If you love your skin and haircare routine as much as us, you likely spend time (and lots of money) curating a collection of products to help you achieve your dream skin and hair. While what works for one person may not work for another, there are certain ingredients found in beauty products that have the potential to do more harm than good, and they have the research to prove it.
While one would hope beauty companies themselves would take the time to ensure their product’s ingredients won’t damage their users in any way, history has unfortunately proven that this isn’t the case. If you want to be a conscious consumer and avoid products that can damage your skin and hair, keep your eye out for these dangerous ingredients commonly used in the beauty world.
Parabens are a group of chemicals used to help preserve products and keep them on shelves longer. Beauty products like skincare and haircare products often include parabens in them.
While parabens have been used as preservatives in products since the 1920s, recent scientific studies have begun to question the potentially harmful effects of parabens inside these products. Research has shown that parabens can disrupt your body’s hormones and irritate your skin.
Scientific studies conducted around parabens have shown that they can have harmful effects on both men and women. Unfortunately, parabens are known to cause some adverse environmental effects. So when looking into products for your hair and skin, pay careful attention to the product label and look for a “paraben-free” stamp before purchasing a product.
Silicones are another beauty ingredient that you’ll want to stay away from. When consistently using silicones in products like shampoos or conditioners can lead to product buildup on your strands, further causing breakage and drier hair.
Many products on shelves boast offerings such as smoother hair and use silicones as an ingredient to achieve that look. While in the beginning, your hair may look silky and soft, silicones can damage your hair when used frequently. If you’re using any products such as hair loss products or coloring your hair, you’ll want to ensure you’re staying away from the silicones included in your beauty routine so you can achieve your haircare goals.
Sulfates are another beauty product ingredient with a lot of discourse surrounding it. You’ve likely noticed a “sulfate-free” label accompanying products and are wondering what sulfates are. Sulfates are commonly used in beauty products and make things like soaps and shampoos lather as you use them. Sulfates attract chemical compounds like oil and water, allowing you to wash away dirt and oils from your hair and skin.
While lathering up doesn’t inherently sound like a bad thing, you’ll want to stay away from sulfates simply because they’re too good at stripping away oils, meaning this can leave your hair and skin stripped of the oils and hydration they need. If you have sensitive skin, this can lead to itching and redness around the areas where you used a sulfate product.
Polyethylene glycol is used in beauty products and acts as a thickening agent. While polyethylene glycols can improve the consistency of a product, this is another ingredient that isn’t as regulated by the FDA and can come with various byproducts. While polyethylene has the potential to strip your hair of its natural moisture, the unlabeled byproducts are the real concern. Scientific studies have been conducted around this ingredient and its byproducts and have found it contains PEG compounds which can have carcinogenic effects and interfere with development in utero.
There are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to synthetic fragrances. While synthetic fragrances can make smells last longer, they can also cause adverse health effects. In individuals who may be extra sensitive to smells or ingredients, synthetic fragrances can cause an allergic reaction when used. These allergic reactions can cause rashes and skin irritation, and even make users feel dizzy or bring on a headache.
Phthalates are commonly found in synthetic fragrances, and research has shown that phthalates can cause hormone disruption in the body. The problem with synthetic fragrances is that they are essentially everywhere. They’re found in laundry detergents, soaps, dishwashing soap, air fresheners, deodorants, and more. The issue is that companies aren’t required by law to disclose ingredients used in their synthetic fragrances, making it one dangerous mystery for consumers.
Petroleum jelly has long been the wives’ tale cure for various ailments. Petroleum jelly is commonly used in products like lotions and creams because of its ability to hold and retain moisture. However recently, the discourse surrounding petroleum jelly has changed and gotten a more questionable, if not infamous reputation.
Petroleum jelly is derived from the same sources as many mineral oils and contains high amounts of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which have recently been linked to certain cancers. As more research is done, it may be best to avoid products that contain petroleum jelly as an ingredient.
Skin and hair care products that contain alcohol are another culprit for stripping away oils and moisture that your body needs. The alcohol ingredients found in beauty products are known as short-chain alcohols and can strip the body of naturally occurring oils leaving your skin feeling dry and even itchy.
Not only do they strip moisture and oil from your skin, but short-chain alcohols used in beauty products can damage your skin’s protective barrier leaving you more vulnerable to damage from the sun and environmental pollutants.
While it can be overwhelming to scour the shelves down the beauty aisle for a product you can trust, what’s most important is awareness and education. Suppose you can’t trust companies to use great ingredients, it’s up to you to research yourself. Look into your favorite product’s ingredients and ensure it doesn’t contain any of the ingredients we’ve mentioned above. By backing your products up with research, you can rest assured you’re on your way to healthier skin and hair.