The Dangerous Price of Beauty - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


The Dangerous Price of Beauty

What price are you willing to pay in an effort to preserve your youth?


The promise of beautiful, glowing and ageless skin is so intoxicating that a lot of women worldwide are willing to take the risk of not bothering with the products’ ingredients. Some say that the ends will eventually justify the means, but how far would you really go to achieve a state of beauty? What price are you willing to pay in an effort to preserve your youth?

The Dangerous Price of BeautyResearch has shown that while few of the most popular skin care products today are able to deliver on their promise, what’s more certain is that they can be very harmful in the long run. Sure, short-term ill effects might include rashes and allergies, which you can immediately address. However, there are certain ingredients in skin care lines that manufacturers fail to tell us about — and most of them exhibit ill effects that don’t manifest until after years or decades of use, or when there’s no turning back.

Always check your products in the Cosmetics Database and the GoodGuide, both of which rate beauty and consumer products based on toxicity.

The Dangerous Price of Beauty

[Above: an example of search results from]

Here are five of the most common and harmful ingredients you should watch out for the next time you snap a skin care product off the shelves. This is by no means a complete list, as 80% of ingredients in consumer products (cosmetics, skin care, cleaning) remain untested, and the complete list of proven toxic ingredients that are in your products (yes, yours!) is much longer.

Since the FDA’s inception in 1930, the FDA has only banned six cosmetics ingredients. In contrast, in the same amount of time, the European Union has banned 450 cosmetics ingredients.

Watch out for these ingredients with every skin care product you consider and, remember, don’t be fooled by high price tags. Higher price tags don’t usually mean higher quality – just more marketing.

1. Phthalates

The Dangerous Price of BeautyDibutylphthalate, also called DBP or butyl ester, is a very common ingredient in skin care products whose function is to help the skin absorb the products better and achieve desired results faster. What is alarming, however, is that DBP has been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen, meaning, it can cause cancer. It has also been shown to lower sperm count in men, and cause unborn males to have smaller penis’ and other testicular issues.

The issue on DBP-containing products was raised years ago, but most skin care lines in department stores still contain this ingredient, unlisted on the label. It’s illegal in virtually every modern country except the USA.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

The Dangerous Price of Beauty

This chemical is the main ingredient in most facial washes, as its effect is to strip the layer of oil off the skin to make it look “fresh and clean.” What many don’t know, however, is that sodium lauryl sulfate is also the main ingredient in garage floor cleaners and other degreasing agents. Sure, it can get rid of that oil layer, but it leaves the skin vulnerable, pitted and rough. Take note that the skin needs a considerable layer of oil to stay nourished and healthy. Washing your face with could be an industrial degreaser could lead to more harm than good, so it’s best to read the fine print and labels before getting sold on something.

3. Synthetic Perfumes

Sometimes, it is the bad things that are disguised in nice-smelling packages. Just because your facial wash or lotion smells wonderful, it doesn’t always mean your body is rejoicing in it. Synthetic or chemical-based perfumes are high in aldehydes (air pollutants) and benzene derivatives, which can lead to dizziness, headaches and other similar toxic reactions. Skin care manufacturers often take to synthetic perfumes because the cost of making natural-based fragrances is high, thereby allowing them to sell their products cheap.

On top of it, the word “Fragrance” on an ingredients label is deemed a “trade secret”, and therefore companies don’t have to disclose the contents of this concoction. Many companies hide the most harmful ingredients under the cloak of “Fragrance”.

4. Cocoamide DEA TEA

The Dangerous Price of BeautyCocoamide, also called diethylalomine, is what makes moisturizers and shampoos bubble. While bubbling looks and feels nice, studies have shown that DEA blocks your body’s natural choline absorption, which is necessary for proper brain development and function. It can also lead to skin breakouts, rashes and allergies in the short term.

5. Petrochemicals

Nearly all skin care products contain petroleum-based ingredients and we all thought that was okay. However, research on the product has shown that both topical and oral applications may result in kidney problems, nerve and brain damage and anemia in the long run. Tests were conducted on a group of rodents to verify this claim and, indeed, the researchers saw that some of the animals has suffered and died even before the entire study was completed. Watch out particularly for colors like C Blue No 1 and FD as they suspected to be carcinogens.

The Dangerous Price of Beauty

The Solution

We at Urbanette use the simplest products we can. We take our makeup off with 100% organic coconut oil. We use Badger bar soap for our face and body. We use products (like the “Deep Steep” line), with as few ingredients as possible – and only ingredients we understand.

Always check your products in the Cosmetics Database (aka. Skin Deep / EWG) and the GoodGuide, both of which rate beauty and consumer products based on toxicity. Skin Deep and GoodGuide both have apps you can download on your phone, to scan a barcode for fast checking in-store. GoodGuide also has an Internet browser toolbar that slides up from the bottom of your window, to subtly warn you when you’re shopping for a potentially toxic / harmful product (based on selected criteria you care about), and suggests similar options you might like that fit your criteria better.

The best part? The natural glow that comes from a combination of natural products coupled with serenity in knowing that you’re not poisoning your body.

Let’s face it, we all grow old and, frankly, the true secret to beauty inside and out is happiness, contentment and a positive attitude. While skin care products may sometimes allow us to slow time and hang on to our youth for just a little while longer, it’s a genuine smile, along with a healthy body and outlook that will ensure we live beyond the life expectancy statistics — and gracefully.

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 8 Comments

  1. Melani Kalev

    Very informative article with a good illustrative video!!

  2. Courtney Watson

    It’s unfortunate, but most of the time we are blinded by false advertisements 🙁

  3. Hannah Mayers

    Admittedly, each time I buy beauty products, I don’t care or I don’t even look at the ingredients. My concern is just, “how it can make me look better?” But this article is an eye opener for me. I should be more concerned with what it contains.

  4. Jen Garcia

    Uh oh! I really don’t know how to react but I really find this article very informative! Now, I would be more cautious in buying various “beauty stuff.”

    Thank you for the tips and things to watch out for!

  5. This is really important information everyone should know more about. It's not often that I remember to stop and check the label, I would never have assumed such dangerous products are legal!!

  6. Joanne Samonte

    This is a really informative article. I’m often fooled by TV ads and to be honest, I wasn’t aware of these ‘harsh’ ingredients. Too bad for me 🙁 I’ll be more careful this time…

  7. Randie Cadiogan

    Some are just really fooled by the TV ads that they don’t take the time to check the ingredients posted at the back of the product. Thanks for this article, it’ll help  a lot of girls! 

  8. Camille Delos Santos

    My grandma always told me that wearing make-up at a young age will make you look older at a young age also. I didn’t listen to her of course. now Im 24 and seeing the first few wrinkles on my face. 

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