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June 5, 2021

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Right now, the trillion dollar cosmetic industry can put just about anything in their products – even toxic chemicals linked to cancer, endocrine disruption and birth defects. Legislation must improve to protect our health from the harmful chemicals in cosmetics.

We really have to be our own advocates with this stuff. Companies are profiting billions of dollars simply by putting completely toxic items on the shelves at low costs. All because the cosmetic industry is so under-regulated.

As someone who use to suffer from eczema, acne, and severely disrupted hormones, I’ve taken control of my body and done tons of research on the products I was consuming daily.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been super interested in makeup and beauty products. I can vividly remember myself at 4 years old, sneaking into my mom’s makeup bag to play “dress up,” having a field day with all her lipsticks and perfumes.

Little did I know, that the makeup I’d been using for several years, had been completely impacting my health and well-being without me even knowing. I’m glad I was able to become aware of this crisis before anything severely bad happened to me such as developing cancer or harming my baby chemically without even knowing.

Here are some of the most common and severely toxic chemicals in WAY TOO MANY products on the shelves these days.

I hope this post educates you and helps to open your eyes so you can make some changes to improve your health and safety and that of your family as well.

9 Toxic Chemicals to Avoid:

1. Phthalates

Exposure to phthalates has been linked to reproductive abnormalities and toxicity, and reduced testosterone and sperm quality.

Phthalates are frequently found in fragranced mixtures such as perfume, cologne, lotions, body wash, etc.

A healthier alternative is to purchase unscented products without phthalates in the ingredients list.

2. Formaldehyde Releasers

Many products contain chemicals that react with water in cosmetic bottles to generate formaldehyde, a preservative, which prevents the product from growing mold and bacteria. Formaldehyde is a strong allergen and is considered carcinogenic by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Formaldehyde Releasers include: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15 and they are frequently found in shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, even children’s products.

3. Parabens

Parabens are a preservative that disrupt hormone signaling and effect estrogen levels leading to impaired fertility in women. Some other names for them to look for in your ingredients list are: Propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

4. Artificial Fragrance

There are over 4,000 ingredients that can be umbrella’d under this one toxic chemical on an ingredient list. The word “fragrance” be a dangerous cocktail of carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disrupters and irritants.

Instead, try to look for no fragrance or essential oils in the ingredients list. The key is to only get 100% naturally derived scents, and only purchase products labeled “Fragrance-free”

Something else to note, that I learned from The Wellness Mama’s podcast with Branched Basics: Fragrance-free does not mean unscented, and the term unscented does not mean fragrance-free. The term “Fragrance-free” means there’s actually no fragrant chemicals or masking the scents in the product. Unscented can actually still have chemicals in there that are fragrance chemicals, but as long as they are not in there to give the product a scent, then they can be in there but neutralized by masking odors or chemicals that neutralize the smell. So really unscented can still contain fragrance, which is so misleading.

5. Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

SLS/SLES are foaming agents used in shampoos, toothpaste, face wash, etc. SLS/SLES can cause skin irritation, trigger allergies, and are can produce nitrosamines which are believed to be carcinogenic. You can typically find items labeled “sulfate free,” but always check the ingredients list to make sure.

6. Toluene

Toluene is frequently found in nail polish and hair dye. It is toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. Always make sure this is not in your ingredients list.

7. Oxybenzone

This one’s a bit tricky. Sunscreen. Simply put, there are Two types of sunscreen. Chemical and Mineral. Chemical is bad, Mineral is good. Some of the most common sunscreens on the market use chemical filters such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor, which has been shown to alter thyroid function.

Chemical UV filters, have been linked to hormone disruption, negative birth outcomes, reduced male fertility, and possibly cancer, are absorbed in the body in substantial amounts right after application. These toxic chemicals are commonly found in tinted moisturizers, sunscreen, lip balm, etc.

Mineral sunscreens are better because they create a barrier on the surface of the skin to physically bounce or reflect the sun’s rays away from the skin, which means they do not penetrate the skin.

Here’s a super highly rated sunscreen I love!

8. Diethanolamine (DEA)

DEA is a foaming agent in bubble bath, body wash, shampoo. It is a known carcinogen and respiratory toxin. Always make sure this, among the other toxic chemicals are not in your ingredients list.

9. Triclosan

This antibacterial agent was actually banned from soap used in health care settings. However it’s still allowed in cosmetics. It contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s also an endocrine disruptor and was shown to contribute to gut inflammation and promote tumor growth in mouse studies. Avoid this guy at all costs.


As I mentioned earlier, we need to advocate for ourselves on this one. I recently converted my entire makeup bag to a non-toxic makeup routine, and I really love all of the products. Whatever works for you, even if you swap out one item, that’s better than not.

While I’m out shopping for products, I always whip out my EWG Healthy Living app and Think Dirty. These two apps have super high standards for non-toxic products, and I always check to make sure the scores are low on either app, prior to purchasing a product. They are amazing free tools I use often to ensure I am not purchasing any more products with toxic chemicals that are going to harm my health!

9 Toxic Chemicals You Should Avoid in Your Cosmetics


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