To The Studio ➮

The 5 Beauty Ingredients I Broke Up With

May 2, 2019
Brittany Leonor

By now, you’ve realized that I’m a big fan of clean beauty products. It’s a personal interest that leaked over into business. I feel pretty seeped into the whole industry whether I’m researching, buying new goods, testing and reviewing products or working with clean beauty brands. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is as involved and may not understand what the big deal is. So let me give you a quick crash course.

In college, one of my aunts was diagnosed with breast cancer. With that diagnosis, came some suggestions of products to avoid because of their chemical ingredients and possible correlation to cancer.

I became intrigued when I found this out. What is included in the products we use? Is the makeup I buy at the drugstore truly harmful? Should I be avoiding clinical strength deodorant  and Great Lash Mascara? I started doing some digging of my own and discovered a few things.

According to the Environmental Working Group, women use an average of 12 personal products a day which totals more than 150 ingredients. We should know what those ingredients are and what kind of impact they have on us, don’t you think? I won’t go through all possible ingredients, but I thought it would be helpful to give you a short list as a starting point of 5 of the ingredients I like to avoid. Sound good? But before we dive in, a couple of disclaimers:

I’m not a scientist. Shocking, I know. The point here is, do your research as well and don’t just listen to what I’m saying. I’m not an expert, but I am curious and like to discover things for myself.

This is not meant to shame you. I think it’s important to be educated, but I never want to make someone feel bad for using something that contains an ingredient on this list. We all have to make our own decisions and live life in a balanced way. This is just meant to get you thinking, asking questions and making your mind up for yourself.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the list:

  1. Fragrance: used for scent (duh) this label can be a catch-all for over 3,000 chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, toxicity, adverse organ reactions and more. Because this falls under proprietary information, a brand doesn’t have to disclose exactly what they use. Most often it’s not great, so I stay away. Check out this article with a ton of cited material if you want to learn more. On a product label as: fragrance, parfum.
  2. Parabens: used to extend a product’s shelf life, parabens can cause irritation and disrupt the body’s normal hormonal production. You might have heard this term referred to as ‘endocrine disruptor’. On a product label as: words that include ‘paraben’, ‘ethyl’, ‘butyl’, ‘methyl’, ‘propyl’.
  3. Phthalates: used to make products more pliable and give things their stickiness (like a fragrance ‘sticking’ to your skin), phthalates can cause damage to the reproductive system, especially in utero. An interesting articles with cited studies for further reading can be found here. On a product label as: DBP, DINP, DEP, DEHP, DMP, BBP, DNOP, DIDP.
  4. Sodium Laureth Sulfate: used as a bubbling or foaming agent, its manufacturing process can create a bi-product that could be carcinogenic and cause harm to the nervous system. On a product label as: SLS, SLES.
  5. Formaldehyde: used as a preservative, formaldehyde could be a carcinogen. On a product label as: Formalin, Formic Aldehyde, Merthaldehyde, Methanal, Methyl Aldehyde, Oxomethane, Oxymethylene.

If you want to learn more about a product’s ingredients, my favorite resource is EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. They’ve documented thousands of products and given them an overall rating based on the rating of each of the product’s ingredients. Grab something you used today and plug it in to see what it scores. It’s really helpful as you make decisions and can also reveal any brands that are ‘greenwashing’ or marketing themselves as clean when they truly are not. Scandalous, no? Oh and if you really want to do some digging, browse through the EU’s list of banned and allowed ingredients here.

Here’s to being educated and informed 👄