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12 Toxic Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid: When & Why to Ditch Old Cosmetics!

when & why to ditch your old cosmetics - 12 toxic cosmetic ingredients to avoid

I moved into a new apartment this past April and decided that I would incorporate some spring cleaning into my move. Partially because I have too much stuff, but mostly because I don’t like moving and was willing to do whatever I could to make the move easier (although I’m sure my moving helpers would tell you I didn’t get rid of enough). I cleaned out my closet, my daughter’s closet and also something important that most women probably don’t think about…my makeup bag.

Time for Makeup at 6:28 AM

(Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)

I don’t typically wear a lot of makeup. I’m not comfortable wearing a lot and I have a 4 year old who has (in a good way) cut into my “getting ready” time. A little powder, some blush and some mascara and I’m good to go. Because I don’t wear a lot of it, my makeup tends to last a long time and I’ll admit, I probably use it way longer than I should.

The Truth About Old Makeup

Pop Sugar Beauty wrote a great article about when to get rid of your makeup.

Here are some of their suggestions…

  • Mascara or eyeliner that is more than six months old should be tossed. Liquid eye products can start to harbor bacteria and eventually cause an eye infection.
  • Sponges. Yuck! Sponges, in general, gross me out. They hoard so much bacteria. The article is talking about sponges used to apply foundation but WebMD also makes a solid case for why you shouldn’t use sponges ever.
  • Lip products including lipstick, lip gloss or lip liners that are more than a year old should be tossed too.
  • Liquid foundation can last 1-2 years although the article recommends throwing away any foundations that you don’t use all the time as they’re more likely to go bad if you aren’t using them and forget about them. Styleite recommends only using liquid foundations for 6-8 months though depending on the quality of the brand.
  • Powders also have a long shelf life, about two years.

Styleite also had some good tips about how to clean the clutter out of your makeup bag…

  • Wash your makeup bag. If possible, take everything out of your bag and put it through the wash machine. If that doesn’t solve the problem it might be time to buy a new bag!
  • Wash your makeup brushes and clean your lash curlers and sharpeners. I use baby shampoo on my makeup brushes and am always amazed at how much is cleaned out of them. I typically wash mine in the morning and let them air dry. They are good as new by the following morning! Also be sure to wipe off your lash curlers and pencil sharpeners as these can have bacteria and get dirty quickly.
  • Throw away old and dirty products. I know, easier said than done but if you have dried up or clogged products get rid of them! They are probably full of bacteria and will not go on as nicely as newer products will. I only wear eyeliner once or twice every few months and had to force myself to throw away a clumpy, dried out eyeliner this past weekend. It’s hard but makes room for new, better quality makeup products.

12 Toxic Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid

Once you clean out your makeup bag you’ll probably need to replace some of your items. Why not switch to natural cosmetics? Take a look at some of the ingredients on your old cosmetics.

Alarming, isn’t it?

You’ve probably heard of the dirty dozen when it comes to fruits and vegetables but the David Suzuki Foundation released its own Dirty Dozen list when it comes to cosmetic chemicals.

  1. BHA and BHT. These are typically used in moisturizers and as preservatives and can potentially cause cancer while harming fish and wildlife. 
  2. Coal tar dyes. These include p-phenylenediamine and others listed as “CI” followed by a 5 digit number. These have cancer causing potential and might include heavy metals. For more information on heavy metals check out my previous blog post.
  3. DEA Ingredients. These are often found in foaming products and creamy products and harm wildlife while having the potential to cause cancer.
  4. Dibutyl phthalate. Our Zoya nail polishes are dibutyl phthalate free and it is thought that this chemical disrupts endocrine function and harms reproduction.
  5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer and it is found in a variety of cosmetics. Be sure to check your labels when buying your makeup!
  6. Parabens-the dreaded “P-word!” Parabens are used as preservatives and disrupt the endocrine system.
  7. Parfum. Also known as fragrance this can trigger asthma or allergies and certain fragrances have been linked to cancer.
  8. PEG compounds are used in cosmetic cream bases and have cancer causing properties.
  9. Petrolatum is used in hair products, lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers and again can cause cancer. See a theme?
  10. Siloxanes. These ingredients will end in “siloxane” or “methicone.” These can be toxic to reproduction and also harm fish and other wildlife.
  11. Sodium laureth sulfate is used in shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Ingredients with the letters “eth” will fall into this category and they can have cancer causing properties.
  12. Triclosan is used in antibacterial products. This includes antiperspirants and toothpastes. These can contribute to antibiotic resistance and are also harmful to fish and wildlife.

A scary list isn’t it? We carry a variety of quality brands that supply all natural makeup options. We have foundations, powder, blushes, mascaras and more. One of our best sellers is the Sugar Based Natural Mascara by Suncoat. We also have natural shampoos, conditioners, body washes and lotions. Plus we have multiple natural skin care lines from Aubrey Organics, Derma E, 100% Pure and Acure Organics and many more. These all offer natural, cruelty-free products and are a great choice for natural, paraben-free skin care.

A few of my favorite products include the Beautifully Blonde Shampoo & Conditioner by Giovanni and the Acai Berry Antioxidant Eye Cream by 100% Pure.

What are some of your favorites? Leave a comment below!

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7 Responses to 12 Toxic Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid: When & Why to Ditch Old Cosmetics!

  1. Jody June 28, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Congratulations on your move to a new apartment – very exciting! Thanks for writing this great reminder post about what the “Dirty Dozen” is – SO many people don’t know, still! My favorite brand of natural (and toxin-free, chemical-free) products is Ava Anderson ( – I’ve literally replaced everything in my house with the Ava line – their products are seriously amazing, and they’re guaranteed too 🙂 The Ava sunscreen (regular sunscreen and the sunstick) as well as the non-toxic bugspray are three must-have’s for this season!

    • Laura Miller July 5, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      Thanks, Jody! And thanks for the information about the line. It is crazy to see what toxic chemicals are in our makeup (and other household products) when you really look at the label. Thanks for reading!

  2. skin care machines July 18, 2013 at 5:50 am #

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.

    Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

    • Laura Miller July 18, 2013 at 7:56 am #

      Sorry your first comment didn’t work but thanks for reading! Glad you enjoy the blog 🙂

  3. Allen Dawson October 30, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    I also agree that too much make up on skin not look good. Therefore, it is better to apply light make up when required. Loud make up gives a fake look and damage your skin. Thank you for sharing your opinion on this.

    • Laura Miller October 30, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      I agree Allen. We just got in a new line of makeup, Erth Minerals that I can’t wait to try!

  4. Surfacetreated April 25, 2018 at 7:33 am #

    Nice article, I really enjoyed it. The way you are describe the whole thing is very good.

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