The Beauty Industry May Be Harming Your Health: Here’s How to Protect Yourself

  • By Rachel P
  • May 26
The Beauty Industry May Be Harming Your Health: Here’s How to Protect Yourself


  1. The beauty industry may be harming your health. Some toxic chemicals that may be found in many skin care products and cosmetics include parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde.
  2. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to various health concerns, such as endocrine disruption, reproductive harm, and cancer.
  3. It is essential to read the ingredient labels on skin care products and cosmetics and avoid products that contain these toxic chemicals. Using natural or organic products can help reduce the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Have you ever wondered if your skin care products and cosmetics might be doing more harm than good? After all, you buy these products to enhance your appearance and improve the health of your skin. Naturally, you want to believe they are safe and effective.

But there is growing evidence that many everyday skincare and cosmetic products contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals get absorbed into your skin, leaving you vulnerable to unknown dangers.

The truth is that these harmful ingredients can have severe consequences for your body. It’s essential to educate yourself about their dangers and take steps to avoid them.

In this article, we will dive into some of the most toxic chemicals in the beauty industry, the health risks they pose, and tips for choosing safer, non-toxic alternatives. So, if you’re ready to learn more about this critical issue and find out how to choose safe and effective beauty products, read on!

Why Are Toxic Chemicals Allowed in Beauty Products?

The beauty industry may be harming your health with dangerous toxins in their products that are easily absorbed by the skinToxic chemicals in skincare products and cosmetics are defined as ingredients that could adversely affect your health. These effects can range from minor irritations such as acne, rashes, and inflammation to more severe conditions like cancer, organ damage, and toxic shock syndrome.

With all the research showing how harmful these ingredients are, it’s hard to believe the beauty industry is still allowed to include them. But this practice persists, despite what research shows.

Companies are allowed to use toxic ingredients due to varying regulations and a limited understanding of the risks associated with these chemicals. It is considered unlawful for a cosmetic to contain any ingredient that makes the product harmful. Remarkably, the FDA does not have the power to approve or reject specific ingredients used in cosmetics.[1] Complicating this issue further, some ingredients are safe in some products, but unsafe in others.

Each company is mainly responsible for the safety of its own products. They are not required to report any adverse reactions or injuries to the FDA. Under US law, cosmetic products and ingredients other than color additives, do not need FDA approval before they go to the market.

Research on the health effects of certain chemicals is ongoing. It’s essential to be cautious about potentially toxic chemicals and consider safer alternatives.

List of the most common toxic chemicals 

Many scientific studies have explored the potential health risks of toxic chemicals in beauty products. Here is a list of 12 common toxic ingredients used in skincare and cosmetics. The first eight ingredients were identified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people make smart, healthy decisions.[2]

  • Formaldehyde and Para Formaldehyde.[3] Formaldehyde is considered a human carcinogen. As preservatives, these chemicals are commonly used in various beauty products, such as shampoos, lotions, and nail polish.
  • Methylene Glycol: This chemical is another formaldehyde used as a solvent and humectant in beauty products, such as hair dyes and conditioners. It can irritate the skin and eyes and may be toxic to the nervous system.
  • Quaternium 15: This ingredient is used as a preservative and a surfactant in many beauty products, including shampoos and lotions. It irritates the skin and can release formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) when it breaks down.
  • Mercury: Skin-lightening creams and other cosmetics contain mercury, which can be toxic to the nervous system and may cause harm to the kidneys and other organs.
  • Phthalates: Phthalates are used for fragrance and are often seen in perfumes, hairspray, and nail polish. They can cause hormone disruption and reproductive problems.
  • Parabens: Parabens are used as preservatives in shampoos, lotions, and cosmetics. They are linked to fertility problems and an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • PFAS: Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals often used in beauty products to make them resistant to water, stains, and grease. Some studies have linked PFAS to immune system effects and other health problems.
  • Artificial colors and dyes:[4] These ingredients are used to give beauty products color and are commonly found in makeup, hair dyes, and other cosmetics. Some specific artificial colors and dyes are linked to cancer and hormone problems, especially during pregnancy.
  • BHA and BHT:[5] Often used as preservatives in beauty products, these chemicals are potentially carcinogenic and can cause allergic reactions, such as skin irritation and contact dermatitis.
  • Petroleum Products:[6] Petroleum products such as mineral oil are commonly found in skincare products and cosmetics. They can irritate the skin and have been linked to organ system toxicity.
  • Benzophenone:[7] This toxic chemical in some sunscreens and other skincare products is linked to organ system toxicity and hormone disruption.
  • Dioxane:[8] this ingredient is found in some skincare products and cosmetics. It is a known carcinogen and is linked to organ system toxicity.

Health risks related to using toxic chemicals in beauty products vary depending on the specific chemical and the level of exposure. Some of these risks are more significant for certain people, such as pregnant women, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions. It’s always a good idea to be cautious about the use of potentially toxic chemicals in beauty products and to consider natural and organic alternatives when possible.

