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Most Toxic Makeup Ingredients

by Ossiana Tepfenhart 5 years ago in advice / list / product review

Toxic makeup ingredients are way too common on store shelves. Are you using products with these dangerous additives?

The FDA was created to remove toxic makeup and food ingredients from store shelves after the uproar caused by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Despite the many tests run by the Food and Drug Administration, many toxic makeup ingredients still end up being used in common beauty products.

If you love getting dolled up, we have some news for you: you're probably using something toxic right now. Studies have shown that these toxic ingredients are incredibly bad for you - and also widely available in most beauty products.


Formaldehyde was originally a chemical that was used to embalm people - but it became considered too toxic for that purpose, and is considered to pose a serious threat to the environment. This chemical is a known cause of cancer, and has been linked to breathing problems and neurological damage.

It's most commonly found in nail polish, hair dye, and fake eyelash adhesives.


Mercury has long been known to be toxic to people and in the 19th century, it was linked to brain development problems, madness, and skin conditions. Some studies have also suggested that mercury could be a potential carcinogen, too.

Nowadays, traces of it are found in mascara - and scarier still, in some brands of eyedrops.

Mineral Oil

If you have ever enjoyed the smooth feeling of baby oil on your legs, you're not alone. However, it's worth pointing out that baby oil is most commonly made out of mineral oil - a byproduct of petroleum. Studies show that this petrol product reduces the body's ability to "sweat out" toxins.

Baby oil aside, mineral oil is used in lipsticks, lip balms, moisturizers, and massage oils.


There used to be a time, not too long ago, that people would snap up talcum powder to help "freshen up" after a haircut, a shave, or a wax job. In fact, it's still often used by many groups for that purpose.

This isn't good, since talc is very similar in makeup to asbsestos. Recent studies showed that talcum powder has been linked to ovarian cancer, respiratory problems, and reproductive disorders.

Talc is used in baby powder, shaving powder, eye makeup, and blush.


These two chemicals often go hand in hand, that they are bad to the bone. They are preservatives that are used to keep makeup fresh for longer. Unfortunately, they don't keep people alive longer. They've both been linked to cancer and endocrine system disruption.

They're found in foundations, moisturizers, and sunscreens.


Toluene is associated with a lot of stuff people typically don't want on their bodies: car fluids, crystal meth, and toxic waste - to name a few. This chemical is very well known to be linked to immune system and endocrine system problems. Worse still, it's also been linked to an uptick in birth defects.

Despite the dangers, this chemical is found in nail polish, hair products, and makeup setting spray. This is most commonly hidden under the blanket terms "fragrance" or "parfum" on the label.


This toxic trio of chemicals are very strongly linked to cancer rate spikes due to their tendency of reacting to nitrosamines. Moreover, all three chemicals have been found to be dangerous to wildlife and fish. So, any time they're flushed down the drain or rinsed off, you might also be causing environmental damage.

DEA, MEA, and TEA are all used in foamy or creamy products like shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, and cuticle softeners.


Oxybenzone is a chemical ingredient that accumulates in fatty tissue. There, it causes hormonal disruption, skin problems, endocrine problems, and cellular damage. Exposure to it when women were pregnant has lead to low birth weight in babies.

You might be wondering where this chemical can be found. Scarily enough, it's an active ingredient in sunscreens.


This category of chemical ingredients has already been banned in California and the European Union, but most of America still has to follow suit. These plasticizing chemicals have been linked to major organ damage, endocrine disruption, and are very strongly associated with cancer rate increases.

These chemicals are found in almost anything - deodorant, perfumes, lotions, and makeup brands all have them. So, if you want to avoid problems, get products that's phthalate-free.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Technically, this ingredient is safe. However, it has a high contamination rate when it comes to extreme carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. This compound has been linked to high rates of cancer.

This is used in foamy ingredients like bubble baths, shampoos, facial cleansers, and shower gels.


Triclosan used to be a darling of the industry, until it became clear that it was an environmental danger because of the fact that fish would eat it and die. It's also been linked to endocrine system damage and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

It's usually found in antibacterial soaps.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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