There’s more to creating a makeup product than to make it look attractive and feel good on your skin — they should also be safe to use on the daily. Toxins that can contaminate makeup products not only harm your skin but also your overall health. Also, long term exposure to these chemicals can lead to some serious damage to your health too. Regularly spraying alcohol-based mists on your skin or exposing it to chemicals such as imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin and triclosan triclosan can be harmful for your skin; hence, doing a label check before picking products can go a long way in ensuring that you’re using products formulated with safe ingredients.

For instance, artificial dyes added to makeup products are often made of coal tar, petroleum or heavy metals like arsenic and lead, and sometimes even a combination of them. FYI, it can require up to 50 synthetic chemicals mixed together to create a colour like purple. When absorbed into your skin, artificial colours can lead to irritation, blocked pores, inflammation and sensitise the skin. Research has also shown that some dyes — especially the ones made from coal tar — are carcinogenic (cancer-causing) in nature. Artificial dyes can also affect the neurons and cause allergic reactions, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Here are some of the most common forms of toxins you can find in makeup products…


1. Phthalates


Usually found in makeup essentials like nail polishes and scented lip balms, phthalates are often disguised under the word ‘fragrance’ in the ingredient list. These compounds are used to plaiticse the products, in order to enhance their flexibility and ability to hold the dyes and scent. One of their major side effects is that they can adversely affect the endocrine system and lead to potential reproductive, mental and neurological damage. A good way to make sure you avoid these products is by going through the label and picking products with plant-based scents, instead of the vague term ‘fragrances’.


2. Lead


Found in makeup essentials like foundations and lipsticks, manufacturers don’t knowingly add lead in products. Instead, lead is considered a contaminant that is present in tiny amounts in the base materials and artificial dyes added to products. Excessive lead exposure can have potential side effects like miscarriage, delayed puberty in females and reduced fertility. In order to steer clear of lead in your makeup, make sure to pick products that have been dyed with fruit, plant-based or other natural pigments.


3. Polyethylene glycols

Polyethylene glycols

Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) are usually found in cream-based makeup products like foundations, blushes, concealers, etc.. These petroleum-based compounds are used to thicken, soften and gelatinize the makeup products and can be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals like ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. These chemicals are also highly unstable for the environment and are best avoided if spotted on the label of your favourite product!