7 Toxic Chemicals Found in Makeup

Are you aware of what the cosmetics you’re using are made of? Are makeup ingredients risk-free for you? Although many ingredients in cosmetic products are safe to use, several contents can be harmful to your skin and body. When you apply makeup, your skin absorbs the chemicals it contains, which can enter your bloodstream. You might also swallow or inhale some products, such as lipstick or face powder.

Studies show that chemicals contained in makeup products that people wear can appear in the urine later. When combined in the human body, chemical compounds might increase the risk of developing harmful health conditions. From asbestos to carbon black, these contaminants can be found in various makeup products, including nail polish, lipstick, eye shadow, and others. Some health concerns associated with these toxic chemical ingredients include cancer, hormone imbalance, fertility issues, neurological disorders, thyroid issues, birth defects, and asthma.

Even if you are the biggest makeupholic, it’s not always easy to spot toxic makeup since many compounds are hidden in the ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ content. Here’s a list of toxic ingredients for you to look out for in the next makeup products you buy.

1- Talc and Asbestos

You can find talc in various makeup products, such as eye shadows, blushes, and bronzers. It is a common ingredient found in makeup which itself is safe but can be contaminated with another naturally occurring mineral asbestos. Asbestos, if inhaled or swallowed, is hazardous to health, leading to deadly cancer called mesothelioma. This rare cancer has no cure currently and a low survival rate. However, there are options available on sites like mesotheliomahope.com for late-stage care, which can make a big difference to the life of affected ones. Several sites can provide guidance and treatment plans to help sustain your life.

2- Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is used in makeup products for preservation – helping prevent bacterial contamination and extend shelf life. It is found in skincare products and nail products. One thing that is important to note is that formaldehyde is called a carcinogen after its fumes are breathed. But sometimes, it gets tricky to check this ingredient out in your makeup as it’s often hidden in formulations by different names. Some of them include methylene glycol, 3 dioxanes, DMDM hydantoin, and quaternium 15. Formaldehyde is associated with a risk of leukemia, as well as Sinonasal and nasopharyngeal cancers.

3- Lead

Ever heard of lead in lipstick? It’s a natural chemical that can be present in the lipstick you use every day. Many women put makeup on without even knowing about the existence of lead in makeup products being unsafe. High levels of lead can cause kidney issues, anemia, and neurological issue. Apart from lipsticks, dangerous levels of lead can be found in other products, including kohl, eyeliner, eye shadows, and blushes.

4- Phthalates

Phthalates are another group of toxic chemicals that you need to look out for in your next makeup purchase. They are used for plasticizing and are found in personal care products and cosmetics. Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is the most commonly used phthalate that you’ll find in your most purchases. Other phthalates include butyl phthalate (DBP) and dimethyl phthalate (DMP), mostly found in nail paints to make them chip resistant and flexible. Phthalates are estrogen disruptors, and hormone imbalance might increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.

5- Parabens

Makeup manufacturers add parabens as a preservative to help keep your makeup fresh and protect the products against microorganisms. You may have seen this ingredient in your makeup remover or other products as methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben. Research suggests that parabens cause excess production of estrogen hormone and intervene with other body functions, including brain and reproduction. When estrogen disrupts, it can trigger an uncontrollable division of breast cells, leading to breast cancer.

6- BHA and BHT

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are other preservatives used in cosmetics, specifically moisturizers and lipsticks. BHA and BHT can cause allergic reactions. If absorbed or swallowed, it can cause endocrine disruption, leading to kidney, liver, and thyroid problems and affect blood coagulation and lung function. Moreover, some evidence shows that high amounts can result in hormone imbalance.

7- Carbon Black 

Did you ever think about what your mascara is made of? You might wonder where this perfect black color comes from. Carbon black is obtained from burning coal. It’s used in many makeup essentials, including eyeliners, mascaras, and even lipsticks. Reports suggest that carbon black may be carcinogenic to humans. When absorbed through the skin, it can be harmful to the brain and may lead to cancer. These studies are usually based on industrial-level or laboratory animals. Further research may specify the safety levels of small amounts of carbon black in makeup.


Toxic cosmetic products are nothing new, but not all of us know that makeup often has additives that are pernicious to health. Manufacturers add some of the harmful chemicals intentionally, while others are contaminants. FDA has banned a few harmful chemicals; however, many are still being used in beauty products. From triggering allergic reactions to developing cancers, these chemical compounds can be extremely hazardous to our health. What you can do is – switch to the non-toxic alternatives for all makeup products to avoid exposure to the above list of potentially toxic chemicals.