The Toxic Twenty Ingredients in Makeup

toxic twenty

You must have noticed your newsfeed full of information about healthier vegan foods for their bodies. Recently, Vegan Products have given the popularity. At CDBeauty NYC, we make vegan cosmetics because they are better for your skin, better for the planet, and cruelty-free. We aim to provide vegan and cruelty-free options to beauty and skin care for people who share our concern of not harming the environment for our needs.

What is in your makeup?

For most ingredient labels on beauty products, a Ph.D. is required just to read through the first couple of items listed. This should alert anyone interested in keeping their skin happy, healthy, and glowing. All of our vegan products have simple, easy-to-understand ingredient lists that are free from animal products.

Here are 20 toxic cosmetic ingredients you should never allow your cosmetics to have:


Despite common knowledge that formaldehyde is a carcinogen, it's still used in hair straightening products, eyelash glue, nail polish, and an array of other cosmetics. Only some retailers (including Whole Foods, CVS, and Target) are starting to ban products that contain formaldehyde from their shelves. 

But there's a catch. Formaldehyde is a well-known toxic ingredient, and it might be present in the product hiding behind other ingredient names.

Formaldehyde releasers

Steer clear of Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15. They are cosmetic preservatives that slowly form formaldehyde.

Animal Ingredients to avoid in cosmetics

Synthetic fragrances

"Fragrance" on the ingredient list does not disclose the variety of hazardous ingredients included under the umbrella term of 'fragrance.'


Phthalates are one of the many hazardous chemicals included under 'fragrance.' Phthalates help perfume stick to skin, as well as eyelash adhesive and nail polish. That's terrible news because phthalates speed up puberty among girls and reduce sperm count among boys. Also, they'll harm the environment. The EWG says that many retailers have effectively banned Phthalates, but they still use the umbrella term of 'fragrance.'


Butyl, propyl, and ethyl parabens are preservatives known to cause hormone disruption. 

Mineral oil

It might seem harmless, but mineral oil as a cosmetic ingredient is neither good for you nor the environment. A common addition to lip gloss, concealer, eyeshadow, SPF, and balm cleansers, it's actually pretty bad from a health and environmental standpoint. Additionally, mineral oil contains carcinogenic impurities because it is a by-product of petroleum.

Polyethylene glycol (PEGs)

Polyethylene glycol, butylene glycol (B.G.), and "propylene glycol" (P.G.) are chemical thickeners and can often be in cream-based cosmetics.


Found in many cosmetic and skincare products, cyclical silicones harm the environment and may cause endocrine disruption. Dimethicone, however, is considered safer when used in small amounts.)


This antimicrobial ingredient may manipulate the thyroid and reproductive hormones, banned in many countries. The EWG says that the U.S. has banned it from antibacterial soap, but it is still used in deodorant, shaving cream, mouthwash, and toothpaste.


These are emulsifiers found in foundation, skin care products, and even mascara) are classified as safe for cosmetic use by the EWG, but they're also shown to cause allergies for sensitive skin. They can be listed under the names monoethanolamine (MEA), triethanolamine (TEA), or diethanolamine (DEA).


This is found in sunscreen, including lotions, lip balms, cleansers, fragrances, and even baby products, and is a well-known endocrine disruptor.


This common sunscreen ingredient can prove to be harmful to sensitive skin types.


Widely used in sunscreens as a U.V. absorber, homosalate is still commonly used in place of prohibited ingredients octinoxate and oxybenzone.

Become a Beauty Vegan!


Also known as  Butylated Hydroxytoluene or BHT), Toluene can cause brain toxicity and be harmful to pregnant women; even after being banned in the E.U., Southeast Asia, and some parts of the U.S., it is still found in nail polish, hair dye, and nail treatments.


Often used as a smoothing agent in makeup, Talc is usually safe. However, it can be contaminated with asbestos, which can cause cancer and lung problems.

PFAs and PFCs

PFAs are fluorinated chemicals commonly found in sunscreens, shaving creams, and hair products. They can cause serious problems, like cancer, thyroid, or even reduced immunity from vaccines.

PFC's are used in waterproof makeup, and you must watch out if you are a fan of waterproof mascara and eyeliner.


Teflon is the brand name for the ingredient Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and is often mixed with cosmetics to improve its texture. Unfortunately, just like PFAs, it causes hormone disruption and reproductive issues.


Resorcinol can cause skin irritation and immune system dysfunction, a popular ingredient in hair color and bleaching products. In addition, resorcinol can disrupt normal thyroid function.

Carbon black

The EWG has flagged the carbon black pigment (which is often found in mascara and eyeliner) because it might cause cancer through inhalation. As a result, the FDA has limited usage, but it's still widely found in cosmetics everywhere.


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