The Most Toxic ingredients used in cosmetics

In addition learn to break the chemical codes cosmetic companies use to hide some pretty nasty chemicals we are using in our everyday beauty products

I’ve been thinking about releasing an actual series about cosmetic products, discussing the differences between Bio, Natural, Organic products (despite the facts the majority of these products are not all natural at all). Thanks to a couple of great videos and articles I’ve read and watched a few years ago, I’ve learned how to read the INCI the obligatory list of ingredients and also learned to see some of the largest loopholes which only show how poorly the cosmetic industry is controlled.

In these series I’d like to discuss the following key topics, hoping that all my readers will learn from these:

  • The most common toxic ingredients in beauty products
  • Bio , Natural, Vegan or Organic the differences and the lies of the cosmetic industry
  • The best cruelty free products available in Europe and in the US

Have you ever wondered why more and more people develop allergies and why are more and more people get depression or other neurotic issues? The fact of the matter is, that these effects can also be linked to the usage of the dozens of unwanted chemicals we keep on using on our skin which will absorb these, which will then get in our blood flow, have the tendency to affect our health, our hormones and their producing, can cause mood disorders, several illnesses with cancer being one among them. That’s why indeed this is no joke.

Cosmetic companies are still poorly regulated and most of us do not care to read all the chemical terms at the back or bottom of products therefore we tend to buy cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, cleaners which are very bad for us and for our kids! Therefore I thought to provide you with the list of the most dangerous chemicals to avoid. In the end I will also provide you with a code list of names which you would otherwise not find any dangerous when reading on a List of Ingredients.


Cosmetic companies lie

Do not believe all the „all natural”, „organic” , “bio-” and similar labels on the front even if they are paired up with attractive looking fruits, veggies or other herbs or plants. It’s the list of ingredients (INCI) which really proves that a product is free of harmful chemicals. I write this based on my own experience. The key reasons toxic chemicals are used in our products is because they are the cheapest when it comes to mass production. That’s exactly why, they are the most common among the products used by the largest cosmetic and make-up companies which include L’Oréal, Garnier, Avon, Aussie and many others.

The rule of 10

If a product contains above 10 ingredients it’s highly likely it will contain at least 1 harmful or toxic ingredients which are bad for you. Try to go for products which have less than 10 ingredients all of which are not on this list.

And finally the list itself: I tried to enlist them in order of their occurrence/notoriety.

  1. Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – shampoos, soaps, all sorts of washes,

Although the latter is said to be less toxic, it’s better to include them both on the list.  Do a test for me. Go to any drugstore and check the list of ingredients of 20 shampoo (even those which sport the attractive labels of „natural”, „bio” and so on. You will be shocked to find, that 19 out of 20 products enlist either one of the two sulfates as the first or second most prominent ingredient in their products. Although these days there has been a revolution to make shampoos „sulfate-free” check the list of ingredients and only believe the attractive labels if you do not see any of these two, or any other sulfates on the list. The sulfates were originally used because they are the cheapest elements which can cause a large mass of foam in any chemical product. But as a side effect they disrupt the natural balance of the skin, they are prone to make hair fall, they can cause liver damage, rashes, acne, skin irritation, depression and some studies even say they are cancerous too!

  1. BHA/BHT (butylated hydroxyanisole)– mainly in products which are used to lighten the skin and perfumes

Causes cancer, liver damage, carcinomas and papilloma and totally disrupts normal system and skin development.

  1. Triclosan/ Triclocarban – in toothpastes, antibacterial soaps, deodorants, deo-sticks

This chemical has been used for its antibacterial qualities. Unfortunately in the meantime it also does a great deal of damage: it’s linked to disruption of hormones, can cause impaired muscle functioning, disrupts the immune system and our body’s natual defensive system against bacteria. It’s also said to increase the risk of people developing allergies.

  1. Coal Tar  – shampoos ( especially anti dandruff ones and in hair dyes or colorants)

Codenames under which it appears: Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine, D&C + color name, Toluene

It isn’t so lovely to learn that chemicals which are byproducts of coal or petrol processing are in fact to be found in the majority of our cosmetics. Coal tar is a byproduct of coal processing and as such, it’s really not good for us.  Although it’s namely banned in the EU its use is not prohibited in anti-dandruff products. It is cancerous and it’s also linked to ADHD in kids.

