9 Toxic Ingredients to avoid in beauty and skincare products

9 Toxic Ingredients to avoid in beauty products


Going Natural? Watch Out For These 9 Common Culprit Ingredients


You might be interested in switching to natural skincare and makeup products, but maybe you’re not so sure which ingredients to look out for. Truth is, there’s not much regulation surrounding cosmetics. Meaning, a lot of unsafe ingredients can be used in products and sold right to you!


To give you some context, there are over 1,300 ingredients banned in the European Union for cosmetics and personal care products. Here in the United States, only 11 are banned! A major law regarding cosmetics hasn’t been passed in over 80 years.


This means it’s ultimately up to YOU to decide whether a product is safe to use or not. Think about how many products you use on a daily basis, from the moisturizer you use in the morning to the cleanser you use at night. The average woman in the US uses roughly 12 products a day, which translates to around 168 chemicals that are applied to her body daily. This means it’s SO important to lessen your chemical load wherever possible. Where to begin?


When you’re trying to decide if a product is “clean” or not, always look at the back of the label to see the full ingredient list. There are a LOT of ingredients out there and it can definitely start to get confusing. But today we’re going to look at the top 9 offenders, where they are commonly found, and why you might want to avoid them!



Also seen on a label as perfume, parfum, aroma, and synthetic musk. The term “fragrance” has no FDA regulation and can be a combination of over 3,000 different stock chemicals that imitate a smell or contain phthalates. Companies are not required to disclose what their fragrance consists of, either. It is associated with allergies, headaches, and endocrine disruption. In my opinion, this is the #1 ingredient to look out for!


Commonly found in: perfumes, hair products, baby products, lotions, body washes, cleaning products, face cleansers and many more! (fragrance is in SO many things)



A group of preservatives also known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, etc. They mimic estrogen in the body and can disrupt hormone function. They have even been found to accumulate in breast tissue in both men and women.


Commonly found in: makeup, moisturizers, mascara, hair care products, shaving cream, deodorant!


Looking for a paraben-free mascara? Check out Papillon’s Aphrodite Natural Mascara! A luxurious, nourishing formula that lengthens, volumizes and strengthens the lashes. This botanically enriched, lash-conditioning formula won't flake or smudge.



Most commonly seen as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). They are a group of cleansers/surfactants that cause a foamy lather in products. As a result of being highly processed, sulfates can contain unwanted byproducts like 1,4 dioxane (which is classified as a carcinogen, meaning it contributes to the formation of cancer). These ingredients have also been shown to inflame and irritate skin, even cause layers to separate. A lot of products will say SLS-free or SLES-free yet still contain another form of a sulfate.


Commonly found in: shampoo, soaps, toothpaste, products that lather



An alcohol that is also used in anti-freeze products and is associated with skin irritations. It may also be contaminated with carcinogens.


Commonly found in: mascaras, lip products, lash products


Be sure to check out Papillon’s Organic Eyelash Growth Serum, formulated with only four natural and organic ingredients! It conditions and nourishes the lashes and brows to promote long, thick and healthy lashes. No side effects of harsh chemicals.



Also seem on a label as Paraffin. A moisturizing ingredient that is derived from crude petroleum, which can be contaminated with carcinogens such as 1,4 dioxane. It also prevents the skin from breathing and clogs pores, without providing any skin benefits. It’s even been shown to increase the rate of tumor growth and promote estrogen dominance.


Commonly found in: moisturizing products like lotions, serums, and creams



Usually on a label with PEG- followed by a number. It has been found to penetrate the skin barrier and is also contaminated with carcinogens like 1,4 dioxane during its creation process.


Commonly found in: moisturizing products like lotions, serums, and creams



A large group of chemicals that have been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and cause birth defects. They are commonly used in fragrances to make the smell linger.


Commonly found in: products with fragrances, plastics, furniture



Also goes by Magnesium Silicate, talc is a mineral that can be contaminated with asbestos, making it dangerous in powder form due to inhalation risks. Even talcs labeled “asbestos-free” can still be found dangerous to inhale.


Commonly found in: loose or pressed powders like foundation, bronzers, eyeshadow, blush



It’s used as an antibacterial agent and preservative. It has been shown to decrease thyroid hormone levels and interfere with the endocrine system. It also contributes to antibiotic resistance.


Commonly found in: toothpaste, hand soap, and body washes



So if you see any of these ingredients on a product label, be wary or look for something cleaner if possible! You don't necessarily have to throw out any products that contain these ingredients, but maybe consider replacing them when they run out.


This information is not meant to scare you, but to inform you and make you more aware of what you’re putting on your body. After all, your skin is your largest organ! It’s not so much about a one-time use of these ingredients, it’s more about the buildup in your body over a long period of time. Think of all the products you use on a daily basis, it definitely starts to add up!


And again, all of Papillon’s products are totally safe and don’t contain any of these culprits. (yay)



For more information about these ingredients or for further research, check out these resources:



Written by Becca Tetzlaff:


Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s on a mission to get the word out about chemicals found in our everyday items like makeup, food, and personal care products. She provides education on ways you can live a more holistic life and easy swaps you can make in your routine to naturally safer products. Check out Becca’s blog organicallybecca.com and catch her on Instagram @organicallybecca.