The Ugly Truth About Harmful Chemicals In Beauty Products

Posted by Joy Kakabeeke on

As the beauty industry continues to boom, it’s important to be aware of what’s actually in those products and how they may affect our health. We explored the ugly truth behind the potentially harmful chemicals that are present in many beauty products on the market today. From potential neurotoxins to allergens, it’s important to know which ingredients should be avoided and what alternative options are available. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about which cosmetics are truly worth their price – for your safety and your family's!

Reading labels is key in understanding what chemical additives you may be exposed to when using certain products. The trick is to know what to look for!

Here are the 5 worst ingredients in makeup to avoid

Commonly found additives within beauty product formulas include parabens, phthalates/fragrance, talc, ethanolaminesand glycols (PEGs and PPGs). Generally speaking these components have the greatest potential for toxicity due to their chemical structure or ability for absorption into skin tissue.

Parabens are a preservative used extensively in makeup products like mascara, eyeshadows, and blush, but also hair styling gel, deodorant, creams, lotions, lipstick, sunscreen, makeup wipes, and more. The purpose of parabens is to help prevent bacteria from thriving, preventing them from spoiling quickly. Unfortunately, this means that you're breathing in small amounts of parabens every day without being aware.

Parabens are linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, fertility issues, and can even increase the risk of cancer. Learn more here.

What to look for: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.


Phthalates are another common component which has been linked with endocrine disruption, meaning it can interfere with hormones alongside other reproductive health problems and have been understood as carcinogenic, potentially leading to increased risk of cancer after prolonged, cumulative exposure. Read more about phthalates here.

What to look for: DBP, DEP, or Fragrance. Fragrance, as an ingredient, is a BIG red flag, as companies are not required to list/disclose every chemical or ingredient used.


Talc is commonly found in powder-based makeup products like eyeshadow, finishing powder, blush, and bronzer. It is a mineral that is mined and milled into talcum powder, which absorbs oils and moisture from skin. There is a lot of information out there about talc and talcum powder, most of which focuses on the dangers of talc containing asbestos. It's important to find out if the product you're using is made with talc that has been tested for asbestos. In our opinion, it's best to avoid it altogether. (CLICK HERE for more info about asbestos in makeup.) 

Talc has been linked to a variety of cancers, including lung, ovarian, breast, endometrial, and cervical cancers. You can learn more about here.

What to look for: talc


Ethanolamines are often found in foundations, mascara, and many skincare products. They are used as emulsifiers. You know how oil and water don't mix? Emulsifiers help them to mix! The most common concerns with ethanolamine compounds are skin irritation, as it can easily be absorbed into the skin and cause inflammation, and cancer. Click here for more information.

What to look for: any ingredients with DEA, MEA, or TEA after it


Glycols, specifically polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polypropylene glycol (PPG), are used in a variety of makeup products including foundation, blush, mascara, and lipstick. The purpose of PEGs or PPGs is to emulsify, thicken, soften, and hydrate. These petroleum-derived substances have been linked to kidney, liver, and skin damage. 

According to

"The molecule itself, (Poly)ethylene Glycol, is considered inert, non-toxic, and generally considered safe for all usages. The FDA classifies PEGs as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredients for both food and cosmetic production.

However, the process of making PEGs creates toxic byproducts. Additionally, its starting materials are highly toxic to humans and are known to have carcinogenic properties. These include Ethylene Oxide1,4-dioxane, and other raw materials." 

What to look for: PEG or PPG, dimethicone, laureth, and ceteareth


Fortunately there are now more alternatives available than ever before offering natural solutions, free from hazardous ingredients, while still delivering an optimal look every single day without compromise! Popular organic brands like Clean Beauty by Joy, offer high-performing makeup made with natural ingredients like rosemary, thyme, and lavender extracts, and skin-loving ingredients like aloe vera leaf juice and jojoba oil - perfect for those who prefer safe, yet luxurious makeups options!

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