What's Wrong With Makeup?

Like you, we believe in inner and outer beauty. We want to help you make enlightened and educated decisions about where your money goes. This is why we are completely transparent about what we put and don't put in our products. You deserve only the very best ingredients and honesty from the start. We have made this handy little infographic, which outlines some of the toxic ingredients in some makeup brands. Though we can't always avoid chemicals, if we learn about some of the basic ingredients, we can make informed decisions when purchasing products. Our goal is to protect your inner and outer beauty.

When it comes to beauty products, the effects of the ingredients they contain can be more than just skin deep. The cosmetics industry can use thousands of synthetic chemicals in its products, in everything from lipstick and lotion to shampoo and shaving cream.

What chemicals are in makeup, why use mineral and vegan makeup


A 2011 report found that heavy metals are all-too common in some make-up. The Environmental Defence report, Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup, looked at 49 popular make-up products including  Clinique foundation and and L'Oreal mascara. The Clinique Stay True Foundation contained arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead and thallium and the L'Oreal Bare Naturale, was shown to include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, nickel, lead and thallium in its formula - seriously, what the hell!?






In 2002, three-quarters of the 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group contained phthalates, plasticizer chemicals linked to birth defects, feminization of infant boys, liver and kidney damage, and infertility. None of the products, which included brands like Cover Girl, Pantene, Dove, L'Oréal, and Revlon, had the word "phthalates" listed on their bottles.



Lead may be a contaminant in over 650 cosmetic products, including sunscreens, foundation, nail colors, lipsticks and whitening toothpaste. Lead is a proven neurotoxin, linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls. A study carried out within the framework of a Campaign for safe cosmetics by an American association of consumer protection showed that in 2007 one still finds lead in 61% of the 33 brands of lipsticks tested, sold in the United States; the lead rates varied from 0,03 to 0,65 ppm , amounts which remain relatively weak, but affixed on mucous membranes , and likely to be in contact with food. In a third of the cases, these lipsticks contained more lead than would be authorized  in candy (0,1 ppm), but there is not in the USA a standard for heavy metals in this type of make-up.

This study showed that the most expensive lipsticks were often those that contained most of the lead. Another recent study of the FDA bearing on 400 lipsticks was discreetly published on the Website of the agency in December 2011, one learns on the site Safe Cosmetics. The most contaminated brand in the study, Maybelline Color Sensation - the United States , contained 275 times more lead than the quantity of it found in the the least contaminated brand, and the least expensive, Wet & Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm – showing that the price is not an indicator of good manufacturing practices.



Thickeners used for a variety of cosmetic purposes. In personal care products they act as stabilizers to add richness and body. However the material may be a possible human carcinogen because of its potentially harmful impurities. It is already a restricted substance in European cosmetics.


Alcohol denat  (denatured alcohol) 

Petrochemical by product. Also usually contains benzyl alcohol making it undrinkable. Can cause systemic eczematous contact dermatitis and chemical sensitivities. Used in all commercial perfumes, used as solvent.


Aluminum ingredients

Skin irritants, can cause Alzheimer's, lung disease.


Benzyl alcohol

Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Severe irritant for eyes, skin and respiratory system. Petrochemical.


Bismuth Oxychloride

Bismuth is put in cosmetics because it gives a sheen to the face, is soft to the touch, and is extremely inexpensive. A by-product of lead and copper refining, bismuth oxychloride is a heavy metal. Heavy metals have been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s Disease.


BHA and BHT 

Linked to cancer and may encourage the breakdown of vitamins such as vitamin D, may cause lipid and cholesterol levels to increase, a possible endocrine disrupter.



DEA is used as a skin softener and humectant in personal care products. It can be carcinogenic when combined with other ingredients. It is a skin irritant. It’s close and dangerous cousins are TEA, and MEA.



Chemical compounds made as reaction products involving ethylene oxide. Ethoxylated materials include ingredients such as Laureth, Myreth, Ceteth, Ceteareth, Glycereth, etc. Trace contaminants in some ethoxylates have been implicated as potent carcinogens.



