7 Cosmetic Ingredients You Should Stop Using Now

When you stroll down the cosmetic aisle in any department store, you will find several different makeup brands. All of them feature the hottest colors and promise to tighten, lighten, and brighten your skin. If you try to read some of the labels on your favorite products, however, you might have a hard time deciphering the words.

While you might be happy with your favorite lipstick, blush, or perfume, do you ever wonder what ingredients are in the products you are using? If you do, then you will be really surprised to learn that there are a variety of makeup brands on the market that are filled with toxic chemicals that can cause harm and even cancer.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of products on the market that offer the same benefits to you without the harmful ingredients, but you need to know what to avoid. So, to help you on your next makeup shopping spree, here are seven cosmetic ingredients you should stop using now.

1. Parabens

You have most likely heard the term paraben because lately many labels are featuring the words, “paraben-free.” This is because this ingredient is the subject of much controversy. Paraben is the most commonly used preservative in cosmetics and personal care products because it stops the growth of fungus, microbes, and bacteria in your makeup and creams.

If you are looking on your ingredient label, you might not see the exact word “paraben.” It is usually at the end of a much bigger word, for example, methylparaben. So, you might be wondering, if It stops bacteria from growing in my makeup, why is it so bad?

Well, over the last decade, scientists have linked parabens with an increase in breast cancer and a variety of other risks. Some studies concluded that this preservative is absorbed in the skin, metabolized and excreted, which in turn contributed to a myriad of adverse health effects.

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2. Triethanolamine (TEA)

While this is a mouthful to say, triethanolamine, or TEA, is a very common cosmetic ingredient, which is found in foundation, concealer, eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, and fragrances. The main use of this chemical is to balance the PH of a product, but it can also emulsify products and help them to spread easier.

Although the FDA has approved TEA, there are several warnings associated with the use of this ingredient. It has been linked to allergic reactions, hair and skin dryness, and eye irritation.

3. Formaldehyde

This is perhaps the most disturbing of all the cosmetic ingredients, since you are probably already aware of formaldehyde for its use in mortuaries. Formaldehyde is a colorless, odorless gas, which is used to produce fertilizer, plywood. It is also in your cosmetics. It is most commonly found in your nail polishes, nail hardeners, hair gels, deodorants, eyelash glues, and lotions.

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The most common side effects of this chemical are skin irritations, such as scalp burns and hair loss, but it is also associated with burning eyes, throat, and skin. The most major concern associated with formaldehyde is an association with cancer.

4. Phthalates

You will find phthalates in everything from colored cosmetics to nail polishes and perfumed lotions. These chemicals are added to cosmetics to reduce cracking and make them less brittle; they are also added to products like hairspray to help avoid stiffness.

The problem with phthalates isthey have been linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and they can be harmful to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

5. Fragrance

When you see the term “fragrance” on a cosmetic, shampoo, or moisturizer ingredient label, it may not mean what you think. According to the Environmental Working Group, companies often use the term “fragrance” to protect a proprietary blend.

These secret formulas are usually a mask for thousands of chemicals and products that are harmful to your skin. Companies do this to get through FDA loopholes and to hide a range of ingredients that can disrupt your hormones, induce headaches, cause skin irritation, asthma, and more. To avoid this, always opt for fragrance-free products.

6. Synthetic Colors

These chemicals can be tricky because they are added to makeup and hair dye colors tomake more vibrant and beautiful colors. Unfortunately, they are also believed to be cancer causing agents. How will you know they are synthetic colors? They will be labeled, D & C, followed by a color and a number, or FD & C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD & C Red No. 6, or D & C, Blue No 7.

7. Petrolatum

This is a mineral oil jelly that is featured on a variety of lip products. The problem with this is mineral oil promotes sun damage, sun sensitivity, and interferes with your body’s ability to moisturize itself. Have you ever bought chapstick and felt the need to use it over and over? Well, this is the reason why.

What to Buy

After reading the seven chemicals that you should stop using, you might be more aware of what is in your makeup drawer. If you noticed some of the ingredients in your cosmetics, it could be time to replace those items, but where do you start? If you are wondering, what you can buy, here are a few tips to help in your quest to purchasing nontoxic makeup.

Read Labels

Deciding to replace the toxic makeup in your drawer is a great step, and it does not have to be overwhelming. Just start by browsing the aisles. You can shop like you normally do, just make sure you read the labels carefully and be aware of the ingredients. There are a few red flags that you should look for, so if you see them, find a new product. Also, there are several companies now that promote nontoxic, animal free cosmetics, so you may not have to look too far.


After reading your labels, you might not know what you are looking at. Rest assured, you do not have to commit a bunch of scientific ingredients to memory. Just do a quick search and make sure that you are not buying anything with toxic chemicals. The Skin Deep website, by the Environmental Working Group, is an excellent source.

Know Where to Shop

Sometimes it is all about knowing where to shop, so if you want to find the best nontoxic cosmetics, you should do a quick search before you hit the stores. Many times, the smaller cosmetic stores will carry the best selection of natural cosmetics. Also, organic grocery retailers usually have a small cosmetic section where you will find great products.

Your cosmetic products should enhance your beauty and make you feel great, and with a little help from this guide, you can rest assured that your cosmetics will not cause any adverse health reactions.

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