24 Dangerous & Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics & Makeup. Avoid This Cancer Causing Dirty List.

Posted by GREGORY M on

Toxic Cosmetics to Avoid. Here is a Full List of Dangerous Chemical Ingredients to Avoid. 

Toxic cosmetics are all around us. Do not be surprised you already have some dangerous cosmetics in your house or in your purse.

Toxic Chemical Cosmetics

Cosmetics business is a multi-billion-dollar industry and poorly regulated.

There are thousands of dangerous cosmetics out there with chemicals and toxins known to cause diseases like cancer, severe allergies, hormone disruption, infertility or even fibroids.

Most consumers do not know what is in their favorite cosmetic product. We just walk in the shop, buy what we are used to and leave oblivious of the toxic ingredients to avoid.

You may wonder why and how toxic cosmetics can be sold without any regulatory body intervening while their harmful ingredients are known.

Most cosmetics use ingredients known to react when mixed to form a toxic chemical compound.

Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics. Avoid this list.

skin cancer causing cosmetics

  1. 1,4 Dioxane

    1,4-dioxane, a cancer-causing chemical linked to internal organ toxicity.

    This cancer-causing chemical may be found in as many as 22 percents of all cosmetics.

    22% is such a huge percentage, meaning the odds that you may be using such cosmetics is very high.

    You won’t see 1,4 Dioxane written on cosmetic labels as an ingredient. That’s because 1,4-dioxane is formed after the chemical reaction of common cosmetics and makeup ingredients react to form the compound.

    Commonly found in shampoos, liquid soaps and kids bubble bath soaps.

    Avoid buying products containing Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth and oleth. It is known to cause cancer and birth defects.

    It is listed by US Environmental Protection Agency as a carcinogen.

  2. Acrylates

    I hope the name of this toxic ingredient makes you guess which products contain acrylates.

    This harmful chemical is found in acrylic artificial nails and nail enhancing nail polishes.

    Hormonal disruptors in Acrylic nails

    Per the Safe Cosmetics database, Severe Health concerns include cancer, developmental problems in kids, reproductive system toxicity, organ toxicity, cellular and neurological damage, and irritation.

    Women are at high risk of exposure to acrylates through contact with nail products.

    Beauty technicians and spa workers should always wear protective gloves and a mask when using acrylic products.

    If you work in a manicure salon, make sure space is well ventilated.

  3. Benzophenones

    This dangerous chemical and its close relatives are used to protect products from ultra-violet rays damage (UV).

    With that in mind, you can start guessing which beauty products that may be containing Benzophenones.

    Lip balm, nail polish, foundations, baby sunscreens, fragrance, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, moisturizers, and foundation may be containing this ingredient.

    Look for the following ingredients and avoid such products. Notice some companies may only abbreviate the chemical and you may not be able to tell what it is.

    Benzophenone, BP# (for example BP2), oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, sulisobenzone sodium.

    Avoid any cosmetic or makeup that has an ingredient ending with “Benzone”.

    Health Concerns: Cancer Organ Toxicity Skin irritation Endocrine disruption – Hormones disruption Developmental and reproduction toxicity. Infertility and low sperm count may occur

  4. Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents

    Known to cause cancer, hormones disruption and reproductive toxicity. 

    Did you know formaldehyde is the chemical used in decaffeination of products like coffee and tea?
    Formaldehyde is very common in a lot of beauty products. There are other products that are known to release formaldehyde.

    These include quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, and 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol), phenacetin, coal tar, benzene, untreated or mildly treated mineral oils, ethylene oxide, chromium, cadmium and its compounds, arsenic and crystalline silica.

    Keratin hair straighteners and shampoos are notorious with formaldehyde. If you are looking for a hair straightener, look for the above-said ingredients to avoid.

  5. Carbon Black

    Eye Shadow
    Carbon black is commonly used in coloring cosmetics like eye pencil, eyeliners, and mascara.

    It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based coal-tar.

    Carbon black is a known carcinogen Look for ingredients like Carbon Black, D & C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black.

    Tar is the cancer-causing agent found in tobacco and cigarettes.

  6. Butylated Compounds

    Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used as preservatives.

