10 Harmful Chemicals in Cosmetics

  • By
  • September 15, 2021
10 harmful chemicals in cosmetics


If you are looking for good makeup products to buy you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

There are many brands, lots of different products, labels, the choice is huge.

The cosmetics industry is constantly growing and there are certain legal regulations introduced on their production and use.

But the rules aren’t respected everywhere and that is why it is very important to know about the toxic substances found in makeup and their negative effects so that you can avoid those products.

Everything we apply to the skin enters the body and that’s why it is necessary to know the harmful substances that can be found in cosmetic products that we use every day.

As a consumer, it is necessary to know at least the basic and most commonly used harmful ingredients. (1)

Your beautician can give you advice for adequate home care, explain what the product contains, and point out if the product contains any of the bad components.

If you choose to buy the products on your own, you should pay attention to the label.

What are the 10 most common harmful chemicals in cosmetics?


They are plasticizers that stabilize the scent in perfumes and deodorants, as well as colors in other cosmetics like nail polishes and hair dyes.

Two types of phthalates that are commonly found in cosmetic products are banned on the European Union market.

Numerous nail polish manufacturers have removed the ‘toxic trio’ from their products – dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.


Chemical substances that are used as preservatives to stabilize products, protect against bacteria and mold and prolong their shelf life.

They are very common in cosmetics.

Today, the emphasis in marketing is placed on cosmetics that are ‘Paraben free’.

The best-known parabens used are: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and ethyl paraben.

SLS – sodium lauryl sulfate


Used as an emulsifier in detergents (shampoos, baths, toothpaste).

It’s been proven that its direct application on the skin doesn’t have a carcinogenic effect, but it is an extremely strong irritant and allergen, and often leads to eczema and dermatitis.


It’s used as an emulsifier and antiseptic. It is mostly found in toothpaste.


Polyethylene glycols – a chemical substance very often used in personal hygiene products.

In cosmetics, it is used as a thickener, solvent, or moisturizer, in the form of ethylene oxide and 1,4 dioxane.



This white odorless powder is widely used in cosmetics like lotions, creams, shampoos, hair balms, deodorants.

It has a strong effect on microorganisms, by killing them and inhibiting the growth of microorganisms in the cosmetic products and thus preventing the deterioration of the product.

However, it causes allergic reactions in many users.


This is an organic compound consisting of ethylene oxide and ammonia.

It is present in many cosmetic products and is used to raise the pH value of certain products and as an emulsifier.

TEA has a mild ammonia smell and it’s used in makeup products, but also in creams, aftershaves, lotions.

Long-term use of products with TEA can lead to side effects.

PPD (Phenylenediamine)

hair dye

It is widely used in hair dyes.

Darker colors contain more of this substance than light ones and they have a toxic, even known carcinogenic effect.


They are potential allergens, and if the product contains artificial perfume substances, there is a high probability of an allergic reaction.

You can switch to organic products that use natural herbal perfumes and are now very popular because they don’t use these artificial – synthetic perfumes.


They are used as an occlusive in creams and as a thickener.

10 harmful chemicals in cosmetics- Final thoughts

These are the most common toxic substances, but there are lots more out there.

Although there are cosmetic regulations that clearly define what a cosmetic product may contain and what may not, and it is up to the competent institutions to control it, products with bad substances are still on the shelves.

You need to be very careful when it comes to choosing products for skincare and hopefully, this article will help you to avoid products with harmful chemicals for your skin.

I hope that more and more attention will be paid to such things and that thanks to regulations, dermatologists, beauticians, and the media people will be more educated on this topic so that we use good, safe products for ourselves and for the environment. (2)



No Comments
Leave a Reply