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Reading a food label is nothing in comparison to a beauty label, and the effects of not knowing what you are using on your  body are just as unsafe as not knowing what you feed your body. Scary sounding ingredients can be a bit intimidating, but don’t fear them. In the beauty industry, unpronounceable words  don’t necessarily mean the ingredients aren’t good for you. Here are few things to look for in your stash of products.

Synthetic Fragrances

These show up on the label typically either as fragrance or parfume. If you are prone to allergies, you may want to avoid these products. A lot of time, the company doesn’t fully disclose what exactly is used to make up these scents, and unfortunately they are not legally obligated to. Not all are bad, but it’s just something to keep in mind. Try finding a product that states their fragrance is sourced from natural ingredients.


Good ole’ parabens –  they  keep the shelf life of your products up and keep your health down. These synthetic preservatives are known to cause horomone disruption, DNA damage, skin aging and even sometimes cancer. It’s always best to try the paraben-free alternative if their is one. Also, it’s not always just listed as paraben. Any ingredient ending in paraben is included, e.g., methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and isobutylparaben


This one is a bit tricky. All alcohol ingredients aren’t bad for you. Vitamin A and vitamin E are actually both considered alcohols. The role of certain alcohols can vary from one to the next, whether it be a humectant, solvent, emulsifier, surfactant,or antioxidant. Here are a few to know:

  • Retinol (Vitamin A deriviative)
  • Tocopherol (Vitamen E)
  • Cetyl Alcohol/Stearyl alcohol, and propylene glycol (all skin benefiting)
  • SD aclcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol, and isopropyl alcohol (All dry out your skin)


This is one you should always stay away from. There are too many cases of it being an irritant, as well as being linked to cancer. Othere derivatives of formaldehyde you should keep a look out for are:

  • DD hydatoin
  • Diazolidinyl Urea
  • Methanamin
  • Quarterium-15


These are common detergents found in several products. Do you know they use sulfates to clean paint off of concrete? These cleaning agents are often seen in shampoos and face wash. They are also what give you the lather in your soaps. Sulfates can be beneficial if used correctly and for the right purpose. Sulfates are surfactants, and therefore abolish all oil from whatever it comes in contact with. If you are going to use them in your regimen, just make sure you understand how. Look out for ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate.


Often found in lotions, hairspray and fragrances, this ingredient is a very popular one. It is also very toxic. They have been linked to cancer, birth defects and slew of other dangerous ailments. It is best to avoid products with the following- DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP, dibutyl/diethyl ester, and 2-benzenedicarboxylate.

Beauty Labels Decoded  was originally published on

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