18 Worst Chemicals in Beauty Products

What would happen if I told you’re poisoning your body with the self-care products you use daily? Have you ever stopped to think for a second what are they made of? Do you ever wonder where their ingredients come from? Well, this is a post I’ve dreamed of (I know! I’m a geek), I’ll explain each chemical used in beauty products. 

This is about to get ugly…

1. Fragrance

  • Use: To make anything smell good. This particular one is terrifying! As a funny/sad example, companies could even grab some trash, put some fragrance on it and sell it. Fragrance is so potent it can eliminate any bad odor. 
  • Why is it bad? Because you don’t know what does “fragrance” mean. It could contain up to 100 different chemicals and companies will not reveal its composition because a fragrance is like a trademark, they cover themselves by saying it’s a “secret formula”. Fragrance can cause dermatitis, allergies and reproductive issues. It causes organ’s toxicity and clogs the lymphatic system
  • Where can you find it? Everywhere! If it’s not a natural smell, that comes from an actual herb, plant, root or fruit, it is a fragrance

2. Formaldehyde 

  • Use: Just like it’s used in morgues, it is an antibacterial 
  • Why is it bad? Well, let’s start by saying it’s bad because you’re not dead! Also, It’s linked to cancer and it’s harmful to the immune system
  • Where can you find it? Conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, nail polish

3. Parabens

  • Use: Parabens prevent yeast, bacteria and mold to grow in cosmetic products
  • Why are they bad? They mimic estrogen and it’s associated with breast cancer
  • Where can you find it? In Shampoos, body washes, deodorants, makeup, facial cleansers, pharmaceutical products and even food!

4. Phtlatates 

  • Use: They soften plastics
  • Why is it bad? They can increase the risk of breast cancer, are endocrine disruptors and can cause birth defects 
  • Where can you find it? In perfumes, hair sprays, lotions, nail polish, etc 

5. Propynel Glycol

  • Use: It is a component of antifreeze, but as you’re not a car, it conditions your skin
  • Why is it bad? It irritates the skin, is associated with dermatitis
  • Where can you find it? Makeup, shampoo, sunscreen, hair sprays, moisturizers, and even food!

6. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

  • Use: To create foam 
  • Why is it bad? It causes eye, skin and lung irritation. It’s a carcinogen and can create damage in the respiratory track, liver and  kidneys. Linked to cancer and depression
  • Where can you find it? In foaming products. In anything that is applied as a liquid and then creates some kind of foam: shampoo, soaps, acne cleansers, etc

7. Synthetic colors

  • Use: Simply to make the product look better. Companies add colors so the mango shampoo has an orange color and you buy it, if it was green you wouldn’t 
  • Why are they bad? They are derived from petroleum and coal tar. They are highly linked to ADHD in children and are carcinogens 
  • Where can you find them? Everywhere! If you see a FD&C or a D&C followed by a color and then a number, it is an artificial color. Ex: FD&C Red 40

8. Triclosan

  • Use: Triclosan is an antimicrobial
  • Why is it bad? It is an endocrine disruptor (specially for the reproductive and thyroid hormones). It’s also an organ disruptor and an irritant
  • Where can you find it? Deodorants, toothpastes and antibacterial soaps. You can check the EWG’s website to know more about products that contain Triclosan. You can see it with the alternative name: Microban 

9. Toluene

  • Use: Dissolves paint and it’s a paint thinner 
  • Why is it bad? Derived from petroleum and coal tar. You can find it with the names: It can cause nausea and irritation in skin, it affects the respiratory system. It may cause developmental damage in fetuses
  • Where can you find it? Hair color/bleaching and nail products. Alternative names are: benzene, methylbenzene, phenyl methane. If you want to know more about Toluene, click here

10. Some others to avoid

  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – eye & skin irritation, dermatitis, allergic contact
  • Phenoxyethanol – irritant of skin, eyes & lungs, contact dermatitis
  • Dimethicone – Irritation of the skin, scalp & eyes
  • Behentrimonium Chloride – Irritates skin and eyed. Inflammatory agent
  • Quaternium-15 – Major toxin to body, contains carcinogenic formaldehyde
  • Polysorbates – Endocrine & organ disruption. Skin, eye & lung irritation
  • Potassium Sorbate – organ and skin toxicity 
  • Retinyl Palmitate – organ & reproductive toxicity, carcinogen 
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) – Linked to Cancer. System & organ toxicity.

Scary, right? 

Please keep in mind there are over 200 chemicals banned in Europe, while there are about 2 chemicals banned in the US. There’s no regulations that prohibit the use of harmful chemicals in personal and beauty products, not even the FDA takes care of this. If you don’t think this is possible, you can read this

Furthermore, these chemicals are not only harmful to you, they are also harmful to the environment. Simply think about how these chemicals pollute the water that goes through the drainage and how long it takes them to dissolve (if they do). In addition, most of the companies that use these ingredients on their products, do test in animals. And no, not only in rats, they test in dogs and monkeys, which are super smart and don’t deserve it

What can you do now?

Have this picture handy next time you go to the grocery store

Just like I did, go through your cabinets and throw away whatever contains any of these chemicals. It would also be very beneficial to read 6 Ways to Detox your Body and 18 Worst Additives in Food. After I wrote this article, I felt so lost, I had no idea on where to start. Then I went to different stores and looked for safe and pure products. That’s how I was able to write 11 Best Healthy Beauty Products

To finalize this eye-opening article, remember that knowledge is power! Let’s keep informing ourselves and avoiding polluting our bodies,



I am a mom. I love running, cycling, photography, reading, painting, meditating and essential oils. If I can inspire just one soul, I'll be happy

2 thoughts on “18 Worst Chemicals in Beauty Products

  • December 14, 2018 at 7:00 PM

    Gracias Carolina, ya me tome el tiempo de leerlo todo, excelente…ya tengo la foto, desde ahora tomare cuidado de los productos que compro…debemos cuidarnos porque nadie lo hara por nosotros.

    • December 18, 2018 at 12:31 PM

      Exacto! Que bueno que lo leiste, espero que le saques mucho provecho!


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