Four beauty ingredients you might want to ban from your routine

We used to think that if a beauty product is on shelves everywhere, then it must be safe. Surely the government and the brands themselves would not put their customers in danger! However, recent studies have shown that we should watch out for certain common ingredients in the products we use. It’s worrisome that many are still legal, so it really pays to always read the label. 


When I was in high school, I asked my mom to buy me this type of facial wash because the advertising campaigns had me convinced that these were the solution to my blemishes. I was fascinated by tiny little globules of plastic, and the texture made me feel cleaner. Microbeads soon started to appear in body washes and even toothpastes. The problem is, these tiny plastic balls were beginning to cause clogs and wreak havoc on the environment. The ingredient is now banned in the United States, while other countries consider doing the same!

Because they are made with plastic, the beads eventually wash down the drain and accumulate in our waterways. They are never totally broken down—even biodegradable plastics need to be exposed to industrial-level heat, which doesn’t naturally occur in bodies of water. Aside from polluting bodies of water, all manner of water creatures end up ingesting the beads and may pass onto us whenever we eat seafood. No, thank you!

Most products with microbeads usually indicate their presence in the product but if you aren’t sure, check the label for polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Instead, use natural scrub alternatives like ground nuts, seeds, salt, and my personal favorite—sugar!

Talcum Powder

Who didn’t grow up with a dusting of baby powder on her back and neck? Some women even continue to use baby powder to keep their faces shine-free. It’s something that I’ve grown to know as a safe hygiene product for babies. So imagine my shock when my pediatrician advised me to NEVER EVER use baby powder on my newborn!

Concerned about the possible effects from having used baby powder all these years, I decided to find out a little more about it! I was relieved to find that only talcum powder with asbestos is considered a carcinogen, and that all talcum products made since the ‘70s have been asbestos-free. Still, it’s considered unsafe to use around infants because it may cause respiratory problems when inhaled. It may trigger health problems, particularly if the child has family history for respiratory problems like asthma, so never set your makeup when a baby is around!

Bad Alcohol

While it’s important to have good skin care and makeup practices, not all alcohol is made equal. At home, I always have backups of isopropyl alcohol but I try to limit its use on my skin, since I know it can really dry it up. The tricky thing about alcohol as a beauty ingredient is that there are different kinds of alcohols that affect the skin in different ways.

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol also are to be avoided, particularly if these are listed as active ingredients in facial skin care as they dry up and sensitize the skin. There are “good” alcohols, too! They’re called glycols and are considered neutral, since they don’t harm the skin like other alcohols. They don’t nourish the skin by themselves but help by retaining moisture on the skin. Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, and stearyl alcohol are some fatty alcohols that won’t dry up the skin.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Waaayyy before I became a beauty enthusiast and cautious mom, I knew SLS was bad for the skin but not how and why exactly. Fairly recent studies have debunked a lot of the myths surrounding SLS but if you want to play safe, opt for its cousin Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which is a much gentler option that performs even better than SLS .

Made you think twice about all the personal care products you went through all these years, huh? Do you have a beauty ingredient to add to this list? Which of these have you stopped using as well?


The Story of Stuff ProjectBeat the Microbead, American Cancer Society, BabyCenter, L.L.C., Paula’s Choice Beautypedia, Paula’s Choice Beautypedia