Don’t Do More Harm Than Good: Makeup Ingredients You Should Stay Away From

Jun 3, 2020 | Skincare

Are you confident that the makeup and skincare products you use aren’t doing more harm than good? You shouldn’t be.

There isn’t a single law in Australia governing what cosmetic manufacturers may or may not include in their offerings.

So, the onus falls on you if you really want to take care of your skin. Be sure to steer clear of these makeup ingredients while shopping online or in the store.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

SLS is a surfactant that’s commonly used in household and industrial cleaning products. It’s an abundant, low-cost chemical that binds oil and water molecules together.

This means it’s great for removing grime and grease. It’s also one of the harshest ways to deal with these issues.

Studies implicate SLS in several health issues including skin irritation, canker sores, eye damage, and acne. It’s also known to disrupt the natural balance of your skin.

Check for this ingredient in body wash, shampoo, face wash, and foundation. It’s also commonly found in mouthwash and toothpaste!


Phthalates, like BHA, increase the ability of substances to retain fragrance, so they’re widely used in scented products. They’re also one of the main ingredients to avoid in makeup.

Phthalates can disrupt the endocrine system, which regulates hormone production. This interference often leads to negative neurological, developmental, and reproductive consequences.

You’ll find these harmful chemicals in items like scented lip balm, nail polish, perfumes, and deodorant.

The problem is that manufacturers list these chemicals under the title ‘fragrance’ without going into detail.

Beware of perfumes claiming their fragrance comes from a ‘secret’ formula. There’s a good reason they want their use of phthalates to stay under wraps.


The harmful effects of parabens are so well-known that it’s surprising we still find them in cosmetic products. Like phthalates, they’re notorious for causing havoc with the endocrine system.

Parabens are an excellent preservative which explains their ongoing popularity, but there’s plenty of research to suggest that prolonged exposure to parabens causes untold harm.

Parabens may cause skin irritation and have negative effects on estrogen production.

Look out for parabens in makeup, moisturiser, spray tan products, shaving gel, shampoo, and personal lubricant.

Makeup Ingredients Containing Petroleum

Byproducts of the petroleum seem like obvious makeup ingredients to avoid, yet they’re widely used in skin creams and hair conditioners.

Petroleum distillates create a barrier to prevent moisture from escaping from the skin and hair. They’re produced as a waste product in the chemical feedstock, automobile fuel, and heating oil industries.

These moisture-locking properties may seem like a good thing when it comes to treating dry skin and hair, but over time they have the opposite effect.

Prolonged use of petroleum distillate can cause severe dermatitis.

Check for these bad chemicals in makeup like lip balm, lip gloss, and lipstick if you want to avoid petroleum distillates:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Toluene
  • Benzene
  • PEG – anything (polyethylene glycol)
  • Ingredients containing DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)
  • Butanol, butyl alcohol, butylparaben, and butylene glycol
  • EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)
  • Propyl
  • Fragrance or parfum


Believe it or not, this well-known toxin still makes its way into makeup and beauty products.

The trouble with formaldehyde is that other chemicals are often responsible for releasing this chemical into the air. This is where it does the most harm.

Inhaling formaldehyde can cause cancer and leukemia over time.

It’s one of the chemicals to avoid in makeup like nail products, perfume, and makeup remover. Formaldehyde is what causes the strong smell associated with these products.


This is one of the major ingredients to avoid in skincare products containing sunscreen. It’s proven to disrupt sperm production in animals and is also implicated in causing endometriosis in women.

Oxybenzone has a high rate of skin allergy too. Always choose chemical-free, mineral-based ingredients when choosing products with a high SPF factor. Up to 56% of sunscreens include oxybenzone.

Lipsticks are another culprit when it comes to high oxybenzone content.


Diethanolamine is a foaming agent, so look out for it in your facewash and bubble bath. It’s also used to adjust the pH of sunscreens and moisturisers.

Exposure to diethanolamine over time can lead to cancer of the larynx, stomach, and esophagus as well as respiratory problems.

Look for the abbreviation DEA if you want to avoid this toxic cosmetic ingredient.


Triclosan is a powerful antibacterial agent. It’s banned for use in soaps since 2016, but cosmetic manufacturers still use it their products.

The germ-busting properties of triclosan may seem like a good thing at first, but this chemical is also an endocrine disruptor. With prolonged use, harmful bacteria become immune to triclosan and develop resistance to antibiotics.

Mouse studies indicate that triclosan may also cause gut inflammation and tumors. For many people, the fact that this substance is tested on animals is enough reason to avoid it in the first place.

Look for triclosan in toothpaste, liquid soap, and shaving gel.


Legislation may have banned lead in paint, but it’s still a major ingredient in lipsticks to this day. Whitening toothpaste can also contain lead and it’s found in some foundations too.

If you ingest lead, as you’re likely to do when using these oral products, you could experience a variety of harmful side effects. The World Health Organisation warns that lead can cause miscarriage, delayed onset of puberty, and harm to major organs.

Beware of this neurotoxin in low-quality, cheap lines of lipstick and foundation as well as well-known brands. Almost 60% of lipsticks contain lead.

All-Natural Makeup Solutions

Be sure to check the makeup ingredients included in every skincare or makeup product you use with utmost care.

If you want to stick with all-natural ingredients that are good for your skin and your overall health, it all starts with good hydration.

Head over to our online shop to get started on your natural skincare journey.

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