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Commercial Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

Commercial Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

The average woman and these days, also many men, consumes about 22 grams of lipstick and absorbs about 2.2kg of make up chemicals every year

If you think these lips look 'natural' or if you don't know what's in your cosmetics, it's probably time to have a close look at the ingredients list on the label. (Even as you look, bear in mind that not all cosmetics and the ingredients used in cosmetics need to be approved by any statutory body before they are made readily available to the public.)

While there are banned substances and guidelines in place, there are still an array of dubious ingredients that are available for cosmetic corporations to use. You will often see these kinds of food, furniture, furnishings and cleaning and body care ingredients referred to as SVHCs - Substances of Very High Concern. Here are just a few cosmetic ingredients to check for:



Nano Particles


Diethanolamine (DEA)     


Triethanolamine (TEA)  

Sodium Lauryl

Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate


Petroleum Jelly

The list's main friends

Phthalates– often found within synthetic fragrances. To avoid phthalates, do not buy any cosmetic that lists fragrance as an ingredient. The only exception to this rule is the product is listed as phthalate-free or if the fragrance is made with essential oils.

Parabens -  are known to disrupt hormones.

Nanos – may damage cells.

Ureas – can cause contact dermatitis and release formaldehyde, which is a potential carcinogen. Ureas may be listed on the ingredients list as sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, or DMDM hydantoin.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – Can result in hair and skin dryness, allergic reactions and eye irritations. Both ingredients are toxic if used over for a long time and have been linked to cancer in tests with lab animals.

Sodium Lauryl or Sodium Laureth Sulfate – Can cause dry scalp, allergic reactions, eye irritation and skin rashes.

Petrolatum or Petroleum Jelly – Clogs the pores and promotes dryness and blemishes.

The contents of some cosmetics are a cocktail of plant, animal and synthetic compounds, so to ensure you aren't exposed to those nasties, check the label. Oh, and if you are a red lipstick fan, you might be getting some bonus insect nutrient so look our for E120. 

Pic: Unsplash | Ian Dooley
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