Most of us have a pretty consistent arsenal of hair, face and body products to keep us looking fly. But do you know what the ingredients are in your products? Do you know how they can affect your health or even the health of your future offspring?

Holistic wellness expert Wisteria Ward of Needful Things Natural Home and Body Care gives a good explanation of how the ingredients in the products you use enter your body through the skin, "think of how a nicotine patch works. The ingredients enter the body through the skin, which means that the same thing occurs when applying bath and beauty products."

Reading the labels on beauty products can make your head start swimming in a sea of confusion. So here’s is a list of three toxic ingredients to avoid in your self-care regimen.

1. Petroleum/Petrochemicals

We've all had a love affair at one point or another with our beloved hair grease and petroleum jelly, but they’re made with an ingredient that should absolutely be avoided. Petroleum and mineral oil comes from crude oil (yes, the same stuff we get gasoline, jet fuel and propane from) and is not only bad for your health, but also has environmental repercussions due to how it’s collected from the Earth. The research found in toxicology and industrial health point to petroleum possibly causing endocrine disruption, reproductive problems as well as developmental disorders. The body can’t metabolize petroleum; the Journal of Women's Health reported in a study that mineral oil was found in the milk of breastfeeding women, passing on the damaging effects of petroleum to their babies. Petroleum can also have negative effects on your thyroid, liver and brain, and is a possible carcinogen. Petrochemicals are also listed on products as: mineral oil, petrolatum and paraffin wax. It's often found in perfumes or fragrance, in which 95% of them in mainstream products come from petroleum. It is frequently found in foundations, moisturizers, cleansers and conditioners.

2. Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives in a variety of cosmetic, pharmaceutical, personal care and food products. They have properties that mimic estrogen and have been linked to breast cancer. Parabens have also been found to be endocrine disruptors. They can frequently be found in body washes, shampoos, makeup, deodorants and facial cleansers.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate

This insidious ingredient can be found in over 90% of our beauty products. It’s a surfactant that is also responsible for creating a foamy consistency in things such as shampoo, body wash, conditioner and cleansers. It is also found in nail polish and many types of makeup. Other than causing irritation to the skin, lungs and eyes, sodium lauryl and sodium laureth sulfates are known to interact and combine with other chemicals to form carcinogens in the body. These harmful combinations can also lead to issues such as respiratory and kidney damage.

The Environmental Working Group and the Think Dirty app both have search options to input products and see what their toxicity rating is, so you don’t have to memorize every detrimental chemical.

In conclusion, armed with this newfound knowledge of harmful chemicals found in cosmetic and body products, you will now be ready to make better-informed choices about what you put on (and in) your body.

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