12 harmful ingredients to avoid in makeup and skin care

Being at your best shouldn’t mean putting your health at risk, but sadly, it just doesn’t. Did you know that only 11 toxic cosmetic ingredients are prohibited in the United States compared to 1,300 in the UK? The average woman uses 12 products each day with 168 unique ingredients, which means there are bound to be toxic ingredients on the backs of the bottles in your drawers, cabinets, and shower.

From sunscreens and body lotions to makeup and shower products, many contain endocrine disruptors, which can affect hormonal balance and fertility. Some products available in stores even contain ingredients clearly linked to cancer. Scents that may sound appealing are allergens that cause headaches and rashes. Take a look at the following ingredients and throw away any products that contain them:


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1. Parabens protect cosmetics from dirt and help them last longer on the shelf. However, parabens can cause allergic skin reactions, redness, itching, and even damage to the hormonal system. Although there is only a small amount in the product, using it for a long time can cause serious effects.

2. Isopropylparaben serves as an antifungal and antibacterial agent which may seem beneficial, but causes allergies, attacks the natural acid shield of the skin, and even damages the liver.

3. Sulfates are commonly found in shampoos and conditioners and are the agents or detergents that produce suds, but they also strip the skin of natural oil causing irritation and allergic reactions.

4. Formaldehyde is commonly used in hair straightening products and although it is used in the hair, the hair grows out of the scalp and is part of the skin. Formaldehyde vapors are carcinogenic and can cause reactions such as eye irritation, nervous system problems, respiratory tract problems, nausea, vomiting and skin rashes.

5. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a preservative and food stabilizer that appears regularly in body lotions and makeup such as lipstick. BHA is an endocrine disruptor and according to the National toxicology program, “It is reasonably expected to be carcinogenic to humans”.

Morgan Renfro, RN, CANS, and Marissa Abdo, MS, RN, CANS, have combined their expertise to create a unique aesthetic practice in Scottsdale called Lumen + Bevel Aesthetics.

6. Formaldehyde Releaser Quaternium -15 is the substance which is mainly used as a preservative and emulsified to stabilize the formulas. Just like formaldehyde, it carries the same carcinogenic threat.

7. Petroleum derivatives are often used as emollients forming an oily layer on top of the skin to trap water in order to make the skin softer. Petroleum derivatives coat the skin like plastic and prevent the skin from breathing, causing acne, irritation and other skin problems.

8. PEGs are used as emulsifiers and excipients. Such additives mainly cause skin irritation, but they can also cause premature aging. They can age the skin and reduce its natural moisture content as well as increase its vulnerability to bacteria.

9. Phthalates help products spread more easily and are commonly found in scented skin care products and hair sprays. They are potentially carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting, so it is best to avoid using products containing phthalates.

10. Synthetic fragrances produce the pleasant smell that draws you to the products you buy. However, most are strong allergens and can cause headaches, dizziness, rash, cough, and pigmentation.

11. Artificial colors are found in all types of beauty products for the face, body and hair. The most common risk associated with artificial colors is irritation of the skin.

12. Triethanolamine is a highly alkaline substance used to balance the pH in various cosmetic products such as mascara and is considered moderately hazardous. the Dermatological examination says it shouldn’t be used long term because it is a skin and respiratory irritant and toxic to the immune system.

Some of Lumen + Bevel’s favorite products are Alastin Moisturizing Sunscreen and Skin Repair Complex because they are paraben free, cruelty free and gluten free. These are also medical grade products that really work! Lytera 2.0 from SkinMedica is also a favorite because it is free from parabens and fragrances.

Authors: As must-have injectors for celebrities and the Hollywood elite, Marissa Abdo, MS, RN, CANS and Morgan Renfro, RN, CANS, have combined their expertise to create a unique aesthetic practice in Scottsdale called Lumen + Aesthetics of the bevel. As former members of Dr 90210’s team in Beverly Hills, they are the best trainers in the world of cosmetic injectables. They provide clients with a collaborative experience using non-surgical face sculpting and sculpting techniques to enhance and preserve each other’s natural beauty. Their specialized experience in the exclusive performance of non-surgical injectable treatments has resulted in the performance of nearly 2,000 procedures per year each.


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