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11 Makeup Ingredients You Should Avoid

Whether the FDA is willing to recognize it or not, there are plenty of commonplace makeup ingredients you should avoid.

By GLAUX CHEM®Published 6 years ago 6 min read

The makeup and skincare industry is a billion-dollar industry that most women adore. It's an industry that has become filled with creams, potions, and lotions that claim to help women look better and feel better. Drugstore shelves are lined with products that claim they're good for you, great for your skin, and glamorous.

Every product from this industry is checked by the Food and Drug Administration. The role of the FDA has been to protect consumers from potentially harmful ingredients, and while they have been doing a decent job, a lot of chemicals still slip through the cracks.

Due to the fact that some ingredients are considered to be "grey area," there are a lot of makeup ingredients you should avoid despite them being cleared by the FDA. In some cases, once-cleared chemicals later get banned due to the damage they cause finally getting noticed after years of reports.

This is why many women are now choosing more natural alternatives, such as the herbal oils from GLAUX CHEM ®. After all, when your skincare routine is one that features natural oils found in plants, you won't be exposed to chemicals that are dubious at best.


Parabens aren't just one ingredient; it's an entire category of makeup ingredients you should avoid going near. This group of compounds has a lot of beneficial traits, such as being anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and also being excellent preservatives.

Their great traits are what make parabens one of the most popular additives in lotions, skincare products, and liquid foundations. It makes sense.

Unfortunately, there's a serious downside to them. This group of chemicals is absorbed easily into the skin, and when they do, they tend to mimic estrogen. Sadly, estrogen mimicry has been known to be a cause for certain forms of breast cancer.

The link between parabens and cancer is pretty visible. In fact, parabens have even been found in cancerous breast tissue.


Formaldehyde already has a serious reputation for being one of the most dangerous makeup ingredients you should avoid. This chemical is used primarily to preserve dead animals in laboratories and was, at one point, embalming fluid used in funeral homes.

The funeral industry still uses formaldehyde as a disinfectant, despite it having horrific effects on funeral workers. Formaldehyde has been linked to brain cancer, leukemia, nerve damage, skin irritation, asthma, and birth defects.

In makeup, it's used as a preservative, a dye additive, and as a glue. Many chemicals, including DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, will also release it in small amounts. Some chemicals will do it only if exposed to high heat.

The only way to guarantee you’re not being exposed would be to use skincare products that are totally nature-based, such as the ones from GLAUX CHEM®.


These three makeup ingredients you should avoid are found in almost every kind of cosmetic. They stand for diethanolamine (DEA), monoethanolamine (MEA), and triethanolamine (TEA). This toxic trio of chemicals is composed of ammonia-based ingredients that create that “rich lather” that you love. It’s been found in bath products, hair supplies, and sunscreen.

Along with being one of the many organ-toxic ingredients found in makeup, ethanolamines have been linked to cancer, skin irritation, dryness, and neurological toxicity. Is that foam really worth it? We don’t think so—and neither does the European Union, which banned these chemicals fairly recently.


If you remember a huge debate a couple of years ago about this ingredient, you already should know that triclosan is one of the most common makeup ingredients you should avoid. Canada recently banned its use, though it’s still used commercially as a pesticide.

In makeup and cosmetics, it’s known for being a preservative, an anti-microbial agent, and an anti-fungal compound. Triclosan is insanely common and can be found in everything from skincare to antibacterial wipes.

It’s a known endocrine system disruptor, a cancer-causing agent, and also deeply affects women’s hormones. As Kimberly M.L., chemist and CEO of GLAUX CHEM® noted on LinkedIn, the effects of toxic chemicals found in makeup are seriously damaging to women.


Also known as “paraffin wax” or “mineral jelly,” this is one of the deep moisturizing makeup ingredients you should avoid. In cosmetics, it’s used to lock in moisture and add shine, but there’s a dark side to it.

As the name suggests, petrolatum is based on petroleum, and when it decays, it releases a compound called 1,4 dioxane. 1,4 dioxane’s structure is extremely similar to one of the deadliest compounds known to man: 1,4 dioxin. Over 40 percent of all cosmetics tested for dioxane contamination tested positive, and petrolatum is to blame.

Dioxin, if you’re wondering, was the ingredient that made Agent Orange so deadly to Vietnam veterans and remained the primary chemical responsible for the Love Canal chemical disaster. The only difference between the two is that dioxane has eight hydrogens instead of four. The structure is almost identical and as such, multiple agencies have already cited it as a “reasonably anticipated carcinogen.”

Dioxane has been suspected to cause cancer (like dioxin), be neurotoxic (like dioxin), and be a skin toxicant (also like dioxin). Currently, it’s a banned chemical in Canada—but not in the United States.


This is a major category of makeup ingredients you should avoid, and not only because they’re hard to pronounce. These ingredients help cosmetics stick to skin, but like other ingredients on this list, they’re endocrine disruptors that act a lot like hormones. The hormone mimicry can cause cancer, but that’s not all they do.

Women should be particularly careful with pthalates, especially if they are pregnant or trying to conceive. It’s been known to cause fertility issues and birth defects.

Polyethylene Glycol

Polyethylene Glycol, and other PEG agents, are definitely makeup ingredients you should avoid if you want to have clear, healthy skin. Thankfully, they’re not quite as toxic as other ingredients on this list.

These moisturizing compounds seem great at first, but have been linked to skin irritation and skin problems with prolonged use. The effects have been doubly noted on skin that has acne scarring and cuts.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

If you turn any soap bottle around and look at its ingredients, chances are that you will see either Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Sodium Laureth Sulfate. These ingredients are used in almost every kind of skincare product you’ll find on typical drugstore shelves—unless, of course, they are made of 100 percent natural ingredients like the products from GLAUX CHEM® are.

These skin absorbers are known for being serious skin irritants, and for causing excessively dry skin. In clinical trials, researchers actually use SLS to help get skin irritated for other makeup tests.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metal might be a great music genre, but finding heavy metals in your cosmetics ingredients is anything but enjoyable. This category of cosmetic ingredients is among the “well, duh,” makeup ingredients you should.

Heavy metals include mercury, zinc, titanium, lead, and chromium—as well as alloys based on them. They are known for disrupting your hormone balance, causing skin irritation, and have even been linked to cancer. Some heavy metals, like lead, also are linked to mental illness and blood poisoning.

These ingredients are often found in lipsticks, powder cosmetics, foundations, and nail polish. However, almost any kind of product can have them.

Synthetic Fragrances

Rounding out our list of the worst makeup ingredients you should avoid is one that might take some readers by surprise: fragrance. Synthetic fragrances, in particular, tend to be pretty awful for people with sensitive skin and can even be dangerous in some cases.

The problem with synthetic fragrance is that you never know how they are made. They could be a cocktail involving sodium lauryl sulfate and pthalates. Many contain formaldehyde. Legally, manufacturers don’t have to disclose how the fragrance is made.


Octinoxate is one of the more common makeup ingredients you should avoid, and it’s most commonly found in foundations. This chemical is known for causing issues dealing with the human endocrine system and harming your natural metabolism. It’s also a suspected cancer-causing chemical.

In Conclusion...

Looking beautiful is never worth it if it means that you’re risking your health. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and that’s why GLAUX CHEM® never uses fragrances in their skin products. After all, skincare should really care about your health, too.


About the Creator


Our mission is to help those with skincare needs by developing natural products that are inspired by Mother Nature. Learn more at

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