Five Toxic Ingredients in Beauty Products to Avoid

Last updated on January 2nd, 2023 at 12:10 pm

Do you remember the first time you put makeup on? I do. I was 12 years old and put on bronzer and white eyeliner. This was the late 90s so white eyeliner was totally acceptable. At 12 years old was I thinking about what toxic chemicals were in my beauty products? Not at all. Have you ever taken a moment to look through your makeup and beauty products to read the ingredients? Today I’m sharing with you some of the not so clean ingredients in beauty products to avoid.

The FDA doesn’t require approval for cosmetic ingredients. Congress has to give the FDA authority over cosmetic ingredients. Until then, it’s on us as consumers to do our research when buying beauty products, which we should anyway whether the FDA regulates cosmetics or not. The United States has very few banned ingredients, only 11, compared to Europe and Canada. That means there are a lot of harmful beauty ingredients lurking in our everyday cosmetic products. These ingredients have been linked to some serious health issues including cancer, asthma, fertility issues.

List of Toxic Ingredients in Beauty Products

I know shopping for clean beauty can be overwhelming when you’re starting out. Start slow and do what works best for you. Replace toxic makeup with clean makeup as you finish them or toss everything at once. Whichever works for you and your budget! Here are some very common toxic beauty product ingredients to avoid in.


The easiest to spot on a product label. Sometimes Fragrance is listed as Parfum, Aroma or even Flavor. The ingredient Fragrance allows a company to include as many ingredients, mostly toxic, as they want without actually disclosing what makes up the fragrance. Fragrance in beauty products can cause allergy flare ups, asthma issues and it’s an endocrine disrupter.


Talc is found in a lot of powdered beauty products. Remember Johnson & Johnson and their baby powder? Talc is dangerous because it contains trace amounts of asbestos which is carcinogenic. The particles from powdered products that contain talc are very easy to breath in. The talc can build up in our lungs over time leading to serious health issues.

While some beauty brands will say their talc is safe and asbestos free, the testing for asbestos is actually not regulated. Talc and asbestos has been found in makeup marketed towards tweens and teenagers. HBO Max’s documentary Not So Pretty has an entire episode about talc in the beauty industry.

CI 77891

CI 77891 in powdered form can be toxic if inhaled and its found in a lot of beauty products like blushes, bronzers and setting powders. This ingredient is also labeled as Titanium Dioxide, Pigment White 6, TiO2 or Titanium White. It can cause reproductive health issues and is carcinogenic when in powdered form.

When I learned this, I immediately tossed all my powdered beauty products that contained Titanium dioxide. My baby sits on the floor next to me while I put my makeup on and I prefer to not take any chances of her breathing it in. This one was 100% not worth the risk and I was ok tossing everything right away. The potential harm outweighed any concerns about finishing the products first.

Titanium dioxide is found in creams and lotions but since those aren’t powdered, there’s no risk of breathing in the tiny particles.


Phthalates are used as preservatives in many beauty products. This ingredient has been linked to breast cancer and precious puberty. When shopping for beauty products look for ones labeled “Phthalate Free”.


Parabens are used in beauty products to preserve the shelf life by reducing the growth of bacterias. They can cause reproductive issues in both women and men. It’s even been linked to abnormal breast cell growth. It’s easily absorbed into the skin so it’s best to try and avoid this harmful ingredient.

Bonus – Lead

Lead is the one ingredient that isn’t listed on labels The FDA found that more than 99% of lip products contained traces of lead. While the FDA considers the amounts of lead found in lip products, there is no known safe amount of lead in blood exams. Lipsticks are easily ingested when we eat and drink.

What’s the best way to avoid lead in lipsticks since it’s not a listed ingredient? Don’t use them. Easier said than done right? The more practical option is to look at the list of over 400 tested lipsticks and choose the lowest ones on the list or only buy lipsticks from clean beauty brands. Wipe your lipsticks off before eating or drinking and don’t kiss any babies or children with lipstick on!

How to Find Clean Beauty Products

Many brands claim to be clean but are really just greenwashing. Any brand can claim to be natural or eco friendly as part of their marketing campaigns without actually backing that up.

Read Labels and Ingredient Lists

The best way to avoid the greenwashing trap is to read the labels before buying anything. Save this post so you always know the top ingredients to avoid. Use apps like Clearya, Think Dirty and EWG to check products before buying.

Shop Organic, Vegan, Fair Trade, Cruelty Free, and Vegan

Each product you buy doesn’t have to have all four certifications but if it has at least one, chances are the brand cares and uses very minimal toxic ingredients.

An Organic label means at least 95% of the ingredients used are organic. There are no GMOs or synthetic preservatives or pesticides.

Any Certified Vegan products can not contain any animal byproducts.

Beauty product ingredients that are responsibly sourced will have the Fair Trade label.

If you see a bunny or bunny ears on a label, that product is Cruelty Free and was not tested on animals.

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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

Disclosure: If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may earn an affiliate commission. It’s at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.

Welcome! It is so great to have you here. As a Certified Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant, my mission is to support you in achieving a healthy pregnancy. Whether you are ready to prepare your body for pregnancy, aiming for a smooth and healthy nine months, or seeking support in your postpartum recovery. I also help parents and their young children embrace nutritious eating and a healthy lifestyle. I provide practical advice and support to help you meet your goals: from getting your body ready for pregnancy, to enjoying a healthy pregnancy journey, and nurturing your children’s well-being. As a mom myself, I’ve gone through it and I understand your aspirations and the hurdles you might face. Let’s partner together to create a healthy journey into parenthood.