What Toxic Ingredients Should You Avoid in Cosmetic Products

Lotions, mask, hairspray, toothpaste, shaving foam, cream, gel, deodorants, makeup, shampoo, toner, gum, lipstick, oil, hand soap, mascara, dye …

It seems like an endless list, right? Well, they are some of the products that we can apply on our skin and hair. Its ingredients are absorbed through the pores of the skin and reach the bloodstream. From there, they travel throughout our body.

How much do you trust the cosmetics you use every day? Do you think they are safe?

Ingredients are removed every year, such as those that have a carcinogenic effect or hormonal disruptors, because after several studies this harmful effect on the body is evidenced. The downside is that it is made after many decades using those ingredients in cosmetics.

Up to 150,000 different ingredients are used in cosmetics and not even a third of them have been investigated, much less the cocktail effect that the use of several in the same product can produce.

Everyday Cosmetics

Every day we use a long list of cosmetics: from deodorant to gel and shampoo to toothpaste, lotions or creams. Each of these products contains a cocktail of chemical ingredients. And the next day we use them again, and we repeat every day.

And for the most part, they are synthetic ingredients (some are based on oil), which accumulate in our body.

The use of cosmetic products with ingredients that are harmful to health can cause dermatitis, irritation, rashes, eczema, pimples, redness, sensitivity, allergy … but unfortunately, these are not the highest costs that we can pay when we use it regularly. conventional cosmetics.

Some of its ingredients are associated with the alteration of the functioning of hormones, they are known as Endocrine Disruptors , in this video you can see what these substances are and how they act in our body.

Luckily, there is more and more visibility on this issue and even scientists and researchers themselves are concerned about the close relationship between cosmetics and health, as is the case of Leonardo Trasande , who after many years researching in this field, is very aware on the importance of using toxic-free cosmetics , especially in children and pregnant women because they are the most vulnerable.

Beyond the famous Parabens

The parabens are sure to be familiar to you. They are a group of chemicals that have been widely used in cosmetics.

In this post about the Dangers of Parabens we talk in depth about them and we also give you several recipes so you can prepare your own DIY homemade cosmetics. I recommend it if your goal is to take care of yourself naturally.

Although it is true that the use of some parabens is prohibited from time to time, these are usually replaced by other chemical ingredients that can be as or even more harmful than parabens. Therefore, seeing a label that says ” Paraben Free ” on a conventional cosmetic is not reassuring.

How to Identify Toxic Ingredients on Labels?

The ingredients are listed in order from highest to lowest presence in the formula of each product.

These ingredients appear by name in Latin and English, as is established in the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) so that all products, regardless of the country where they are manufactured, have their ingredients in the indicated languages.

The INCI nomenclature can make it easier for us to identify the ingredients.

organic natural cosmetics

Ingredients that you should avoid in Cosmetic Products

Mineral Oils and Fats

They are found in a wide variety of cosmetic and hygiene products, such as shaving creams, body oils, lip balms, deodorants, baby oil or hair products. Many of them are derived from petroleum.

They can appear in the INCI as: Microcrystalline Wax, Ceresin, Propylene Glycol, Paraffinum, Paraffinum liquidum, Petrolatum, Petroleum, Ozokerite and Vaseline .

They work by producing a plastic screen on the skin that clogs the pores and prevents cells from breathing and toxins from being eliminated through them.

Nitrosating Agents and Detergent Bases

They are mainly found in toothpastes, shampoos, and soaps.

They appear in the INCI as: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, Cocoyl sarcosine, DEA compounds, Formaldehyde, Hydrolyzed animal proteins, Imidazolidinyl urea, Laureth ammonium sulfate, Laureth sodium sulfate, Ammonium lauryl sulfate , Sarcosine Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, MEA Compounds, Quaternium-7, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taubate, TEA Compounds .

They work by causing irritations and there are suspicions that some may be carcinogens.


They are found in antiperspirants, deodorants, lipsticks, and cosmetics in general.

In the INCI they can appear as: Aluminum chlorohydrate or Aluminum chlorohydrate, Aluminum lactate or aluminum lactate, Aluminum tristearate, Aluminum zirconium Trichlorohydrex GLY .

They act by producing alterations in the structure of DNA, it is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

Amines or ammonium compounds

They are found in a large number of cosmetics due to their preservative, conditioning and germicidal power.

You will see them in the INCI as: Chlorphenesin , DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) and TEA (Triethanolamine).

They work by causing dehydration (dryness) of the hair and skin, allergic reactions, dermatitis, asthmatic symptoms, and eye irritation. In the presence of nitrosating agents, ammonia compounds form nitrosamines, which are listed as carcinogens.


Synthetic colorants are mainly found in makeup, dyes, and creams.

In the INCI they appear as: Color Index (CI) followed by 5 numbers, for example: CI10006, CI10316, CI77288 .

They work by producing allergies and dermatitis on the skin and some mineral dyes contain heavy metals such as chromium.

Halogen-organic compounds

They are in soap and oral hygiene products like toothpaste and rinses.

You distinguish them in the INCI as: Chloracetamide, Chlorphenesin, Dichlorphenyl-Imidazoldioxodan, Glutadositrile, Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methyldibromo, Polyacrylamide, Triclosan .

They can act by causing skin allergies and some of them are associated with cancer.

Petroleum derivatives

They are found in hair gels, mascara, lipstick, foundation, petroleum jelly, and moisturizers. This category could also be included in Mineral Oils.

They consist in the INCI as: Ceresin, Mineral oil, Microcristalline wax, Petrolatum, Vaseline, Paraffin, Paraffinum liquidum, Ozokerite .