Preservative which includes Imidazolidinyl Urea, Diazolidinyl Urea, DMDM Hydantoin and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate. Known irritant and potential carcinogen. It is often hidden in other ingredients, banned in Sweden and Japan mainly because of its inability to inhibit the growth of acid producing bacteria and it's possible implication in cancer.



Highly allergenic. Companies do not have to list the chemicals used in fragrances. They can contain large quantities of toxins and chemicals not disclosed. Fragrance-free means that fragrance chemicals have been added to the product to mask the natural aromas of the ingredients.



Often used as solvents for preservatives and other materials. Glycols are potentially irritating and harmful to the skin. Examples are Propylene, Butylene, Pentylene, Hexylene, and Caprylyl Glycol.


Laureth family

Sodium lauryl sulfate, any ingredient with laureth or lauryl in the name. Carcinogenic, skin irritants may be contaminated with large amounts of toxins in manufacturing process contains ammonium salts.


Mineral Oil 

Occlusive, non-nutritive petroleum derivative.


MMP (Matrix Metalloproteinase)

An enzyme that breaks down collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. They are involved in wound healing, but also cause premature aging of the skin and tumor cell metastasis.



Ethoxylated compound used in various surfactants such as Sodium Myreth Sulfate.



Antimicrobial agent found in some shampoos and hand creams and widely used in industrial settings inhibits the development of particular neuron structures that are essential for transmitting signals between cells. prolonged exposure to low levels of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) may have potentially damaging consequences to a developing nervous system.


Octyl stearate

Acne producing, contact dermatitis, may cause allergic reactions.



(Methyl, propyl, etc. - paraben family) implicated in a multitude of health problems, may be estrogenic & cancer causing, a known allergenic and found in breast tissue. Replicates in DNA and can be stored in fat cells.



Phthalates are synthetic chemical compounds mainly used as softening agents and to create fragrance. Look out for your plastics – squeeze bottles, shower curtains, soft plastics. Carcinogenic.



Parabens are synthetic compounds used as a preservative in most beauty products. You can find them listed as methylparabens, propylparabens, butylparabens, and ethylparabens. Parabens cause many allergic reactions and skin rashes. They have also been found in breast cancer tissue.


PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)

A water soluble polymer used as an emulsifier and plasticizer. Impurities in these materials have been cited as potentially carcinogenic.



Derived from raw materials of petroleum or natural gas origin. These include materials such as propylene glycol, ethoxylates, acrylamides, mineral oil and polyethylene glycol (PEG). Peg ingredients - carcinogens, acne promoters, contact dermatitis.



Derivative also known as petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is very occlusive and can clog pores. Additionally, it provides no nutritive value to the skin and contains no essential fatty acids petroleum by-products can pass through the brain barrier and cause ADD/dyslexia symptoms. May be carcinogenic, causes dry skin, respiratory toxin, may cause dizziness.




Synthetic additive used to provide emolliency. Some forms of silicone such as Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone and Cyclopentasiloxane, Methicone, and Phenyl Trimethicone can be harmful or irritating to the skin.


Sodium Laurel Sulfate 

SLS is put in many soaps, cleansers, and shampoos to enhance the foaming action of a product. It is a common skin irritant and is rapidly absorbed into the heart, liver, brain, and eyes, which can cause long-term effects. It has been linked to cataracts in adults and inhibiting proper development of children’s eyes.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate

SLES is another form of SLS. When reacting with other ingredients, it can be carcinogenic and rapidly absorbs into the body. It is a skin irritant and may cause hair loss.


Synthetic Dyes

Synthetic colors are a byproducts of the petroleum industry. The molecular structure of these products are so small that they can pass through the brain barrier. This can manifest itself as turning numbers backwards when writing or reading, peeling skin, acne, or ADD symptoms. Many people have allergies to artificial colorings, especially red 40.



Talc has asbestos in it. Asbestos is another dangerous carcinogen. Linked to ovarian cancer and linked to being a respiratory toxin.



Also known as Triethanolamine ingredients with TEA in front such as Tea lauryl sulfate. Can be severe irritants, can contain ammonium salts, eye irritant, and is mildly toxic.


Sugar Venom is not the original author of this information. In looking for more information on ingredients we suggest checking the many online sources available for ingredient information like The Environmental Working Group.