The gleaming packaging of a newly released facial wash catches your eye as you walk through the cosmetics aisle. You pause in your tracks for a moment, and hesitantly pick the product up from its spot on the shelf. Shrugging, you toss it into your basket and head towards the line to purchase it, failing to realize the one glaring mistake in the entire shopping process – in neglecting to read the fine print on the back of the facial wash, you’ve unknowingly approved of the usage of undesirable chemicals.

One of the primary reasons for cosmetic companies’ continued use of harmful chemicals in their products is that the contents of a cosmetic item often go overlooked by the consumers. Most companies have a tendency to aim to induce the most revenue and gain the most profit through the least amount of effort, and using toxic ingredients is an easy way to achieve that goal. But if we as consumers express our disapproval of the use of dangerous chemicals, perhaps companies will think twice before using such chemicals in their products. While it is true that knowing all of the names of the most harmful chemicals on the top of your head is nearly impossible, being able to point out just a few of the worst ones on a label can help you to steer clear of detrimental effects.

Parabens are widely known as one of the most harmful ingredients a product can contain. Yet most people are unaware of the effects it can have on a person. Parabens are often used as preservatives to make products last longer and prevent bacteria or mold from appearing. As good as this may sound, parabens also happen to be carcinogenic, which means that they are chemicals that have the potential to cause cancer. They can also be absorbed through the skin — this means that paraben-containing facial products are dangerous.

Additionally, although seemingly innocuous, the word “fragrance” has another meaning in the context of cosmetics. “Fragrance” is used to represent the combination of chemicals that have been used to create a certain scent. Companies tend to use the word to conceal the actual chemicals they are using, as in the perspective of a consumer, seeing a familiar word is much less concerning compared to a group of indiscernible words.

Siloxanes are silicon-based chemicals that are used in cosmetics to smoothen or moisten the skin. But don’t be fooled – they rarely achieve actually smoothen or moisten. Instead, they merely temporarily improve the appearance of skin, which tends to trick many consumers into believing that a product truly works. In addition, siloxanes have a propensity to disrupt a variety of bodily systems, and even can be harmful to the environment.

Checking the label or back of a product each time may be a bit of a nuisance, but once you get into the habit of it, it will fit in easily into your shopping routine. It’s better to use a few seconds of your time to check for dangerous chemicals rather than wasting a few weeks of your time agonizing over the irritation that the product has caused. After all, you only have one chance to take care of your skin, body, and health, and if you miss this opportunity now, it may be too late to salvage your skin in the future.