Are Cosmetics Harmful? Are You Risking Your Health for Beauty?

Have you ever stopped putting on mascara or making a perfect winged eyeliner to think if it is bad for you? Duh. It is FDA-approved, so why bother?

Well, you should bother because that is not the case. Unfortunately, we are not aware of our makeup products as much as with food and other essentials.

But considering the alarming risks some of the items could carry, it may be time to ask yourself this question – are cosmetics harmful? Find the answer below.

Are Cosmetics Harmful?

An important reason you may have never second-guessed the safety of your makeup purchases could be that you assumed the FDA pre-approved them.

However, in reality, the FDA does not do that. They only interfere if the product has a color additive or a customer makes a complaint.

Companies are generally expected to manufacture cosmetics with safe ingredients and avoid toxic ones.

But as you can see, the absence of approval keeps the opportunity open for them to use harmful materials that can expose you to the following health risks.

  • Cancer
  • Neurological issues
  • Fertility problems
  • Asthma
  • Thyroid and hormone imbalances
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Eye and skin infections
  • Allergic reactions, etc.

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What Are The Harmful Ingredients I Should Avoid?

Read the section thoroughly to learn about the harmful ingredients and their effects. Avoid them when purchasing cosmetics and minimize your health risks.

What Are The Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in makeup?
What Are The Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in makeup?


Talc is present in many cosmetics, i.e., bronzers, brushes, eyeshadows, etc., to prevent caking. But it might create a potential risk for asbestos contamination.

As they are natural minerals, they are often found together.

While talc is not dangerous, it can carry asbestos, which is known as a cancer-forming chemical, when untested.

Check out: Talc vs Mica


Companies use triclosan in their makeup items to minimize the chance of bacteria contamination.

Typically, the ingredient is found in antibacterial soaps, body washes, and toothpastes.

However, to solve one problem, it creates another. High amounts of triclosan can affect your thyroid hormones and antibiotic tolerance.

Researchers are trying to find out whether it can lead to skin cancer in the long term.

Although no conclusive results are available, you should steer clear of products containing triclosan.

Authorities have already put a ban on cosmetic items containing this chemical at retail and drugstore chains like Whole Foods and Rite Aid.


Lead is a toxic chemical element for the human body. Makeup items for eyes, such as kohl, kajal, surma, tiro, and kwalli, might have large quantities of lead.

Anything made with these materials is illegal per the regulation of the FDA due to color additives.

Thimerosal And Mercury

Thimerosal, a preservative, has mercury and appears in skin lighteners.

Mercury is not a safe component and can be dangerous for the kidneys, the nervous system, or a fetus in the developing stage.


Unrefined petrolatum, more familiarly known as petroleum jelly, contains Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).

Continuous contact with them can cause skin inflammation and redness.

Silicone or siloxane compounds are responsible for hormone imbalances for their toxicity, while sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) can cause eye and skin irritations.

Parabens acts as a makeup preservative, often connected to endocrine disorders, fertility issue, and skin problems.

Moreover, phthalates, a common ingredient in fragrances, hairsprays, and nail polishes, can be a reason for breast cancer.

How To Avoid Harmful Cosmetics?

The only effective way to distinguish safe cosmetics from unsafe ones is to educate yourself first. Once you learn what to look for and where to look for it, the rest of it will be easy.

Looking For Labels

When shopping for cosmetics, check each item for the ‘free’ tag. If it says ‘paraben-free’ or ‘phthalate-free,’ the product should be safe for your body.

Then there are tags you should not trust unquestioningly. For example, many manufacturers say that their products are completely organic or natural.

When you spot the label, look at the ingredient list. Even if they seem organic, there is no guarantee that the item does not contain any harmful material.

Remember that this claim has no legal accuracy because the manufacturer did not have to get the FDA’s approval.

Additionally, be aware of the products claimed to be wear-resistant and long-lasting.

Although you might specifically look for makeup products with such characteristics, you want to rethink that now.

These labels could mean that the product contains harmful preservatives that can precipitate severe physical concerns.

Doing Your Homework

Understanding the ingredient list is a challenge. On top of that, manufacturers use different names for some chemicals and sometimes conceal some as part of their trade secrets.

What you can do to maintain your health safety is research online before purchasing cosmetics. Select the products and research them online.

Search in authentic sources to gather information about the brand. If it has records of producing unsafe products, switch to a different one.

Finding Alternatives

Some body care products can be made at home with natural materials. Use them as alternatives to chemical products.

Many products are regulated by the FDA as drugs, i.e., anti-dandruff shampoo, medicated lip balms, antiperspirants, etc.

Nail care accessories, hair removers, and dietary supplements are also FDA-approved as they fall under medical devices. Check them out if you need them.

Playing Your Role

You can play your role as a conscious citizen by making complaints against brands that use unsafe materials.

The FDA lacks the authority to approve cosmetics, but it will always step up and take action based on customer complaints.

So, when you find such cases, make sure to contact your local authority to take legal action. That way, companies will be more careful using materials without FDA approval.

Final Words

In a nutshell, cosmetics are harmful when made with toxic materials. Regular consumption of those components will put you at health risk.

However, that is avoidable if you make conscious purchase decisions. Look for the signs that ensure product safety.

But also, do not believe everything without researching first. Try to find alternative solutions and be more cautious.

Remember to play your role as well. Your consciousness alone can make companies produce better products.

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My name is Maria and I am a beauty blogger and writer. I am passionate about all things beauty, from skincare to makeup. On my blog, I share product reviews, tips, and tricks to help others feel confident and beautiful in their own skin. I strive to create a positive and inclusive space for everyone. Join me on my journey as I discover my unique beauty brand and share it with you.