Tips for Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

Protect yourself by doing your own research. Be careful about what you are using on your skin.  Even though many companies advertise the products as “natural” or “pure,” they can hide toxic ingredients under false labeling and deceptive marketing tactics.

Here are some tips to help you make more informed choices when choosing safe skincare products and cosmetics.

  1. Choose products that are natural, organic, and non-toxic. These products are made with safer, plant-based ingredients and are less likely to cause health problems.
  2. Read ingredient labels: Read the ingredient labels carefully. Look for products that list natural, plant-based ingredients, rather than synthetic chemicals.  Be on the lookout for common toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates, and parabens.
  3. Look for shorter ingredient lists: Products with a shorter list of ingredients tend to be safer and easier to understand. Avoid products with warning labels.
  4. Use plant-based ingredients: Natural and organic beauty products are often made with plant-based ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, and coconut oil. These ingredients can be nourishing and moisturizing for the skin.  There are generally considered safer and more natural than synthetic chemicals.
  5. Natural preservatives: Traditional beauty products often contain synthetic preservatives to extend their shelf life. But natural alternatives are available.  Some natural preservatives may be used in natural and organic beauty products, including rosemary extract and vitamin E.
  6. Avoid added synthetic fragrances: Look for natural fragrances such as essential oils from organic ingredients and avoid synthetic phthalates. Essential oils, extracted from plants, can be used in various natural and organic beauty products to add fragrance and provide other benefits. Some common essential oils used are lavender, tea tree, and peppermint.  Avoid products with essential oils if you are allergic to them.
  7. Purchase from companies with transparent ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes: These companies are more likely to use safer, non-toxic ingredients and be transparent about their practices.
  8. Look for certifications: Certifications such as a USDA organic seal, indicate the product meets specific standards for being organic and non-toxic. Other Certifications to look for include those from EWG and MadeSafe.
  9. Consult healthcare professionals: When in doubt, check with a dermatologist, aesthetician, toxicologist, or primary care doctor. These professionals can provide expert advice on the safety of beauty products and help you make informed choices about the products you use.

FAQs about toxic chemicals in skincare products and cosmetics

Q: What are toxic chemicals?

A: Toxic chemicals are substances that can harm human health and the environment. They can be found in various products, including beauty products such as makeup, skin care products, and hair care products.

Q: What are some common toxic chemicals found in beauty products?

A:  Common toxic chemicals in beauty products include parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances, PFAS, and more.

Q: What health risks are associated with toxic chemicals in beauty products?

A: The health risks of toxic chemicals in beauty products include cancer, hormonal disruption, allergic reactions, reproductive and developmental problems, and damage to organs and tissues.

Q: How can I avoid toxic chemicals in beauty products?

A: Some tips for avoiding toxic chemicals in beauty products include looking for natural, organic, and non-toxic alternatives, reading labels, and ingredient lists carefully, choosing products with shorter ingredient lists, avoiding products with warning labels, looking for certifications from EWG and MadeSafe, and considering purchasing from companies with transparent ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes.

Q: What should I look for when shopping for non-toxic beauty products?

A: Many products are labeled healthy and safe when they aren’t. Look for products that are from a reputable company with evidence-based products. Look for product certifications and good user experience.

The Bottom Line

It’s essential to be aware of the potential risks of using beauty products that contain toxic chemicals and to choose natural and organic alternatives whenever possible.  Natural alternatives can reduce exposure to potentially toxic chemicals and improve your health.  Remember to do your own research, stay informed about the ingredients in your products, and consult healthcare professionals with specific concerns.  You can take steps toward a healthier and sustainable future by making conscious choices about your skincare products and cosmetics.

At The Swell Score, we source natural and organic beauty and wellness products you can trust.  All recommended products are evaluated and analyzed using clinical data and anecdotal evidence to ensure authenticity and safety. Here are some low-tox beauty products we recommend:

Jack Henry Super Face Cream

This nutrient-packed, lightweight cream is overflowing with skin-healthy antioxidants and vitamins. Hydrates, improves skin texture, and brightens and balances.

low-tox HAN multi-stick HAN Skincare Cosmetics – Multistick

Beautiful and versatile, non-toxic color stick you can use on your eyes, cheeks, and lips! Made with all-natural ingredients. Vegan and cruelty-free.

Plume Science – Nourish and Amplify Mascara

Plume Science Nourish & Amplify Mascara is a high-performance, growth-activated mascara that delivers instant drama and promotes the overall ‘oomph’ of your lashes over time.

HAN Skincare Cosmetics – Serum CC with SPF 30

Han Skincare Cosmetics Serum CC with SPF 30 is a unique liquid Serum CC in a waterless formula infused with a cocktail of nourishing oils.






[3] NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “Eight substances added to U.S. Report on Carcinogens, including formaldehyde, may increase cancer risk.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2011. <>.



[6] Wiley-Blackwell. “Mineral Oil Contamination In Humans: A Health Problem?.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2008. <>.



The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.