Harmful Chemicals To Avoid In Cosmetics

For me the philosophy of being Vegan is ultimately about being kind and this means also to ourselves.

Now most companies will tell you that only a minute amount of the following ingredients can be found in cosmetic products. This is probably true but consider this, the average woman is exposed to at least 12 toxic chemical ingredients before they even leave the house every morning, over time this ultimately creates a build up of toxins in the body.


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Remember the skin is our largest organ and it’s the first to absorb toxins applied topically and also absorbs toxins and pollution from our atmosphere but it is the last to receive nutrients so it’s important to ensure we take care of our skin and be mindful about what we apply to it.

Here are some of the chemical ingredients that can be found in cosmetics that I recommend avoiding as much as possible.

Aroma compound – (aka odorant, synthetic fragrance, or flavour)

An engineered scent or flavouring agent. Synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals and are toxins that are linked to cancer, birth defects, nervous-system disorders and allergies and can be found in the whole range of cosmetics and beauty products.

Benzalkonium chloride: (aka – alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride) : 

A disinfectant which is used in a number of disinfectant solutions and pharmaceutical products, it’s even used in outdoor cleaning products that remove lichens from paths so it’s somewhat worrying that you can find this in some cosmetic product such as deodorants and shampoo’s, it’s used for it’s preserving properties.

Long term exposure to this ingredient can potentially cause  asthma, chronic dermatitis and other immune system disorders.

In September 2016, the FDA announced a ban on nineteen ingredients in consumer antibacterial soaps citing a lack of evidence for safety and effectiveness. A ban on three additional ingredients, including benzalkonium chloride, was deferred to allow ongoing studies to be completed

Bismuth Oxychloride: (In cosmetics its name is C.I. 77163)

This ingredient has been used since ancient Egyptian times and it is a mineral that can be an irritant to the skin especially in people who already suffer from skin conditions such as acne.

Dimethicone or silicones: (aka – polymethylsiloxane) 

Prevalent in moisturisers, cleansers and primers, it’s used for it’s lubricant properties helping products to glide across the skin easier. It helps to fill in pores or fine lines which potentially can clog pores and worsen some skin conditions.

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (aka -EDTA): 

Is a binding agent primarily used to sequester metal ions in aqueous solution, but it is also used in cosmetics, shampoo as an agent to improve their stability in air.

Ethanolamines (may also appear as below)

  • Cocamide DEA
  • Cocamide MEA
  • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
  • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
  • Lauramide DEA
  • Linoleamide MEA
  • Myristamide DEA
  • Oleamide DEA
  • Stearamide MEA
  • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
  • Triethanolamine

Used as emulsifiers, foaming agents and to control ph levels in a variety of cosmetic products such as soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, dyes, lotions, shaving creams, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, make-up bases, foundations, fragrances and sunscreens.

The most serious concern about these kind of ingredients is that there is evidence to suggest that it’s linked to cancer when used over a prolonged period of time.


Acts as a preservative in cosmetics and can be found in  shampoo, body wash and bubble bath. A known carcinogen that has also been linked to cancer and a variety of other health problems.


Used as a topical application in skin whitening to reduce the colour of skin found in skin-lightening creams and sunscreen. A chemical that inhibits the production of melanin and is linked to cancer, organ toxicity, and skin irritation.

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Parabens – (aka – methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others):

Widely used as a preservative in cosmetics, it can be found in foundation, spray tanning products, shampoo, toothpaste and body lotions.

Parabens have been found to inter with hormone function (endocrine disruption) and can cause skin irritation, dermatitis and rosacea  in individuals who are sensitive skin.

Parabens main purpose is to extend shelf life of cosmetics.

Petrochemicals – (aka mineral oil/paraffin)

Can be found in perfumes and paraffin waxes. Petrochemicals are a mineral found in crude oil and really should not be used on the skin, paraffin is a by product of petroleum and a toxin strongly linked with cancer and birth defects.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds):

Another of petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers found in creams, sunscreens and shampoo.

PEGs can potentially be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane which are known carcinogens and linked with cancer. 1,4-dioxane doesn’t easily degrade and can remain present on the skin after you have showered.

PEG compounds are found not to be safe on damaged skin but despite this they are approved to be used in cosmetics.

Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A):

Vitamin A as we know is a natural nutrient but high doses of Vitamin A applied topically has been found to accelerate cancer and have been linked with causing skin tumours.


Is a mineral is used in some mineral make up products and talcum powder and is a known human carcinogen and has been linked to having similar properties to asbestos.










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Beauty is more than skin deep

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