The key to health and beauty care is often education. And thanks to the Internet anyone can now truly research and understand what’s in our beauty products. And while deciphering the ingredient list of your favorite beauty products may seem daunting, sometimes you only need to know what to watch out for. To help you in this mission we’ve put together a list of 6 ingredients you should avoid in anything you buy. By steering clear of these dangerous chemicals, you can be assured that whatever you’re putting on your skin isn’t harming it. 1. Parabens Parabens are the most commonly used preservatives in the cosmetics industry. They’re in almost every cream you might use, as they prevent fungus and mold from growing in your products. The problem is that these toxic Parabens can be absorbed through the skin, and have often been found in breast cancer tumors! Because of this, there is a growing concern that excessive use of parabens might give rise to breast cancer in women. Concern over Parabens is why you see so many “paraben-free” items popping up in the supermarket and pharmacies around the country. Parabens can appear in different forms, so here’s what you want to look out for: benzylparaben butyiparaben propylparaben methylparaben ethylparaben isobutylparaben 2. Petroleum Here’s a sneaky one. Petroleum pops up in so many cosmetics products, it’s ridiculous. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it’s the very same substance from which your motor oil is made. It hides behind many names that you should familiarize yourself with. They are: Petrolatum Xylene Toluene Mineral oil Liquid paraffin As an industry standard, there’s a lot of information out there touting the safety of petroleum by-products, so you might be wondering why you should avoid it. It’s because it contains 1,4-Dioxane, which has been listed by the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable carcinogen. Cancer from your moisturizer? No thank you. 3. Phthalates This hard to pronounce class of substances is found in just about everything. They have been found to act as a hormone disruptor linked to reproductive defects, insulin resistance and developmental problems in children. Here’s the difficult part: phthalates usually aren’t listed on the label of your favorite products, so you have to do a bit of investigation to determine their presence. Need a clue? They’re often found in anything that misleadingly lists “fragrance” as an ingredient. Look for products that are “fragrance free” or scented with essential oils. 4. Benzoyl Peroxide Over the last twenty years, the popularity of pimple-zapping products has skyrocketed. benzoyl peroxide is responsible for this, but you should be wary about using it. That’s because it’s been linked with the promotion of tumor growth. Horrifying, right? Beyond that, it produces toxic effects in the body simply through inhalation. It’s a known respiratory, skin, and eye irritant. If that isn’t bad enough, it’s poisonous if you swallow it. 5. Triclosan Technically a pesticide – at least according to the EPA – triclosan is a popular ingredient in just about any product claiming antibacterial properties. It works very well at killing bacteria, and that’s actually the problem: not all bacteria are bad for you, and furthermore, some experts speculate widespread of this chemical could give rise to “superbugs” – harmful bacteria resistant to antibiotics. That’s not all; triclosan has been shown to work as both a hormone and thyroid disruptor. On top of that, it’s terrible for the environment. So put your inner germaphobe at ease and know that water and natural hand soap will more than handle your daily hand-washing needs. 6. Resorcinol Why is it that resorcinol – a popular ingredient in bleaches – is restricted in federal government buildings, but is used freely in so many hair color products? That probably doesn’t sound right to you, and that’s because it isn’t. Not at all! Resorcinol is a known skin irritant that has been shown in studies to disrupt healthy thyroid function in animals. It’s also a common cause of dye allergy that so many women find themselves bothered by. You don’t want this in your hair, or anywhere for that matter! 7. Oxybenzone Oxybenzone is an active ingredient in quite a few of the sunscreen products on the shelves of your favorite store. Unfortunately, this chemical has been linked to skin irritation and allergies, hormone disruption and low birth weights in baby girls. What’s scary is that a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that oxybenzone is present in the urine of 97% of Americans. How much of it have we been exposed to, and how is it affecting us in ways that we don’t quite understand yet? With figures like these, chances are it’s already in your system, so you want to limit your future exposure to it as much as possible.