“Top Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetics” is a highly requested blog topic, so I am happy to share today’s post! This post will navigate the meaning of clean beauty, toxic ingredients, and how to make the switch to clean brands!
What Makes “Clean Beauty” Clean?
A good rule of thumb is the saying: “If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it probably isn’t good for you.” However, even well-known ingredients can cause harmful effects in cosmetics.You might be surprised at what is considered a toxic ingredient in cosmetics.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear “definition” of clean beauty. Personally, I think this is where a lot of people get stuck and fall back to their toxic products. Clean beauty sounds great, but where do you start?
A good place to start is with the goop.com definition. Which states: “Clean Beauty is made without ingredients shown or suspected to harm human health”. Many brands claim that they are “clean”, but are actually full of toxic ingredients.
Unfortunately, The FDA does not ban or regulate as many chemicals as the EU, so “greenwashing” is prevalent. Therefore, try to look and be familiar with product labels. After all, our skin is the biggest organ, and we should know what it is absorbing.
The Dangers of Greenwashing
Essentially, “greenwashing” is when companies purposely make their non-clean beauty products appear “clean” through packaging and misleading verbiage. And the scary part? It is all very legal.
Some examples of greenwashing include: green/white package coloring and popular terms like “eco-friendly”, “organic” or “no harmful chemicals.”
As mentioned before, companies will pass this test because the FDA has only banned 30 chemicals in U.S. If the chemical is not on this list, companies can claim “no harmful chemicals”. Even if the chemical is banned and shows potential harm in other countries, it could still be used in U.S.
Therefore, instead of relying on a company or government’s standards, try to do your own research. In order to help save you some research time, check out the quick list of cancer-causing ingredients below!
Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Cosmetics
Through my own research, these are the toxic ingredients in cosmetics to avoid asap. For additional ingredients, please subscribe to get your free clean beauty guide!
(please note this list is in no particular order!)
List of Top Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetics:
1. Synthetic fragrance
The FDA defines fragrance as a combination of chemicals that give a product its scent. However, this “combination of chemicals” is unknown, so it’s best to avoid on product labels.
Parabens are preservatives that prevent the growth of microbes (read: bacteria). These preservatives can be found in array of products from makeup to shampoo. However, it is linked to certain cancers and reproductive toxicity.
Formaldehyde is another agent that prevents microbes but in water-based products. As a result, this toxic ingredient in cosmetics is notorious for being linked to cancers and other allergies. Most often found in items like eyelash glue, shampoos and body wash.
Naturally, these chemicals are banned in EU, but are still heavily used in US products. Its side effects are linked to cancers, allergies, and other development and reproductive toxicity. Other names on labels are: DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance.
Triclosan is an anti-microbial agent that is heavily used in the cosmetic world. Unfortunately, this chemical makes the list because it can cause immune resistance to antibiotics due to its anti-microbial properties.
As you may know, this metal is dominant in anti-perspirant deodorants. It is best to find a deodorant without this metal because aluminum is linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Polyethylene (PEGs/PEG-10 Laurate)
PEGs are a group of toxic chemicals that provide a thick and moisture heavy texture. Therefore, they affect hormone health and are commonly found in foundations, moisturizers and other creamy products.
These chemicals are also used as preservatives. Under those circumstances, these preservatives have shown potential links to cancer, irritation and other reproductive toxicities. Commonly found in lip products, makeup, hair products, etc.
9. SLES/SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate/Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)
These chemicals help product absorption into skin and hair. Therefore, they are common in cream-based products, like foundations and concealers. Similar to others, it is linked to cancers, irritations, and other allergies.
10. Ethanolamine Compounds (TEA, DEA, MEA)
Mainly found in soaps, hair products, and other cosmetics as an emulsifier. Consequently, ethanolamines can break down into nitrogen and form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are a class of more than a dozen different chemicals that are comprised of possible and known carcinogens.
11. Petroleum Based Chemicals
When petroleum is fully refined, it causes no risk. However, US petroleum is usually not properly refined. When it is not fully refined, it can contain toxic chemicals. Consequently, these risks include anticipated carcinogens.
This ingredient is commonly found in lip balms and nail polish to protect from UV light. Furthermore, these chemicals are linked to cancer and organ system toxicity. Also try to avoid anything ending in “benzone” (i.e oxybenzone)
How to Switch from Toxic Ingredients in cosmetics to Clean Beauty
Alternatives to Toxic Ingredients in cosmetics
- Lily Lolo: Great for everyday makeup like eyeshadows and powders!
- Ilia Beauty: Great for foundations, concealers and cheeks!
- Kosas: Great for makeup but also deodorants!
- Luminance Skincare: Great for skincare that is gentle for everyday use!
- Beauty by Earth: Great options for clean self-tanners and body/face washes!
- 100% Pure: Great for large variety from body washes to makeup!
- Coola: Great for clean SPF and other self-tanners!
- Mount Lai: Great skincare tools for de-puffing and product absorption!
- RMS Beauty: Great for clean lip shines and lipstick colors!
- Kjaer Weis: Great for concealers and other eye products!
Where to Buy Safe Cosmetic Brands
As mentioned above, clean beauty has now expanded to online and in-store. There are people that like to try in-person, but it is also a breeze to order online.
Safe and Chic: This is a great website that has a HUGE selection of clean brands. It is my go-to site since they have consistent discount codes. Furthermore, it not only covers makeup but skin and hair care too.
Credo Beauty: Very similar to Safe & Chic, but they also have store locations as well. However, they go one step further by providing more guidance on toxic ingredients and have their own standards.
Brand Websites: Sometimes it is great to go right to the source. All of the clean brands in above list have their own website.
Beauty products are very personal, so it is understandable that people want to try in person. If you are this type of person, check out the below list:
Sephora: What is great about Sephora is that they are well-known PLUS have their own “clean” standards. However, be careful, as their “Clean at Sephora” products could still have harmful ingredients.
Ulta: This is another great option, however, they do not have the large variety like Sephora (i.e. Ilia) Also, they do not have set clean standards like Sephora.
Chain Stores (i.e. Target, CVS, etc.): This one can be hit or miss, but they do carry some unique brands like Honest, Cera Ve, etc.