HomeLifestyle & CultureBeauty & FashionTop 16 Most Harmful Chemicals In Cosmetics (& Makeup) – Part II

Top 16 Most Harmful Chemicals In Cosmetics (& Makeup) – Part II

Top 16 Most Harmful Chemicals In Cosmetics (& Makeup) – Part II


Phthalates are multi-functional chemicals that are used in a variety of consumer products including cosmetic and personal care products. They are use in hundreds of products such as toys, vinyl, flooring, wall covering, detergents, lubricating oils, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, blood bags and tubing, nail polish, hair sprays, afterwash lotions, sanitary pads, gels, baby products, deodorants, perfumes and many other products.

Also known as plasticizers, they act as a binding agent or solvent, and in some instances used to increase longevity of products. In the past few years, researchers have linked phthalates to a number of health related problems some of which include


  • Breast cancer
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Low IQ
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Asthma
  • Neurodevelopmental issues.
  • Behavioral issues
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Altered reproductive development and
  • Male fertility.

Phthalates enter our bodies through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption when exposed to heat or extracted by organic solvents, which is pretty often.


6. Toluene

Toluene is a clear liquid with an aromatic odor. It is found naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. It is used in making thinners, adhesives, rubber and hair dyes. It is also used in nail products to suspend the colour and smooth finishing across the nail. A recent study by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (CDTSC) found that even exclusive nail polishes labeled as “toxic-free” contained one of the so-called “toxic-trio” – formaldehyde,  dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene.

Exposure to toluene can cause

  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and Headaches

Long term exposure to toluene increases risk of damage to the brain, liver, bone marrow and kidneys (especially women and pregnant women). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Breathing large amounts of toluene for short periods of time adversely affects the human nervous system, the kidneys, the liver, and the heart. Effects range from unsteadiness and a tingling in the finger and toes to unconsciousness and death.”

It is advisable to avoid products found to contain at least one of the toxic three here 


7. Polyethylene Glycol

Polyethylene glycol (PEGs) are synthetic petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture carriers. They help enhance the absorption of ingredients into the skin, including the harmful ones.

Polyethylene glycol is found in many

  • skin creams
  • body lotions
  • soaps
  • hair products
  • baby products and
  • shower gel among others.

In terms of cosmetics, they have three uses

  • As an emollient to help soften and moisturize the skin
  • As an emulsifier to help oil and water-based ingredients mix together properly.
  • As a carrier that can help deliver other ingredients deeper into the skin.

Long term exposure can cause

  • Irritation of the skin, nose, eyes and lungs.
  • Damage the nervous system.

It is vital to read product labels to be sure of its ingredients before purchasing.


8. Paraben

Parabens are a family of related chemicals that are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetic products. Some of the most commonly used parabens in the world of beauty or cosmetics are

  • methylparabens
  • propylparaben
  • butylparaben
  • isobutylparaben
  • etylparaben
  • isopropylparaben

Parabens are used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as well as in food and drugs. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include

  • moisturizers
  • haircare products
  • shaving products
  • sunscreens
  • makeup, etc.

It can be found in other product like toothpaste, deodorants, shampoos and conditioners.

For adverse effects of parabens.

  • A number of study has proven that methylparaben may cause cancerous skin damage. A toxicology study tested whether skin treated with methylparaben had an adverse reaction when exposed to sunlight.
  • Possible allergic reactions my occur as a result of using a product with paraben. Contact dermatitis for example, occurs when the skin has an allergic reaction to something it comes in contact with. Contact dermatitis rashes may include itching, bumps and blisters, dry scaly skin, swelling and tenderness or burning sensations.


Photo Credit: Google

Part III coming right up. Stay tuned.

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