They work by causing dehydration and dry skin to asthma and cognitive problems in children, and in some cases it has been linked to cancer.

toxic ingredients in cosmetics

Selenium disulfide

It is found in anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners.

In the INCI it appears as: Selenium sulfide .

It works by producing neurotoxicity and is classified as a possible carcinogen.


It is present in the formulation of hair dyes and in henna for body dye.

You can identify it in the INCI as: P-Phenylenediamine sulfate .

It works by causing dermatitis and injuries, especially in the ears and eyes.


They are found in all kinds of cosmetic products.

In the INCI they are listed as: Chlorophenol or Phenolphthalein, Nitrophebol .

They act by producing alterations in the central nervous system and in such important organs as the kidneys, liver, heart and skin.


They are found in perfumes, deodorants, creams, nail polish, and hairspray.

In the INCI they are identified as: Butylbenzylphthalate (BBP), Diethylhexilophthalate (DEHP), Diisodecylphthalate (DIDP), Dinoctylphthalate (DNOP), Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) .

They work by causing damage to the endocrine and reproductive systems and are factors that increase the risk of asthma and cancer.

Formaldehyde releasers

They are found in all kinds of cosmetics due to their preservative effect on them.

In the INCI they are listed as: Armilacetate or Alkiphenol, Dimethyl oxazolidine, DM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxymethyl-Glycinate, Imidazolinydyl urea .

They act producing from headache, joint pain, allergy, skin irritation and dermatitis, to very serious damage to health due to having a high carcinogenic effect when inhaled and being able to cause asthma, infertility and malformations in fetuses. It accumulates in organs such as the liver and in the heart. Although they are currently prohibited in cosmetic products, other compounds that do release formaldehydes can be used.


They are mainly found in makeup, mascara, and eye makeup removers.

They appear in the INCI as: Ethylmercury thiosalicylate, Merthiolate and Thimerosal .

They act by producing neuronal damage, it is a highly toxic metal.


They are in cosmetics that have amines in their formulation.

If they interact with nitrites, they can be carcinogenic.

Synthetic perfumes

It is found in all types of cosmetic products. There are more than 3,000 ingredients that are used as perfume. One very well known is the Musk (Musk).

In the INCI it appears as: Acetyl hexametyl, Bromocinnamal, Fragance, Musk ketone, Parfum.

It works by producing alterations in the central nervous system that can contribute to causing hyperactivity, irritability and depression; they are classified as hormonal disruptors and could cause cancer. These compounds often have phthalates.

Sunscreens and UV Filters

They are found in sunscreens and creams of all kinds.

They appear in the INCI as: Benzophenone, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Camphor Benzalkonium Methosulfate, Dibenzoylmethane or Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Homosalate, Oxybenzone .

They work by producing allergies, alterations in the functioning of hormones and cancer.

Silicones and derivatives

They are found in hair products, mainly.

In the INCI they appear as: Cyclomethicone, Cyclotetra, penta or hexa – xiloxane, cetyl dimethicone colpolyol, dimethicone, vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer and any compound terminated in -oxane and -ethicone .

They act by causing greater production of oil in the scalp, dandruff and irritation.

Anionic surfactants, such as Sulfates

They are found in the vast majority of cosmetic and hygiene products that foam, in degreasers, detergents and household cleaners. They include sulfates.

In the INCI they appear as: Cocoyl sarcosine or Lauryl sulfate, Disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, Disodium dioctyl sulfosuccinate, Disodium oleamide sulfosuccinate, Lauryl ammonium sulfate (ALS), Laureth ammonium sulfate (ALES), Potassium coco hydrolyzed collagen, Sodium sulfate ( SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taubate, TEA (Triethanolamine) Laureth Sulfate, TEA (Triethanolamine), Lauryl Sulfate .

These types of compounds may have been contaminated with nitrosamines, which we remember are carcinogenic.

Ethoxylated surfactant

They are found especially in hand soap, gel, shampoo and their function is to produce lather.

You find them in the INCI as: PEG (Polyethylene glycol), Polyethylene, Polyethylene glycol, Polyoxyethylene. Compounds ending with eth and oxynol.

They act producing serious damage, being highly irritating to the eyes and skin, carcinogenic and toxic when inhaled. And it must be added that it is also highly toxic to marine life.

These are just some of the dangerous ingredients that you can find in conventional cosmetics. If you want to check the ingredients of the cosmetics you have at home, I recommend using the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website.

In addition, you can see this list in which there are more ingredients to avoid:

list of cosmetic toxic ingredients

What alternative is there to conventional cosmetics?

Nature itself offers us a wonderful variety of ingredients that we cannot ignore: Ecological Cosmetics .

And the important thing is that they are cosmetics that really take care of us: They provide great benefits on the skin and hair without the danger of damaging our health in the short and long term.

I would like to emphasize something crucial, so that you are not fooled:

Caution: Natural is not Ecological

Terms like “NATURAL” sell. And the industry knows it. And that’s why he uses it.

In products that use the “natural” peanut you will see that they bind toxic ingredients like the ones we just saw. This term is used indiscriminately and has lost its value.

ecological cosmetic stamps

Ecological Cosmetics is composed of ingredients that do not harm either health or the environment. This type of product must bear the seal that accredits it, such as the Bio Cosmetitque seal of Cosmos Organic, ECOCERT or the Soil Association seal. In this post about Bio Cosmetics I will tell you more about the subject.

For your health, prioritize the use of Cosmetics with Ecological Certification , you have already seen that it is very important.

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