What's In Your Makeup?

Curious to know what's in your makeup, harmful or not? Mary Grace has the scoop!

Image Credit: Erika Raxworthy

It seems every other label these days includes the words “organic” or “all-natural,” and yet, there is still a certain amount of mystery surrounding the ingredients in the products we buy. To help decipher which offenders are the most harmful when it comes to cosmetics, we enlisted the help of lifestyle expert Mary Grace Mangano. Behold, the six ingredients to avoid next time you shop...

  1. Parabens. Many sources agree that parabens could be linked to certain health conditions. Typically, they are used as food preservatives but, more often, they show up in cosmetics in an attempt to extend shelf life. Found in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, and sunscreen, make sure to look for any word in the ingredient list that ends in “paraben” and put that product back!

  2. Phthalates. Another suspicious ingredient to look out for is the plasticizer known as phthalate. Usually used in nail polish, these may affect physiological functions. Manifesting in many names, be aware of anything that lists DEP, DBP, and BzBP in your makeup!

  3. Triclosan. Used in most hand sanitizers, and some deodorants and toothpastes, triclosan is basically an antibiotic, but bacteria can form a resistance to it. When this happens, it can react with other chemicals to become toxic. Make sure to use only alcohol-based hand sanitizers instead, or plain old soap and water!

  4. Fragrance. This vague ingredient is mainly a synthetic chemical added to a whole host of products to make them smell good. While they may add smell, they can also prevent detoxification in the body, and some are allergens as well. Look out for “parfum” or “aroma” on ingredient lists in addition to fragrance!

  5. Formaldehyde. We’ve heard about this one before, but it’s a good reminder to avoid this ingredient, as it’s a known carcinogen. It’s used as a preservative in cosmetics, but is also linked to asthma. Check your shampoos and body wash to ensure they don’t list formaldehyde!

  6. Toluene. This is a dangerous petrochemical known to be toxic to the immune system. It can also do damage to the respiratory system and skin. Derived from coal tar and petroleum sources, it can dissolve paint. Double check your nail polish and hair products, where it’s most commonly found.

For additional chemicals to avoid and to make sure your beautifying routine is healthy, visit the Environmental Working Group’s page or download their Skin Deep app. Beautycounter also has a great “Never List” - tell 'em we sent you!

p.s. While you're purging your bathroom drawer of toxins, here are 5 beauty products you can live without!