Makeup is just one of those things that women put on mindlessly every day in order to spice up their look. Because makeup is worn so often, and can be so versatile; the makeup industry has been overwhelmed by products and brands some being high-end and some being drugstore cheap. Despite wether you buy high end or drugstore, makeup is expected to not only look good, but feel good, last all day and wash off with ease when the day is done. In order to achieve these objectives while maintaining a low price, some makeup brands have resulted in using certain toxins in makeup formulas that can potentially be very harmful to you as the user. It is important to be aware of this, as makeup is applied so often and is so close to our eyes, nose and mouth; all areas that make it easy for these toxins to enter the body.

toxins in makeup, makeup brushes in a row

What Makeup Products Contain The Most Toxins?

Concealer. This is a relatively heavy product that is a game-changer when it comes to covering up blemishes. Though concealer can be very beneficial to your look; if you are not careful of the ingredients, it could become detrimental to your long term health. Concealers are known to contain parabens and retinyl acetate, as well as fragrance. The following brands are ones to avoid in regards to concealers:

  • CoverGirl
  • Neutrogena

Lip Liners and Lip Glosses. Products such as these are a makeup staple for most women. Because this lip liners and glosses are coming in such close contact with one’s mouth; it is important to be fully aware that this product could also be accidentally consumed by licking lips, eating or drinking. Most lip glosses contain high levels of fragrance, parabens and retinyl acetate. The following brands are known to have very unsafe levels of toxicity, so try to avoid these when it comes to lip products:

  • CoverGirl
  • Maybeline
  • L’Oreal
  • NARS

Mascara. This is arguably the most reached for beauty product found in a woman’s makeup bag. Mascara temporarily darkens natural lashes giving you the appearance of long wispy eye lashes to attract more attention to the eyes. Carbon Black, potentially one of the most harmful toxins in makeup, is present in a great deal of mascara brands. In addition, be on the lookout for parabens such as: Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, and Propylparaben in product labels. Finally, Thimerosal is another one that may be present in your mascara – check the label!

BB Creams. These creams have become increasingly popular in the last few years, as they are a mix between a foundation and a moisturizer, often containing SPF that is light enough to match with many different skin tones. Because BB creams have SPF, most women assume there is enough SPF to effectively protect from the sun. This is false – because BB creams are so light, and do not require full coverage on the face, the SPF is not strong enough to protect from the sun on its own. BB Creams also often contain large amounts of a chemical called methylisothiazolinone.

Nail Polish. It is no secret that we all feel just a little more put together with our nails done. However – whats with that smell when you open the bottle? Nail polish gives off very strong fumes that are an indicator to the body that this product may be unsafe. An important toxin found in this makeup product is a chemical called Styrene.

List of Toxins You Should Look For On The Back Of Your Next Makeup Purchase

Retinyl Acetate. This is a chemical obtained by chemical synthesis. Many laboratory diets for nonhuman primates consist of Retinyl Acetate. While this chemical can be safe in small amounts as a distributor of vitamin A, consuming too much of this can be very harmful. It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. If too much is released into the body, fatigue, irritability, mental changes, anorexia, stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, mild fever, excessive sweating, and many other side effects could happen.

cows in a field

Lead. This is a harmful heavy metal when ingested into the body. Lead can be found naturally throughout the Earth and is used in a multitude of products. Its primary purpose for use is for pigmentation. It is also extremely malleable and easy to melt. Lead is typically used in piping, batteries, and some paints. It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. Developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability, abdominal pain, hearing loss and seizures could happen as a result of lead poisoning.

lead letters

Phthalates. These are often referred to as “plasticizers.” Phthalates are typically added to plastics to increase their durability. They have now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. They could be potentially harmful to one’s reproductive system as well as urinary metabolites.

Parabens. These are synthetic chemicals typically used as preservatives in a multitude of products. Parabens give products a longer shelf life and prevent any types of harmful bacteria from growing on products after an extended period of time. The most common parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben. It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. Parabens have also been linked to cancers such as breast and skin cancer!

Carbon Black. Carbon black is intended to be a reinforcement material in filler for vehicle tires and plastics; it is essentially a color pigment. It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. The most likely effect of exposure to carbon black is lung disease. Inhaling carbon black particles can irritate the lungs and cause coughing. Carbon black can also irritate the eyes, nose and throat.

stack of rubber tires

Fragrance. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Regulation, a fragrance is “any natural or synthetic substance or substances used solely to impart an odor to a cosmetic product.” It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. Fragrances are known to have a similar effect on the skin as poison ivy…how uncomfortable!

pink glass perfume bottle.

Methylisothiazolinone. This toxin has a wide range of household cleaning products such as liquid laundry detergent and wipes. It has now been recognized as one of the toxins in makeup. This chemical causes intense skin irritation. Tests have even shown that with enough regular application, it can even become a neurotoxin; altering brain cells.

“Red List:” You may want to refer to this “red list” of chemicals & toxins next time you go cosmetics shopping!

Poison Control Center: If you or someone you know may be suffering from a toxic or chemical reaction due to a makeup product, please call the poison control center for your region, or visit