4 Harmful “Beauty” Ingredients and the ONE Healthy Solution to Avoid Them

I was taking a shower at my mom’s house after yoga one night, and I noticed that she had a new bottle of shampoo.

It’s called “Gugo Shampoo,” and it’s rather popular here in the Philippines.

I said to myself, “Hey, I know this. People talk about this.” So while the warm water flowed down my skin, I squeezed the bottle and lathered up my hair.

After washing my hair, I decided (belatedly) to read the ingredients. To my surprise, this so-called healthy, organic product contains Sodium lauryl sulfate, a known skin and eye irritant.

I stuck with my vegan, GMO-free shampoo after that. I also made it a point to read the ingredients before buying or using them.

Aside from Sodium lauryl sulfate, what other ingredients should you watch out for?

These 4 toxic gunks.



Parabens are a widely used preservative (it’s been in use for more than 70 years) in cosmetics and hair care products. They’re the ones that stop your creams and shampoos from getting fungus. Sounds good right? Well…

In several studies, parabens were linked to an increase in breast cancer (bad for us, ladies!). You can read summaries of them in WebMD, Mercola, and Huffington Post.

According to other studies and medical literature, too much paraben can also lead to birth defects, anxiety for women during pregnancy, skin cancer, and endocrine disruption. (Source: SafeCosmetics.org)

If you want to go paraben-free, read the label and the ingredients. anything with the suffix -paraben is a general no-no. Don’t be fooled by the marketing keywords “natural” and “organic” either. Read the fine print. You’ll be glad you did.



I would usually see this in the ingredient list of my nail polishes and my eye shadows. When someone told me that formaldehyde is flammable, I remembered that my cosmetics had that ingredient. I promised to stay away from anything that had formaldehyde since then.

Eventually I did more researching and found out that formaldehyde is also used in cigarette smoke, fertilizers, pesticides, and paints—and it’s also used for embalming. It’s a colorless gas and you can easily get a whiff of it in the air. It may cause cancer (leukemia, throat, and cancer of the nasal sinuses).

Usually, you won’t find formaldehyde in the ingredients list, but usually, it’s there. It’s best to look for toxic-free cosmetics that are affordable. These nail lacquer brands, reported by bestproducts.com, for example, are supposedly toxic-free.



I’m allergic to anything with a scent. I go to the emergency room usually for hives—all because I slathered coconut oil with fragrance. There was a time I had to be absent for work because I applied body wash with fragrance. I’m probably part of a minority with ultra-sensitive skin, but it’s best to avoid anything that smells good.

A natural fragrance is okay, but a lot of cosmetics companies put a ton of chemicals to make their products smell good. In the Philippines, the unsuspecting consumer will buy a product smells so good but does a lot of harm to the skin. These scented chemicals can go into the bloodstream and can give a person respiratory problems.

Honestly, I don’t want to smell good and get sick later on. Best to get mild or unscented products, or use natural essential oils and mix them in your own DIY skincare product.



This word is relatively new to me. After googling, I learned that the US banned the use of phthalates in children’s products. This ingredient has been linked to asthma, ADHD, cancer, and Type II Diabetes. They can cause male reproductive problems, certain types of autism, and other illnesses.

The scary part is that I didn’t see this on ingredient lists in my skincare products (before I went totally cruelty-free).

The scarier part is that it’s hard to avoid phthalates entirely.

According to an article in the Huffington Post:

You’ll find phthalates in perfume, hair spray, deodorant, almost anything fragranced (from shampoo to air fresheners to laundry detergent), nail polish, insect repellent, carpeting, vinyl flooring, the coating on wires and cables, shower curtains, raincoats, plastic toys, and your car’s steering wheel, dashboard, and gearshift. (When you smell “new car,” you’re smelling phthalates.) Medical devices are full of phthalates — they make IV drip bags and tubes soft, but unfortunately, DEHP is being pumped directly into the bloodstream of ailing patients. Most plastic sex toys are softened with phthalates.

The best thing to do right now is to prevent phthalates at home. Avoid plastics and fragrances as much as possible, and GO VEGAN.

Yes. The best way to avoid parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, fragrances, and phthalates is to go vegan.

Being vegan is probably the best solution you can find to fix this problem. The vegan lifestyle in general is very meticulous not only about using animal products, but also harmful chemicals that can compromise our health and the health of the environment. Having a pure plant-based diet does wonders to your body, and the less chemicals you have in your body, the better.

Right now, almost all of us might be living with these chemicals (and more!) in our bodies. They are traveling in our bloodstreams. They are harming our body. When we all go vegan, this problem will stop.

I hope you make the right decision today and go plant-powered.