Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics – What You Need To Know

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics 

What You Need To Know

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in our cosmetics and skin care products? Do you know what those ingredients are? Can your hairspray really mess up your hormones, or can your face cream cause cancer? You probably may not realize that many of these products and cosmetics contain toxic ingredients.They are not only harmful to your skin, but also to your long-term health.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics – What You Need To Know!

Don’t be fooled by the words ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ on the labels. Many cosmetic products contain at least one or two natural or organic ingredients, but they may also contain harmful synthetics and toxic chemicals as well.

Many of these harmful ingredients are on the list of carcinogens (cancer-causing) and are used by the cosmetic industry just because they are cheap!

The following toxic chemicals in cosmetics have been identified by scientific studies to be harmful to our health:

  •  Methyl – Propyl – Butyl and Ethyl Parabens

Used as a preservative to impede microbial growth and extend the shelf life of the product.Parabens can cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. They are as well used in pharmaceutical products. Parabens have been traced in almost all urine samples of adults according to the NHANES study. Recent studies have revealed that parabens can spur the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells. Several studies in the UK found a strong link between the use of parabens and the increasing rate of breast cancer. Researchers found a high concentration of parabens in 90% of breast tumours tested.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
  •  Diethanolamine (DEA)  –  Triethanolamine

DEA and TEA are toxic if absorbed over a long period and are as well associated with cancer. These chemicals are used as foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions and eye irritations. Dryness of hair and skin are also a common effect of DEA and TEA.

  •  Sodium Lauryl – Laureth Sulfate

Often described as being “derived from coconut” to disguise their toxic nature, these chemicals are commonly used in shampoos, toothpaste, foaming facial and body cleansers and bubble bath. It causes eye irritation, dry scalp and allergic skin reactions. It may also cause cataracts, and prevent children’s eyes from developing properly.


Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
  •  Petrolatum

Also known as petroleum jelly. This is a mineral oil derivative that can clog your pores, which results in disrupting your body’s natural ability to moisturize its own skin, causing dryness and chapping! Petrolatum is a very cheap and popular additive.

  •  Propylene Glycol

Ideally, this is an organic vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, which is both a natural substance. Though it is commonly made from synthetic chemicals. Propylene Glycol is known to cause skin rashes and contact dermatitis and also damage to the kidneys and liver.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
  •  Hydroquinone

Suspected to be as well a carcinogen, neurotoxin (which affects the nervous system) and a skin sensitizer.It may cause ochronosis, a skin disease which results in irreversible blue and black lesions.

  •  Synthetic fragrances

Often just labelled as ‘fragrance’ there is no chance to find out what chemicals are actually used in the product. People can suffer from dizziness, headaches, rashes and also respiratory problems. Hyperpigmentation on face and body is another ‘side effect’ of synthetic fragrances, means the chemicals might cause brown spots to form on your skin.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
  •  Xylene

Xylene is one of the top 30 chemicals in terms of volume. It is mainly used as a solvent in the printing, rubber, and leather industries. Along with other solvents, xylene is also widely used as a cleaning agent.Exposure of people to high levels of xylene can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty in breathing, impaired function of the lungs, delayed response to a visual stimulus, stomach discomfort and changes in the liver and kidneys. Xylene is quickly absorbed by your lungs after you breathe air containing it.

  •  Phenol Carbolic Acid

Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is a sweet-smelling clear liquid found in adhesive paint, lubricating oils, perfumes, textiles and also in many different antiseptics, disinfectants and germicides. Carbolic acid poisoning usually occurs when someone swallows or touches the chemical. The symptoms of carbolic acid poisoning are green or blue coloured urine, severe burns in the mouth and throat, bloody stools or diarrhoea, vomiting, trouble breathing, yellow skin, blue lips and fingernails.

  • Triclosan

Usually used as an antibacterial agent in many soaps, deodorants, detergents, acne treatments as well as in mouthwash and toothpaste. Triclosan is known for disrupting the function of the endocrine system and thyroid -affecting hormone levels.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
  •  P-Phenylenediamine (PPD)

PPD is an ingredient frequently used as a permanent hair dye. It may also be traced in textile dyes, dark coloured cosmetics, temporary tattoos, photographic developer, photocopying and printing inks, oils, greases and gasoline. It can damage the human central nervous system as well as it may cause lung irritations and allergic reactions up to blindness.

  •  Polyethene Glycol (PEG)

Commonly used as a thickener in skin care products and cosmetics, PEGs interfere with the skin’s moisture balance, causing an increase in ageing and leaving the skin vulnerable to bacteria.

  •  Aluminum

Aluminium is a very common ingredient in antiperspirants and has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease.

  •  Isopropyl Alcohol

Alcohol is used as a solvent in numerous skin care products. It causes skin irritation and damages the skin’s natural acid mantle,  accelerates the growth of bacteria and viruses. It might also cause premature ageing of the skin.

  •  Stearalkonium Chloride

Used as an antistatic agent designed by the fabric industry for use as a fabric softener. It’s commonly found in some cosmetics and hair care products, particularly in conditioners.

  •  Dioxane

Dioxane, by Google explained to be a colourless toxic liquid used as an organic solvent. Inhalation of dioxane may cause vertigo, drowsiness, anorexia and irritations in eye, nose, throat and lungs. In 3 epidemiologic studies on workers exposed to dioxane, the number of cancer cases did not differ from the expected cancer deaths. Tumours have been observed in orally exposed animals, damage to the liver and kidneys has been observed in rats.

Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics
Toxic Chemicals In Cosmetics

And I could just carry on, the above listed are the most popular harmful and toxic chemicals in cosmetics and body care products. If we look around at all these appealing gorgeous looking flasks, boxes and wrappings, beautiful pieces of soap, sensual scents … Isn’t that guileful ?!And why are all these substances obviously permitted by law?

How to Avoid these Toxins

Always check the labels of your cosmetics and skin care products very carefully! Learn to identify and avoid ingredients and additives that are harmful to your skin and health. Many websites have a list of the most common harmful ingredients. I have listed a few for you below. Choose products with 100% natural ingredients such as essential oils and herbs!

Your skin will love you for it!
so far  Klaudia



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Angelie Pangilinan

I blog mostly about makeup and skincare items and I must admit that I’m not an expert when it comes to identfying the god stuff and the bad stuff. This post is such a useful post for me, it’ll help me in blogging more informative posts.


There’s really no escaping these toxic ingredients unless you do your own products and make sure you don’t have those. Harmful as they are, manufacturers put them in for a reason; to lengthen shelf life, improve texture, add scent, etc. and not really to harm us per se. Buying organic and natural products has its own trade off as well (price, availability, shelf life, etc.) and at this point I would say it’s still more practical to get these commercial brands. I’m not saying I don’t care, I do check the labels and prefer paraben free variants to other, but that’s probably as far as it goes for me when it comes to scrutinizing the ingredients. XD Great and informative post, btw. 😉


This is so scary! So many ingredients. It’s almost impossible not to use those toxic ingredients 🙁 do you recommend brands that are healthier to use?

Stella the Travelerette

Thanks for posting this! It’s always so scary to read about the side effects of chemicals. And I have sensitive skin so I’m very easily irritated by synthetic fragrance. I’ve learned the hard way that just because it says organic on something doesn’t mean much!


This has been truly informative & scary at the same time. I am guilty of not reading the stuff in the products that I buy. I however, tend to make decisions on products that I buy based on scents & price points. I don’t like products that have strong scents and I am very generous though ( with myself ) when it comes to make-up and skin care products purchases. I always consider these products as investments so I don’t scrimp on my choices.

Next time though, I’ll make sure to check the stuff in my next purchases.


I have been aware of and avoiding chemical based cosmetics and beauty products from long… hence I shifted to natural made products. But the number of chemicals you’ve mentioned, are now making me check my products right away… thank you for sharing eye opener!

Maaya Legaspi

Thanks for this list! I’m not really into cosmetics but anything that touches my skin should be examined very well! And yes, these harmful chemicals are to looked for. I think this is mostly present on fake make ups? Hopefully, every cosmetics lover be aware of these harmful substance.


Whew. So yes, the secret is out, and has been out there for so long that people, most anyway, disregard or ignore. For the sake of vanity, health is ignored. Let me share with you this. I was talking with one person, I said, personal care products, most contain toxic chemicals. This friend I was talking to, so what will I use then? If I am going to check everything then I might as well not live anymore. See the attitude? And then there are those who say they are careful with products they use, without even spending more time learning. 🙂

Good post and good resource for people who want to learn more about the ingredients in personal care products.


Thanks for sharing such an informative post. I knew there are some bad ingredients in cosmetics we use, but i haven’t really done a proper reaserch. I like that you put everything in one place. Great article!

Geraldine Guo

Never knew there can be so many toxic substances in our skincare and cosmetics. Only know petroleum jelly can cause blocked pores. This is such a useful list I better keep a look out when I buy skincare products in future.

Geraldine Guo

Never knew there can be so many harmful substances in our skincare or cosmetics! This is such a useful list, I better keep a look out when I buy skincare products in future !


Wow! I yesterday met a woman trying to sell her products as organic and when I read the labeling, she had some of these chemicals on the label. She tried to convince me that these were basic minimum chemicals required to keep the product safe but after reading your article, I am convinced of not using them. Found this very useful.

Me-An Clemente

I’m aware that there are really toxic chemicals in some cosmetics, but I’ve never really checked some of the names and what the effects are. This is because I prefer using natural products from the start. We don’t mind paying for a higher price as we know that chemicals will be harmful for our skin. By the way, I’ve been hearing about parabens, but I didn’t know that it can cause breast cancer. I also don’t know the other chemicals you’ve mentioned so thank you for sharing 🙂


OMG. Those are really scary yet this post is really very informative! It’s nice to see and know those chemicals that could really threaten our bodies. Especially that other products are used almost everyday.

Princess Mikee

Oh, thank you for the list and rhe link for the complete list. I needed this since I often review mostly beauty products. I’ll make sure to take note of this ingredients.


Goodness. To think that most of the chemicals you listed above ARE being used by people on a regular basis through beauty products… My gut, when buying cosmetics or anything that has to do with my health, is to go for the best brands first. Brands that we know have been operating for years, have a solid customer base that are in love with their products, and are transparent with how they make their products. Shivers.


Yikes. That’s terrifying. And why I don’t use “beauty” products.


I rarely look at the ingredients. And I use quite some beauty products. Nowadays, I’m trying to check on parabens. But that’s all. But this is quite a long list. Good to know and it will help me make some better choices.

Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching
Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I got caught out recently with an all natural handmade shampoo bar that is full of chemical. You really have to be so alert and read the ingredients, no matter how clever the marketing, Great post, Claudia.