Five Skincare Ingredients You'll Want to Avoid

Be careful what ingredients you put on your client's skin. // Photo credit: Pravokrugulnik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Reading labels can be a bit of a headache, but it’s an integral step to ensure you’re using a healthy product. We consulted the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics database for the lowdown on some of the major offenders.

FRAGRANCE

What is it? Who knows? Because companies aren’t required by law to list the chemical components of their fragrance blends.
Why is it bad? Synthetic scents often contain endocrine disruptors.
Where is it found? You name it. Unless the label specifies “fragrance free,” you’re susceptible.

FORMALDEHYDE

What is it? A potent preservative.
Why is it bad? An asthmagen, neurotoxicant, and developmental toxicant, it’s also considered a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Where is it found? Hair-straightening and personal-care products, nail polishes.

PEGS

What are they? Polyethylene glycol compounds, derived from petroleum.
Why are they bad? These compounds often contain 1,4-dioxane, a synthetic industrial chemical the EPA calls a likely human carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, classified a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Where are they found? In everything from sunscreen, deodorant, and liquid hand soap to shampoo, mascara, and hairstyling products.

PARABENS

What are they? Estrogen-mimicking preservatives.
Why are they bad? They’ve been linked to breast cancer, reproductive issues, and developmental disorders.
Where are they found? Cosmetics and skincare.

PHTHALATES

What are they? A group of chemicals that includes dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP).
Why are they bad? They may be harmful to the reproductive system, both male and female.
Where are they found? Look for DBP in nail polish, DMP in hair spray, and DEP in fragrances

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