Toxic Makeup

Toxic Makeup By Vriti Saraf
The Ticker

The dangerous effects of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products has been a topic of discussion for the Food and Drug Administration for many years.Thanks to persistent complaints by consumers and a 2002 report by the Environmental Working Group, which indicated that 72 percent of popular cosmetics contained dangerous chemicals, the FDA, along with major cosmetics companies, have worked to improve products.

A 2008 report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says that many leading companies have reduced the use of chemicals in their products. However, there are still several products that continue to use toxic chemicals in their ingredients.

Of the many substances found in cosmetics, placental extract, mercury, lead, animal parts, pthalates and petroleum by-products are said to be most common.

According to the cosmetic safety database called Skin Deep, among other products, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Shampoo contains mink and emu fat, Avon Anew Ultimate Skin Transforming Cream contains petroleum by-products and much of Sally Hansel nail products contain pthalates, which can damage liver and cause birth defects.

The database can be accessed at, where hundreds of products can be browsed for their hazard level and toxin contents.In the 2008 report, the use of pthalates have decreased tremendously, but are still found in abundance in fragrances such as White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor and Charlie Cologne Spray by Revlon. Studies also link pthalates to DNA damage in sperm.

Bath products used for children have also been found by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to be contaminated with chemicals such as formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which have been known to induce skin allergies and possible risks of cancer.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported “Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Sesame Street Bubble Bath, Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash,” to contain both chemicals.

Since these toxins are by-products of chemical manufacturing and product development and not separately added to the product, these chemicals are not required by the FDA to be listed on product ingredient labels, leaving consumers largely unaware of which products have toxic elements.

Although the FDA tries to monitor such products, it has no way of making sure that these products have been tested prior to sale and are indeed safe to use.


  1. Hey Shane!
    I know you're an Arbonne gal... I noticed on the Cosmetics Database site that the Arbonne products are WAY outdated. I've had some potential clients reference this website, however the majority of the products Arbonne doesn't make anymore. Do you know where they get their info and how we can get it updated?

  2. First, let me say how much I enjoy using Arbonne! Still, there were some products in the past which were reformulated and that new info is not on their database. I have contacted EWG who puts out the database but received no response.

    I am not sure that they have a process to update which is, I think, their only flaw. That site has done incredible work to wake people up, so to speak, to the fact that they need to be aware of what they are putting on their bodies...I love them.

    I think we just need to be thankful that we have a company like Arbonne which has made the promise to bring us the safest products they can. Still, I am really learning it is up to us to be aware of what we put on and in our bodies. Arbonne is not perfect just as Whole Foods is not perfect.

    Great strides are being made in personal care product safety b/c of sites like EWG raise awareness.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. most consumers have no idea what is in their cosmetics. legistation is needed, but will happen only if the taxpayers demand it. keep spreading the word...


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead