Have you ever taken a really good look at that long list of ingredients on the well-known cosmetics and beauty products you bought?
Like a REALLY good look?
We believe is important to be aware of just a few of them and we made it simple, we’ve compiled a list of the common potentially harmful chemicals in beauty products, its uses, and how it could possibly affect you.
*Benzyl, ethyl, isopropyl [SD-40], methyl, SD alcohols
Found in hand sanitizers and alcoholic toners.
Very drying for the skin. Bad for all skin types
Erodes the skin surface and makes you more susceptible to bacteria
Prevents skin from replenishing, renewing and rejuvenating itself
Used in deodorants, antiperspirants and sunscreens
Linked to brain disorders and Alzheimer’s
A possible factor in breast cancer
A neurotoxin that binds and sticks to our red and white blood cells
Aluminum in sunscreen might contribute to oxidative damage in the skin, increasing the risk of cancer
3. Benzalkomium Chloride
Added to products to kill germs
Skin and eye irritant
A suspected respiratory and gastrointestinal toxicant
4. Benzoyl peroxide
Commonly used in acne-removal creams.
Possible tumour promoter, mutagen, produces DNA damage
Causes redness, irritation, itchiness and a burning sensation for some skin types*
*I’ve gotten a massive breakout and skin irritation once when I applied to an ingrown pimple. My skin was red and was burning for a couple of hours, and it spread to my entire cheek area. Different people are different, but I have sensitive skin and I’d never use this to cure my acne.
5. Bisphenol-A (BPA), BPS
Used in hand sanitizers, soaps, sunscreens, lotions – expedites the delivery of active ingredients they contain. Handling receipts (especially after using hand sanitizer) quickens the BPA transfer into the body.
PCOS, infertility, premature delivery, miscarriage, and other reproductive effects in women
Reduced libido and sperm quality, and altered sex hormone concentrations in men
Altered thyroid function
Obesity and diabetes
Impaired liver and kidney function
Impaired immune function
Neurobehavioral deficits such as aggressiveness, hyperactivity, and impaired learning
6. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), Toluene, BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
The preservative in many lipsticks and moisturizers
Endocrine disruptor interferes with hormone function
BHA: possible carcinogen
7. Carbon Black
Found in eyeliners
Linked to cancer and organ toxicity
8. Coal Tar Dye, P-Phenylenediamine
*Colours listed as “CI”, “FD&C,” (Synthetic dyes, colour pigments) or “D&C.”
Gives hair dye its colour
Potentially causes cancer
Contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain
Often used as part of hair dyes. Extensive usage may cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
9. Dibutyl Phthalate, Phthalates, DHP, DBP5, DEHP
Used mainly in nail products to prevent it from becoming brittle
Can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations
Endocrine disruptor, toxicant
Affects reproductive systems – harm unborn child, impair fertility
Damage immune and nervous systems
Causes liver and kidney failure in young children after long exposure
* Choose pure essential oils instead of fragrances
Found in many products, including sprays, tampons and shampoo
Extremely toxic, has a score of 10 on the EWG database
Won’t appear in ingredients. Often in antibacterial things, cleansers etc
Causes cancer reduced immunity, nervous systems disorders, miscarriage, birth deformity
11. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives
*DMDM Hydantoin (Quanternium-15), Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine
Found in many products – lotions, nail polishes, eyelash glue, hair gels, shampoos, deodorants etc.
Weakens immune system
Can cause irritation of the eyes and difficulty breathing
12. Gluten, Hydrolized wheat protein, Wheatgerm
*Some gluten ingredients are hidden
Toothpaste, lipstick, facial cleansers and many more.
Causes allergic reactions and even asthma in some cases
13. Heavy Metals (Nickel, Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Mercury etc)
Used in various cosmetic products – lipstick, mascara, foundation, concealers, eye shadow, eyeliner etc
Builds up in the body over time and produces symptoms that are mistaken for other illnesses (ie: headaches, dizziness, numbness, chronic pain etc)
Used for skin lightening
Rated the most toxic on EWG’s database
Linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity
Found in foundations
An unstable chemical linked with endocrine disruption and thyroid disorders.
16. Para-Aminobenzoic acid, PABA, Sunscreen chemicals, Benzophenone, Avobenzone, Ethoxycinnamate
Found in all types of cosmetics but most common in sunscreen
Free radical generators -> damage DNA
17. Parabens (ethyl, butyl, methyl, propyl, isobutyl, methyl)
*Also used as fragrance ingredients
Widely used as a preservative in many cosmetic products.
