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Harmful ingredients are hiding in your everyday cosmetic and beauty care products, and that’s a fact!



When it comes to your skin, you want to take care of it the best you can. Because what you use on it today will affect your health for tomorrow.


Products found in stores assure you they will help any skin issue you have and make your skin healthier and more beautiful than before. But you have to turn the container around and read and – understand what is actually in the product.


There are so many Harmful Ingredients in Cosmetic and Beauty Products, it’s scary.


These harmful ingredients can make skin conditions worse, or even cause disease.


It has been known for many years by big corporations that harmful ingredients can cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, and even cancer. However, manufacturers continue to load their products with chemicals and preservatives that could potentially be deadly.

Making the Change from Harmful Ingredients


Laws in America are very vague when it comes to beauty and cosmetic products; in other words, companies can get away with a lot.


Some products can be misleading, and companies are good at hiding what is in their product by marketing it as “all natural” or “organic.”


This list of harmful ingredients in cosmetic and beauty products is EXTREMELY informative. There are also recommendations of all natural products I have used over the years.


*This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)


Sodium lauryl sulfate is one of the most commonly found harmful ingredients in cosmetic and beauty products.


SLS was initially designed as an industrial degreaser. However, once skin care manufacturers realized that SLS makes an excellent foaming agent, this harmful ingredient started appearing in everything.


If your product dispenses out foamy or becomes foamy during use, there is a big chance it contains SLS.


This degreaser can disrupt the balance of oils in your skin and cause eye damage. But even worse, when combined with other common chemicals it can create carcinogens called nitrosamines, which can damage your kidneys and lungs.


Most Common Products Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is in


  • Body wash
  • Acne treatment products
  • Mascara
  • Foundation
  • Hand soap
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste
  • Face Wash
  • Most foaming products


2. Ethanolamines


Ethanolamines reduce the surface tension of substances in cosmetic and beauty care products to allow the oil and water basis to mix. These harmful ingredients control the pH of products.


Ethanolamines are carcinogens and can accumulate over time as deposits in the skin. One type of ethanolamine, DEA, has been shown to gather in the liver and kidneys, causing problems with the body’s natural process of toxin elimination.


Also, studies have found that ethanolamines cause neurotoxicity issues because it can disrupt normal male reproductive function.  As a result, ethanolamines formulate into nitrosamines when combined with other chemicals. Nitrosamines are notorious carcinogens.



Most Common Products Ethanolamines are in;

  • Bubble Baths
  • Body Wash
  • Face Wash
  • Hand Soap
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Blush
  • Foundation
  • Shaving Cream
  • Sunscreen


 3. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)


Exfoliant skin care products use Butylated hydroxyanisole as their main ingredient.


BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) is a preservative and stabilizer; U.S. National Toxicology Program, a part of the National Institutes of Health, has classified BHA as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. 


Research has found BHA to cause stomach cancer and liver damage. Also, BHA can interfere with normal thyroid function and has been found to cause issues with the development of the reproductive system in men and women.



Most Common Products BHA is in:

  • Exfoliants


4. Formaldehyde


I think it is worth pointing out that a chemical used to embalm a corpse probably isn’t safe for our skin. But manufacturers still use formaldehyde in many of their products to prolong shelf life.


The FDA doesn’t require an ingredient to be on a label if it makes up less than 1% of the product.  Therefore the label won’t tell you if formaldehyde is in your product, so how do you know?


This chemical is most commonly found in nail polish and is a common cause of cancer for nail salon workers.


Formaldehyde can cause respiratory issues, cancer, and developmental problems in utero.


If you don’t want your product to contain a formaldehyde-releasing chemical, you have to pay close attention to the label. Chemicals in this category include:

  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium-15
  • Bronopol (2bromo2nitropropane1,3-diol )
  • 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane
  • Hydroxymethylglycinate


Most Common Products Formaldehyde is in:

  • Eyeshadow
  • Fake eyelash adhesive
  • Body wash
  • Nail polish


5Triclosan and Triclocarban


Soaps labeled “antibacterial” will likely have these ingredients in them.



Studies have found that the antibacterial properties of triclosan and triclocarban are so small, that these ingredients may make bacteria more resistant to antibiotics.



Both triclocarban and triclosan have been found to disrupt the healthy endocrine system and cause cancer.



Both ingredients negatively impact the health of the thyroid and disrupt the natural regulation of reproductive hormones. And these ingredients can also irritate the skin.

Most Common Products Triclosan and Triclocarban are in

  • “Anti-bacterial” hand soaps
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant


6. Coal Tar


Coal tar has been around in cosmetic and beauty products for decades and is a byproduct of coal production.



