According to a recent study, the average woman applies 12 beauty products to her body a day. Unfortunately, as women routinely apply these products, many aren’t aware that some of the products they’re using may contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to long-term health problems. As a result, women are inadvertently putting products on their faces, lips and eyes that may be harmful to them. Many personal-care products contain chemicals that can disrupt your hormones, have been linked to cancer, cause allergies, or can damage your skin. People are exposed to toxins by breathing in sprays, swallowing chemicals on the lips, or absorbing them through the skin. So what’s the best way to protect yourself from these harmful chemicals? Educate yourself! Knowing which chemicals are unsafe is the first point of defense.

What chemicals are harmful and what cosmetics have them?

Many beauty products contain chemicals that are pollutants. It’s important to avoid products that contain toxins, such as parabens, phthalates, and sodium laurel sulfate, a degreaser that’s used to clean engines and is found in 90% of all personal care products. It’s also recommended to avoid using products that contain synthetic dyes and musk, which are sometimes labeled as “fragrance.” Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which may interfere with the body’s endocrine or hormone system. They can produce adverse developmental, reproductive and neurological effects as well as birth defects. Dioxane and a substance called quaternium-15, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative, are ingredients that should also be avoided as both have been linked to cancer.

The following products have been known to contain toxic ingredients. To safeguard yourself against some of these dangerous ingredients, here are some tips to follow:

  • Lipstick: Most lipsticks contain lead and studies show that women ingest pounds of lipstick over the course of a lifetime. When shopping for lipstick, verify that it’s composed of natural ingredients.
  • Mascara: Avoid mascaras that contain retinyl palmitate and parabens. These preservatives can mimic estrogen and possibly interfere with the endocrine system.
  • Blush: Avoid products that contain rose quartz and silica, which are considered possible human carcinogens and have proven toxic to immune and respiratory systems over prolonged exposure.
  • Sunscreens: Discard sunscreens and makeup that contain the ingredient known as octinoxate. While this chemical helps filter UV rays, it’s also been linked to thyroid and brain signal problems in lab animals.

When shopping for cosmetics it’s important to read the ingredients listed on the label just as you would read the ingredients on your food labels. For an extensive list of harmful cosmetic ingredients containing chemicals with known or suspected health risks, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website.

While many of these products contain only trace amounts and more research needs to be conducted, it’s important to educate yourself on the possible risks these products may pose on your health.