Harmful ingredients in your cosmetics

Harmful ingredients in your cosmetics
March 1, 2018 Aidee Erhime
Harmful ingredients in cosmetics

All over the world, drugstores are filled with various skincare products which claim to contain ingredients that promote the health of the skin. With the increase in awareness of proper skincare, many people now invest huge sums in the purchase of skincare products regardless of the ingredients used to produce them.

Some ingredients used in skincare are however marked as dangerous and should be avoided. For the sake of those who are curious about the dangerous ingredients in cosmetics, this list is for you.

Ingredient List


Formaldehyde also called formalin, is an organic compound that acts as preservative and disinfectant and is classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. It is most commonly used in embalming corpses and is now used in making building materials. Found in cosmetics such as mascara and eye shadows, formaldehyde can cause nausea, coughing, and asthma symptoms, as well as burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat.


Triclosan is an antibacterial compound found in cleansers, deodorants and other cosmetic products that is classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen. Overuse could also result in strains of drug-resistant superbacteria. It is also used as a pesticide.

A study showed that prolonged exposure to triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in laboratory mice.


Parabens are a class of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in food, therapeutic and cosmetic products. They occur naturally in many fruits and vegetables. Parabens come in different forms. They are the most widely used preservative in personal care products because of their low cost.

Aluminium chlorohydrate

It is used as a topical antiperspirant/deodorant as it blocks the sweat pores to reduce sweating. Aluminum is a neurotoxin that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer although not scientifically proven yet.


This is a chemical plasticizer found in nail polish and mascara that helps prevent cracking and they are generally used to make plastic products soft. There are many different types of phthalates.  Studies have shown that it causes birth defects and harms male reproductive organs. Phthalates are also present in fragrances used in perfumes and air fresheners.


Lead can be found in hair dyes, lipsticks and cleansers.  It sometimes exists in these cosmetic products as ‘impurities’ or by products of other ingredients such as oils in cosmetics formula, it is also naturally occurring thus making it difficult to rid of it.


This is a skin-bleaching chemical and carcinogen (cancer-causing). When used in high doses, Hydroquinone can cause irreversible change in the skin structure and expose the skin to dangerous environmental elements.


Even though there is a conflict as to whether or not ingredients in cosmetics have the ability to penetrate the bloodstream, we must note that the presence of these chemicals in cosmetics is not necessarily the big deal. The real cause of whatever damage they result in is the amount of the chemicals that is applied on the skin. If the levels are too high, as with anything, it could lead to irreversible damage to the skin.


Reference/More resource


1 Comment


  1. […] The answer? Not enough to scare you if you use safe cosmetics. […]

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