Toxic Beauty Ingredients

It may seem strange, the thought of a beauty product containing something toxic. But it happens more frequently than most people would care to know. If you are creating a new product for the beauty industry, make sure that you are aware of which toxic beauty ingredients to avoid.

A Good Rule of Thumb

One rule of thumb that numerous individuals go by is the following: If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want it in the product that I’m using on my body, face, etc.

Whereas, that’s not a bad idea, poison and tongue twisting ingredients don’t necessarily always go hand-in-hand! In fact, one of the healthiest plants known to mankind is responsible for a skin soothing extract called Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane. The plant is turmeric, and its health benefits include (but are not limited to) helping to maintain a healthy heart, acting as an anti-inflammatory, having detoxifying capabilities, and it can boost cognitive abilities.

It may even help to prevent cancer and cystic fibrosis! As you can see, this is far from a poison even though its scientific name may be crazy difficult to pronounce.

Now let’s get to the truly toxic ingredients.


Monoethanolamine, triethanolamine, and diethanolamine. To put it bluntly, these are carcinogens. With cancer running rampant in the world today, the last thing you need to be putting on your face or body is something with a carcinogen ingredient. These have been found in sunscreen, fragrances, shaving creams, body washes, soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics.


These ingredients are unregulated and can include harmful carcinogens and chemicals. Did you know that companies are allowed by law to keep the ingredients of individual fragrances a secret? They fall under the classification of “trade secret” or “confidential business information”. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients used to maintain color and scent in nail polish, lip balm, perfumes, and more have actually been banned in California for use in children’s toys!

SLES, SLS (Sulfate, Sodium Laurel – Ether)

Worst-case scenario, these – when mixed with other chemicals – can produce carcinogens. Best case scenario, they are irritants.  Surely, you have enough other irritants in your life without putting them on your skin or body. As a matter of fact, SLES and SLS are frequently used as industrial cleaners! Yet, they have been found in shampoo and soap.


While this is only a potential carcinogen, it is a respiratory toxin and an allergen that has already been banned in Australia, Japan, and Europe. It is used in products that claim to even and lighten skin tone, but it causes skin thinning and can decrease skin elasticity.

This Last One May Shock You – Mineral Oil

Yes, it’s true. Mineral oil is a byproduct of petroleum distillation. The same petroleum distillation used to produce gasoline. Unfortunately, mineral oil is used in styling gels, moisturizers, and – here it comes – baby oil! The Journal of Investigative Dermatology recently published completed research that revealed the cancer-causing properties of mineral oil.

Other Ingredients to Watch For

We only detailed a handful of them here, but there are numerous other toxic chemicals to watch for in your beauty products or to avoid if you’re creating your own line of beauty products. Here are a few more:

  • Triclosan – can alter hormone regulation and create carcinogenic chloroform.
  • Parabens (propylparaben, isobutylparaben, and methylparaben) – Possibly linked to the development of breast cancer.

When you want to be sure you’re doing everything right during the process of making and/or marketing your own beauty products, check with the experts such as those found at Architectural Beauty.