. Yikes. 



  • Deborah Lippman 20 of 23

    Not only do these lacquers have the dreamiest, creamiest colors, but they also have a long-lasting formula and built-in treatment benefits.


    Note: Made without formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, sulfates, parabens, toluene, dbp (dibutyl phthlate) or camphor; are not tested on animals.


    To Purchase: Deborah Lippman Nail Lacquer, $17 

  • Butter London 21 of 23

    Butter London Lacquers are high fashion with pigments that will not disappoint! 


    Note: Free of parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, DBP, toluene, and triclosan 


    To Purchase: Butter London '3 Free Nail Lacqeur', $15 

  • Zoya 22 of 23

    Zoya polishes have a wide range of unique colors and beautiful finishes with a long-lasting treatment formula. 


    Note: Made without DBP, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toxins, or camphor. 


    To Purchase: Zoya Nail Polish, $8

  • Harmful Ingredients in Review 23 of 23
    harmful beauty ingredients

    Now you have all the basic tools you need to make a health-concious decision the next time you buy beauty products! 

Read more of Missy’s writing at Pink Pistachio

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Article Posted 3 years Ago

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