Which chemicals are used in Cosmetics?


Chemicals help to maintain a product for a longer time. The biggest problem today is that some companies are using low-quality products and lots of chemicals. Moreover, the quality of cosmetics has dropped drastically because of the increase in demand. Let us look at some of the commonly used chemicals in cosmetics and other beauty products; and how they affect our health.


ALS-Ammonium lauryl sulphat -Ammonium lauryl sulphate is used in liquids to prevent surface tension. This chemical is also used in products like bathing products, shampoos, cleansing agents, etc. The ALS contains low acute toxicity as well as irritants to eyes.

  1. Talc

Talc is one of the most common components used in almost all cosmetics. Talc is used in cosmetics like concealers, powders, eyeshadows, etc. This clay mineral has a composition of hydrated magnesium silicate. Companies use talc as a lubricant and thickening agent.

  1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is used in various personal care products and cosmetics; and, it is found in nail polish removers, nail polish, liquid hand soaps, toothpaste, moisturizers, etc. Formaldehyde is mixed in minimal amounts in such products. It is a chemical that helps in the prevention of bacterial growth. People who use too much formaldehyde are prone to skin irritation, nasopharyngeal, and nasal cancer.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most common ingredients you will find when you buy perfumes. One of the main reasons why this is used is to prevent moisture from escaping the bottle. You may also find fatty alcohol in products like cleansing agents and detergents. Alcohol also helps in the reduction of the thickness of the liquid.

  1. Lanolin

Lanolin is derived from the sebaceous gland of sheep and is a very thick substance. It is used as a thickening agent. Sometimes it is also used as an emulsion for binding various cosmetic products. You will find this chemical in different nail head and skin products.

  1. Waxes or mineral oil

Another common chemical that is missed in different cosmetic products is mineral oil or waxes. The main ingredients would include patrolatum, paraffin wax, paraffin oil, etc.

  1. Paraben

Paraben is another commonly used chemical in almost all beauty products. From moisturizers to even mascara, manufacturing companies use this chemical in nearly everything. It also contains estrogen-mimicking properties, which can trigger excessive cell division. Parabens act as preservatives and help to keep the product germ-free and fresh. Excessive use of paraben can result in problems to the reproductive system, immune system, nervous system, and, in some cases, even breast cancer.

  1. Heavy Metals

The use of heavy metals like nickel, cobalt, mercury, lead, etc. is common in the beauty industry. In many products, there has been a high composition of chrome, nickel, and lead. These substances are not considered as ingredients but are termed as contaminates. The use of heavy metals can result in miscarriages, lung cancer, and even brain damage.

  1. Sulphates

When there is a mix of sulphuric acid with any other chemical, the reaction forms a salt called sulphate. It is also produced from various plant sources like palm and coconut oil or petroleum. When derived from natural sources like palm oil, the production of sulphate possess a threat to the environment, especially the rainforests. Sulphate is used for lathering purposes as it acts like surfactants. The excessive use of sulphate can lead to skin and eye irritation.

  1. Phthalates

Also known as plasticizing chemicals or salts. Phthalates are used in cosmetics to improve the spreadability factor. It is commonly found in lotions, perfumes, nail polishes, etc. You can also find this in shampoos and other such hair care products. Excessive use of phthalates can result in the development and reproductive problems.

  1. Synthetic colours

Synthetic colours are often derived from coal tar or petroleum. Coal tar is made from water, carbon, and hydrocarbons. The liquid is viscous, dark and thick and has a peculiar smell. Coal tar is used mostly in eyeshadows. Synthetic colours can result in medical conditions and problems like ADHD, breakouts, acne, cancer, skin irritation, etc.

  1. Fragrance

Almost every product will have an aroma of its’ own, and they carry a mixture of chemicals. These chemicals often lead to health conditions like skin allergies or skin problems, respiratory disorders, and even affect the reproductive system. Fragrances can also be one of the potential reasons behind cancer as it carries cancer-causing agents.

  1. Toluene

The petrochemical solvent that you find in most nail polishes and hair dyes is called toluene. These chemicals are dangerous for the overall immunity of the body. It also poses a risk for pregnant women. It is essential to refrain from using nail polish or hair dyes as it can even pose a threat to the fetus’s overall development.

  1. Lead

Although lead comes under heavy metals, it is still one of the most commonly used chemicals. You will lead in almost every cosmetic there is today from whitening toothpaste to foundation, eye-liners, lipsticks, etc. It is used in colorants that are added to the cosmetic products. We are already exposed to it through our water, food, and air, as derived from the earth’s crust.