• By: OLM Staff

Cosmetic catastrophe: Toxins in your makeup bag

I’m sorry to say it, but some of your favourite cosmetic products may contain toxic chemicals that are harmful for your health.

Each and every day we go through our makeup routine, our bodies absorb thousands of chemicals lurking in our go-to products.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of toxins we are willingly exposing ourselves to.

The cosmetic industry is highly unregulated. The approval process for cosmetic products is shockingly miniscule, meaning companies have essentially free reign to use any ingredients they want, harmful or not.

Many of these dangerous chemicals making it into the products in our home are irritating to the skin and may lead to the emergence of various allergies. Even more concerning, consistent exposure to these chemicals over time disrupt hormones, damage the immune system and are carcinogenic.

Wait, so our moisturizer or lip balm could cause cancer? Now that is a scary thought.

But look on the bright-side, makeup-lovers, we can still have the look we want to achieve by being more vigilant when it comes to the products we buy.

Check out my top three ingredients to avoid in your next cosmetic purchase:


Parabens are the most widely used preservative in cosmetics and are very easily absorbed through the skin. These chemicals are known to seriously mess with hormones, as they possess estrogen-mimicking properties linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

They can be found in almost every conventional cosmetic product, including lip products, face powders, body wash, deodorant, facial cleanser and much more. They are commonly listed as methylparabens, probylparabens, butylparabens, ethylparabens or benezylparabens. Try your best to avoid using paraben-containing products that sit on the skin throughout the day, like moisturizer or foundation.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, often listed as SLS or SLES, is the ingredient that makes products bubble and foam. Think shampoos, shower gels, hand soaps and facial cleansers. The problem with SLSs is they are known to be skin, lung and eye irritants. In combination with other chemicals, SLSs have the potential to cause kidney damage, respiratory issues and cancer.


Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents are used as preservatives in a wide range of cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth. This chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is also known to be harmful to the immune system and cause skin reactions. Formaldehyde can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers and eye shadows. Keep an eye out for ingredients listed as DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium-15 and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.

For more harmful ingredients to look out for, check out the 'Dirty Dozen' cosmetic chemicals to avoid here.

It is impossible to avoid every single chemical out there. I mean, we can’t live in a bubble, nor do we want to! But we can do our part in limiting the amount of toxins our body is exposed to.

There are tons of fantastic brands out there committed to offering safe and all-natural products. Revamp your makeup routine by stocking up on products that deliver results without sacrificing safety.

Wondering what brands you can trust? Check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. With over 65,000 product ratings, the database makes it easy to find out more information about a product or brand you’re interested in trying out.

Some of my favourite all-natural brands that are affordable and easily accessible include Live Clean, Korres, Kiss My Face and Tarte Cosmetics.

With these resources and tips, you are empowered to make educated and informed decisions on your next visit to the makeup counter.

What do you think about the harmful effects of cosmetic products? Will you be making the switch to an all-natural regimen? Let us know!