7 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Makeup and Skincare Products

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by Women's Concepts
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We know you want to feed your skin with nutrients and not to poison it.

You don’t have to let your health and overall wellbeing be negatively affected for the sake of beauty and confidence.

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’s important to avoid certain ingredients.

When up to 60% of what you put on your skin is deeply absorbed into it, you need to think twice before purchasing any cosmetic product.

The Dirty Side

Allergies, hormonal disruptions, cancer, reproductive issues are just a few of the problems that can develop if some ingredients are applied to the skin too often.

The FDA does not have strict regulations about many hazardous ingredients. Thus, 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, 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’s 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. In turn, 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 — see the source.

This compound has been linked to hormonal disruptions, impaired muscle function, bacterial resistance, impaired immune function, and increased allergies.

Instead, it’s 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 can disrupt the natural function of the endocrine system.

In cosmetics, aluminum is used as a pigment and thickening agent, while aluminum compounds react as active ingredients in antiperspirants and antacids.

Dermatologists affirm that it’s 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 and is still often accused of increasing the risk of 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 also 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 to paraben-free formulas, but this doesn’t mean they are better.

What does not have the toxicity of synthetic preservatives, yet 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.

They penetrate the skin so quickly and can weaken the protein and cellular structure while reducing 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 — not friendly!

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 and cosmetics.

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.

Mostly found in fragrances and shampoos, it’s 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’s one ingredient, in fact, is 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 — so unfair for consumers.

According to AAD, 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’s 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.

Moreover, 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 the ingredients
  • 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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