Off Beat

Read the Label: 7 Harmful Ingredients in Personal Care Products

More often than not, cosmetic companies use all sorts of ingredients that can be quite harmful to your health. And, there isn’t a rigorous system to approve cosmetic products before they hit the shelves and then make their way into your makeup bag. So, what good is makeup if it’s negatively impacting your health?

When you’re out finding your next foundation color or choosing that perfect lipstick shade, take a second to look at what ingredients are used. Here are 7 toxic ingredients to avoid at all costs.

1. Synthetic Colors


Many colored cosmetics like lipsticks, blush, and eyeshadow use synthetic colors. Take a look at the ingredient list and chances are you’ll see D&C or FD&C listed. F represents food and D and C represents drug and cosmetics. Synthetic colors like blue 1 and red 27 give cosmetics their beautiful hues but are also quite harmful.

Synthetic colors are made from coal tar or petroleum sources. These colors not only cause skin irritation, they’ve also been suspected to be carcinogens. In fact, synthetic colors are banned for use in Europe by the European Union.

2. Phthalates

Similar to parabens, phthalates have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Phthalates are used to make plastic softer and more flexible. These chemicals are most commonly found in perfumes, lotions, hairspray, and nail polish. They’re also used in facial moisturizers.

Aside from an increased risk of breast cancer, phthalates have also been linked to endocrine disruption which can cause reproductive birth defects and early breast development in young girls.

3. Parabens

breast cancer

Just as there are preservatives in food to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, preservatives are also used in cosmetics for the same purpose. The most commonly used preservatives are parabens. While you definitely don’t want bacteria in your cosmetics, parabens aren’t as good as they sound on the surface.

Because parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties, the ingredient has been associated with a greater risk of breast cancer. In fact, parabens have been found in biopsy samples taken from cancerous breast tumors.

While common in cosmetics, you’ll also find parabens in shampoos, deodorants, body washes, and facial cleaners. To stay away from parabens, your best bet is to switch to a line of all natural care products that can offer everything from a natural shampoo bar to natural deodorant.

4. Sunscreen Chemicals

SPF protection is important to minimize the effects of ultraviolet light that we’re exposed to each day. But, you want to ensure that only healthy ingredients are used in your cosmetics to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. In makeup, you’re likely to see these chemicals listed as:

  • PABA
  • Avobenzone
  • Benzophenone
  • Homosalate
  • Methoxycinnamate

These chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer as well as cellular damage and endocrine disruption. If you see any of these ingredients listed on your cosmetics, you may want to rethink putting them on your skin.

5. Triclosan


Triclosan is used in cosmetics as well as toothpaste! The chemical is praised for its antimicrobial effects but triclosan has been linked to more harm than good. The chemical is not only a skin irritant, it’s also been linked to causing disruptions with reproductive and thyroid hormones. There’s also the risk that triclosan fosters the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

6. Formaldehyde

Similar to triclosan, formaldehyde is also used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria. In makeup, you may see formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) listed. Chances are you know formaldehyde as a chemical that’s used to maintain a dead body. Could you imagine putting something so powerful on your skin each day?

Formaldehyde and FRPs are known human carcinogens. These ingredients can also cause a depressed immune system as well as allergic skin reactions. You’re most likely to find this ingredient in eye shadows, nail polish, shampoos, and cleansers.

7. Fragrance

long-lasting perfume

We expect fragrance to be used in perfume and body mists, but you’ll also find the very general “fragrance” ingredient listed on many cosmetics. The fact is that no one really knows what may be in fragrance. Obviously it’s for smell but there’s no telling what chemicals are being used.

Some fragrance mixtures can cause breathing issues, allergies, and dermatitis. Others have been linked to negative effects on the reproductive system. Fragrance is extremely common in body washes and shampoos but has also been found in cosmetics like foundation.


Knowing what’s in your makeup is especially important. While you want to find the perfect shades that accentuate your natural beauty, it’s most important to ensure that the cosmetic products you’re using aren’t full of harmful ingredients.

By avoiding these chemicals, you can ensure that you not only look great on the outside but that you’re protecting yourself internally as well!

Article Submitted By Community Writer


Dr Prem Jagyasi (c)

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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