These Harmful Ingredients Could Be In Your Makeup

by Jessica Willingham

Uh oh. You spent big money on department store makeup, or cleaned out the drugstore beauty aisle buying all the latest and greatest products, colors, and formulas. Except now your face is breaking out, your eyes are itchy or your skin is drying up. What gives? It could be the ingredients in your makeup. Here are nine harmful ingredients to look out for in your makeup.

When I traveled to other countries, especially the United Kingdom, I would always notice that almost all of their beauty products were totally foreign to me. How could that be? We share a lot with our British neighbors, so why is our makeup and beauty products so different? One word: ingredients. Currently, the United States bans 11 ingredients from our cosmetics. Meanwhile, Europe bans a whopping 1,372 cosmetics ingredients from makeup and beauty products. So in addition to tea and taxation, it looks like the U.S. and Europe doesn't agree on ingredients, either.

So what should you be looking out for? Fillers, artificial ingredients, carcinogens and even hormones might be lurking in some of your favorite products. To be fair, these things are present in a number of things we use and even ingest without consequence. It's all up to the FDA to determine the threshold, but with that being said, here's what you might want to look out for.

1. Talc

Talc is a potential issue because both talc and asbestos occur in close proximity to each other naturally in the earth. Asbestos, as I'm sure you know from late night TV legal infomercials, is a known carcinogen that can cause mesothelioma. Talc is not a known carcinogen, and according to the FDA, "for this reason, FDA considers it unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos."

A more obvious issue with talc, in my experience, is formulation. It's usually a chalky consistency that doesn't feel good, let alone do your body good.

2. Imidazolidinyl Urea

This ingredient is known as a "formaldehyde releaser," which can cause short-term dermatitis from use. Similarly, Diazolidinyl Urea can cause skin irritations.

3. Lead

According to history class, we were supposed to cross this "lead-based poisoning" issue already, but apparently the toxic ingredient still lurks in your lipstick. The amount is traceable but FDA-approved, but still: enough could result in birth issues, hormone problems, and more. Why put that on your face when you can opt for a more natural ingredient?

4. Propylene Glycol

This chemical, and its related buddies PEG and PPG, show up in products like concealers and lip balms. It can cause hives and eczema.

5. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is made from petroleum, and enough of it can cause diarrhea and nausea. What's in your bubble bath, eye makeup remover, and lip gloss isn't a dangerous threshold, but it could be problematic for sensitive skin.

6. Triclosan

Your hippie pal with the au natural deodorant (or sans it altogether) may be onto something. The FDA is currently running tests on this ingredient because "animal studies have shown that triclosan alters hormone regulation." They're currently reviewing its dermal toxicity, dermal carcinogenicity and phototoxicity. Yikes. Pass the essential oils, please.

7. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate

This detergent is cheap and cleans like a machine, but it's also harsh. It's usually derived from petroleum (or mineral oil) and found in foamy products like cleansers. It can cause skin irritation, rashes, and dryness.

8. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde was declared a carcinogen to humans by the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2004, but it still lurks in shampoos and straightening products.

9. Synthetic Fragrance

When the label simply reads "fragrance," you have no idea what's actually inside. Scents can cause headaches, dizziness and hormone disruption.

Images: Andrew Zaeh, Isla Murray/Bustle; Danelle Sandoval