    They are commonly found in beauty products and foods. What to look for? Look for abbreviations like BHA and BHT especially in lipsticks and eyeshadow Health Concerns Organ toxicity, Cancer, Hormones disruption and skin irritation

  7. Coal Tar

    Coal Tar is a cancer-causing ingredient found in many cosmetics and makeups, especially lipsticks, Shampoos and scalp treatments, soaps, hair dyes, and lotions.

    FDA regulates coal tar containing cosmetics. Cosmetics companies using coal tar are required to write the percentage concentration of coal tar on the labels.

    Amounts less than 5% are considered safe levels but be the judge. If you can avoid it entirely, the better.

    Hair dyes and certain beauty products must specifically display a warning and specific precautions of such products.

  8. Ethanolamines Compounds. (MEA, DEA & TEA)

    The European Commission prohibits diethanolamine (DEA) in cosmetics. Ethanolamines are commonly found in many beauty and personal care products; have been linked to dangerous liver tumors.

    Hair Chemicals Contains Phthalates

    Ethanolamines are so common in products almost in any health and beauty product category you can imagine but higher in sunscreens and moisturizers.

    This harmful chemical is used to make cosmetics and lotions creamy or sudsy.

    What to look for and Avoid Triethanolamine, Diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, Cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate.

  9. Arsenic

    Arsenic poisoning in cosmetics

    Arsenic is a heavy metal that may be found in cosmetics. It is highly carcinogenic and dangerous.

    It also causes skin irritation, neurotoxicity, kidney damage and organ failure.

Skin Irritant & Allergen Ingredients Found in Cosmetics

  1. Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone

    These hard to pronounce dangerous chemicals are known to cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, neurotoxicity, and lung taxation.

    Europe limits the use of these chemicals in cosmetics to no more than 0.01%.

    A Recent research study has found that these chemicals are extremely dangerous to the entire neuro system.

  2. Mica

    Mica is a naturally occurring dust commonly used in the manufacturing of foundations.

    Be careful when buying products said to be “Natural” or made with “Natural Ingredients”.

    What to look for? Look for Mica or Muscovite Health Concern Lung irritation due to long exposure to mica dust. It is recommended to use dust free foundations to avoid inhalation risks.

  3. Isopropyl acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and n-methyl-pyrrolidone

    These chemicals are found mainly or exclusively in nail polish removers and lacquers.

    Health Concerns Neurotoxicity, Skin and lung irritation, Cancer, Reproductive toxicity in both men and women What to look for? Simply, buy non-acetone nail polish removers like cutex brands.
  4. PABA

    PABA Allergic Dermatitis  Commonly found in sunscreens, PABA primarily causes thyroid gland disruption but disruption of the entire endocrine system is not uncommon either.

    Canada and Europe have banned the use of PABA. United States allows up to 15% PABA concentration in cosmetics. What to look for? PABA, Padimate-O or any PABA-derivative

  5. Phenoxyethanol

    This toxic chemical is commonly found in perfumes, cosmetics, and soaps as a stabilizer.

    Exposure to Phenoxyethanol has been linked to eczema, life-threatening allergic reactions – anaphylaxis, oral exposure to kids acutely affects the neuro system and can lead to death.

    This chemical is also found in ultrasound gel – the clear thick gel applied on the skin while performing ultrasound or sonogram Common and widely used cosmetic brands like Cetaphil contains this dangerous chemical. A simple google search gave me these results below

Developmental and Reproductive Damaging Ingredients in Cosmetics

  1. Mercury

    Mercury is a heavy metal usually found in cosmetics such as skin brightening products, skin whitening products & anti-aging products.

    Mercury exposure can lead to serious health problems.

    Pregnant mothers, nursing mothers should avoid mercury as it causes damage to developing child brain and the nervous system.

    Mercury in cosmetic is prohibited in the USA but very common in India, Africa, and East Asian Cosmetics.

    What to look for? Hg or Mercury, ALUMINIUM; ALUMINIUM FLAKE; ALUMINUM; LB PIGMENT 5; PIGMENT METAL 1; A 00; A 95; A 995; A 999; AA 1099; AA1199.

    While mercury is banned in the USA, websites like eBay still sell mercury cosmetics imported from Asian countries.

