10 Ingredients to Check Your Products For (And Toss!)

woman applying makeup

For so long, many of us have become accustomed to trusting brands to sell us products that are safe for us to use on our hair, skin, and nails. However, we need to educate ourselves on what is actually safe to use on our bodies. There have been too many cases of people becoming sick from the use of their everyday makeup and skincare products. These products are often filled with harsh synthetic ingredients, toxins, fragrances, and parabens. In fact, it can only take 26 to 32 seconds for certain ingredients to enter your bloodstream once they are in, on, or around your body. This is why it is so crucial that we are aware of what ingredients are in the products that we put onto our skin and the effects they can have on our health.

You may be wondering how these cosmetic and skincare companies get away with that. Unfortunately, it's all too easy. Cosmetic and skincare companies aren’t required to have any products or ingredients approved or reviewed by the FDA before selling them to customers. Furthermore, the FDA doesn’t require companies to list every ingredient. Additionally, in the US there are only 11 cosmetic ingredients banned from being used, while in Europe there are over 1,300 ingredients banned. This is why it is so important for us to be informed, conscious consumers. We have to be the ones responsible for taking care of our own health and for knowing what we are putting in and on our body. 

To get started on your journey switching to clean beauty, here are 10 nasty ingredients to check your products for and toss from your collection:

  1. Aluminum: In the form of powder, aluminum is usually used in self-care products like deodorants. It can cause irritation to skin, and has been linked to Alzheimer's and birth disorders.

  2. Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA): Surfactants and pH adjusters linked to allergies, skin toxicity, hormone disruption, and inhibited fetal brain development. Can react to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.

  3. Formaldehyde: Used as a preservative in cosmetics given its ability to preserve a corpse. A known carcinogen that is also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity. Present where quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), and several other preservatives are listed. Found in: shampoo, body wash, bubble bath.

  4. Fragrances: An engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Has been found to cause allergies, dermatitis, respiratory difficulties, and can impact the reproductive system. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.

  5. Glycols: Specifically Propylene Glycol and Butylene Glycol. (The other glycol "polypropylene glycol", also known as PEG, is an ethoxylated ingredient and is included on our Dirty List). Propylene and Butylene Glycol are synthetic chemicals derived from petroleum compounds and are used mostly to attract moisture to the skin, as well as condition the texture of the product to keep it from separating. The Cosmos Standard in the EU accepts Propylene and Butylene at small levels and there is not enough research to document major concerns. One thing we are aware of however is that these two glycols may increase the skin's ability to absorb, meaning if the product contains anything in it that may be potentially irritating the glycols would increase their absorption.

  6. Hydroquinone: A skin-lightening chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation. Found in: skin-lightening creams. Used for skin lightening: 1,4-Benzenediol; 1,4-Benzoquinol; 1,4-Dihydroxybenzene; Dihydroquinone; Eldopacque; Eldopaque; Eldopaque Forte; Eldoquin; 4-Hydroxyphenol; p-Hydroxyphenol; p-Phenylenediol; p-Quinol.

  7. Parabens: (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others): a class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies (Harvard School of Public Health). Found in: shampoo, face cleanser, body wash, body lotion, foundation.

  8. Phenoxyethanol: Commonly used in skincare and makeup products with side effects like skin irritations, reproductive and developmental complications, and damages to the brain and nervous system. Japan has banned the use of phenoxyethanol in all cosmetics, while most other countries have limited its use to1% concentration. Can cause allergy-like Eczema and may have nervous systems effects on infants. Found in: makeup, perfumes, skincare products, soaps. It is used as a common preservative in natural products.

  9. Retinyl Palmitate & Retinol (Vitamin A): A nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.

  10. Talc: Usually found in baby powder and in face powders. There have been lawsuits that have claimed Talc causes cancer. It may also cause irritation and organ system toxicity.

For a full list of ingredients that we will never use in our products and ones that you should stay away from as well, check out our Nasties List

We know that learning all of this information can be overwhelming. However, the process of switching to clean beauty doesn’t have to be! Here at janegee we are committed to bringing you the cleanest, healthiest, and safest skincare products we can. Additionally, if you’re looking for clean cosmetic brands to switch out your current makeup products with, we recommend you check out RMS Beauty and Lili Lolo, which are both available in store.  For haircare, we recommend Oway, available both in-store and online at janegee, and Innersense Organic Beauty. As we always say, you don’t have to compromise your health for beauty. Natural is how we are meant to be. Good luck on the start of your clean beauty journey!