Inspect the packaging of any makeup product in your collection, and you will most likely find several ingredients that include the word ‘paraben,’ such as methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben. Although all makeup has an expiration date, products would go bad ten times sooner without these preservatives. In recent years, there has been a call for brands to omit parabens after they were discovered in cancerous breast tissue. But as there was insufficient evidence to show parabens were the cause of cancer, they have not been labeled a carcinogen. Some may still choose to avoid makeup containing parabens, but the quantities present in eyeshadow, lipstick, foundation, etc., are so small that there is little cause for concern.
2. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is used to give cosmetics a lovely silky feel. It is so prevalent because it is so incredibly cheap for brands to acquire due to it being a by-product of the gasoline-making process. However unnatural that sounds, mineral oils are actually a highly purified ingredient. Many attribute it to acne and blocked pores, but this is impossible as mineral oil cannot penetrate the skin; it sits on top of it, making it an excellent protector of the skin barrier and aid in the prevention of moisture loss. You may still wish to avoid the ingredient by opting for products that contain natural oils instead, such as jojoba oil or argan oil. Yet, as these do penetrate the skin, you might experience breakouts or sensitivity.
Phthalates are a softening agent in cosmetics, aiding in the dissolving of other ingredients and causing products to be more pliable and pleasant to use. Although only one type of phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), has been labeled a carcinogen, several other types, including dibutyl phthalate (DBP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP), has been linked to birth defects and fertility issues. The good news is that an increasing number of phthalates are being banned in the cosmetics industry, with the European Union leading the sanctioning. However, the U.S. is slow to follow suit; therefore, women in the U.S. who are pregnant or looking to get pregnant should be cautious about purchasing cosmetics with this ingredient.
4. Artificial Fragrances
Despite being classified as a skin irritant and allergen, brands continue to include fragrances in their products in varying degrees of potency. While some people experience adverse reactions to products containing fragrance, such as redness, breakouts, and dryness, others can tolerate them well, which is why they are not considered problematic. The reason there is any concern over fragrance is the undisclosed nature of the ingredients. Companies are protected by a specific law that allows them to keep their unique fragrance formulations secret from the public and, more importantly, from other companies who might seek to replicate them. If you know fragrance is an irritant for your skin, look for products that are ‘fragrance-free’ or that only contain natural fragrances derived from essential oils.
5. Artificial Colorants
The controversy surrounding artificial colorants is mainly associated with ones known as ‘coal-tar dyes,’ a derivative of petroleum, and a known carcinogen. Although many countries are acting to ban the use of these dyes in cosmetics, they are still being used extensively. Safer artificial colorants have been disseminated in the cosmetics industry, but these are still known to have pore-clogging properties that can cause, or worsen, acne, and irritate sensitive skin. As with artificial fragrances, if you experience no irritation from the newer artificial colorants, then there is no reason to avoid them. Still, those who do react should switch to products that contain mineral pigments, which are just as effective but controversy-free!