  1. Parabens  – shampoos, lubricants, spray tans, makeup products, shaving gels

Codenames: all chemicals which end with the suffix „ paraben”, propyl and butyl paraben, isopropyl and isobutyl parabens

This is a serious one that’s linked to breast cancer and also to cause developmental problems for kids.

  1. Petroleum derivate and distillates – crèmes, body creams, mascara and tons of other cream cosmetics

Codenames:  Petrolatum, Paraffinum Liquidum, Vaseline, Mineral Oil (!), Toluene

You don’t want petrol on your skin do you? Neither do I still we ALL tend to use products which contain petrol derivate.

Petrol can cause dermatitis and it’s also linked to several forms of cancer too. Petrol they use in our skin products is produced the same way and place car fuel is produced.

  1. Polyethylene/PEGs + in body, face and lip scrubs, makeup and toothpaste

This synthetic ingredient causes skin irritation and they also largely harm nature.

  1. Retinyl – Retinol – in anti-aging crèmes and moisturizers, lipsticks, sunscreens

Codenames: Retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid, retinol

According to studies, when reacting to sunrays, retinol has exceptional skin disrupting and aging effects. While it’s not openly toxic only use crèmes containing this chemical in night crèmes.

Your make-up can be dangerous for you. Make sure you check the list of ingredients before buying
  1. The LOOPHOLE of “fragrance” and “perfume”

While we all like nice smells and would like to smell fine, unfortunately both fragrance and perfumes are bad news in any beauty products. There are two reasons for that: this is a loophole used by cosmetic companies in order to keep their so-called “secret formula” according to which they cannot be ordered to reveal the chemicals which make the smell itself. This is a huge loophole that can and does hide tons of chemicals which can be harmful for us. According to recent environmental studies these code words often hide as many 14 additional, non-enlisted chemicals!!!!   Perfumes and smells as such can cause serious hormone disruptions and are highly allergenic too. Avoid cosmetic products with fragrance or perfume in their list of ingredients whenever possible.

  1. Formaldehyde – used in body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments

Now how much fun it is to know we are using a chemical that’s so heavy it’s used to conserve corpses. It’s use is linked to birth defects, hormonal disruption, headache, migraine and respiratory issues. Especially nail related workers are at stake here, but check out your nail polish to see if it contains any one of the enlisted chemicals.

  1. The “- phalates” chemicals – in body lotions, hair sprays, perfumes, nail polishes( lacquers)

Codenames: simply any chemical that ends with a – “phalate”

Closely linked to the above mentioned formaldehyde (especially when used alongside one another) is linked to cancer, birth defects, cause hormonal disruption. ATTENTION: unfortunately phalates are often NOT mentioned on the list of ingredients because they form part of the code word “fragrance” or “Perfume”.

  1. Propylene glycol – body and face creams, moisturizers, sunscreens and makeup products, shampoo and hairsprays too

This is a form of alcohol that’s generally used in cosmetics industry. It has skin irritating effects, can cause dermatitis and hives.

  1.  Watch out for these chemicals too!

The complicated names hide toxic chemicals. Watch out for the following

  • Chemicals ending with  “-one”, “thicone”, “-siloxane”, “propane”, “urea” or contain the word “propyl”

Further toxic chemicals to watch out for:

  • Cocamide DEA, MEA, TEA e MIPA
  • DMDM Hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, Bronopol, Bronidox, 2-Bromo 2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3-Dioxane
  • Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Mthylcloroisothiazolinone
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Poloxamer
  • Isopropyl Miristate
  • almost all the tanning, skin whitening and sunscreen products can be viewed as chemical weapons against us. Beware of their usage!

Note that this is just one part of the whole picture. All the things we use to wash, to clean our homes should also be taken into consideration rather sooner than later.

For wholly natural products, check out local smaller businesses or bio-businesses which are more likely to guarantee their products’ quality, check out bio-stores and my upcoming blog which will contain more information on what to look for.

It’s more expensive but it’s all the worth!