Pick up any product from your makeup bag and do your best to read through the ingredients. Most likely, the only one you’ll recognize is “water.” For decades, makeup products have been known to contain questionable or harmful chemicals that eventually find their way into our bodies. And, these are not your secret, mysterious toxic ingredients, these are well-known or suspected carcinogens like coal tar and formaldehyde. Things get a bit scarier, when you read recent reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which found that 40 countries banned over 1,400 chemicals in cosmetic products, while the U.S. has only banned 30.
However, according to the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), most of the products in the U.S. are amongst the safest regulated by the FDA.
There are more than 200 possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in cosmetics, according to the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), a non-profit research foundation focusing on reducing chemicals in the environment.
Regardless of who you believe, and what you think of these chemicals, there are particular makeup ingredients you should try to avoid at all costs. These are ingredients that can harm our health after prolonged use, and let’s be honest, who’s planning on ditching their foundation or mascara soon? Next time you pick up a new makeup product, take a few minutes, and try to spot these harmful ingredients.
Butylated hydroxy Anisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene
Extra points if you can read that. These synthetic antioxidants are added to your makeup products to extend shelf life. They might be considered carcinogens, more research is needed to rule it out, but they’re a known hormone disruptor that can cause liver damage.
You usually find these chemicals in lipsticks.
These chemicals are considered surfactants, aka a chemical that acts as an emulsifier, foaming agent, or detergent. You can often find this chemical in dry cleaning solvents and paint – yikes. They have been linked to hormone disruption and allergies.
Look out for this chemical in mascara, hair dyes, and foundation.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others)
This is a name you’ve probably heard before. Thankfully, it became a buzzword, and many brands are going parabens-free. They are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. However, parabens are endocrine disruptors, which means they can mess with your hormones.
You will find them in foundation and cleansers.
While you adore the scent of your new foundation, it might contain over 3,000 chemicals that are not so good for your body. Since fragrance formulates are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets, the exact ingredients remain unknown. Most of them include chemicals labeled as hormonal disruptors and even allergens.
Take a look at your makeup bag; almost all of your products will have fragrance.
1, 4 Dioxane
While makeup brands are not purposely adding this ingredient to their product, it’s common to find it anyways. According to the FDA, this is a potential carcinogen. It’s also linked to irritation and organ system toxicity. Keep an eye for ingredients like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) and PEG compounds, these are also 1, 4 Dioxane.
You can find this ingredient in most products that create suds, and virtually every makeup product.
Wait. What? Yes, mineral oil is produced as a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. Nothing pretty and natural there. Because this is a cheap ingredient, it’s used in most makeup and skincare products in the market today. Products with mineral oils often create a barrier on your skin, preventing other products from penetrating. Mineral oil or petrolatum has been ranked as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
You can find this ingredient in virtually every makeup product out there.
A reasonably common preservative in most cosmetics. Look for these labels: Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and methenamine. Just a few of the names you’ll find formaldehyde. This toxic ingredient has a long list of adverse health effects attributed to it, including respiratory irritation, immune-system toxicity, and even cancer.
This ingredient is commonly found in hair dyes, nail polish, and eyelash glue.
A Word from GR8NESS
Make a conscious effort to use non-toxic makeup products. Take the time to read through and research the various ingredients you find on your favorite makeup. A few minutes of your time will get you farther away from these harmful and toxic chemicals. Look for more natural-oriented, vegan-friendly, and non-toxic makeup brands.