    Health Concerns Neurotoxicity, Reproductive system damage, poor immunity, and severe allergic reactions.

  2. Octinoxate or Octyl methoxycinnamate or (OMC)

    This chemical is rapidly absorbed by the skin. It mimics estrogen hormone and can disrupt the endocrine system.

    It can also cause immune issues and organ toxicity. It is mostly used Hair color products and shampoos, sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish, skin creams.

    What to look for? on cosmetic labels Octinoxate,o methoxycinnamate (OMC), parsol, parsol MCX, parsol MOX, escalol, 2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate.

  3. Polyacrylamide:

    Polyacrylamide is a chemical compound found in anti-aging products.

    It is rated as a very high-risk chemical known to cause developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergic reactions, organ system toxicity, neurotoxicity, irritation of the skin and eyes, and endocrine disruption, as well as biohazardous effects.

    While American Cancer Society has listed Polyacrylamide as a potent carcinogen, they have not mentioned its use in cosmetics.

    What to look for? Polyacrylamide; acrylamide; polyacrylate, polyquaternium, acrylate Health concerns carcinogen, reproductive and developmental toxicity

  4. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) AKA Teflon

    When you hear the word Teflon, think about non-stick cookware. Avoid such products at all cost.

    Polytetrafluoroethylene is a dirty dangerous chemical found in Foundations, anti-aging products, pressed powder, loose powder, bronzer, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, shave gel and lip balm.

    Health concerns Cancer; mammary cancer; reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and environmental bioaccumulation and persistence.

  5. Parabens

    Parabens are estrogen-mimicking group of chemicals that can cause conditions such as cancer, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions Parabens are found in deodorants and antiperspirants.

    This chemical together with #18 above has been associated with breast cancers.

    Parabens are found in Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers, and scrubs.

    What to look for? Any ingredient ending with -paraben (example: propylparaben) Here is the full list of paraben-free cosmetics and shampoos.

    Guess which lotion I have been using that is loaded with these parabens? Yuk! 
    Lubriderm Lotion Contain Parabens

  6. Homosalate

    Homosalate is a chemical widely used in cosmetics that contain sunscreen SPF.

    The higher the SPF factor, the higher the concentration of homosalates. This chemical disrupts the endocrine system, making the hormone levels change.

    When buying lotions, creams, and sunscreens, buy the ones made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

    What to look for on beauty product labels? Homosalate, Homomenthyl salicylate, HMS, HS; 3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexyl-salicylate.

  7. Nitrosamines

    Nitrosamines toxic chemicals are considered toxic in animal species than any other category of chemical carcinogen.

    You will not find nitrosamines listed as an ingredient because they are byproducts of chemical reactions of commonly used ingredients.

    Avoiding cosmetics with DEA & TEA will do the trick.

    Nitrosamines are known to cause cancer, organ toxicity and hormones disruption.

    Nitrosamines are abundantly found in red meats, especially processed red meats like hot dogs and sausages.

  8. Phthalates

    Phthalates are dangerous chemicals banned in European Union cosmetics but still widely used in cosmetics in the US.

    Phthalates are known to cause cancer, disrupt the endocrine system, developmental and reproductive toxicity.

    Pregnant mothers and breastfeeding moms should avoid these chemicals to avoid passing the poison to the unsuspecting baby.

    They are commonly found in scented lotions and creams what to look for on the label phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP, and fragrance

  9. Hydroquinone

    Hydroquinone is commonly used in skin lightening products.

    Manufacturers targets women of color with cosmetics containing Hydroquinone.

    It is known to cause cancer and organ-system toxicity.

    Dangerous skin-lightening Products
    When shopping for skin lightening product, avoid products containing Hydroquinone or tocopheryl acetate

  10. Synthetic Musks

    These chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system and normal cell functioning.

    Avoid products containing musk ketone, musk xylene, galaxolide, tonalide.

    Japan and the European Union has banned or restricted use of these chemicals but they are not banned or restricted in the USA.
Conclusion: There are many cosmetics and beauty products that contain harmful dangerous ingredients. Knowing which ones to avoid is the key to success.

Have you found a dangerous chemical in your cosmetics? Let us know by leaving a comment. Please do not forget to share this article.

Share this post

Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.