7 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Makeup and Skincare Products

 7 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Makeup and Skincare Products

We know you want to feed your skin with nutrients and not to poison it. We don’t have to let our health & our overall well being to be negatively affected. 

The makeup and cosmetics you put on your skin can be either beneficial or harmful.

They go in your bloodstream and build up over time; for this reason, it is important to avoid certain ingredients.

What makes the skin so important is that it protects the vital organs, bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves. When up to 60% of what you put on your skin is deeply absorbed into it, you need to think twice. 

The Dirty Side

Allergies, hormonal disruptions, cancer, reproductive issues are just a few of the problems that can develop if those ingredients are used often.

The FDA does not have strict regulations about many hazardous ingredients. Most of them are found in traditional makeup & skincare products — making it difficult to avoid.

We are exposed to pollution and chemicals in food, clothing, basically everywhere. At some points, there isn’t a lot we can do but, regarding cosmetics and makeup, the right approach would be avoiding using products that contain known toxic compounds.

7 Harmful Ingredients To Avoid

It’s good to know your friends, but more important is to know your enemies.

You might not give importance to everything you apply on your skin, but at least try to avoid these seven harmful ingredients commonly found in makeup products.


It is added to many products in our skincare routine in order to reduce or to prevent bacterial contamination. Mostly, it is found in toothpaste, body washes, and some of the cosmetics. 

Triclosan can change the bacterial flora on the skin, in the mouth, and in the intestines.

A change in the bacterial composition of good bacteria can increase the risk of developing allergies.

The FDA announced that “consumer antiseptic washes” containing triclosan were prohibited, in December 2017.

This compound has been linked to hormonal disruptions, impaired muscle function, bacterial resistance, impaired immune function, and increased allergies. It is advised to use naturally antibacterial & antiseptic agents such as tea tree oil, thyme, eucalyptus, or lavender.


makeup ingredients

It is a toxic metal that has estrogen-like effects in our bodies and disrupts the natural function of the endocrine system.

In cosmetics, aluminum functions as pigment and thickening agents, while aluminum compounds react as active ingredients in antiperspirants and antacids.

Dermatologists affirm that it is crucial not to use cosmetic products containing aluminum on damaged skin, especially after shaving.

The potential toxicity of aluminum in cosmetics has been a concern for several years, being often accused of promoting breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.

While this is still uncertain and researches are made, more than twenty-five aluminum compounds are among the substances that may be present in cosmetic products. Aluminum Chlorohydrate is one of the most widely used, particularly in antiperspirants.

Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl)

Parabens are meant to prevent bacterial and mold growth, but they can contribute to hormone imbalance. The explanation is simple: parabens are synthetic estrogens, that act like estrogen in our body, disrupting the hormonal system.

parabens makeup

Things can get tricky as many cosmetic markers have switched top paraben-free formulas, but this doesn’t mean they are better.

What does not have the toxicity of synthetic preservatives, but remain effective are essential oils, vitamins, and herbs.

Even if those break down relatively fast — maximum one year —, and they must be used in large concentrations, it worths it.


Polyethylene glycols are petroleum-based compounds used in many cosmetics as softeners, moisturizers, thickeners, and solvents.

Polyethylene has been observed to irritate the skin and should never be used on wounds or damaged skin.

It penetrates the skin so quickly and can weaken the protein and cellular structure. Also, it can reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor.

PEGs found in body washes and scrubs are not filtered by our sewage systems, meaning they can travel into waterways, where they are consumed by marine animals and fish. 

Ethylene oxide 

Ethylene oxide is classified in group 1 by The International Agency for Research on Cancer, meaning it is a proven carcinogen. In Canada, it has already been prohibited to be used in manufacturing health products & cosmetics.

Mostly, it is found in fragrances and often used to produce shampoo.

While it is among the top seven hidden ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, ethylene oxide is associated with the occurrence of cancer, reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, and sensitization.

Many manufacturers use harsh, raw materials, and to make them less irritating to the skin, ethylene oxide is added to create a chemical reaction called ethoxylation.

It is possible that the resulted products might contain traces of unreacted ethylene oxide. The entire list comprises 1,813 ingredients — access it here.

Synthetic fragrances

Even if fragrance looks like it is one ingredient, in fact, it’s more likely a blend of many compounds. It’s the only ingredient that’s allowed to hide under a cloud and doesn’t have to say what it really is.

The FDA allows cosmetic companies to use as many fragrance-forming ingredients as they like — and still “fragrance” takes up just one spot on the label. 

According to the AAD, the fragrance is the most common cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis. 

One solution could be to look for beauty products that plainly state what is scenting it or products that use essential oils instead of fragrance.


Usually, it is found in conventional shampoos due to its ability to reduce frizz and add shine.

In cosmetics is added to improve performance in terms of lubricity and smoothness, even if it is a synthetic chemical, found to be toxic and endocrine-disrupting.

Also, it is known to influence neurotransmitters in the nervous system.

Spotting siloxane on the ingredients list is not easy as it appears under many terms.

Even more, this chemical compound has an environmental impact and the potential to bio-accumulate in aquatic organisms.

There are some alternatives you have, though. You can take these steps to protect your health and the environment:

  • DIY – create your own products, there are many ideas you can put in practice
  • Research labels – have a proper look at what the ingredients are
  • Less is more – pick products that have fewer & simple ingredients
  • Use smart Apps – there are many tools you can use to learn about the product’s safety
  • Take action – you can sign this petition to demand toxic-free beauty

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To our readers

The information from this article is not entirely medical-grade level and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. No one will know you, your medical history, the meds you’ve taken or are taking, your sensitivities and drug interactions, allergic reactions, and your lifestyle, but your doctor does.

Amanda Blake

Amanda Blake

Due to her vast experience in the beauty industry, Amanda Blake is an expert beauty advisor. Merging all the passion with much work, she established Women's Concept community, a place where women can seek and share everything regarding the beauty universe.