The soaps, lotions, and makeup people use every day have a huge impact on wearers. Since these products are right next to the skin, they can have a greater effect on health than one may think.

Some beauty products may end up exposing wearers to dangerous chemicals or negatively affecting the skin. Without doing proper research, it can be very difficult to figure out whether or not a product is safe. Even if something looks natural and wholesome, it may be made up of harmful chemicals. When shopping for beauty products, it is important to make sure the products do not contain these problematic ingredients.

Toxins That Aren't Safe

Perhaps the most concerning part of using beauty products is the potential to be exposed to dangerous toxins. While the European Union has banned thousands of dangerous chemicals, the United States Food and Drug Administration has only gotten around to banning about 11 chemicals. This lax regulation exposes consumers to a variety of unhealthy materials and toxins.

For example, some of the chemicals in traditional beauty products are carcinogenic. Things like formaldehyde are used in almost all conventional beauty products because they keep bacteria from growing in the product in between uses. However, formaldehyde has been linked to several types of chronic illnesses. Beauty product manufacturers try to reassure customers by saying that the carcinogens in their products are at very small, safe levels. It might be true that a single product does not contain enough carcinogens to get a person sick right away, but repeatedly applying carcinogens throughout a lifetime could have a negative effect.

Another growing cause for concern in beauty products is the presence of hormone-disrupting chemicals. Many of the synthetic chemicals used in beauty products are very similar to hormones the body uses. This leads to confusion, or disruption, in the body. Regularly applying beauty products with hormone-disrupting chemicals can end up altering the natural chemical balances in the body.

One of the primary toxins found in many beauty products is parabens. This type of preservative can be an issue because it is so easily absorbed through the skin. Once it gets in the body, paraben mimics natural estrogen. This can alter a person's typical reproductive cycle.

With the countless dangerous chemicals in beauty products, it can seem overwhelming and intimidating to try to find products without these chemicals. Just like with food, one of the simplest ways to avoid dangerous toxins in beauty products is to read the labels. Whenever possible, pick items with all-natural ingredients that are recognizable and find items that are free of parabens. Take the time to research names for unrecognizable chemicals to see if they are harmful. Many companies proudly boast that their products are free of formaldehyde and parabens, but after looking at the ingredients more closely, a consumer may find that the products contain phenoxyethanol, bronopol, and other ingredients that have the same toxic effects.

Cruelty-Free Ingredients

The majority of major beauty companies use products that have been tested on animals. Therefore, it is surprisingly difficult to find items that bypass this process. Even if a check of the label reveals that the product is "cruelty-free," it may still have materials that were tested on animals. There are no federal laws actually prohibiting animal testing, so it is difficult to find out if a product was tested on animals or not.

Many claims of being cruelty-free simply mean that animal testing was not used on the finished product. However, companies might use animal testing for identical products sold in the foreign market, or they might use animal testing for the individual ingredients in the products. Since manufacturers know that most people do not approve of animal testing, they sometimes use deceptive practices to hide whether or not an item was tested on animals.

Despite what some beauty companies may claim, there are plenty of excellent alternatives to animal testing. It is possible to find products that are safe for humans and have not required the mistreatment of animals. However, testing these products tends to cost more, and many companies are not willing to cut into their profits. Instead, they find ways to discreetly sell animal-tested products.

Once a consumer decides to only use products that are not tested on animals, it can be tricky to find the right products. The best bet is to find brands known for their ethics and lack of animal manufacturing and shop for their products. To find out if an item contains animal-tested ingredients, a consumer can check on websites like Leaping Bunny.

Harsh Substances and Ingredients

When it comes to beauty products, there are plenty of ingredients that are not necessarily toxic or dangerous. However, some non-toxic products are not ideal for skincare either. Anything that disrupts the natural balance of the skin can cause a wearer to end up with dry skin, acne, or infections. Historically, skincare products have focused on harshly stripping the skin of any oil or grime and then slapping greasy lotions on top to overcompensate for the harsh soaps. Skincare experts are starting to realize that a gentler approach is far more effective.

Another one of the key details to check products for is pH level. Skin is naturally slightly acidic with a pH between 4 and 5. This inhibits bacteria growth and keeps the skin healthy. Traditional soaps tend to be excessively alkaline, and many normal foundations, lotions, and other products are also slightly alkaline. This alkalinity throws the skin's pH off balance and allows all sorts of acne and other infections to flourish.

Harsh ingredients are not just problematic because they change the pH of the skin. They also tend to strip skin of any moisture. This is a bad idea even for those with very oily skin. When a person uses items with alcohol and other drying ingredients, the skin tries to compensate by producing more oil. This just leads to more acne and greasy skin. It is best to avoid drying items and instead gently nourish the skin with moisturizing ingredients. The primary drying ingredient that causes problems is alcohol, so look for products that are alcohol-free.

It is also a good idea to avoid beauty products that physically harm the skin, regardless of their ingredients. Physical exfoliants might leave one's face feeling soft and smooth, but their scrubby ingredients scour away a layer of skin. Ultimately, this causes damage to the face on a cellular level. Another physically harmful product is wax used for hair removal. Products that rip up hairs from the pores can damage the skin around the pores too. Any sort of physical damage is bad because it opens up the skin to infection.

Instead of harsh substances, consumers should try to find beauty products filled with natural ingredients that nourish and strengthen the skin. Nutrients like vitamin C boost collagen production while green tea extracts soothe the skin and fight off sun damage. Natural items like argan oil, witch hazel, and hyaluronic acid are effective without being overly harsh on the skin.