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What’s Really In Your Makeup? Things You Should Know Before Purchasing Products

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

Many of us who are passionate about makeup (myself included) tend to rush to buy the hottest products on the market. Without researching ingredients and blindly purchasing, many of us can fall into the habit of purchasing products with harmful chemicals without even knowing it. Popular brands such as La Mer, Yves Saint Laurent, and L’Oreal are part of the many companies that use harsh chemicals that are actually toxic and detrimental to your health. 

Some chemicals to avoid when purchasing products include parabens, phthalates, octinoxate, and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). 


Parabens are preservatives used in products to give the product a longer shelf life. Unfortunately, parabens are carcinogens and can lead to various types of cancer. This is extremely common and detrimental to your health considering many beauty products contain parabens. Not only can this chemical be found in many makeup products but also shampoos, conditioners, detergents, and moisturizers.


This group of chemicals is used in beauty products to make the product softer and more flexible. Phthalates are very dangerous because they can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system. The FDA does not require companies to label each chemical in the product so even if you look for it, you may not find it.


This chemical is actually one of the most toxic chemicals that can be found in beauty products today. This chemical can disrupt the endocrine system and affect your reproductive system as well. This chemical is commonly used as a sunscreen and has been proven to cause early puberty for girls as well as hormone-related cancer.

Butylated hydroxyanisole

Butylated hydroxyanisole is used as a preservative but also antioxidant for products that can also be found in food as well as makeup. This harmful chemical compound has led to the development of tumors when tested on animals as well as a human carcinogen. This chemical compound can also be found in embalming fluid and potato chips, which is very scary to think that I have been applying a product used to preserve a dead body.

A useful website used to analyze products and show you the ingredients is www.cosdna.com. Below is an image of what this website informs you about regarding chemicals in the products you search. It shows you what each chemical does as well as how it affects your skin.

Next time you purchase a new lipstick or foundation, be sure to check the products and do some research. You do not want to put your body in harm’s way and fall accustomed to applying dangerous chemicals to your skin that can have long-term effects on your health.

Jessica is the Campus Correspondent and Editor-in-Chief of Hofstra University's Her Campus Chapter. Jessica, from New Jersey, is a journalism major and psychology minor at Hofstra University. As a dedicated member of her college's Her Campus chapter since her freshman year, she has held the role of staff writer, Snapshot editor, Secretary and now CC. Outside of Her Campus, Jessica's publications include JeannineMorris.com, TheCelebrityCafe.com, FashionWeek.com, The Hofstra Chronicle and the Long Island Report, where she is also a student editor. In her spare time Jessica enjoys being outdoors, camping and hiking, snowboarding in the winter, hitting the Jersey Shore beaches in the summer, working out and spending time with her friends, family, and pets. Check out her fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog at http://Jessie-Leigh.com.