5 Toxic Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skincare Routine

Most cosmetic products on the market contain toxic and even potentially harmful ingredients. That’s right… most. What many consumers don’t know is the cosmetic industry is one of the least regulated industries in the U.S. to this day. The FDA regulates cosmetics under a law passed by Congress: the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. However, this law does not require cosmetic products or most ingredients to have FDA approval prior to going on the market. To put it in perspective: guns, crops, toys, cars, printers, and even laser pointers have more regulations set by Congress than cosmetics.
At some point you’ve probably stopped to think about what you put in your body, and the effect it has on you and your overall health. But have you considered how the products you’re putting on your body affect your health? Fun fact: your skin is your largest organ and can easily absorb anything you put on it – including the 10+ average cometic products used daily. Navigating which ingredients to avoid and which ingredients are harmless can be tough, especially when you can’t even pronounce some of them! So we’ve broken down a list of the top five ingredients to watch out for and why.


Parabens are a family of chemicals which help preserve the shelf-life of products. This one is tricky – you normally don’t see ‘parabens’ listed on labels because people are more aware of their side effects. Look out for words with the suffix ‘methyl’, ‘propyl’, ‘butyl’ and ‘ethyl.’ These are the most common preservatives used in cosmetics which interrupt the body’s hormones and have been linked to chronic diseases, cancers, and a host of developmental disorders and fertility problems [1].


Phthalates are a chemical compounds used to soften and increase the flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity of plastics in cosmetics. We can thank congress for banning several types of phthalates from children’s products, but why not products for adults? Phthalates are linked to metabolic syndrome and raises the risk of full-blown diabetes, heart attack, and even stroke. According to studies completed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans have metabolites of multiple phthalates in their urine [2]. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

SLS and SLES are known to cause skin irritation and trigger differing allergies. If you have dandruff, unusual skin reactions, dermatitis, or other skin issues, it could very well be due to SLS. When SLS and SLES are left on the skin, they are highly toxic and cause damage to your skin’s lipid barrier in the form of dry, cracked, or itchy skin. Once the skin barrier is broken, the skin becomes susceptible to infection. SLS is actually a pesticide, has corrosive properties, and pollutes our groundwater.


Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical which is used in building materials and to produce many household and personal products. Formaldehyde is actually a carcinogen, which is linked to diseases such as cirrhosis, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, leukemia, and skin irritation [3]. According to Dermatologist Papri Sarkar M.D., from the Northeast Dermatology Associates, “Up to 60% of chemicals applied to your skin can be absorbed by your body. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require formal approval of cosmetics with formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, the European Union has straight-up banned formaldehyde in beauty products due to the fact that it’s a carcinogen.”


You probably remember having to re-paint the house or heard your parents talking about the raised awareness about lead contamination. Lead was banned from household paints in the U.S. in 1978, but still is not banned in cosmetic products. Lead is commonly found in most lipsticks and lip products to date. Lead is considered a contaminant in lipstick, and therefore is not always listed on labels. The FDA released a study in 2009 which found the highest lead levels in lipsticks were made by five well-known brands: Cover Girl, L’Oreal, Body Shop, Maybelline, and Revlon. They did a follow up study in 2010 (with no follow-up investigations since…) which found lead in 400 lipsticks at levels up to 7.19 parts per million (ppm). There is no safe level of exposure to lead, and even small amounts of exposure has been linked to Neurotoxicity, reduced fertility, hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, and even delayed onset of puberty in adolescents [4].

We suggest taking some time this week to search through your beauty products and read the ingredient lists thoroughly. The simpler the product, the safer it is to use (generally). Our team at &Sunny has created a line of beauty and cosmetic products that are clean, simple, and pure. We are proud to say that none of our products contain the harmful ingredients listed above, and believe it or not, most of our base ingredients can actually be found in your home pantry! It’s time to throw out products with harmful, toxic ingredients and make the switch to natural beauty products which will protect your skin and overall health. Our mission is to make women happier, uplifted, and present within their communities – protecting their health, wellness, and balance in life. If you have any questions regarding cosmetic ingredients, CBD, or &Sunny in general, don’t hesitate to reach out: info@and-sunny.com

 Related Tag: Natural Ingredients Skin Care


[1] Adams, Jill U. “Are Parabens and Phthalates Harmful in Makeup and Lotions?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Sept. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/are-parabens-and-phthalates-harmful-in-makeup-and-lotions/2014/08/29/aa7f9d34-2c6f-11e4-994d-202962a9150c_story.html.

[2] “Phthalates Factsheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Apr. 2017, www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/phthalates_factsheet.html.

[3] “Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet.

[4] “Health Problems Caused by Lead.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 June 2018, www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/lead/health.html.


Author: Katrina Harren

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"I created &Sunny because I was intimidated by many of the products out there. I believe women's wellness should be simple - most of our base ingredients can be found in your home pantry."

Rachelle Slotnick, Founder of &Sunny