Suspected of interfering with hormone functions (endocrine disruption)
Imitates estrogen -> causes breast cancer
Found in many products
Studies indicate that methylparaben applied on skin combines with UVB which leads to skin ageing and DNA damage
18. Paraphenylenediamine (PPD)
Used in hair products and dyes
Toxic to the skin and human immune system
19. PEG (Polyethylene glycol). Dioxane; 1,4 Dioxane
Ingredients ending with eth/oxynol)
Acts as a solvent, thickener, softener, moisture-carrier
PEGs are usually contaminated with Dioxane and 1,4 Dioxane
Possible carcinogen to humans
Development Toxicant. Interferes with humans’ development
Readily absorbed through the skin
Found in hair products, face lotions, hand creams, anti-aging products
All glycols: weaken protein and cellular structures
20. Petroleum, Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Petrochemicals
*Paraffins, Terms ending in “anol”, like isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, methyl alcohol or methanol, butyl alcohol or butanol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol
Enables products to give your hair/skin/lips shine
Absorbed through the skin; toxic to brain, kidney, respiratory system
May be contaminated with PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PAH). Extensive use may cause skin cancer
Used as a preservative in beauty and personal care products
Suspected to be a carcinogen
Causes skin irritation
*Said to be a better preservative than parabens
22. Propylene glycol (PEG), Butylene glycol
Used as a skin-conditioning agent. Found in sunscreen, moisturizer, conditioners, shampoo, hair spray
Skin irritant and penetrant. Causes hives and dermatitis
Used to smoothen and enables products to spread evenly
They accumulate on the skin and can be hard to clean off
May accumulate on hair and over time lead to reduced volume, greasy hair with a need for more frequent washing
*Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in “siloxane” (e.g., Cyclotetrasiloxane)
Used to soften, smoothen, moisten
Interferes with hormone function and damage the liver
Also known as D4 and D5 which are endocrine disruptors. High amounts may cause uterine tumours, is harmful to the reproductive and immune systems
25. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Commonly found in shampoos, cleansers and bubble baths. Make products bubble and foam
It may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane or ethylene oxide, which may cause cancer (human carcinogen)
Extensive exposure to SLS has been linked to eye damage, depression, laboured breathing, diarrhea and severe skin irritation.
Suspected to also damage the skin’s immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame.
The body retains the SLS for up to five days, during which time it may enter and maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs, and brain.
*(Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
When exposed to sunlight, reactions occur between the sunscreen’s active and inactive ingredients and the epidermis.
May cause inflammation, dermatological effects, allergic reactions and photogenotoxic (DNA altering) effects.
Has ingredients that cause cancer
Sunscreen doesn’t allow your skin to absorb Vitamin D
Oxybenzone increases the production of harmful free radicals that attacks human DNA. Mimics estrogen, causes breast cancer. Causes melanoma
Octyl methoxycinnamate is ironically particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. Triggers biochemical changes that cause mutation and cell death upon exposure. Reproductive toxicity. Organ system toxicity, especially in the liver; and enhanced skin absorption
Retinyl Palmitate when exposed to sunlight may cause skin lesions and tumours
Inorganic UV filters: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Might be able to penetrate the top layer of skin and reach living cells, though studies are still inconclusive.
27. Synthetic fragrances (Parfum, Fragrance)
Gives products a pleasant fragrance
A complex mixture of chemicals that triggers allergies and asthma
Linked to cancer and neurotoxicity
Most chemicals are irritants and can trigger allergies, migraines, asthma symptoms
Found in baby powders, face powders and body powders
Ovarian cancer (especially using too much baby powder). Travels through the reproductive system and embeds inlining of the ovary
Very closely related to asbestos, a potent carcinogen
29. TEA, DEA and MEA
*TEA (triethanolamine), DEA (Diethanolamine) and MEA (Monoethanolamine), Cocamide DEA, Diethanolamine (products that state it contains coconut), Lauramide DEA.
Makes cosmetics creamy/sudsy, acts as a pH adjuster
Possible human carcinogen
Causes allergic reactions
In high doses, causes liver and kidney cancer, precancerous changes in skin and thyroid
Used in antiperspirants/deodorants, cleansers, hand sanitizers as a preservative and anti-bacterial agent.
Endocrine, thyroid disruptor
Bioaccumulates in body
Suspected to cause cancer too
Steps you can take:
Always read the ingredients in your beauty products before you buy them. Keep a handy list of these synthetic chemicals to avoid
There are apps like the Think Dirty App where you can scan products and get quick info on the ingredients
Try exploring natural beauty products. Certain companies like to claim their products as natural but, they might not actually be.
With over 500 all-natural and organic beauty products Vooqo is able to cover most of your beauty needs with the most advanced 100% clean formulas