5 beauty ingredients to avoid if you want to help the planet as well as your skin

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You’re most likely savvy about the ingredients that keep your skin happy and healthy. But what about the environment…?

You’ve swapped your single-use water bottle for a reusable one, started taking your morning caffeine hit in a bamboo cup and whittled down your Uber habit.

But unbeknownst to even the most die-hard beauty fans out there, the contents of your make-up bag might be the secret last hurdle when it comes to cutting out habits that harm the planet.

Of course, every industry leaves some kind of footprint, but there’s a handful of chemicals commonly used in cosmetics that can cause damage and aren’t necessary in making a beauty product great.

Take bareMinerals. They’re a permanent fixture in many a beauty expert’s make-up bag, but they’re also free of all the rubbish you commonly find in other cosmetics.

Here’s what to look out for…

1. Microbeads

A recap for anyone who missed the microbead memo last year: a UK ban was enforced in 2018 on the sale of any products containing microbeads, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of your bathroom just yet.

Often found in face and body scrubs, these tiny plastic beads go straight from shower to sewer to sea.

One shower could deposit up to 100,000 beads into the ocean. 

What’s more, those little beads aren’t doing your skin any favours either and can cause tiny scratches in the skin, which isn’t surprising if you think you’re essentially scrubbing your face with plastic.

Happily, there are loads of natural alternatives such as seeds and nut kernels.

If you’ve still got any products with microbeads in lying around, maybe think twice before jumping into the shower with them.

2. Phthalates

Try saying that one fast five times. These utterly unpronounceable chemicals are used to add flexibility to a product – such as stopping a hairspray feeling crunchy or a nail polish going brittle.

They’re also used in household cleaners and vinyl flooring, which isn’t quite what you want to hear about something you’re potentially slathering on your body or ingesting in your lipstick.

However, studies indicate that when phthalates end up in the water (which can happen all too easily with make-up that you inevitably wash off), they can cause abnormal changes in marine life.

There’s also been some less-than-pleasant side-effects on human health like asthma, and while the studies are preliminary, they’re one ingredient you might want to consider cutting out.

Luckily, alternatives do exist. BareMinerals BarePro Lipsticks are the ultimate lip treat, with sunflower seed and jojoba waxes to keep them soft and supple, and a huge range of 20 shades, from nudes to deep berries.

They’re long-wearing but not drying, and as kind to your lips as they are to the planet.


Another preservative often found in make-up and sometimes moisturisers, BHA and BHT are both thought to be dangerous to marine life.

Part of the problem with these is a process called ‘bioaccumulation’, which means BHA and BHT build up faster in animal’s bodies than they can get rid of it.

If you have sensitive skin, they might be bad news for your beauty bag as well, as the preservatives can sometimes cause allergic reactions.

Just like with triclosan (more on that later), they’re totally inessential for product longevity, thankfully.

4. Synthetic fragrances

We understand the appeal of that coconut-vanilla-peach body lotion as much as the next person, but the truth is you’re better off sticking to natural scents.

Essentially, some of the compounds used to fragrance beauty products don’t break down in wastewater plants in the way other chemicals might. 

That means they get a free ride straight into the ocean, where they can cause untold damage to marine life.

Also, they’re known to be very sensitising for even the most robust skin types, so there’s even more reason to steer clear. 

If you still want a scented fix, bareMinerals BarePro Longwear Lipsticks have natural raspberry and blackcurrant seed oils which smell utterly delicious, as well as giving your lips an antioxidant hit.

5. Triclosan

Despite sounding like a character from Game of Thrones, triclosan is actually an antibacterial agent used to keep products fresher for longer.

It’s been in the crosshairs of a few governmental bods on and off over the years, but now it’s been linked to gut health and hormone issues as well as detrimental effects on algae and fish.

In America, the Food and Drug Administration has banned its use in healthcare antiseptic products, while here in the UK concentrations of 0.3% or above in cosmetics have been deemed ‘not safe for the consumer’. In fact, many of the big beauty giants are now beginning to phase it out.

The good news is that there are plenty of other things that can keep a product fresh if you don’t fancy the idea of antibacterial agents going anywhere near your skin , so don’t panic if this isn’t on an ingredients list – it doesn’t mean your favourite blusher is about to go off.

Make sure you keep an eye on the packaging next time you’re upgrading your make-up bag and look out for 100% natural and organic ingredients. 

The planet (and your skin) will thank you for it. 

Discover bareMinerals skin and planet-friendly beauty today.