Beauty Product Chemicals

Technological and scientific advancements have led to some astonishing new products, and continuous improvements to daily-use items. In particular, the beauty industry has explored all sorts of solutions to create desirable products… but just how aware are you of what goes into such products?

Common chemicals used within beauty products can cause huge damage, and it’s worth being aware of the different chemical names as a reference point. Here as a non-exhaustive list of some of the main chemicals found in many beauty products:


Parabens are preservatives found in everything from soap to lotion to makeup. If water is present, it’s likely to contain parabens to stop growing bacteria. Parabens are also known as endocrine disruptors, so they mimic estrogen in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances, and sometimes even breast cancer.

Artificial Fragrance/Parfum

Manufacturers aren’t required to reveal what’s actually in their fragrances, but it’s most likely a mixture of carcinogens, allergens, endocrine disruptors, and irritants.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

SLS/SLES are foaming agents used in a slew of personal care products, including skin care and cosmetics, shampoo, and toothpaste. They are surfactants that can cause skin irritation or trigger allergies. They can cause irritation.


Toluene is commonly found in nail polish and hair dyes. It is toxic to the immune system and can cause birth defects. If you’re pregnant it’s best to keep away from products that contain this chemical.


A phthalate is a plasticizer that is used to keep plastic from becoming brittle. Found in products such as hair spray and nail polish. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and can cause hormonal and reproductive problems and birth defects.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is used in many types of cosmetics as a thickener, especially in lotions, shampoo, and sunscreen.


Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in cosmetics. It’s also linked to asthma, neurotoxicity, and developmental toxicity.


The most common sunscreens on the market use chemical filters such as oxybenzone and can affect thyroid function. It can also cause skin allergies.


Diethanolamine is a foaming agent, it’s used in bubble bath, body wash, and shampoo in the US but has been banned by the EU. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent once used in antibacterial soaps. It contributes to antibiotic resistant bacteria, gut inflammation and can promote tumor growth.