Clean Brushes, Dirty Products - Here are the Top 5 Makeup Ingredients to Avoid

By now, you’ve probably heard or read how important it is to use clean makeup brushes to apply your cosmetics. By cleaning your brushes and replacing them regularly, you avoid buildup, bacteria and germs in your brushes that can lead to uneven makeup applications, breakouts, and skin and eye infections. Yikes.

And, if you are like most regular makeup wearers, you are always on a quest to find the best makeup products. But what if we’re not defining “best” the right way?

When you say you want to find the “best” foundation or mascara, you probably mean the one that looks best or has the most effective result for your appearance, right?

So many of our makeup and personal care products contain harmful chemicals and additives, though, that maybe, instead, we should consider the best makeup products to be those that are safest for our skin and bodies! 

On our journey to “clean up” the things that touch our skin, then, we recommend you invest in replacement makeup brushes every month and avoid these 5 ingredients in the makeup you use. The best makeup products out there won’t include these ingredients, and we’ll try to recommend a few as we go.

  1. Parabens. Parabens are preservative chemicals and are hard to avoid because they are found in so many personal products: face cleansers, lotions, shampoos, as well as in many cosmetics.

    The problem with parabens in your makeup (and other products) is that, when absorbed into your skin and body, they mimic estrogen. This can disrupt normal hormone functioning in the body and may lead to developmental and reproductive harm.

The U.S. FDA has acknowledged studies that link parabens to breast cancer, skin cancer and lowered sperm count. But, as of now, they have not been restricted for use in personal care products at all. So, it’s up to YOU to read your labels!

Look for anything ending in -paraben (including methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben) and put them back on shelf. Paraben-free products will say so on their labeling. Or, just search for cosmetic companies that don’t use parabens at all; Paris-based Viseart is one we’ve found. Their products can be purchased at Sephora and other retailers.

    2. Phthalates. These chemicals are found in color cosmetics, eyelash glue and/or are often masked by a generic listing of “fragrance” on the label. They’ve been linked to a whole host of health problems including hormone/endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, obesity and cancer. They’ve been banned in cosmetics in the European Union but are still used in the U.S. When reading labels, look out for: phthalate, DBP, DEP, DEHP and “fragrance.” Generally, buying fragrance-free products is the safest bet.

        3. Formaldehyde.  We all know this chemical right? While formaldehyde itself may not be added to your products and cosmetics, often various preservatives used in them can combine and decompose to release formaldehyde, which is a known human carcinogen and skin irritant. Check your lotions, nail polish and sunscreens for any of these: formaldehyde, quaternium-15, glyoxal, DMDM hydantoin, polyoxymethylene urea, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

            4. Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA). These particular chemicals can be found in many of your cosmetics, including mascara, lotions, and foundation. Studies have linked these compounds to male reproductive problems and cancer in animals. And once again, the E.U. has banned DEA in cosmetics. So, take a cue from the Europeans and avoid them here, too. Our favorite ethanolamine-free (plus paraben-free and petroleum-free) mascara? W3LL People Expressionist Mascara.
              5. BHA/BHT. Used as preservatives in cosmetics such as lipsticks, blush, face powder, eyeshadow and moisturizers, butylated compounds (BHA and BHT) are linked to some pretty horrific stuff. The US National Toxicology Program anticipates that BHA is a human carcinogen, and, like many of the other chemicals listed here, can cause hormonal, developmental, and reproductive problems. The E.U. has ALSO banned this substance in fragrances. So, let’s consider it a big no-no, and choose products without BHA/BHT, such as Mineral Fusion’s Eyeshadow Trio (and as a bonus, it’s also paraben-free, fragrance-free and talc-free!).

                All this is a lot to think about, isn’t it? And we haven’t even covered all of the chemicals that you should avoid. But clearly you can see that it’s important to read the labels of the products you buy and look for those that state that they DON’T include the ingredients we covered!

                And just because a product touts itself as “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. It can still include one or more of these ingredients. So be an informed consumer.

                Or, better yet, make your own natural, healthy products at home - here are some ideas for everything from an exfoliating lip scrub to DIY deodorant.

                So, now we’ve hopefully cleaned up your makeup supply in favor of products that are safe for your skin. But what about what you’re applying that new safe makeup with? Are your brushes and sponges months old and contaminated with bacteria?

                Replacement makeup brushes are the way to go if you want to continue your pledge toward healthier, cleaner cosmetics. By regularly replacing your brushes and sponges, you are avoiding touching your skin with applicators that have collected weeks and months of dirt, dead skin, bacteria and built-up makeup residue - thus keeping your new “clean” makeup even cleaner.

                There are a few companies out there that offer subscription replacement makeup brushes, but only Beautiac offers a system of snap on/pop off brush heads that are 100% recyclable (plus animal cruelty-free and very affordable).

                If we’re keeping your makeup products and applicators clean, we can’t go ruining the environment, right? Your pledge for “clean and safe” should extend to eliminating waste in our landfills, and with Beautiac’s replacement makeup brushes, you can do just that - when your monthly shipment arrives, simply pop the old brush heads off the universal handle, throw them into your regular recycling bin, and snap the new brush heads into place. Easy peasy.