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10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid

10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid

There are thousands of chemicals in our everyday products, our water that we drink and bathe in and in the air that we breathe. It’s impossible to avoid every single synthetic chemical, but you can do your part in limiting the amount of toxins your body and your children are exposed to.

As the world is changing, so is the way that skin & beauty companies are marketing and promoting their products. The words natural, organic, Phthalate-free and Paraben-Free are shoved in our faces to the point we genuinely believe that the new natural moisturiser we’ve bought that cost an extra $9 is actually good for us. 

The best way to ensure you and your family are not consuming toxic chemicals?

  • Buy from a platform that you can trust like The Clean Organic Hub. 
  • Become familiar with the main toxic ingredients used in certain products and use this knowledge to keep your health protected.
  • The same way you look at food labels, you should do the same for your beauty products.

1. Parabens

Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, they do more than that. Parabens possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. They can be found in make-up, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers. You can also find them in pharmaceutical products.

2. Coal tar / Synthetic colors

Whilst It is believed that just under 10,000 different compounds make up coal tar, only approximately 400 have been  identified. Coal tar provides the base for vibrant and brighter colours and therefore is used in lipsticks and eyeshadows.

Because coal tar is also a heavy substance it weighs down the skin, causing irritation which results in allergic breakouts meaning manufacturers use “minimal amounts” in cosmetics so it is “safe” for human usage. Thankfully companies like Zuii Organic contain none of these nasties in their divine makeup range which includes a range of vibrant lipsticks, eyeshadows and lip tints.

3. Petrolatum / Petroleum Jelly

An FDA-approved skin protectant, Petrolatum, or Petroleum jelly, derived from petroleum, is often used in personal care products as a moisturising agent. Lip balms and moisturisers are the main products that contain this harmful ingredient. This ingredient creates a barrier that retains moisture and prevents absorption of external moisture. The result? The skin suffocates and eventually dries out. Petrolatum-based products are used because they give the temporary illusion that the skin is soft and hydrated. Due to the large number of cheap imitations and mass productions, there are risks of contamination when using this ingredient, leading to adverse results.

Words on labels to look out for: Mineral oil, Paraffin wax, Benzene, and any names that end with ‘-eth’.


4. Sunscreen chemicals

These chemicals function as a sunscreen agent, to absorb ultraviolet light. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the body. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and ethoxycinnmate. They can be found in sunscreen products.


5. Triclosan

According to research, Triclosan is a widely used antimicrobial chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor - especially thyroid and reproductive hormones, and a skin irritant. Studies raise concerns that triclosan contributes to making bacteria antibiotic-resistant. This chemical is found in skincare products as well as detergents, soaps, and even toothpaste. These side effects can cause serious damage to the body, especially in the long run and due to its slow breakdown rate, triclosan has been said to be an environmental hazard. I’ve had a strict skincare regime for most of my adult life and the brand I have loved the most is The Divine Company. They are certified organic and were founded by Australian health advocate Therese Kerr who has checked every ingredient in every product personally!

Words on labels to look out for:  Triclosan (TSC), triclocarban (TCC).

6. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)

This surfactant can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products (think foaming products) SLS’s are known to be skin, lung and eye irritants. A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen. These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage. They can be found in shampoo, body wash/cleanser, mascara and acne treatment.

7. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRP’s) preservatives are used in many cosmetic products to help prevent bacteria growth. The chemical was deemed as a human carcinogen by The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens (IARC) and has been linked to occupational related cancers: nasal and nasopharyngeal. It is known to cause allergic skin reactions and may also be harmful to the immune system. It can be found in nail polish, body washes, conditioners, shampoos, cleansers, eye shadows, nail polish treatments.

8. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3 or BP-3) is used by companies to stabilize the colour and scent of skincare products, but primarily it is used in sunscreen because it produces an easily absorbed product. This chemical has been  found to cause severe skin allergies, redness and irritation, however the main concern is that Oxybenzone is easily absorbed into the body. This absorption may accumulate in the body, leading to potentially toxic levels, affecting the endocrine system acting. It acts as a hormone disruptor and studies have shown that oxybenzone mimic the hormone estrogen, possibly leading to conditions such as skin and breast cancer. Luckily there are natural and safe sunscreen brands out there that don’t contain this chemical, including Surfmud which I happily use on my twin toddlers!

Words on labels to look out for:   Oxybenzone, “benzophenone-3”, “BP-3”.

9. Fragrance

Now I know that Fragrance is an ingredient and not a chemical, but there’s an important reason I have included this in the list. 

This word is on just about every bottle of cologne, perfume or sweet smelling face cream and unfortunately due to a loophole, the ingredient “Fragrance” can actually represent over 3,000 different chemicals. 

No, that’s not a typo - Over Three Thousand Chemicals.

You wouldn’t drink up a big glass of water containing 3,000 random chemicals, so why would you let your skin (our biggest organ) drink this up?

I love smelling pretty like any woman so I choose to use Getbare Natural Perfume, the only 100% natural perfume on the market to date! They offer three delightful scents for women as well as a bareMAN cologne for men. This way you don’t need to miss out on smelling nice, minus the toxic chemicals.

10. Phthalates

A group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in hair spray. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females. Unfortunately, it is not disclosed on every product as it’s added to fragrances (remember the “secret formula’ not listed), a major loophole in the law. They can be found in deodorants, perfumes/colognes, hair sprays and moisturisers.

So there you have it, the 10 Most Toxic Chemicals found in beauty products that you should highly avoid. This industry is highly unregulated. There is no pre-approval before a product hits the market and enters your home. And whilst some of the ingredients you are about to read about may bring up feelings of shock, anger or guilt. Many of these synthetic chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disruptors and are carcinogenic. Remember that reading this article is a huge step forward and you should feel empowered afterwards.

Even though the labelling laws in Australia and around most of the world are far from where they need to be, by educating yourself and asking questions before you buy. You have one life and one body, it’s worth looking after your health so you don't pay for it later and regret not making small changes sooner.

Be sure to check out the Think Dirty app to help you determine what products are safe and which ones to avoid. Also find safe places to shop that you can trust like

I would love to hear back from you with any questions and if you have any requests for products for the platform we would love to hear from you regarding this also.

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