10 Harmful Ingredients in Your Everyday Beauty Products

Personal care products are a significant part of our everyday lives so we cannot help ourselves using these products.

We use different skin and hair care products to keep ourselves looking and feeling great!

But not all of these products are good for us. Overuse of a low-quality product can be harmful to human hair and skin.

Moreover, not all products are meant for everyone. Some products may perform well on your friend’s skin but won’t do any good for you.

It makes sense, as we have different skin and hair types. So, it is mandatory to know the harmful toxins or the ingredients in beauty products before buying one for you.

READ MORE: Keratin Treatment Allergic reaction

Harmful Ingredients in Beauty Products

Here are the top 5 toxic chemicals that are used in our regular beauty products:


1. Mercury in Skin Creams

You know that saying “mad as a Hatter?” Well, guess what made all of those hatters so mad? Yup, mercury. Yet, for generations, it was one of the main ingredients in many skin creams!

While most US-based products removed mercury generations ago, an FDA investigation in 2016 revealed that skin creams imported from Latin, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets still contain toxic mercury and other heavy metals. [1]

Using these products means a significant risk of mercury poisoning, which can cause tremors, memory problems, changes in hearing and vision, and yes, even “madness.”

2. Bacteria in Mascara

Okay, this one isn’t an ingredient that’s packaged with your Mascara, but it quickly becomes an issue if you don’t regularly swap it out with a new tube.

One study found that nearly 80% of all mascara tubes in women’s purses were contaminated with staph and other bacteria. [2]

Along with bacteria, fungi were also found. When you keep your mascaras in your bag or purse, heat will degrade the preservatives and make the bacteria multiply faster.

So, if you use Mascara a lot, try to store it in a cool place, and never use one tube for longer than 2-3 months.

3. Parabens in Lotions, Makeup, and Hair Products

Parabens are used in beauty and hair care products to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast and prolong the shelf life of hair.

Beauty products may sound great to you, but in reality, parabens do worse than we think.

First of all, parabens have estrogen-mimicking properties, one of the causes of breast cancer.

This chemical can leech into our bodies through our skin and scalp. Besides, parabens also affect hormonal balance and cause skin irritation.

Overusing hair products that contain parabens can also result in hair loss. However, we strongly recommend buying your hair care product or parabens-free beauty product.

4. Lead in Lipstick

Lead is a dangerous ingredient for the human body. There is no safe level of lead, and it should be at 0 percentage level for a product to be safe.

However, the FDA only limits the amount of allowable lead in lipsticks and doesn’t outright ban it. [3]

So you’ll need to pay close attention to labels to ensure you’re buying one with absolutely NO lead.

5. Phthalates in Fragrances and Nail Polish

Phthalates are ubiquitous ingredients that can be found in most nail polish and fragrances.

This chemical helps products absorb into the skin, causes thyroid disruption, and infertility, and reduces the sperm count of men. However, Phthalates are found in fragrances and nail polish.

Beware of using too many of these products.

Harmful Ingredients in Hair Products

Here are the top 5 harmful toxic ingredients that are used in our regular hair products:


1. Sulfates

Sulfates are the number one prohibited ingredient from hair experts and dermatologists.

These ingredients are primarily used in shampoos as they are very good at making foams and cleaning like detergent.

You may think that the shampoo which produces nice foam and lather in your hair is generally good at cleaning.

But ladies, remember from today that sulfates cause separation of skin layers, damage the immune system, make rashes on the scalp and intensify the skin by making it dry and irritated.

At a minimum, sulfates can strip the essential oils from your hair, break down protein, and interrupt healthy hair growth.

The worst sulfate forms are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.

So, never forget to check whether the sulfate is on the ingredient list or not on the shampoo label.

2. Formaldehyde in Hair Straighteners

Formaldehydes are found in hair straightening products like keratin-based hair straighteners, Brazilian Blowout, etc.

Many companies and labels on the products claim to be “formaldehyde-free,” though, after a thorough test, formaldehyde was found in many hair straightening products.

Formaldehyde is unhealthy for humans and may create asthma, neurotoxicity, etc.

If you apply a keratin-based hair straightener a few times a year, that would be okay. But more than that can be harmful to you.

3. Cocamide DEA in Shampoos

Cocamide DEA is used mainly in thickening shampoos and conditioners.

It is often found in shampoos, and people think it is a good ingredient derived from coconut oil.

But actually, it is a modified version of the natural form of coconut oil, which is an unnatural toxic.

However, this ingredient had been added by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). So, beware of using any product that uses Cocamide DEA. List of chemicals known to be linked to cancer in 2012.

4. Silicones in Shampoos and Conditioners

Silicone is not a significant enemy to our hair, but it has no long-term benefits either.

It functions like petroleum. It can coat your hair and make it waterproof, keeping the locks from soaking up humidity.

The coating makes the hair shiny, polished, and easier to comb. But after time, it becomes sticky and weighs down the hair strand, which ultimately will destroy your hairstyle and mood.

At some point, your hair can get limp and dull.

5. Isopropyl Alcohol in Anti-freezing Conditioners

Isopropyl Alcohol is mainly found in some conditioners today, which is used to reduce the hair’s frizziness.

But conditioners with this ingredient are very harmful as they can strip the hair of its natural oils and cause damage.

However, all alcohol should be avoided, especially in your conditioner or hair products.

So, never forget to check the ingredients listed on any beauty products label and avoid alcoholic products.


Do not forget that your body is like your temple. Do not use chemicals that can harm the temple, and you get sick. Or it can be your beloved skin and hair that will get damaged.

Skin and scalps absorb harmful chemicals. After days of using nasty chemicals, it will become spoiled, which will be irreparable in most cases.

So, please beware of the ingredients we discussed above, avoid products that include harsh chemicals, and never forget to check the ingredients list on the product’s label before buying.


  • 1. FDA: anti-aging, skin-lightening products may contain mercury [Internet]. medicalxpress.com. [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-08-fda-anti-aging-skin-lightening-products-mercury.html
  • 2. Pack LD, Wickham MG, Enloe RA, Hill DN. Microbial contamination associated with mascara use. Optometry (St Louis, Mo) [Internet]. United States; 2008 [cited 2019 Dec 12];79:587–93. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18922495
  • 3. Nutrition C for FS and A. Limiting Lead in Lipstick and Other Cosmetics. FDA [Internet]. 2020; Available from: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-products/limiting-lead-lipstick-and-other-cosmetics