Toxic beauty ingredients are hiding in your favorite products. It's time to start cleaning things up. Be sure to remove these 10 worst beauty ingredients!

10 Worst Beauty Ingredients

Toxic beauty ingredients are hiding in your favorite products. It's time to start cleaning things up. Be sure to remove these 10 worst beauty ingredients!

In Toxic Beauty Chemicals, we established that there are some not so nice chemicals hiding in your beauty and personal care products. These compounds serve the manufacturers purpose all the while putting your health and skin at risk. I would encourage you to read Toxic Beauty Chemicals to learn the importance of removing these chemicals for good! Once you are ready to get rid of these chemicals, you may be asking yourself “What, when, where.” There are so many out there it’s hard to know where to start. Here is where I come in! I have done the research, and I am ready to share with you the 10 Worst Beauty Ingredients. When making the switch look for these first. They are the scariest and dangerous to your health. 

10 Worst Beauty Ingredients


Parabens are preservatives used in over 90% of cosmetics and beauty products on the market. They are perfect for the manufacturer because they are cheap and help products have a very long shelf life.
Nearly everywhere, however, awareness has grown causing many companies to rethink things. Mainly look for shampoo, lotions, make-up, conditioners, and creams.
Parabens can mimic estrogen and can disrupt the proper functions of our endocrine system. I know from first-hand experience! An imbalance in our hormonal system can cause all types of physical, mental, and emotional problems. Recent studies have also found Parabens in biopsies of breast cancer tumors.
Words containing “ethyl,” “butyl,” “methyl,” and “propyl” are from the paraben family. For example, Isopropylparaben. The word “paraben” most likely will be in the name, but it doesn’t have to be. Be sure to look for the phrases above.


This is a tough one because they DO NOT have to tell us. I covered this in detail in Toxic Beauty Chemicals. Quick recap…fragrance is under the Trade Secret law. They do not have to tell you what “makes up” their personal fragrance cocktail, therefore, they don’t!
Perfumes, lotions, shampoo, body wash, basically anything with a synthetic fragrance.
Most fragrance cocktails include phthalates which are known carcinogens. They can also contain any natural, synthetic, or chemical compound other than the nine banned ingredients. It’s common for “fragrance” to stand for an additional 500 chemicals. Since they do not have to tell you there is no way of knowing what exactly you are using. Crushed beetles anyone? It happens!
The word fragrance, scents, perfume


Another tough to find ingredient. 1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of certain chemicals. Unfortunately, you will not find it on your label since it was not intentionally added.
Hair relaxers, hair dyes, self-tanners, lotions, anti-aging products, shampoo, face creams, and an alarming 67% of children’s bath products.
They pose an enormous cancer risk! Rats and mice who drank 1,4-dioxane developed liver and nose cancer. Inhalation and skin contact resulted in kidney disease. It readily penetrates the skin and has been shown to cause congenital disabilities.
Ingredients with “eth”, “oleth”, “ceteareth” or “oxynol” may have it in there. As well as PEG, sodium laureth sulfate, polyoxyethylene, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol.

Coal Tar

A thick black-brown liquid made during the burning of coal. Used to add color to products and mask itchy skin.
Soaps, shampoo, scalp treatments, hair dyes, coloring in cosmetics
Coal tar is known to cause eye and skin irritation. However, that’s the least of your worries. The risk factor is super high with this ingredient. Numerous health organizations around the world have listed it as a human carcinogen. When injected under the skin of lab animals’ cancerous tumor formed. It is a known skin and respiratory toxin and is banned by the EU and Canada.
Coal tar solution, tar, coal, carbo-cort, coal tar solution, coal tar solution USP, crude coal tar, estar, impervotar, KC 261, lavatar, picis carbonis, naphtha, high solvent naphtha, naphtha distillate, benzin B70, petroleum benzin, cosmetic biocide.


This ingredient is used as a preservative and fights germs in products. It’s also a byproduct of many chemicals (meaning when two chemicals combine they create this…however byproducts are not listed because they were not intentionally added. Of Course!). And finally, you probably recognize it best as the fluid used to embalm the dead.
Deep breath…lotion, shampoo, sunblock, makeup, body wash, toothpaste, baby wipes, keratin products, hair dyes, bubble bath, household cleaning products, glue, plywood, fiberboard, insulation. And that’s just to name a few!
The National Cancer Institute lists Formaldehyde as known cancer-causing agent. Using multiple products containing this ingredient puts your levels way above the “safety” range even though one product may be within range. Short term effects can include watery eyes, headaches, burning nose and throat, asthma attacks, skin irritation, and nausea.
Formalin, Urea, Methylaldehyde, Oxomethane Formalin, Methanal, Methylene Oxide, Formic Aldehyde, 1,3-Dioxetane, Oxymethyline, and Quaternium 15


