In order to enhance our looks and hide our flaws, we use makeup products. But is what we put on our skin really making it flawless or is it damaging it? It’s no secret that harmful ingredients have always been used in makeup products.

Take for example the 18th-century French court, the most famous makeup used was white-lead powder. Due to this popular trend, there were many incidences of lead poisoning, still, people continued to use this kind of makeup.

Just like we still do, even though we know that it’s toxic and harmful. Eating healthy and taking care of our diet is ok. But is it enough?

Taking care of our bodies should be done both from the inside as well as from the outside. Knowing what kind of makeup to avoid and what to use as a natural and thus healthier substitute is highly important for our overall health.

Choosing vegan makeup products is not all that difficult. These types of products should be free of any and all kinds of animal ingredients and animal-derived products as well.

So, let’s take a look at all the harmful chemicals that can be found in everyday makeup products.


Unfortunately, the production of lead-based makeup didn’t end back in 18th century France it continues even today. Beauty products like lipsticks and foundations, and even toothpaste and hair colors contain traces of lead.

Lead and lead compounds aren’t added purposefully in any of these types of makeup – colors and pigments used in the creation of lipsticks contain metals. These metals contaminate the product and thus us.

A neurotoxin such as lead can cause reduced fertility, miscarriages and other severe health problems. Instead of buying products that contain metal pigments and colors, try looking for products colored with natural pigments, such as fruit.

Purple Eye


Almost all makeup products contain parabens. This is because parabens are used as preservatives that prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, and yeast. This doesn’t sound that bad, does it? At first glance, it doesn’t. However, parabens are absorbed through the skin and are also known to mimic estrogen which is associated with breast cancer.

Apart from makeup products, other products that contain parabens are usually deodorants, shampoos, and body washes.

Substituting products that contain parabens shouldn’t be difficult. Just look for natural, organic alternatives like essential oils of thyme, oregano, and tea tree as well as grapefruit seed extracts which also offer antibacterial protection.


Another chemical used as a preservative is formaldehyde. Used to prevent the growth of bacteria in makeup products, formaldehyde is extremely cancerogenic for us. It is associated with nasal cancer and also creates skin problems harmful to the immune system.

It is usually found in nail polishes, shampoos, eyeshadows, conditioners, and so on. To avoid using products that contain formaldehyde you should use products that have natural substitution such as honey, rosemary, vitamin E, etc. Look for symbols on labels that represent truly certified vegan products. This way you can be sure that what you’re buying is 100% vegan and organic.


Phthalates are chemicals that make plastic flexible and pliant in order to better hold scent, and they can be found practically everywhere. Cosmetic products like nail polish, shampoo, hair spray, and even skin moisturizers to name a few.

Unfortunately, these chemicals affect our endocrine system. The endocrine system produces hormone and if chemicals like phthalates, which can mimic hormone, interfere with our endocrine system they can cause reproductive, developmental and neurological problems.

Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid cosmetic products that contain phthalates as the labels don’t state all the ingredients, they only say either “fragrance” or “perfume”. But you can altogether avoid all the products that list “fragrance” on its labels and swap them for natural plant-based essences and oils.
This way not only are you avoiding unhealthy chemicals, but you’re also choosing natural vegan products that smell just as good.

Lipstick Car Mirror


This toxic chemical can be found in nail products and hair dyes. Toluene is a clear liquid derived from petroleum or coal tar. It can cause dizziness, nausea, and skin irritations. Additionally, during pregnancy toluene can affect the developing fetus.

However, even though the amount of toluene used in cosmetic products, especially nail polishes isn’t so high that it can cause danger, the best thing you can do is stay away from products that use toluene in its ingredients. Try buying organic products instead.

With this list, we only scratched the surface of all the harmful chemicals cosmetic products contain. One cosmetic product, nail polish, for example, contains at least three of the above-mentioned harmful ingredients – formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates.

Just imagine how many cosmetic and makeup products you use on a daily basis that contain different kinds of toxic chemicals. And imagine how much toxins your body has already absorbed up until now.


All images are courtesy of the Unsplash website.

1) Sharon McCutcheon:

2) Sharon McCutcheon:

3) Gustavo Spindula: