We all know that we can (and must) do something more for the planet. And that there are several things we can do other than the obvious recycling. 

A lady’s makeup bag is her lifeline. But we can always opt for better alternatives to the ones inside our makeup bag. The toxic chemicals that you put on your face every day are not only bad for your skin but the planet as well.

Toxic chemicals in your favorite eye and face makeup


BAK is a preservative found in makeup removers, mascaras, and eyeliners. A study found that it is toxic to the epithelial cells of the eyes. 

Epithelial cells are essential in keeping dust, fluids, and bacteria out of our eyes. Also, they make the surface of the cornea smooth enough to absorb oxygen and cell nutrients from tears.

BAK is listed under various names such as:

Ethanolamine Compounds 

Ethanolamines have nitrosamines that contain cancer-causing contaminants. You can tell if certain products have ethanolamines if their ingredients have letters with DEA, TEA, and MEA.

Ethanolamines are found in cosmetics such as:

  • Eyeliners
  • Eye shadows
  • Mascaras
  • Makeup bases and 
  • Foundations

Carbon Black

Carbon Black is a powder present in eyeshadow, mascaras, and eyeliners. It has been linked to organ system toxicity and cancer. 

Its particles are often coated with other chemicals, which makes it even more dangerous to you and the environment. 

It will show up on the label as:

  • Lamp black
  • Furnace black 
  • Thermal black
  • Channel black 


Parabens are one of the most widely used preservatives not only found in food and pharmaceutical products but in cosmetics as well. However, since they are absorbed through our skin, they can easily find their way into the bloodstream. 

Parabens are classified as a group of EDCs or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. EDCs are linked to early puberty, reproductive toxicity, and breast cancer. 

You can spot EDCs on labels with ingredients that have the suffix “-paraben” such as isobutylparaben and propylparaben. 

Aluminum Powder

Aluminum powder is often used in cosmetics as a colorant. It gives eye makeup its white color or hue. 

That said, aluminum is a known neurotoxin linked to organ system toxicity. In powder form, aluminum is a dangerous fire hazard

Cosmetic brands often list aluminum powder in their products with names such as pigment metal and LB Pigment 5. 

Retinyl Palmitate or Retinyl Acetate

Found in anti-aging eye creams and face creams, two forms of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate, have been linked to reproductive toxicity and cancer.

You should avoid cosmetics with Vitamin A even if you don’t have dry eyes.

Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-releasers

Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are linked to allergic reactions and cancer. Other names of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasers are DMDM hydantoin & urea and quaternium-15. 

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide or TiO2 in most sunscreen labels is completely safe. But when in powder form and inhaled, it may cause cancer

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals such as chrome and nickel are found in all types of makeup, even the expensive types. They are found in makeup brushes and used to create that green or metallic shadow effect. 

Heavy metals are toxic to the human body and have been linked to brain damage. Inhalation of nickel dust particles has been associated with respiratory concerns and lung cancer

Moreover, 17% of women are allergic to nickel. Allergic reactions often cause dry, itchy eyelids, watery blisters, and red skin rash. 

What’s alarming about heavy metals in cosmetics is that they’re often a contaminant of other products. You also won’t find them listed on some labels. 

How to avoid using makeup with toxic chemicals

Read Labels Carefully

Whenever possible, choose makeup that has the fewest ingredients. Just because the label in the product says it’s “natural” or “hypoallergenic” doesn’t always mean it’s safe.

Avoid Waterproof Makeup

Waterproofing in cosmetics often involves using toxic chemicals. Eyeliners and mascaras that are labeled “waterproof” are known to cause dry eye disease. 

Use Healthier Alternatives

There are many healthier alternatives to makeup with toxic chemicals. For instance, you can:

  • Opt for an organic cream foundation that’s USDA approved. In particular, the Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation is a cruelty-free, vegan beauty product that uses recycled packaging.
  • Use mascara with a mix of black iron mineral pigments and 100% pure Argan oil. The Argan Black Oil Mascara from Josie Maran is a great example. The product doesn’t contain paraben, sulfate, gluten, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrance, etc.
  • Choose an eyeliner with healthier ingredients such as shea butter, marula oil, vitamin E, and jojoba oil. The Creamy Long Last Liner from 100% Pure is one of the best natural eyeliners on the market. It may be a bit costly, but the quality is worth every cent.
  • Use coconut oil as a makeup remover. Just put a small amount on a cotton swab and wipe. By the way, you can do a bit more for the planet if you use Last Object’s cotton reusable makeup rounds instead.

Convert to an eco-friendly makeup bag to protect yourself and the planet

As a woman, looking your best is a top priority. But you can do so without harming yourself and the planet. Avoid cosmetics with toxic chemicals and go for healthier alternatives. Converting your makeup bag into an eco-friendly one is your first step to becoming a cruelty-free, environment-friendly advocate on skincare.