If you do a google search for toxic makeup ingredients, what to avoid in my makeup and skincare, or chemical free makeup (which always makes me laugh, since even water is a chemical), there is no shortage of blog posts and articles with answers.

So why is CLOVE + HALLOW publishing another one?

Because the CLOVE + HALLOW stance on clean cosmetics is a little different (read this article to understand what I mean) and many of our customers are new to the space and looking for a short-and-sweet list that can put into practice immediately.

So instead of providing you with all of the possible toxic makeup ingredients that may be lurking in your products, we’ve decided to simplify with a list of the five toxic ingredients you should always avoid in your personal care products. Beyond these, you should decide where your own personal line in the sand is and purchase products that fit within those parameters.

So, without further ado, here are the five toxic makeup ingredients that you should never let near your skin:

  1. Parabens – A paraben (methylparaben, butylparaben, etc.) is a very effective preservative to stop fungi, bacteria, and microbes from taking over your beauty products. And while truthfully they are pretty badass preservatives, using products formulated with parabens just isn’t worth the risk: they are highly absorbable (a recent study found high levels of parabens in young males just hours after they applied a topical lotion containing parabens) and they have been linked to estrogen-related issues and breast cancer. It just isn’t worth the risk, particularly when there are plenty effective but safe preservative options on the market. Even major retailers are seeing the truth: Target is banning products containing parabens starting in 2020.
  2. Fragrance/Parfum – Actual perfume products aside, most cosmetics have a scent. If you were to read the ingredient list for a standard beauty or personal care good, “fragrance” or “parfum” will be listed 9 out of 10 times. Why does this matter? Those terms are protected as trade secrets by the FDA and therefore unregulated, so the dozens of toxic chemicals (on average, at least 14) that comprise a fragrance do not have to be disclosed. These components are often derived from petroleum and contaminated with toxins that are carcinogenic and irritating, such as formaldehyde and acetone. I like to smell like cotton candy sometimes too, but is it *really* worth it?
  3. Oxybenzone/Avobenzone/Octinoxate – These are three common chemical sunscreens, which means they absorb solar radiation and transform it to prevent sunburn rather than physically deflecting it like a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. After a single application, these chemicals can be detected in the blood for up to two days and are known for interrupting hormone/endocrine cycles due to mimicking estrogen.
  4. Petroleum/Mineral Oil/Paraffin – These are petrochemicals often contaminated with carcinogens during processing and refinement. Additionally, they are occlusive which means your skin cannot breathe from under them and thus often cause acne, clogged pores, and irritation.
  5. Talc – This absorbent powder has recently risen through the ranks of ingredients to avoid due to some nasty new evidence that points to carcinogenic and irritation risks associated with usage. The main issue is that the mining and processing procedures of the talc we apply to our bodies (and accidentally, often inhale) are unclear, and while pure talc may not be an issue, talc contaminated with asbestos certainly is. The FDA does require testing talc for asbestos, but clearly, that is not enough: there have been multiple incidents over the last decade in which major cosmetic brands were tested positive for containing asbestos, including the most recent incident with the kids clothing store, Justice.

Of course, CLOVE + HALLOW cosmetics never contain the above toxic makeup ingredients and are PETA-certified cruelty-free and vegan, too. We’re not into fear-mongering, but we highly suggest combing through the products you use regularly to toss out any that contain the ingredients above.

We’ll create a more in-depth list down the road for those of you who are really invested (and willing to invest) in clean personal care goods. What are some of the big bad toxic makeup ingredients on your list to avoid?

– Sarah Biggers, Founder and CEO

October 27, 2017

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