The Negative Impact of Beauty Products on the Environment

Beauty and hygiene products that many of us use every day can have a hugely negative impact on our environment. The harmful repercussions of the products listed below ultimately harm us in the end. Awareness is the first step in fixing some of the issues associated with the chemicals used in different types of products. Mindfully purchasing these items can make a large difference in the health of our planet. There are natural alternatives to all of the products listed below and companies out there that make an effort to not make harmful products. Freeman, Ives, Burt’s Bees, BiorĂ© are just a few companies on the list.

Facial Cleansers with Microbeads

Many facial cleansers use microbeads and are marketed to exfoliate the skin of those who use it. We are now finding out that these tiny little microbeads, typically made of plastic or synthetic materials, are too small for sewage treatment plants to catch. The plastic that is getting washed down the drain is collecting in our water sources and greatly polluting them. As many as 8 trillion microbeads are being deposited in our water sources every day in the United States alone. Aquatic animals and birds often mistake these microbeads as food, and the plastic that we have polluted our water with eventually works its way back to though the food chain.

Shampoos and Soaps

The problem with many super sudsy shampoos and soaps is that they contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Both of these ingredients are hard on your skin and harmful they get in your eyes. Although SLES is the less harmful of the two, 1,4 dioxane is often mixed in with it, which has been suspected as a human carcinogen. After these chemicals enter the waterway through our drains, they ultimately end up building up in marine life. Just as with the microbeads, these harmful toxins again end up back to us via the food chain.


There are four common chemicals found in many sunscreens—cinnamate, benzophenone, camphor derivatives, paraben, and oxybenzone. These harmful chemicals are known to contribute to coral bleaching which leaves can lead to viral infections and the ultimate death of the coral all over the world. Oxybenzone specifically has been proven to be fatal to baby coral. It causes baby coral to encase itself in its own skeleton and die. Anywhere between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen have been estimated to wash into the ocean each year. Studies show that only 62 parts per trillion oxybenzone  is needed to damage coral. That is roughly one drop of water in 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Ingredients to Avoid

Synthetic Colors
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Propylene Glycol
Butylene Glycol
Benzoyl peroxide
DMDM Hydantoin and Urea