We live in a chemical filled world, and our cosmetics are no exception. Most products come with a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients, making it hard to know what we’re really putting on our skin. Ingredients are impossible to decipher without a science degree or some serious Googling. So, Seriously FAB, as part of its educational series, has cracked the code. Along with some help from the safety pros at EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database, we’re here to help you navigate the scariest skincare ingredients. Here are the eight most dangerous ingredients in beauty products to ditch today.
Parabens: Disguised as methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, this chemical group is a preservative. Parabens prevent your moisturizer from growing mold, but also disrupt estrogen production. Its ability to mimic the female hormone has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems in women. Present in about 85% of cosmetics, parabens are hard to avoid, so make sure your products read “Paraben Free.”
EGW rating: 7-8 out of 10 HIGH hazard.
Talc: Used in dry shampoo to absorb pesky oil, or in mineral powders to avoid caking and provide sun protection, talc seems harmless enough. According to EGW, talc isn’t a danger unless it’s contaminated. If you can’t guarantee the purity of this silky-soft mineral, it’s best to avoid.
EGW rating: 7 out of 10 MODERATE hazard.
Petroleum: Presenting as anything from “mineral oil” to “liquid paraffin,” petroleum helps seal moisture into skin; however, while it might keep our lips from chapping, it also contains carcinogenic contaminants, so skip the Vaseline to avoid this cancer risk.
EGW rating: 2-4 out of 10 FAIR hazard.
Phthalates: Like parabens, phthalate names are both short and long. Found in an array of personal care products, this cosmetic additive is used for lubrication, to soften the skin, and to extend the life of fragrances. Unfortunately, these chemicals have been shown to disrupt hormones and cause cancer in lab rats. Spoiler alert: if it gives rats cancer, we’re next.
EGW rating: 2-4 out of 10 FAIR hazard.
BHA/BHT: These acronyms are another set preservative designed to keep mold and bacteria at bay. BHA is a synthetic antioxidant that keeps fats in lipstick from going rancid, while BHT stabilizes fats found in lipstick, creams, and moisturizers. Both are also prevalent in packaged foods. Linked to increased cancer risk in animals, these potential carcinogens are best to avoid.
EGW rating: 5-7 out of 10 MODERATE hazard.
Avobenzone: This sunscreen staple absorbs harmful UVA rays, but breaks down into toxic compounds after exposure to light and chlorine. So, unless your sunscreen is worn on a dry, dark vacation, it’s better to find a UVA blocking alternative.
EGW rating: 2 out of 10 LOW hazard.
Oxybenzone: Avobenzone’s partner in sun protection, Oxybenzone is the more dangerous UV ray blocker. Linked to hormone disruption, allergies, and cell damage, research shows it may actually increase melanoma risk! Present in 65% of conventional sunscreens, it’s hard to avoid but you can by choosing a Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide Sunscreen instead.
EGW rating 8 out of 10 HIGH hazard.
Fragrance: The most generic and terrifying ingredient, “fragrance” is listed on just about every product. Without any real information on the source of synthetic fragrance, there’s no telling what these chemicals can do. Sometimes, fragrance is just a phthalate in disguise, causing hormone disruption. Other times it’s a toxic compound that causes birth defects, allergies, and nervous system disorders. Without knowing what these mystery scents are made of, it’s better to buy products scented with natural or organic fragrance oils.
EGW Rating: 8 out of 10 HIGH Hazard.
Skin is our body’s largest organ, designed to keep us safe from the outside world. But our skin doesn’t stand a chance against all these harsh chemicals. So, do your skin a favor, and reach for the healthier options like Paraben Free shampoos, Non Toxic cosmetics, and natural skincare products like our ZINC IT OVER® Fine + Sheer Sunscreen Facial Mist designed for use OVER MAKEUP! Your healthiest self will thank you.