common chemical cosmetics makeup blush

3 Common Chemicals Found in Your Cosmetics

Knowing the safety of your cosmetic products is of the utmost importance. These are products that are applied directly to the skin, mostly likely on a daily basis. Every ingredient has the potential to seep into your body and impact your health – you’d like to know if there were chemicals in your food, so why are we often less concerned about the chemicals in our cosmetics?

Here are a few that are common, but mostly go unnoticed:



Used as a way to “plasticize” products, making them softer and more flexible, phthalates are so toxic that a number of variations of the chemicals have been banned in countries across the world. They are also found in various products hidden under the ingredient label as “fragrances” which allow for companies to have them in the products without having to fully disclose they are present.

Once in the body, either through the skin or other means, they are present for the rest of your life, and can cause serious issues with your endocrine system, disrupting hormone production and leading to neurological damage.

One positive from the ambiguous product labeling is that it assists in ease of avoidance. When looking for cosmetic products, look for “fragrance” on the ingredient list – and promptly avoid that product.



Possibly the most widely-used preservative in cosmetic or personal care products, parabens are found across the board – in everything from shampoos and body washes to toothpastes and makeup. There are a number of variations and different labels for these chemicals, and all are toxic and easily absorbed by your skin.

These chemicals are banned in some countries around the world, and health advocates are looking to the United States to join in their banning soon. But until that happens, consumers must take matters into their own hands and know what variations are out there.

Some of the paraben-type ingredients are ones that you may have already heard of, including carbon black (found in eyeliners and linked to cancers), siloxanes (used to smooth and soften cosmetics, and can impact reproductive health), and octinoxate (used in foundations, linked to thyroid disorders).



When a chemical is widely known for its use as an embalming ingredient to preserve dead bodies, the thought of putting it on your skin seems like that last thing you’d want to do. But that is exactly what happens with cosmetics containing formaldehyde and its related chemicals.

One issue is that you often won’t find this chemical listed specifically on the ingredient label. Its inclusion comes either from other preservatives that release or produce it when used, or from ingredients that are exposed to formaldehyde during their manufacturing process.

So, what should you keep a lookout for when working to avoid formaldehyde exposure? Some common ingredients include DMDM hydantoin, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHUT), bronopol, quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea and imidazolidinyl urea. They may not roll off the tongue and be the easiest words to remember, but it would be very beneficial to keep them in mind when searching for products.

The presence of these chemicals amplifies the need for consumers to take steps to better know what is in their products, no matter if it’s food, cosmetics, personal health, or any others. The more the public knows and understands about what makes up the products all around us, the easier it can be to ensure that manufacturers are working to provide products that are as non-toxic as possible.

However, not all chemicals are harmful, especially those that actually make our lives better. Noah Chemicals in-house chemists can help you determine which chemicals are safe to use in whatever your applications may be. Contact our team today to learn more.


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