This harmful ingredient alleviates skin dryness but has been found to cause cancer and many other illnesses. Hair dyes and anti-lice treatments are the most popular products containing this ingredient.



Coal tar is one of the many chemicals banned in the European Union, however, it is still allowed for use in American skin care.



Even though some “studies” have said that coal tar is safe when used in small quantities, as with any substance when knowing how toxic it is, it’s probably best to stay away. When you apply a carcinogenic substance like coal tar on your skin, over time you are exposed to a greater risk of developing cancer.

Most Common products Coal Tar is in

  • Face and hand moisturizers
  • Hair dyes
  • Anti-lice and anti-dandruff treatments
  • Psoriasis treatments

7. Oxybenzone


Almost all big name sunscreens contain oxybenzone.


This harmful chemical gathers in the body’s fatty tissues and has an increased effect that can lead to cellular damage throughout the body.


Oxybenzone is one of the worst offenders of harmful ingredients and is especially dangerous to men. It works as an Estrogen mimicker and can lower sperm count.


In women, it can cause endometriosis. And also, in both children and adults of both sexes, it can cause hormone imbalance and liver damage.


In addition to, not only is this toxic chemical dangerous to people that are already living, but it is also toxic to unborn children. Women who have high concentrations of oxybenzone in their systems have been found to bear children with lower birth weights.



Whoever thought it was a good idea to consider oxybenzone safe for human use is evil. But it is clear that if you want to protect yours and your family’s health you should stay as far away as possible.



Most Common product Oxybenzone is in

  • Sunscreens


8. Parabens


Recently, a lot of manufacturers are labeling their products as paraben free, because parabens pose a massive danger to women.  There have been studies done on samples taken of breast cancer tumors, that have high levels of parabens.


Come to find out, parabens don’t naturally flush out of the body, and instead soak into the deep tissue, where they wait for a chance to start growing cancer tissues.


Parabens act as a preservative for longer shelf life in personal care products. This synthetic chemical mimics estrogen and disrupts the endocrine system, which can lead to overall health risks.


Parabens increase the chance of breast cancer and skin cancer, and even lead to congenital disabilities. They also weaken the immune system, cause liver damage and cause reproductive issues in both sexes.


Most Common products Parabens are in

  • Eyeshadow
  • Eyeliner
  • Foundation
  • Lip Balm
  • Facial moisturizers
  • Face Wash
  • Body Wash
  • Deodorants


9. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)


Polyethylene Glycol are tiny plastic balls mixed in with other ingredients. These small plastic balls consist of a toxic compound called polyethylene glycol.


This harmful ingredient penetrates the skin, and can result in delivering carcinogens into the body tissue and building up over time to lead to cancer.


PEG beads are harmful to the environment because even the most advanced sewage filtrations systems can’t break up the beads. The carcinogenic chemical will enter waterways and find its way into the bodies of fish and sea life. Meaning, if that fish ends up on your dinner table, the PEG cycle continues.



Most Common Products Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is in

  • Exfoliants

10. Retinol


Retinol, a type of Vitamin A compound, reduces wrinkles and signs of aging through a nightly application to the face and neck.

Vitamin A and Retinol topical compounds break down in sunlight and become free radicals, speeding UP aging and can also drastically increase the chances of skin cancer.

Most Common products Retinol is in

  • Anti-aging creams
  • Some Sunscreens

11. Petroleum Distillates


Petroleum distillates are mostly found in mascara products and can cause dermatitis, breathing problems, and decreased liver and kidney function.

The fact that this harmful ingredient comes from oil refineries should be the first clue that it might not be safe for human health. During the manufacturing process, Petroleum distillates suffer contamination from different carcinogens.

Most Common product Petroleum Distillates is in

  • Mascara


12. Fragrance


Fragrances used in body wash, moisturizers and perfumes are usually made up of more than a dozen unnamed chemicals.

The FDA allows cosmetic and beauty care product manufacturers to keep their blends of fragrance chemicals a secret to protect their formulas. This is a scary loophole that leaves plenty of room for other hidden chemicals that would otherwise be a shock to the label reading consumer.

Fragrance blends have been found to cause allergies, reproductive issues, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and endocrine.

Most Common product Fragrances is in

  • Perfume
  • Cologne
  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturizer
  • Many other skin care products

13. Phthalates


 The use of phthalates has been banned in the European Union and also in the state of California. However, even with these bans, many skin care products still contain this harmful ingredient throughout the USA.


Phthalates make formulas softer and more flexible. They don’t need labeling because they are often included in the fragrance recipe.



Research has linked phthalates to reproductive defects in infants whose mothers used products containing these chemicals. Young girls have experienced breast development sooner than normal.



They have also been linked to an increased risk in breast cancer, endocrine, and liver damage.

Most Common product Phthalates are in

  • Perfumes
  • Deodorants
  • Moisturizers
  • Hair spray

14. Nanoparticles


With the growing awareness of how harmful traditional sunscreen ingredients are for us, many companies have had to come up with something new that is “less toxic.”  This has resulted in the rise of nanoparticles, and can now be found in sunscreens all over the world.


Nanoparticles are made up of microscopic specks of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Manufacturers advertise that nanoparticle sunscreen do not soak into your skin “solving” the major issues of older sunscreens.


But recent studies have shown that the nanoparticles do soak into the skin. The metal buildups in the body and could lead to birth defects, endocrine disruption, and even cancer.


AND If you inhale nanoparticles, it can do some severe damage to the respiratory system. It is nearly impossible to avoid inhaling something that is sprayed or rubbed all over your body.


I think its also worth pointing out, research on nanoparticles is still in its early stages; meaning manufacturers aren’t required to label these harmful ingredients on their products.

Most Common product Nanoparticles are in

  • Sunscreen

15. Silicone-derived Emollients


Manufacturers use silicone-derived emollients in their product to increase the softness.

This harmful ingredient is meant to add a smoother feeling to moisturizing creams and gels, but instead, it keeps your skin from breathing. The results can lead to intense skin irritation, and can even lead to the cause of tumors to grow in your skin.

Not only are they terrible for human health but also the planet, they do not biodegrade under any circumstance, posing a severe danger to our environment.

Most Common product Silicone-derived Emollients are in

  • Moisturizers


16. Talc


Talc is a mineral substance used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care products from baby powders to eye shadows. It is added to absorb moisture, smooth or soften products, prevent caking, and make makeup opaque.


Research is starting to show that talc and asbestos are similar in composition, giving it a strong case to also be a carcinogen.


The use of products with talc in them can not only cause respiratory problems, but can also lead to a high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Most Common product Talc is in;

  • Baby powder
  • Deodorant
  • Eye shadow
  • Blush

What is the Safest Brand?




As you become more aware of the harmful ingredients going into your cosmetic and beauty products, many companies are having to make a change in their products. However,  not all companies are making the change, and are determined to stick with what they already know is working for them.

You as a consumer are responsible for yourself, and cannot rely on anyone else. The best things to do is make yourself aware of these ingredients, and start to read labels.

Find a brand you can trust and stick with them. All natural products provide a safe alternative to the products that contain harmful ingredients on this list.

Recommended Alternatives for All Natural Organic Cosmetic and Beauty Care Products 

100 Percent Pure Cosmetics

Natural Beauty Products | Pure and Organic

100% PURE is an organic cosmetics brand made in the USA, and it is entirely free of all harmful toxins.

Their products include the highest quality ingredients. 100% PURE is 100% free of artificial colors, artificial fragrances, synthetic chemical preservatives, and all other toxins. It is purely vegan and cruelty-free.

This brand specializes in fruit-dyed makeup, and it will make you feel good about what you put onto your skin, and ultimately into your body.


Cruelty Free Makeup, Best Mineral Makeup, Natural Beauty

Orglamix is passionate about its products. They are made in small batches with minimal ingredients in Chicago, IL.

Orglamix is the perfect place for fresh products that are good for you and the earth. Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, they bring low impact, minimal ingredient makeup and cosmetic luxuries to women around the world.


100% Natural Skin Care & Wellness Products

Treesnail’s line consists of all-natural maternity & mama care, natural skin care, organic lip care, aromatherapy roller oils, nontoxic disinfectant & linen sprays, and natural gift sets.

Every ingredient used is on the label and product descriptions so that you can know, what you are putting onto your body even if it’s under 0.0001%.

Their ingredient list is made up of herbally-infused oils, organic butters, pure essential oils, vegetable carrier oils, and natural colorants such as clay, indigo, and alkanet: No synthetic preservatives, fragrances, or dyes. 

Homemade Skin Care Products

  A great alternative is making your own skin care products at home. It can save a ton of money in the long run, and you know EXACTLY what is going into your products.

Not sure where to start, Check out the best ingredients for homemade beauty care.

Already know what you’re doing? My favorite recipe to make is the all natural homemade body butter. It leaves my skin smooth, and soft.

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