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Toxic ingredients in makeup: The shocking reality

Toxic ingredients in makeup

Hi, this is Sophia. Have you ever really looked at the ingredients listed on the back of your cosmetic products? Even if you have tried to read the label, you probably ended up right where you started because the huge list of chemicals isn’t easy to read. However, if you’d just try Googling some of them, you might find toxic ingredients in makeup that you use every day.

When it comes to the U.S. companies that hold the majority of the makeup industry, you should know that the FDA doesn’t force these companies to conduct any sort of safety assessment. You can easily have a chemical in your body cream listed as “fragrance,” and all the other confusing lists of chemicals listed without any warning of their harmful effects.

The next time you go makeup shopping, be on the lookout for some of the chemicals on the list below.

Toxic ingredients in makeup include:

Phthalates can trigger hormonal imbalance

A group of chemicals called phthalates has shown to be disruptive for the endocrine system, which consequently causes a misbalance in hormonal production. This can be especially harmful to women who already battle hormonal issues.

Problems related to the endocrinal system can eventually even lead to neurological damage. Phthalates have also been linked to premature delivery and endometriosis in women.

This substance is found in some deodorants, nail polishes, and scented lip balms. It’s most often listed as the fragrance on the ingredient list.

Parabens can damage immune functions

If you’ve ever done an online search for harmful makeup substances, then you’re probably familiar with parabens. They are widely used, albeit the fact that they easily penetrate your skin and interfere with hormonal functions.

Parabens, just like many other harmful makeup products, mimic the effects of estrogen. When you mess with hormones, something bad is likely to happen, and parabens are no exception.

It’s serious; the result can even be breast cancer. Parabens can also lead to reproduction problems, as well as problems with the immune system and nervous system.

Furthermore, if you see companies using phenoxyethanol instead of parabens, know that that’s not a better solution.

PEG compounds contaminate your skin

Polyethylene glycols, commonly known as PEGs, are petroleum-based compounds. Their use is often to thicken or soften creamy cosmetic items, such as foundation and primers.

Although PEGs themselves are not proven to have harmful effects, they can be dangerous when contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. Both of these chemicals, which can be toxic ingredients in makeup, are known to have carcinogen effects that can damage the nervous system.

PEG compounds enhance the penetration of other ingredients into your skin, which is why it’s good to use them in combination with a healthy, organic bb cream, but not if they provide better absorption of other harmful products. Sticking to vegan-friendly makeup based on natural ingredients is the safest way to go.

Beware of lead: Toxic ingredients in makeup

Although the harmful effects of lead are continuously being shown since the ’80s, there’s still a surprising amount of lead everywhere, especially in makeup. Lead is most commonly found in:

  • Lipsticks
  • Eyeshadows
  • Mascaras
  • Any makeup requiring intense color

Lipstick might be the biggest issue here, actually. That’s because it inevitably ends up in your stomach, making it through your digestive tract.

A recent study by the FDA tested popular brands and found that 400 of them contained even up to 7.19ppm of lead. This fact is very depressing since research shows lead links many times to miscarriage, low fertility, and neurodegenerative issues.

The best way to avoid lead is to try using only makeup that is colored with fruit or other natural pigments. If you’re not sure what to choose, check out this guide to the best eco-friendly makeup.

BHA and BHT might be carcinogenic

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives that often appear in lipsticks and moisturizers. Tests on animals have raised discussions about what potentially harmful effects these substances might have on human organisms.

Today, BHT is considered to be safer than BHA, but BHA has been the study of research more than BHT, so it’s hard to know this point for certain. The main reason why both BHA and BHT are used is to make products last longer, even for more than 20 years.

The question stands: Do we really need our mascara to last for 20 years?

Final words about toxic ingredients in makeup

Keep in mind that it’s not that hard to find natural, cruelty-free, and safe makeup products today because many companies are aware of the harmful effects industrial makeup has on the human body.

All you have to do is look a little bit further than your closest store to invest in a healthier future and feel good about what products you’re using on your face.

About today’s writer

Sophia Smith is a beauty and style blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer, and food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, minimalist wardrobe, yoga, and mindful living.

Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including, Carousel, Mother Earth Living, Eco Warrior Princess, She is Fierce HQ, Soar Collective, Viva Glam Magazine, and How to Simplify.

You can find out more about her writing by following her on Twitter.

21 thoughts on “Toxic ingredients in makeup: The shocking reality”

  1. Make-up is an overrated idea that we have been brain washed to think we need. I love to paint it in drawings, and to paint my face with it on occasion, however natural skin care & some natural beauty assists are on my daily order.
    Thank you Sophia and Christy!

  2. Very important topic, Christy :-)
    There are many products, as easily give us allergy or other sickness by time, but it is possible to find products, as are more safe to use. Of course, we need to know, what we might be allergic to, before deciding what to buy and use.
    In health shops and other alternative shops, it is often possible to buy organic produced products, as are much more safe to use. Or we can make them by ourselves.

    1. Organic products that are gentle on the skin are great for us and the planet, Irene, as you say. Thank you for also adding the point that we can make products ourselves, exactly how we want them to be that are safe too xx

  3. An excellent post. I am highly allergic to many makeup products and creams so I only use one skin cream that doesn’t have any colourants or fragrances and I have to mix it with water myself as it doesn’t contain a preservative. I don’t wear base or foundation as it makes my skin itchy and red. I do use mascara, eye liner and eye shadow. I must check these.

    1. I hope when you check out the few products you use that you will be happy with the results, Robbie. It can be shocking to learn our favourite items have chemicals in them.

  4. Excellent post Sophia and thanks for hosting Christy. I began to get heart palpitations after using a well known self-tanning lotion…stopped using that and no more problems, but recently tried a new intensive body lotion and the same thing happened. I now use organic coconut oil without additives and don’t have any problems. I also now use a locally produced organic makeup which suits me well.

    1. Oh wow Sally, it sounds like this post hit close to home for you. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m certainly glad you stopped using both of those products after you had that negative reaction. It’s great that there are a growing number of organic makeup options. Sophia and I appreciate your endorsement of this post xx

  5. This is amazing that cosmetics are not yet regulated! This is an important article and one that everyone should read and consider before using cosmetics and other products which can ultimately be harmful to our bodies.

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