Chemical-Free Makeup: What Harmful Ingredients Should You Avoid

Did you know that most mass-produced makeup products we use daily have toxic chemicals in their ingredient list? 

We don't want to sound too grim, but most of those chemicals in our lipsticks, nail polish, mascara and other items are very harmful to our health and wellbeing. 

They can affect our hormonal balance, fertility and some are even linked to cancer and other illnesses. 

It's alarming, but don't feel guilty if you didn't know this. Most of us have assumed that the makeup we buy in stores is safe. Now that we know otherwise, we can make an informed choice and switch to harmful chemical-free makeup. 

So let's dive into this sometimes confusing but very important topic and discuss harmful ingredients in makeup, the risks they pose, and the best alternatives.

What makes some makeup products "toxic"?

Unfortunately, there were very few organic and natural beauty alternatives until recently, so for decades, most makeup products contained heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and other unsafe ingredients. 

Various harmful chemicals found in makeup are now scientifically linked to multiple health problems such as the risk of certain cancers, hormone imbalances, skin irritation, etc.  

Depending on where you live, the use of some of these ingredients is regulated by the government. However, in many cases, the regulations still aren't strict enough.

It's great that today we know much more about these adverse health effects, but we've been just buying whatever was available at the store without batting an eye for too long. It's time for a change.

Are all chemicals bad?

Let's get this out of the way. Not all chemicals are bad. Chemicals are unavoidable as everything around us is made of them. We taste them, smell them, touch them every minute of every day. The fruit and the vegetables we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink, everything is made of chemicals.

So chemical-free makeup is not possible. What we're talking about is harmful chemical-free makeup or toxic chemical-free makeup. 

It's important to understand this when learning more about clean beauty. 

Another thing to remember is this: even though something is called "natural", it doesn't necessarily mean it's healthy! Mercury and arsenic are natural, but you would ingest or put them on your skin, would you? 

Our best advice is to use common sense and always use trustworthy resources when learning about the best makeup choices for you. 

 

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Harmful chemicals found in makeup

Now that we got this out of the way let's look into the harmful chemicals found in makeup. 

Many toxic cosmetic ingredients are banned, but you should always be responsible for your health and read the labels. 

Here's a list of ingredients you should ALWAYS avoid. You can save it on your phone, so they're always handy.

  • Parabens (e.g. Propylparaben and Isobutylparaben)
  • Polyethylene (PEGs) 
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Phthalates 
  • Sodium Laureth sulphate (SLS)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Fragrance
  • Chemical UV filters Octinoxate and Oxybenzone
  • Diethanolamine (DEA)
  • Triclosan

What's in your makeup bag?

Whether you're a makeup addict or like to keep things simple, you most likely have the basics such as lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, foundation, blush and compact powder in your makeup bag.

If produced by brands that are not organic or natural, all of these products can be highly problematic and even downright dangerous. 

There are too many products to cover here, but here are the most commonly used makeup items and how they might harm our health.

Foundation. The product you spread all over your face could contain harmful as propylene glycol, methylparaben, and propylparaben that affect your endocrine system, fertility and are bad for the environment.

Mascara. Carbon black, which has been linked to lung tumours in many scientific tests, is a common ingredient in mascara as well as parabens and retinyl acetate. Parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen and are linked to fertility issues and breast cancer. 

Nail Polish. It often contains high levels of styrene that's primarily used in the production of plastics and rubbers. It's linked in the short term to eye irritation and adverse gastrointestinal effects, and long-term could affect the central nervous system, leading to weakness, depression, headache, and fatigue.

Lipstick. The ultimate beauty item that most women can't live without. We love it, but only when it doesn't contain methylparaben linked to cancer, propylparaben that can irritate skin and eyes or cause allergic reactions, retinyl palmitate that may be toxic to pregnant women and other terrible ingredients. 

 

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 "Non-toxic" makeup products 

We apologise if you feel shaken about all these possible side effects from an innocently looking makeup bag. The worst is over! 

It's time to look at the alternatives that will soon become your first and only choice. 

While there is no definition of "green" or "natural" beauty, it doesn't matter because you can always read the ingredient list and decide for yourself. 

In short, any brands and makeup products that use safe ingredients can be called "clean" and are non-toxic for our health. If they use any components from the list above, they are not safe.

That's why transparency is so important and why SCOUT always openly shares the ingredient list of each product.

How to avoid makeup with parabens and phthalates

Finding toxin-free makeup can seem a little daunting at first, but thankfully, the internet is full of helpful information!

One of the best alternatives to generic makeup is non-toxic mineral makeup which usually contains just a few ingredients, and when sourced sustainably, none of them is harmful. 

Non-toxic mineral makeup includes such products as powder, foundation, blush, bronzer, concealers and correctors. 

Follow natural and clean beauty brands online, always read the labels, and note whether the brands have any clean beauty certifications. It's easy to check the credibility of each certification organisation online.

Don't feel like you have to throw everything out at once and buy all new products. Do it gradually so you don't break the bank. It will also give you a chance to do more research.

Branch out of your favourite drug stores and try smaller brands. While big brands might offer some clean beauty alternatives, you'll be amazed at how many unique products are out there. You'll also support small businesses! 

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SCOUT Active Beauty toxin-free makeup

At SCOUT, we're proud of our mission to be kind to your skin and the environment. All the ingredients in our chemical-free makeup are sustainably sourced, and we are committed to using natural and organic ingredients and ethical practices.

All of our makeup products are gentle and non-irritating. They are created without the use of potentially harmful and toxic ingredients such as parabens, sulphates, artificial fragrances and colours, heavy metals, MEA/DEA/TEA, Phthalates, Triclosan, petroleum-derived ingredients or fillers.

Our makeup products are Australian Certified Organic (ACO), COSMOS Organic, vegan and 100% cruelty-free. We are one of the first Australian natural beauty brands to earn both ACO and COSMOS Organic certifications. 

Check out our makeup products for nails, lips, complexion and eyes.