Harmful Ingredients in Beauty Products + Solutions!

Last week I wrote about why ingredients used in cosmetics, 80% in fact, are untested and virtually unregulated. Our federal laws on toxic chemicals are clearly broken, but there are many companies making non-toxic beauty products. Here’s a brief overview of the issue and most important, what can we buy that’s safer?

non-toxic beauty products

Are there hazardous chemicals found in cosmetics?


  • Some preservatives like parabens have been linked to breast cancer and hormone-disruption.
  • Phthalates are a class of chemicals, some of which are found in fragrances and perfumes and are linked to hormone-disruption.
  • Heavy metals like lead have been found in lipstick, colored blushes and some mineral powders.
  • The “toxic trio” have been found in nail polish and include problematic chemicals like formaldehyde.
  • Triclosan is a pesticide and is found in anti-bacterial hand soaps, toothpaste and yoga mats. (Minnesota was the first state to ban triclosan!)

Are men’s products safe?

Men’s products like deodorant, aftershave and cologne fall under this same broken statue and may contain harmful chemicals. Some of the most notorious toxic chemicals are linked to decreased sperm quality, undescended testes and birth defects of the male reproductive system. Heavy stuff I know… there’s good news coming, promise.

What about perfumes, colognes & other fragrances?

For those that are paying attention to toxic chemicals in consumer products, “fragrance” has become a dirty word. Here’s why: fragrance can be listed on an ingredient list for a product, but the company doesn’t need to let the public know what chemicals are used to create that fragrance. Here’s the kicker, lots of nasty toxic chemicals are used to make things smell nice, especially when we’re talking about synthetic fragrance. Women’s Voices for the Earth found that many perfumes, colognes and scents contain allergens. And the chemicals used to bind the scent to our bodies and clothes – phthalates – are linked to hormone-disruption.

Are there safer products on the market?

Yes! The good news is there are some companies making safer products. It’s a minefield however, “greenwashing” is rampant and many companies make lavish claims about the safety of their products by putting things like “non-toxic” and “all natural”. I trust companies that are committed to 100% transparency, even if that means highlighting the pitfalls of making safer products. Even among the “greener” companies, when you use this criteria the list becomes pretty short.

non-toxic beauty products

I have fell in love with a company making safer and beautiful products: Beautycounter. (UPDATE: I now work for the company :))

One thing you’ll notice that sets Beautycounter apart from other companies is they not only restrict a list of over 1,500 ingredients from their product line, they also screen each ingredient for safety before using them in their products. To top it all off, the products work, proving that you don’t need to compromise performance for safety. You can view the product line here.

Resources to find safer products:

The problem of chemicals in our consumer products and food is vast. We need to break it down into bite size pieces. First we need to know about the problem, second we must take action and third, we can slowly introduce safer products into our homes and lives.

Transitioning away from toxic products is a lot of work. In my mind, work that we shouldn’t have to add to our daily to-do list. I encourage everyone to send a clear message to Congress that we need strong regulations of toxic chemicals in cosmetics and consumer products. And in the meantime we can support companies that are doing the right thing!

Want to learn more? Read Part I of the series: “The Ugly Truth About Harmful Chemicals in Cosmetics“.

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19 Responses to Harmful Ingredients in Beauty Products + Solutions!

  1. Stacy Parenti July 28, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this information, I am a proud supporter of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics!! I used to be involved in breast cancer research and learned about this issue after losing my mother to breast cancer. I slowly converted my home to all Ava Anderson Non Toxic products as try were the safest full line of products for myself, my children, my husband and my home that I could find and really love their concentration on education. It is such a relief to have a one stop shop for everything I need from shampoo to laundry detergent, without any harmful ingredients! The best thing is that these products work way better than any of the toxic stuff I was using before! It will be awesome the day that ALL products available for purchase are safe and without harmful ingredients!!

  2. Jen July 28, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    I love the one stop shop Ava Anderson Non Toxic. They label everything as well!! I am addicted to many of their products! So happy to have safe choices out there!

  3. Holley July 28, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    What an AWESOME read!!!! I wish everyone in the world would read this!!!! After my 2nd cancer diagnosis I had enough of it and researched day and night! Finally I found truly CHEMICAL FREE products….. I don’t stink and my skin is crazy awesome! Ava Anderson Non Toxic products even help
    My skin side effects from chemo!!!! I still cannot believe what I was using before…… You’re article is beautifully written!!!!! Hopefully more companies like Ava Anderson Non Toxic start popping up!!!! Thank you for this!!

  4. Lynn Murphy July 28, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Great article and vital information! It has been a year since our family transitioned to all non toxic with all Ava Anderson products and I am so thankful that these companies are taking the initiative to push for real change in this country!! The more we band together, the better off we will all be! Thanks for posting this!

  5. Andrea C July 28, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    As a patient of late stage disseminated Lyme disease, it is crucial that I use products both on and in me that are completely free from harmful chemicals. Together with my naturopath, we search far and wide for a line of products we could count on that EVERY product would be free from harmful chemicals and that would not require a list the size of the Declaration of Independence to read. We settled on Ava Anderson Non Toxic because the ingredients we were free from harmful chemicals, were recognizable, few in numbers and quite frankly, performed fabulously as a great price! I admire this young woman’s desire to enter homes and educate people about what’s lurking in our everyday products, rather than taking the easy route and putting them on the shelves. I stand by this young woman whose recognizable, few ingredients, free from harmful chemicals with fabulous results at an inexpensive price any day f the week. Thank you Ava!

  6. Ginger July 28, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    SO Exciting to see articles + blogs like this! There was nothing when I found out about this issue 7 years ago…so encouraging that NOW it is starting to get out there and I am so THANKFUL to blogs like yours to help people know that they are making a choice when they choose products laden with chemicals! I was lucky to live in the same town with Ava Anderson, who has an amazing line of clean products! My pulmonologist was amazed that by getting rid of the chemicals in our home I was able to clear my lungs of my severe asthma diagnosis! Thank You for helping to spread this important health message!

  7. Kelly Ridenour July 29, 2014 at 3:30 am #

    Thank you so much for a great article to open the eyes of folks who never go beyond the myths that all products are safe. I have converted my home to all Melaleuca products including “Sei Bella” cosmetics! When you switch to safe healthy chemical free in all your products you truly can become healthy! Many of my products are extremely inexpensive! Check out my website and I will contact you for an overview! You will be so pleased that you did! We have attainable choices!

  8. Betsy (Eco-novice) July 29, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    I’ll have to check out beautycounter. Sounds like a great company!

    • Lindsay Dahl July 29, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Hi Betsy, they are – beautiful top of the line products :)

  9. Hanna July 29, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Great series, Lindsay! I’ve been using the EWG site and contacting companies directly — e.g. Josie Maran doesn’t get great marks on EWG but I contacted them and they’ve (apparently) changed their products, eliminating all harmful toxins that they’re aware of. I’m excited to learn about Beauty Counter!!

    • Lindsay Dahl July 29, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Hanna, glad you find the info useful. It’s great to see companies responding to the changing consumer landscape!

  10. Green Bean July 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Ug! I go through bouts of cleaning out my personal care products and mostly only use “greener” alternatives but every now and then, I read an article like this and realize I need to go back and reread the ingredients. For instance, I just discovered paraben in a “locally made” product. Thank you for the info.


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