15 Toxic Ingredients You Should Avoid In Your Beauty Products

One of the biggest ironies in life has to be that many of the things created to make us look more beautiful, younger and healthier are actually making us sick. Keeping an eye out for toxins in everyday beauty items can be both exhausting and overwhelming, so we created an easy cheat sheet to make things a little easier. The following are ingredients found in everyday items--even organic and “natural” ones-- you definitely don’t want to put on your body.


  • A.k.a.: Sodium lauryl sulfate, PEG compounds, chemicals with the words myreth, ceteareth, laureth, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, xynol, oxynol, ceteareth and oleth
  • Found in: Shower gel, soap, bubble bath, lotion, hair relaxer, hair dye, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, and other products that foam
  • Can cause: Cancer, eye and respiratory irritation, central nervous system, liver and kidney damage, believed to cause birth defects, etc.


  • A.k.a.: One of the heavy metals (includes aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, thallium, copper, etc.)
  • Found in: Skin care products, counterfeit makeup, tanning products, eyeshadow, foundation, concealer, mascara, lip tint/lip balm/lipstick
  • Can cause: Cancer, immunotoxicity, endocrine and testosterone disruption, high blood pressure, premature birth, miscarriage, muscle pain, etc.


  • Found in: Hair dye, hairspray, nail polish remover
  • Can cause: Cancer, bone marrow damage, anemia, low white blood cell count, low blood platelet count, harm to reproductive organs, skin, eye, or lung irritation, etc.

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA):

  • Found in: Perfume, moisturizer, lipstick, and other makeup
  • Can cause: Cancer, liver damage, organ toxicity, endocrine disruption, skin depigmentation

Carbon Black:

  • A.k.a.: D&C Black No. 2, lamp black, furnace black, thermal black, channel black, acetylene black
  • Found in: Eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, nail polish, eyebrow products, blush, foundation
  • Can cause: Cancer, organ toxicity

Coal Tar:

  • A.k.a.: Coal tar solution, tar, coal, carbo-cort, coal tar solution USP, crude coal tar, estar, impervotar, KC 261, lavatar, picic carbonis, naphtha, high solvent naphtha, naphtha distillate, benzin B70, petroleum benzin (3, 4)
  • Found in: Makeup, hair dye, dandruff and psoriasis shampoo, scalp treatment, eczema treatment, personal care products
  • Can cause: Cancer, skin tumors, organ toxicity, neurotoxicity, sleep disturbances, emotional disturbances, loss of coordination, bioaccumulation


  • A.k.a.: Methylene glycol, Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol ), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, Hydroxymethylglycinate, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin
  • Found in: Nail polish, nail enamel, bodywash, deodorant, keratin-based chemical hair straighteners, shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, blush, mascara, nail treatment, eyelash glue, lotion, sunscreen, makeup remover, etc.
  • Can cause: Cancer, eye, nose, and throat irritation, skin sensitivity, asthma, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, skin allergy


  • A.k.a.: Tocopheryl acetate
  • Found in: Skin lighteners, face wash
  • Can cause: Cancer, organ toxicity, cell toxicity, change in genes, nose, throat and upper respiratory irritation, pigment cell damage, contact dermatitis, skin irritation, ochronois, skin  to become thick, leathery, and bumpy, skin sensitivity to the sun


  • A.k.a.: Lead acetate; one of the heavy metals
  • Found in: Lip gloss/lipstick, foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, Grecian Formula hair dye and other mens’ hair dyes in black
  • Can cause: Neurological disorders, headache, mood swings, memory loss, hair loss, kidney problems, affects brain development in fetuses, depression, etc.



  • Found in: Sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish, lotion
  • Can cause: Skin allergy, hormone disruption (mimics estrogen in the body), endometriosis, sperm, hindrance in sperm production


  • Found in: Foundation and other makeup, anti-aging cream, facial cleanser, acne products, aftershave, bodywash, scrubs, perfume, etc.
  • Can cause: Cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental toxicity, etc.


  • Found in: Perfumes, nail polish, deodorant, shampoo, hairspray, hair gel, hair mousse, fragrances, hand and body lotion
  • Can cause: Cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive health problems, hormone disruption (they mimic estrogen in the body), pregnancy hormone disruption causing birth defects, miscarriage, premature birth, increased risk for diabetes, disrupted insulin production, etc.


  • A.k.a.: Hydrous magnesium silicate, talcum powder, cosmetic talc
  • Found in: Baby powder, eyeshadow, deodorant, face masks, foundation, face powder, body powder, blush, feminine hygiene products, lipstick, shower products
  • Can cause: Cancer, pulmonary talcosis, respiratory problems


  • Found in: Soap, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, acne products, bodywash, shaving cream, antiperspirant, skin wipes, mouthwash, mascara, deodorant, lotion, antiseptic, lipgloss, etc.
  • Can cause: Cancer, hormone disruption, skin irritation, liver toxicity, endocrine disruption, antibiotic resistance, muscle weakness, reduction in heart function, etc.