Avoid These Toxic Ingredients in Your Beauty Products

Toxic ingredients in cosmetics

You know what’s scary? The average woman wears over 500 synthetic chemicals every single day.

These chemicals come in the form of deodorant, shampoo, self-tanner, perfume, nail polish, and body lotion. The most harmful of these chemicals has been linked to hormonal disruption, kidney damage, respiratory problems, and allergies.

But if that’s not troubling enough, there’s even more detrimental ingredients in the average cosmetics product. Eyeshadows contain chemicals such as polythylene and terephthalate, which have been linked to infertility, damage to internal organs, and even certain types of cancer. Cancer can also be linked to certain lipsticks and foundations. In fact, cancer-causing ingredients can be found in 20% of all personal care products.

It’s no surprise that the diagnosis rate of cancer has more than doubled in the last 50 years. In the 1960s, one in 20 women were diagnosed with cancer. Today, the number is one in 8.

It’s frightening to think that our beauty products could be making us sick.

It’s also frightening to realize that there’s no one out there safeguarding our products. Approximately 80% of the 12,500 ingredients found in personal care products have not been tested for safety by an independent consumer protection agency, such as the FDA. The cosmetics industry is largely self-policed. This has lead to a flood of questionable chemicals that are used in cosmetics.

The Environmental Working Group found that over 500 products sold here in the United States contain ingredients that have been banned by countries in the European Union and Canada. Compared to the 11 banned and/ or restricted ingredients here in the US, countries in the European Union have banned over 1,300 ingredients that are either questionable or known to be damaging.

For example, talc, or talcum powder, is a common product in many American households. From baby powders to deodorants, you’ll find talc in a wide variety of personal care products. On the cosmetics front, talc is used to create fine-milled face powder that absorbs oiliness and reduces shine. Seems simple enough.

How harmful can talc be if it’s used for a baby’s bottom?

Turns out, it can be very harmful.

[bctt tweet=”How harmful can talc be if it’s used for a baby’s bottom? Turns out, it can be very harmful. Here’s why:” username=”redapplelipstic”]

Talc has been linked to two forms of cancer— ovarian and mesothelioma, a type of cancer that attacks the lungs. Talc is banned in the EU but freely available for sale here in the US.

What harmful chemicals may be lurking in your cosmetics?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the ingredients list to uncover the deadliest toxins. Let’s get started.

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Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, is a known carcinogen with the ability to disrupt the endocrine system. It’s found in .a variety of personal care products as a preservative. You’ll find BHA in deodorant, sunscreen, hair products, and cosmetics.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

Diethanolamine, or DEA, is an ingredient that can make a product either creamy or foamy. By itself, DEA is not toxic. However, it can react with other chemicals and create cancer-causing carcinogens. DEA has been known to cause esophageal, stomach, liver, and bladder cancers.


commonly form in nail polish, body lotions, and certain types of makeup, formaldehyde is a well-known carcinogen. This toxin can be breathed in as well as absorbed and has been linked to respiratory distress after inhalation. It’s also toxic to the immune system. When searching for formaldehyde in your cosmetics products, look for the preservative quaternium-15. This persative can be found in face powders and is known to release formaldehyde.


Toxic ingredients in cosmetics

Artificial fragrance may smell good, but it’s can lead to ugly side effects, such as infertility, birth defects, and cancer. It can also contain neurotoxins that can lead to brain damage, vision problems, speech disorders, and loss of muscle control. No wonder fragrance is one of the top allergens. What’s scariest about artificial fragrance is that it’s in almost every cosmetics product these days.


Lead poisoning is a thing. In fact, lead is so toxic that it can no longer be allowed in paint. However, lead can be found in 96% of cosmetics products, including mascaras, eyeshadows, eyeliners, foundations, and lipsticks.

Lead is toxic once it enters the human body because it replaces other, essential metals and wrecks havoc. Lead interferes with brain human, can lead to high blood pressure, and can negatively impact fertility. There is no amount of lead that’s safe for the body to ingest. Even the smallest amount is considered poisonous.


Parabens are commonly used as preservatives. These ingredients, such as methyl, butyl, ethyl, and propyl, have been linked to breast cancer and hormonal imbalance. This is because parabens are estrogenic and can disrupt your hormones. For men, parabens have been linked to sterility. The use of parabens has also been linked to the early onset of puberty in children as well as the early menopause in women. You’ll find parabens in skin moisturizers and hair products, such as shampoos and conditioners.


Also known as petroleum or petroleum jelly, petrolatum is used as a base for many creams and lip products. Petrolatum coats the skin and clogs pores, which results in an unhealthy build up of toxins in the body. Not only that, but petrolatum can aid in premature aging by delaying cellular regeneration. Last, but certainly not least, petrolatum has a link to cancer development. You’ll find petrolatum in ingredients such as mineral oil and paraffin wax.


Phthalates are softeners that can be found in skin care, plastics, and nail polishes. That’s right— the same ingredient used to soften your skin actually helps to produce plastic. In lab tests, phthalates were shown to cause reproductive as well as neurological damage. This is because phthalates can mimic our natural hormones and damage the endocrine system.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Toxic ingredients in cosmetics

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is often found in shampoos, mascaras, lotions, and toothpaste. In addition to cancers, SLS is a known skin irritant that can be linked to canker sores, dandruff, and other moderate skin issues. Oddly enough, SLS is also a common ingredient in pesticides, herbicides, carpet cleaners, laundry detergents, and fabric glue. No wonder SLS has been shown to corrode the fats and proteins that make up your skin and muscles.


Up until 2016, triclosan was found in soaps, such as body washes, foam hand soaps, and more, but the FDA banned this toxin for antiseptic uses because it may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs. Yikes. Triclosan potentially has another deadly connection— skin cancer.

Final Thoughts

Your cosmetics and other personal care products have one job: To make you look even more beautiful. Makeup should never damage you or put you at the risk of developing certain cancers. Use this list to know which toxins to avoid in the future.

If you’re looking for toxic-free makeup, check out our huge selection of cosmetics here at Red Apple Lipstick. All of our makeup is made by hand the good, old-fashioned way. Check out our paraben-free products here.

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  1. Lee krizka says:

    Hi. So glad I found your website! I’m at my wits end over this allergy I have developed over the past three yrs. I will be 50 soon….always loved makeup. Now I have been struggling badly with eye itching, swelling, redness, severely dry skin and also feeling very very self conscious. I have some acne scars and like to cover them with a light foundation, but can longer because of the allergy. Do you make any products that won’t basically kill my skin and cause more issues? Thank you

    1. Andrea Harper says:

      Hi Lee,
      I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with this! Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly common issue because our skin can no longer “take it” (fighting off all the toxic ingredients) and so it “gives up” which shows up in allergic reaction form. We can help with all products for lips, eyes, and cheeks. That’s our specialty and yes every product we make is guaranteed to not “kill your skin” or make your eyes itchy and red. Feel free to reach out to our customer care team if you have specific questions. My suggestion is to start with Rallye Balm, Mascara and eye shadow.

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