Phthalates (pronounced: THA – late) are a group of chemicals that make plastics flexible and hard to break. They give things a softer texture and are also a solvent used to break down other chemicals, dirt, and grime.
They, unfortunately, are everywhere and you have to be smart to avoid them. Look in perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoo, body washes, nail polish, nail treatments, skin moisturizers, wood finishes, detergents, adhesives, plastic plumbing pipes, lubricants, solvents, insecticides, building materials, vinyl flooring, vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl mini blinds, food packaging, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, and plastic wrap. They have fully encompassed our world!
These things are no joke, and you should go out of your way to avoid them like an evil ex-boyfriend! They have been shown to disrupt your Endocrine system, cause problems with reproductions and development of children/babies, and can cause cancer. The National Toxicology Program and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report that DEHP is reasonable to be anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity of animal studies. DBP has been shown to cause proliferation of breast tumor cells and liver tumors in animal studies. They have been banned from use in the EU, however, are still used extensively in the US. Be sure to look for them and remove them!!
phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance

Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

An inexpensive chemical used as a detergent and surfactant. This is what causes your products to have a suds and make you think you are getting clean. Oh bubbles, how you deceive us!
In most mainstream beauty products such as shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, bubble bath, body wash, and baby products.
I am going to quote the lovely Indie Lee’s website on this one! I remember the first time I read this I was shocked and ran to the bathroom to check!

“Skin irritant; rapidly absorbed into the heart, liver, brain and eyes which can cause long term effects; linked to cataracts in adults and inhibiting proper development of children’s eyes; skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deep into the skin, increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream; animal studies show sense organ effects.”

Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, sodium sulfate, PEG lauryl sulfate, sodium salt sulphuric acid, monododecyl ester


PEG isn’t just one ingredient but a whole compound of elements known as ethylene glycol polymers. They are moisturizing, help shelf life, but most importantly help the product penetrate and go deep down in your skin. They normally have a number after them (PEG-100). This corresponds to the units of ethylene glycol they are comprised of. The lower the number, the easier they are absorbed into your skin (PEG-4).
Many beauty and skincare products
PEGs are mild irritants and can traffic a whole host of dangerous ingredients deep in your skin. Reports have shown they have been contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and heavy metals (lead, iron, arsenic)
ethylene glycol polymers, Polyethylene Glycol, PEG-(any number)

Heavy Metals

These include lead, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, zinc, chromium, and iron. They can be added intentionally or are present from contamination during production.
Lipstick, eye liner, eye shadow, nail polish, whitening toothpaste, sunscreen, foundation, blush, eye drops, hair dyes, deodorants, and moisturizers.
Each metal poses a different health risk when they accumulate in your body. In general, the concerns are cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and organ system toxicity. In 2009 the FDA conducted its study and found lead in ALL of the lipsticks they tested. And they all exceeded the FDA’s guidelines for lead in candy by ten times! (yes, you heard that right. Lead in candy…look it up!)
Lead acetate, chromium, thimerosal, hydrogenated cotton seed oil, sodium hexametaphosphate


Hydroquinone is usually marketed to women of color and/or older women since it lightens and brightens the skin. It can also be a contaminant in synthetic Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate)
Personal care and beauty products
According to the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, Hydroquinone works by decreasing the production and increasing the degradation of melanin pigments in the skin. This increases the skin’s exposure to UVA and UVB rays, increasing the risk of skin cancer. It has also been linked to organ system toxicity, eye damage, and respiratory-tract irritation.
Hydroquinone and Tocopheryl Acetate. If using a natural, non-toxic product with Tocopheryl Acetate be sure to confirm the purity. Tocopheryl Acetate on it’s on can be fine if the company is using a pure form.

Big Choices

I know reading this list can be overwhelming but…You Made It!! And now I would like to ask you a question. Pretend you are the princess in a movie and the evil witch brings you a cocktail. She says “Drink it now, and it might give you brighter skin, fewer wrinkles, and keep your face from looking oily. BUT there’s a price! Down the road, you could get sick, have diseases, get cancer, and possibly die.” Would you drink it? 

I hope the answer is NO! The problem is that most people do not know or realize the connect between the two. I know I didn’t! I thought that if it was on the shelf for me to purchase it was safe. It’s time to become informed and take healthy into our hands! Start shopping smart and SAY NO TO TOXIC!

Good News

It’s time to start cleaning your bathroom! You can do it. Have yourself a little party and start throwing stuff out. You may cry a little bit (I did when I started tossing some make-up I loved), but I promise you there are equal healthy alternatives! If you would like to research more, I would encourage you to visit Skin Deep and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Most the facts mentioned in this post were learned through these beautiful people.

Let’s Chat: Here’s to living a long life beautifully…you can have both! Let me know if you plan to or are making the clean switch in the comments below!

Much Love,

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