Avoid these 10 Chemicals that Could be Dangerous in Your Cosmetics

The cosmetics and beauty industry have little to no regulations. Terms like “natural,” “non-comedogenic,” and “won’t clog pores,” are not even regulated in the slightest bit. In fact there are no standards that even define these terms that producers have to abide by.

It’s been a free for all for year as manufactures come up with more and more chemicals to “improve their products.” But these improvements come at a cost. These chemicals have very little long term studies, and even when they do find problem they are not even banned from being used.

We have compiled a list of the top 10 ingredients we find that still show up in cosmetics that should be avoided:

Coal Tar and Coal tar dyes:

(p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number):

This is a carcinogen that is banned in other countries outside of the U.S. (E.U) which leads you to wonder, why are we still using it?! You can find this ingredients in pigments in cosmetics (usually found in the number series 75000 and 77000).

It also shows up in  other products for hair like dyes, anti dandruff shampoos and dry skin treatments. Other times it can be listed as “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1” and has the potential to cause cancer. Other concerns are contamination with heavy metal toxins that can be toxic to the brain. [1]


These ingredients can be listed and identified by the ending “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” This product is used in different types of cosmetics to provide moisture, or to soften and smooth out skin. But this ingredient has been linked to endocrine disruption and can potentially damage reproduction.

Stick with natural moisturizing agents like rose waters, essential oils and all natural carrier oils to smooth out your skin.

Dibutyl phthalate:

This is used to help plasticize nail care products. This could also disrupt your endocrine system and be toxic to reproduction. While painting your nails might not seem like a big deal, it’s the product sitting along your nail beds and under your cuticles that is the problem.

Your cuticle bed is absorbent and should not come in contact with this chemical. Look for nail polishes that say 5-free or 7-free which indicates they are free of the top 5-7 most concerning chemicals found in standard nail polish.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives:

This ingredient is found in many nail polishes and other common nail products. It has also been found in fake eyelash glue, shampoo and hair dye. This is another chemical that can be avoided by looking for the 5-free or 7-free label.

This is also banned in the EU but not on the banned list in the U.S. Other names include DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 and should be avoided due to being a probable carcinogen.


This category is such a massive category because it hides tons of other ingredients and chemicals under just one name, one namely being phthalates. This ingredient has been linked to dizziness and headaches. It can also cause much stronger reactions such as asthma and allergies. If your beauty product has a super strong chemical smell, chances are it’s toting a lot of fragrance or perfume.

Keep any spray fragrances away from your face and do no breath them in. This goes for hair products too. If you are spraying something with a fragrance by your hair, hold you breath, spray and walk out of the room until the product clears from the air.

If you love perfumes and still want to use them, spray them away from your body onto your jacket or coat to keep the contact away from your skin. [2]


Although lead is not considered an ingredient, it has the potential to be a contaminate in lipsticks and hair dyes, and of course poses multiple health concerns, which is why it is not allowed to be used. Unless testing is done, you won’t know if the product contains it or not.


This ingredient is found in sunscreens that a supposed to be protecting our skin. But it can accumulate in the fatty tissue of you body and cause allergies. More aggressively, it can disrupt your hormones and cause cellular damage. It has even been linked to low birth weight.


This preservative is in so many hair products and skin care products, but is linked to cancer and reproduction problems. It’s also linked to endocrine disruption. Used as preservatives, found in many products. Luckily, many companies are taking notice of this harmful chemical and even mainstream companies are providing paraben free products. [3]

Silicone-derived emollients:

This ingredient gives products a softer feel to products but when applied to skin, prevents it from breathing. It is also linked to tumor growth and can lead to skin irritation.

Silicone is a very popular ingredient so you might see it in some of the products you are already using. When you replace those products look for silicone free on the label.


Recently you might have heard that talc found in baby powder has been linked directly to ovarian cancer. This product is also found in cosmetics like eyeshadows and blushes. It’s also found in deodorant. Breathing it can also lead to respiratory problems. [4]

While you might not use baby powder, you want to check your eyeshadows and blushes to make sure you don’t have talc. Even though these are pressed in their containers, when you take brushes to them, it makes the talc airborne and you are at risk of inhaling it.

Keep in mind these top 10 harmful ingredients when shopping for cosmetics. You can also check out the top 10 chemicals used in body care products like shampoo and lotions to see if you have these in your bathroom as well.

The best way to avoid these is to do your research first. Many companies now boast about avoiding these ingredients. Read up on companies and the things they put or do not put into their products before going to the store so you don’t have to guess or being surprised. Being an informed consumer of cosmetics (or of anything) is the safest thing for your skin and your overall health.


[1] https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701514/COAL_TAR/#.W6PcLJNKjPA

[2]  http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#.W6Pa6pNKjPA

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/docs/citizens_parabens_en.pdf

[4] http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/talc/