How to Tell if Your Makeup is Toxic & Full of Carcinogens - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


How to Tell if Your Makeup is Toxic & Full of Carcinogens

Why voluntarily expose yourself to cancer causing chemicals each and every day?


If you have been keeping abreast of the latest updates about the cosmetics industry, you probably know by now that most of the mainstream makeup that we use daily, are full of extremely harmful chemicals. Yes – many of the products that we apply on our face can actually cause cancer and serious birth defects.

How to Tell if Your Makeup is Toxic & Full of Carcinogens

Before we pooh pooh these ideas (after all, how much can a bit of BB Cream or eyeliner hurt you?), we would do well to remember that skin is the largest organ in our body, and 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer this year. Would you voluntarily expose this organ to cancer causing chemicals each and every day? I hope the answer is no… Yet, that is what each of us is doing on a daily basis.

Much has been made of the fact that the EU has banned about 1,400 different chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products, while the U.S. has banned a paltry 11.

Yes, we all know that we should be careful about the ingredients that go into our cosmetics and personal care products, but with so many brands flooding the market, how do we decide which products are good for us? Usually, we go for the reputed brands, assuming that such big names will never make a product that will harm our health. And yet, most of the time, these big names are also the biggest offenders. They’re all about maximizing profit, and they have lobbyists and legal teams to cover up their misdeeds.

How to Tell if Your Makeup is Toxic & Full of Carcinogens

Most of the major drugstore and department store brands fall woefully short on safety and environmental standards, even though they may be very popular. As a typical example of mainstream cosmetics brands, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics checked for the most dangerous chemicals that have already been proven to be highly toxic, and found that all of the drugstore and department store products (like Maybelline, Clinique, L’Oreal and similar brands) either openly contained these toxic ingredients, or contained them in secret (as an unlisted ‘contamination’).

The bottom line is that drugstore and department store brand makeup and cosmetics are simply not safe.

How to Tell if Your Makeup is Toxic & Full of Carcinogens

As consumers, it is both our right and duty to be mindful about the cosmetics that we use and to ensure that we shun any products which can pose a health hazard to us and our children. Once we start avoiding products that are harmful, we will hit the cosmetic giants where it hurts most –their revenues and bottom lines– forcing them to swap out the most dangerous ingredients for (hopefully) safer ones. It is up to each one of us to make that happen.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Nearly 90% of the 10,500 ingredients the FDA has determined are used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA or any other publicly accountable institution.”

Fortunately, there are several nonprofits that have taken it upon themselves to analyze and rate the various personal care products that are available in the market. Tools like GoodGuide and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database provide critical health information about many consumer items including personal care products. And if you want to check how effective these products are, then sites like Beautypedia and the user reviews on Amazon provide useful information (keep in mind that there are a lot of fake consumer reviews out there!)

Here’s a great video that explains how so many toxins end up in our makeup:

So, the next time you buy any of your favorite makeup, visit a few websites like EWG Skin Deep and GoodGuide and see if they withstand the safety test… or simply purchase products from your health food store that have zero ingredients that sound like chemicals. 

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 102 Comments

  1. William Dean

    This is shocking. I understand why my GF puts on so much makeup, because I see the same style in magazines and on influencers but it is important for every woman to know they don’t need it and change their attitude of beauty because “God has made them beautiful already”

    • Victor Blackwood

      what do you know about the subject? are you perhaps a cosmetologist? is your profession related to manufacturing and researching cosmetics? if not, please take back that opinion nobody asked for.
      make up or cosmetics are made to “ENHANCE” the looks of one individual. self esteem can be made and broken of this said looks. if anybody would risk using shady products its their own god given right to do so. if they live to use it again good for them, if they at somepoint died of said shit. natural selection is at work.

  2. LUSI

    Thank you for suggesting the products that are safe for us to use.

  3. Alright, we have the problems, so whats the solution? If you go on saying don’t apply anything I don’t think that’s practical as many females don’t want a tan, others have something on the skin like marks etc they wish to hide, etc multiple issues and who wouldn’t like making herself seem pretty, well some dot but most do. Taking everything into consideration, is there any natural alternatives one can use? I appreciate this post a lot. But I think it will put the females who use it in dilemma.

    • Sasha Smith

      I don’t think Hillary knows what every woman wants, from style, color and such. I think she is just trying to be kind. This article is meant to help us avoid putting toxic into out body and Not to promote brands. I’m still thankful to Hillary for writing this. She doesn’t want to tell us what to buy but what to avoid. I guess every buyer should be smart enough before buying anything. By the way, google is just one click away.

  4. If you cannot accept who you are naturally then you’re not going to be a very happy person. Fact is young girls spend way more time judging their looks than anyone else does. your friends see you as the person you are. If anyone is making you feel bad just for how you look then you don’t need them. And makeup is not going to do any noticeable changes to you. The point is if cosmetics are so harmful to your health you should probably stop using it.

  5. Super useful info! I’m ashamed to say it, but I had no idea that the industry was so unregulated!! #scary

  6. PIPPA

    Certified-organic beauty products work better simply because they are made with superior ingredients. It’s like cooking. A great dish probably doesn’t include artificial flavors or fake, processed foods. Instead, it’s likely made of pure, fresh and simple ingredients. Beauty products work the same way. Better ingredients mean better results. Those with sensitive skin can especially benefit from organic beauty products that contain high-quality ingredients that won’t aggravate or worsen skin.

  7. Sasha Smith

    Organic beauty products are better for your skin because what you put on your skin eventually ends up in your body. Evidence abounds for the healing powers of handmade natural products, particularly when essential oils are included.

  8. abigael fisher

    If you’ve been using a lightening skin cream that’s imported from China, India, Mexico, or some other exotic locale, check the label for mercury. But be aware the ingredient might also be listed as “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” or “mercurio.” If there is no list of ingredients, don’t use the product. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include tremors, memory problems, irritability, and changes in vision or hearing. The creams have turned up in seven states so far, and several cases of serious mercury poisoning have been reported.

    • Thanks for the info! I’ll add this to a future article. It’s unfortunate that women feel pressure to use products like this. Natural, dark skin is beautiful!

  9. Kath Brantley

    You can save a lot of money by choosing natural beauty products or even making your own! Remember that 60 billion dollar people spent on makeup last year? Well, you can cut your own costs by making at home beauty products. You can find a ton of great recipes for DIY masks and scrubs. Rather than spending a bunch of money on something new, you can use the ingredients you already have in your house.

  10. Alta Johnson

    I’m not sure I agree that it’s so bad, since our skin only absorbs some of what gets put on it. How much actually gets absorbed is up for debate, some say it is up to 60%, others say very little will make it to our bloodstream. Either way, I don’t want to put chemicals on my skin. We also ingest products through the mouth …like lipsticks. Sprays and powders can be inhaled though, which could be dangerous, I suppose. Hand creams can be ingested when we eat with our hands. Sticking to plant-based, natural products will reduce my toxic chemical load.

Load 10 more comments

Join in the Conversation! Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *