Are Your Skincare Products Toxic? Makeup and Cosmetics

Are your skincare products toxic? Makeup and cosmetics.

by Chris Kresser

Last updated on

Is your makeup increasing your toxic burden? Find out which common chemicals found in cosmetics you might want to avoid.

Last month, we talked about why you might want to rethink some of the soaps, shampoos, and lotions you use, and I gave you a rundown of some of the most frequently used chemicals in those products that might be harmful.

Many of those ingredients, including phthalates, parabens, and triclosan, are also found in makeup and other beauty products, along with a whole host of additional chemicals. In this article, I’ll cover some of the major ingredients in cosmetics to try and avoid, and of course, some more natural products that you can use instead.

PEG Compounds

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds are almost always found on lists of “cosmetic chemicals to avoid,” but most research indicates that they don’t penetrate the skin and they’re actually quite safe. The problem is that, like SLS and other cosmetic additives, they’re frequently contaminated with chemicals that are harmful, such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. (1)

The FDA does not regulate the level of 1,4-dioxane in consumer products, and although they recommend that companies perform a manufacturing step to remove the dioxane from their products, it’s not required by law. (2) Studies have shown that dioxane can penetrate the skin (albeit in small amounts), and toxicity studies have branded it as a potential carcinogen.

Are the ingredients in your makeup making you sick?

Additionally, some PEG compounds can enhance the penetration of other chemicals through the skin, which is problematic considering how many other chemicals are found in personal care products.

Heavy Metals

Speaking of contaminants, make-up and cosmetic products are also frequently contaminated with heavy metals. One study conducted in Helsinki tested 88 eyeshadows for heavy metals, and 75% of the colors tested contained at least 5ppm of one or more heavy metals. (3) The highest levels of cobalt and nickel they found were 41 and 49 ppm, respectively, and the highest level of chromium was nearly 5500ppm, with two other products near 2500 ppm. The highest value for lead was 16.8ppm, but luckily most values were much lower.

Lipsticks also frequently contain lead, which is concerning because although inorganic lead is not readily absorbed by the skin, you’ll probably swallow small amounts of it. (4, 5) Lead exposure from lipstick is considered below the “safe limit,” but I believe the less lead you ingest, the better.

Some metals, such as chromium VI (as opposed to chromium III, which is a vital trace mineral), are purposefully added as colorants in cosmetics. Unfortunately, Cr(VI) is more absorbable by the skin than Cr(III), and it’s often found in eye shadow, where it’s in contact with the extremely thin skin around the eye. (6) It has also been detected in eye shadow in toy make-up kits, where potential for harm is much greater because it’s being used on children.

A recent survey of a variety of cosmetic products by the USDA found low median values for the heavy metals tested (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, and nickel), but the wide variation seen between brands and products and overall lack of regulation is concerning, because you can never quite be sure what you’re being exposed to. (7)

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are another class of potentially harmful chemicals found in many cosmetics. There’s no data on the dermal absorption of formaldehyde from cosmetics, but one small study suggests that exposure due to inhalation – the primary mode of exposure for formaldehyde – from personal care products is low. (8) Even so, formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, and formaldehyde in cosmetics is a common cause of contact dermatitis. (9) In the US, about 20% of all cosmetics and personal care products contain some type of formaldehyde-releasing preservative. (10)


Some evidence indicates that siloxanes can mimic estrogen and otherwise interfere with reproduction and the endocrine system, and large amounts administered to mice cause fatal liver and lung damage. (11) Studies have generally found the skin absorption to be low, but the study authors point out that given the interactions between siloxanes and other chemicals found in personal care products, actual absorption might be higher than predicted. (12)

Siloxanes are also very volatile, so inhalation is another relevant route of exposure. Additionally, they have relatively long half-lives in humans, so the small amounts that are absorbed might not be degraded or eliminated right away. (13)

TEA, Tetrasodium EDTA, and Other Preservatives

Triethanolamine (TEA) shows some carcinogenic potential in animal tests, and can react with other cosmetic ingredients to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. (14) Manufacturers are advised to not use TEA compounds in conjunction with other reactants that can form nitrosamines, but we already know the regulation of cosmetics is loose. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, 89% of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety. (15)

Tetrasodium EDTA is a preservative that is genotoxic and cytotoxic in animal studies using high oral dosing, but the main concern is probably its ability to increase dermal absorption of other chemicals. (16) Other cytotoxic and genotoxic preservatives found in cosmetics include phenoxyethanol, ethylhexyl glycerine, and benzoyl alcohol. (17)

Hair Dye

It can be easy to forget, but your scalp is part of your skin too. The potential link between hair dye and cancer has gotten a decent amount of media attention, and one review cites associations between hair dye use and various types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, acute leukemia, and bladder cancer. (18)

On the other hand, a meta-analysis conducted in 2005 did not conclude that hair dye use is a strong risk factor for cancer, and anyway, we all know how harmful it can be to put too much stock in epidemiological associations. (19) Even so, animal studies have shown that certain components of hair dye, particularly those derived from coal tar, have mutagenic and carcinogenic potential. (20)

What should I use instead?

One option is always to just forego cosmetics altogether. Many people find that emphasizing a nutrient-dense, whole-foods diet improves their skin quality and overall appearance, and might discover that they don’t want to use as much makeup as they used to.

But for those who still enjoy using makeup and other cosmetics, there are plenty of good resources. Some sources for non-toxic makeup and cosmetics include 100% Pure, Primal Life Organics, Alima Pure, and Aubrey Organics. A popular choice for natural hair dye is henna, which is a plant dye with a long history of use. Henna for Hair is a good resource to get started.

I’m definitely not an expert on hair dye or makeup, so if you have a favorite non-toxic product, please share in the comments! Thanks for reading.


Join the conversation

  1. I’d love to get your opinion on a new company that is launching microbiome-friendly skin care line in February, TruAura Beauty. I tried the skin care line that you use, Annmarie, and I like that it is safe and very enjoyable to use. I think this new company’s products are less expensive, just as safe, but are far more innovative and will deliver results that Annmarie’s cannot. I thought you would be able to speak to the microbiome of the skin, and how important it is to not damage it, but rather to nurture it. You are my “go to” resource for research and analysis, so I value your opinion. I’ve been sharing your latest book with friends and family, including a med school student.

  2. Great article… The more information that’s out there the better it is for people to understand that the lack of regulation is a problem. I have a friend who son was diagnosed with stage 4AML leukemia it was completely environmental. To become informed is the best. I became involved with beautycounter because of cancer & Alzheimer’s in my family- I lost my father 10 months ago & my mother last week to these diseases. I’m going to try to do everything possible to prevent them from happening to my family. Beautycounter is taking on Washington DC to change regulations and they refuse to use 1500 ingredients in their products. They are one of the only beauty companies that is taking this action- proud to be a part of the mission!

  3. Please take a look at POOFY ORGANICS. This company is USDA certified organic and makes all products by hand. Many many vegan options. They are AMAZING and the ingredients are absolutely the safest. They have a complete cosmetic line personal care line and home products. I know others blame to be, but…read labels research INDIVIDUAL ingredients and compare yourself. If you want to recommend a safe company…this is it.

    • I am a presenter, yuppie had a detailed list of all the ingredients available for anyone to look at. They are natural based products, even vegan would you like to browse and find it more ?

    • You have to look at the ingredients. And they still use mineral oils in some products which is a derivative of gasoline. Yum. 🙁 But I guess they count petroleum as “all natural”. Just toxic. I bought the cream eye shadow before I realized it had garbage in it 🙁

      • I can appreciate your concern. I am so happy that you took the time to look at my website. I’m very proud to say that any harmful substances are few and far between and very limited to certain products for reasons I can’t explain but trust, which only some colors contain mineral oil and it’s a small amount, it’s hard to find actual harmful substances in Younique products. I will say that there are a TON of companies that the majority of the makeup obsessed populous flock to, that are chalk full of nasty stuff. In my VERY humble opinion, the few products we have that contain ingredients that are minuscule, in chemical content, compared to the disgusting big box brands that you can’t even find the ingredients on even with extensive research, are far more harmful even if they LOOK pretty. For now I’ll say that I’m still 100% proud that we are still naturally based and cruelty free. Some things can’t be gotten around for the sake of the quality of color or consistency and time (even though we exceed the highest standard in the world no matter what market in which we are distributed) but you can bet that you’ll find a complete list DIRECTLY under each product. Nothing will ever be hidden and the company is doing a damn good job just starting out their 5th year by housing thousands and thousands of women at the retreat that the makeup was created for in the first place. Knock it if you want but I can tell you and anyone else interested that my skin has never been more clear and my scars from childhood acne have never been so small as they have been since I started wearing Younique makeup last March 2016. To this date the actual only complaint I’ve had was the second formula mascara, but that has been a full year in the re-making and it’s now even better than the first and second formula combined. It’s now available for purchase with any presenter.

          • My skincare products are non toxic, I’m very proud to be a Younique presenter. I’ve had cystic acne and huge pores and scars my whole life but the last year that I’ve been using Younique products, even inconsistently sometimes, my skin has naturally improved to the point I don’t even need to wear my foundation all the time. If you’d like to get in contact with me personally I can show you my results. All of my Ysister’s have had the same outcome. Our modules are, nature, love, science, and uplift validate and empower. I’ll never go back to another product. Even if I don’t sell it anymore. It’s the only thing I’ve ever been able to consistently trust.

          • And phenoxyethanol and dimethicone and other not so great ingredients. ? In defense of the mentioned company, they don’t advertise as all natural/chemical/toxin-free, they are “naturally based” which makes a big difference if you are looking for toxin-free.

            • I will also say since using Younique products I have never had such a bad reaction on my face as I have wish this makeup line. I won’t be using any of the foundation/skincare again because of the dryness, burning and breakouts I’ve been experiencing since starting it. Nontoxic…seems anything but.

  4. Hi Chris,
    I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll find this and throw me a ray of hope. I’ve been following you for a long time. I used Interfase Plus at 2 caps a day for 3-4 days, and on one day took 4 caps. I was clearing up a sinus infection. I then found out I was just 4 weeks pregnant. Should I be worried about the EDTA in the interfase plus at that dose having any effects on the baby?
    I am trying to put my mind at ease.
    Thanks, even if you have time for just a sentence, it would make a big difference.

  5. I’m allergic to nickel, gold, formaldehyde, ragweed, and fragrance. I need new make up including moisturizer and cleanser. I need to wear makeup to hide facial hair issues. Please help. I need some names so I can try them.

    • Brautycounter has the strictest testing standards for heavy metals and toxins in the country and quite possibly the world. We ban the 11 toxins banned in the US as well as the 1400+ toxins banned in Europe and then we also ban a few hundred more that have never been tasted for human use. I would love to help you please feel free to call me at 303-518-2151 or email me at [email protected]. My website is

    • Pure Haven Essentials is a fabulous company with a brand new make up line, beauty spa line, childrens products, cleaning products, and more! They just added essential oils to their line. 100% of their products are made in house, in small batches to gaurantee freshness. All orders go out within two days! Excellent customer service! Check them out!

  6. black chicken remedies does some natural non toxic skincare cleansers etc…pricey but definitely notice a difference…I also like Weleda. 100% pure does a black tea mascara.

    A website called the nourished life look into and sell non toxic vegan ethical skincare products-worthy of a look

  7. Beautycounter! Beautiful Products. Made Safe. Beautycounter’s goal is not necessarily all-organic or all-natural (although they try when they can!) but instead they strive for all-safe! Over 1500 ingredients (and growing!) they will not use. All color products tested for heavy metals before and after manufacturing. See their NeverList to get an idea of what they consider the worst offenders.

    • I second that!! Beautycounter products are not only safe but perform wonderfully! No need to sacrifice health for beauty!

    • I was not impressed with Beautycounter. For all their hype about safety, they still use some questionable ingredients and are really overpriced. You are better off using coconut oil or just making your own.

  8. A while back, you mentioned in a podcast that some facility has been doing cancer research using ALA/Low-dose Naltrexone for treatment of a few types of cancers. In the podcast, it was not clear which institute you referenced (not entirely clear on the name), but it may have been the New Mexico Institute of Integrated Health. Now I can find neither the original podcast, nor information on finding an institution that is using this therapy for treatment of cancer, but I would love to. Can you provide further information on this topic?

  9. Hi just wondering if anyone has tried teva skin care, I can’t seem to find any rating on it as to whether it’s safe.hoping someone can help.

  10. I recently discovered just pure minerals cosmetics ( and I love their products. The best part is you can get samples of everything before you buy the full size products. For skin care, I just started using Arbonne and I really like it. I have dabbled with making my own stuff too. I have also used Fatface skin care and their deodorant and I have been very happy with that line also (pricey though). The downside of Fatface is that it is made in small batches so it takes a while to get your order (of course I ordered on black Friday so that may be why).

  11. Can anyone tell me how to go about getting the FDA to stop allowing these products to destroy our skin and environment??? This is ridiculous

    • Start by voting with your dollars and only buying safe products from a B Corp Co like Beautycounter-a B Corp means the company is not just for profit but for the people and the Environment. Also write to your Congress. Don’t buy shampoo, body wash, sunscreen, make up etc that has not been tested for safer including heavy metal testing which is often not done. Hope this helps

      • Beautycounter execs are lobbying to get all harmful chemicals out of ALL products, including toothpastes, laundry detergents, cosmetics, diapers, baby oil…etc…

  12. I confess I don’t worry too much about make-up ingredients since I only use makeup about 1-2 times a year. A year when I wear makeup 3-4 times would be a *big* makeup year for me. 🙂

    I confess that I did dye my hair for years when I started noticing gray coming in in my early 30s. But I’m in my early 60s now and have gotten less worried, and in fact feeling that hair without gray at my age is too “fake” looking! I finally dyed my hair for the last time about a year ago. I’m surprised it’ s still about the same shade of blonde it was when I dyed it, but with white around the temples. My natural color is light enough that the blonde and the white sort of blend in together. So far I like how it looks. 🙂

  13. thanks for all of this info Doc and reader! I am trying to find new organic products for my hard to control skin. Great timing!

    • I am so happy with the Mindful Minerals skin care products! They are made with all organic ingredients and do not include any of the dirty dozen toxins. Not only do they not have the toxins, they are packed with 35 minerals from the Dead Sea that actually pull bio accumulated chemicals and toxins from the body. They are Mindful of your health and body and Mindful of your budget, this line is affordable. They are safe from baby to grandma! Check out and use the coupon code save10 and get 10$ off of your order. Cheers to being Mindful!

  14. VersaCleanse is the absolute best cleanser for acne, aging and normal to dry skin. It has AHA/BHA acids, Witch Hazel, Aloe and Green Tea. It has the acids to do the job but it also hydrates the skin and smells amazing. This facewash is my absolute favorite! I would recommend to apply HylaSilk, an HA serum to your skin that will help hydrate, reduce inflammation, reduce TEWL and plump your skin. My two favorite products from this natural, paraben free, medical grade skincare line. You can purchase it at select physician offices or online at

    • Hi Sandra, I would recommend looking into the ingredients in Arbonne. I don’t know about current ingredients, but I know when a friend started selling it 5 years ago I looked into using it and the ingredients were no better than Clinique, Estee Lauder, etc which they advertise to be superior to.

    • Please research Arbonne. Until recently they would not provide ingredient lists. They do have toxins even in their baby products. The skin is the largest organ of the body. You should try and only put on your skin what is safe to ingest by mouth.

    • I use Skin Medica, but I don’t think it falls under the “natural” category! I used their Lytera product for skin lightening. I think it helped a little, and it doesn’t have that hydro-something ingredient that causes cancer.

      I currently use their retinol complex every night. It has made my skin softer and brighter. Natural, though? Probably not.

      • Hi Jen, thx for comment. It may not qualify as “natural” but Ive heard is an amazing brand and right now I’m down to go and try their skin line since I have tried many others, from expensive brands to homemade products, coconut oil, holistic brands and haven’t ha much luck. I was only into natal ingredients which is good if your skin works with that.My naturopath told me that your skin tends to be more acidic when only using natural products, it is ok for science and nature to blend, to not be to extreme on using only once side or the other.

  15. I can understand people using moisturiser etc, but WHY makeup? A bare face is beautiful, but a layer of paint on top of it? Nu-uh. And don’t think that just a little makeup isn’t obvious – it is. Except to those that are not very observant I suppose. I just feel it is such a shame how so many have been so influenced by media and peers to think that they need to wear makeup. Naked faces are so much more attractive than those wearing a mask.

    • Not everybody has a beautiful naked face. I have a condition called melasma, which is basically symmetrical brown patches on my cheekbones. I can’t tell you how many people used to tell me, “I think you have dirt on your face” — until I went to Sephora and learned how to use foundation. Now I don’t get those comments.

      And who appointed you arbiter of what is and isn’t attractive, anyway? Live and let live.

      • I have melasma too due to hormone inbalance, Im working To balance them and even tough I don’t like to wear foundation sometimes I do to ” hide” it a little bit, I understand it can be embarrassing when people stare at your skin when talking to you- at the same time I want a light tinted sunscreen as natural as possible cos adding up foundation on my skin won’t fix the problem either.

        • I use Elta MD SPF 41. It has a slight tint. It’s pretty light and is mineral-based, which is what you should be using (zinc and titanium oxide). I actually don’t like the tint, so I’m going to try another one of their products next time.

    • Cosmetics did not just spring up over the past 100 years thanks to media. Cosmetics has been used going back all the way to ancient Egypt. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to throw on some eye shadow. It is just another way to express yourself and your personality.

  16. skincare is 100% chemical free, 85% organic and 100% awesome. It was created by Lisa Strong, a professional film & tv makeup artist in Vancouver, BC. She created this skincare (which is 85% organic) to treat skin at the cellular level. It goes beyond most skincare to actually feed skin with super antioxidant plant based extracts. It is amazing skincare and affordable. All of the ingredients are avail on the website. But you can also look up Aiona Alive and other products on the Think Dirty app which is free in the app store (iOS). It includes a scanner so you can scan the barcode of your products and it will list out the toxins / irritants with a 1-10 warning (10 being most toxic). You’d be surprised at how many so called “healthy” products are dirty. Aiona Alive rates #1. Don’t be fooled by companies that greenwash their products.

    • Hi! Im in search of a face moisturizer, which one would you recommend? I had oily skin and even tough I still get pimples mostly due to stress ( neck area), my skin type is more dry now.
      Thank you!

  17. My sister introduced to me this brand a year ago. I was a little bit skeptical. Finally, I bought a set of Lumiere de vie skincare to try out. I noticed that my skin tone is brighter, the lines around my mouth and my eyes are fading after 2 weeks using these. What I heard about this company is they invest money in research the product and gives best to the customers.

  18. Great article, Chris! Good to hit on this after the skincare products one. I was especially intrigued to learn that the eyelid skin is so vulnerable. Another good reason not to overdo it on the eyeshadow every morning (aside from the aesthetic reasons). I noticed you didn’t mention microparticles, which may be another issue in cosmetics – modern technology can grind some of these mineral powders so fine that it’s much easier for the particles to enter cells. Have you heard of this? I believe this is an issue with some of the mineral powder foundations, though not all. If I recall correctly, microparticles are also used for some sunscreens. People have actually used mineral powders for beauty and/or sun protection for thousands of years, though, such as in Ancient Egypt and Rome. Even elephants put clay and muddy water on themselves as a natural sunscreen. Some of the ancient makeups contained lead, of course, but others may have been quite safe – they probably lacked the ability to grind it up so fine. I think historically they would have also been suspended in an oil for preservation, which could affect the absorption. Anyway, I agree that minimizing use is best, especially when it comes to foundation-type makeups that are intended to go on the whole face or neck area. If I am going to wear foundation I put on plain oil first to moisturize and form a barrier between the makeup and my skin. People who wear theatrical makeups on a semi-regular basis should probably be extra careful to let their skin rest in between.

    Also, let me say that I LOVE the Henna for Hair website. I’ve been hennaing my hair for a few years now and found that site some time before I started. It’s so informative and contains information on how to manipulate the colors of henna. Interestingly, unlike chemical hairdyes which break down the protein structure of hair, henna pigments actually bind the keratin portion of hair in a way that strengthens it. It’s true that the colors achieved with natural dying take more time to build, but I believe they give a nicer, more natural looking color effect even if the shade you are doing is unnatural, like using indigo to get blue or blue-black. There’s a variety of other plants that contain strong dyes as well, like beets. The biggest challenge in natural hair dying is lightening very dark hair. Any hair can be lightened slightly by sunlight, especially with the help of acid like lemon juice, but it doesn’t give a very strong effect for naturally black or dark brown hair. Chamomile may also be used to lighten hair in this way. It is necessary to make sure the plant extracts are of good quality and not adulterated, of course, but many health food stores have some of these henna based mixes now.

    I think it’s great to get this info out there because for many people who wear makeup, it’s a hobby they really enjoy and they like to express their personality through this form of dress-up. That’s a totally normal human urge and people are quite attached to it, so sometimes when they hear “Oh makeup is toxic” they feel insulted or think they can’t feel pretty and dressed up anymore if they want to avoid these threats. I wish people knew it didn’t have to be one way or the other! It’s possible to be made up and adorned without poisoning yourself. Just takes a little paradigm shift. 🙂

    • Sorry, but far from natural and non-harmful chemicals. Check these ingredients out, they rate 3 or higher at : Propylene Glycol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Diazolidinyl Urea, Petrolatum, Dimethicone This was just quickly looking at a few products!

  19. I have been using Keys Soap products for years. Gluten Free, vegan and chemical free sun block, shampoo, lotions and cosmetics. Products for pets too.

  20. Beautycounter is another fabulous company that is fairly new. All of their final samples are sent to a third party testing facility to search for any background contaminates. Products are sent out for testing twice a year. You can find their products ranked low on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Guide. Check them out!

    • Beautycounter is the only USA company to screen for Heavy Metals. Our number one mission is pushing Lawmakers to put in place legislation governing the transparency of chemicals in ALL personal care products that are produced and sold to the consumer. We believe everyone has the right to know Everything that is in their products.

    • Environmental working group (e w g) is a great source for finding out how skin care products rate for toxicity. They rate over 70,000 products.

  21. Chris,

    Great article… We live in a sea of chemicals today…

    I just featured an excellent documentary called Unacceptable Levels in a recent post called The Toxic Assault of Modern Life…

    Important voices like yours help educate people to make changes by replacing one product, then another, then another… and with each small step they’ll be changing the small world they live in, and doing their part to the change the big world we live in.

    Thank you!!

  22. I am so happy with the Mindful Minerals skin care products! They are made with all organic ingredients and do not include any of the dirty dozen toxins. Not only do they not have the toxins, they are packed with 35 minerals from the Dead Sea that actually pull bio accumulated chemicals and toxins from the body. They are Mindful of your health and body and Mindful of your budget, this line is affordable. They are safe from baby to grandma! Check out and use the coupon code save10 and get 10$ off of your order. Cheers to being Mindful!

    • Sorry, Aveda is no longer organic. The company was purchased by Estee Lauder a number of years ago and now are full of the same chemicals found in Estee Lauder cosmetics and skincare. They only kept the Aveda scent. Check out the ingredients list on the hair and skin products.

  23. I would love to go the route of safer cosmetics, but they’re unfortunately very expensive. I’d love to see an article about the top 5 or 10 safest commercial cosmetics.

  24. Many of the so called organic products still unfortunately have junk ingredients. It’s great Chris mentioned Primal Life Oragnics as their products are not filled with water (as many of the others are) plus all the ingredients are actually stuff so healthy you can eat it. All of PLO products on EWG are 0-1 rated so make the best decision for you and your family!

    • Hi! I checked out the website and products. They are lovely and healthy, but the prices are pretty high. Is there any samples, discounts, codes to use to buy their products for the 1st time? I don’t mind paying a bit more than commercial brands if I like the product and is healthy for my skin , just for the 1st time I try them, id like it more affordable.
      Thank you 🙂

  25. I love Marie Veronique skin care products and tinted sunscreen instead of make-up. I also really like Vapour Organics & Alima Pure for make-up options.

  26. The goal of Beautycounter, a Santa Monica based skincare company is to change the safety standards of the cosmetics industry in the United States. Beautycounter is focused on creating products that will make you feel perfectly primed for your day, but it’s mission is to educate first!

  27. Hi everyone! I would encourage you to check out Ava Anderson Non Toxic – it is a fairly new company and is a line of truly non-toxic personal care products. I am a consultant and would be happy to answer any questions. Please don’t be turned off if you are not a fan of direct sales companies. I’d encourage you to really take a look at the ingredients – I think you will be very pleasantly surprised!

    Here is a recent radio interview with Ava Anderson (and her Mom, Kim, who helps run the company) that is worth the listen.

    Please feel free to visit my website at

  28. I’m on the board of EWG, of a non-profit seeks to help consumers, lawmakers and corporations understand the intersection between the environment and our health. Our incredibly user friendly SKIN DEEP DATABASE rates over 70,000 personal care products based on their ingredients. You can use the database to search products you are already using to see how safe they are and you can also search by category to see a list of well-rated products (the lower the score the safer the product) in that category. We also have an ap that you can download and use to scan a barcode right in the store to see how a product rates. There really are a lot of companies out there working hard to make safe products.

    • Glad you posted. I was going to mention Environmental Working Group’s skin deep. It is such a valuable resource and essential for consumers.

      Chris, thank you for another thoughtful, relevant article.

    • I am so encouraged to know that the Skin Deep issue was shared. I am surprised that the author overlooked the extensive work by the Environmental Working Group, which I consider leaders in the area of cosmetics and toxins. As a nurse, I am aware of the bioaccumulation of toxins in our body. The body burden toxin load impacts each newborn, as evidenced on cord -blood sampling. Before life choices are made for an individuals, we are already polluted at the gestational phase of life. For more on cord-blood

  29. We do need to be careful about chemicals we put on our skin and I appreciate this article. Something not mentioned in your articles is some information about how to do yoga and stretching without damaging the joints. I was injured doing yoga over 20 years ago and as a bodyworker and yogi, I began to question many of the linear poses that require one to distort the natural functions of our joints. I created a new way to do yoga that actually improves your posture by balancing the tensional forces in your body. When posture is aligned, health improves dramatically. However many people who practice yoga are unaware that people are getting injured and some are even getting hip replacement surgeries from the laxity that occurs by passive stretching of the joints. Go to for more information and learn about YogAlign, a new way to do yoga with a focus on aligning, not contorting. Also here is an article from the New York Times concerning these injuries.

    • Criss you are doing a great job of informing the public!
      I only use Longa Henna…mix it up with water…they have some neat colors and I use several…Let it sit for a few hours, while I work out!!! Prepare your hair. leave on for 3 hours or less, wrap in plastic….
      Suma G Nathan
      Certified Registered Holistic Nutritionist
      Certified Chinese Herbologist
      Holistic Health Practioneer, pioneering since the 1960″s

      • I wanted to alert those of you considering henna to be aware that some brands are made with toxic chemicals that have had serious health impacts. More information on brands that are safe is needed. Note the FDA warning says that black henna is potentially harmful. That’s because the black hair dye often contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient that can cause dangerous skin reactions in some people. For more on this topic,

  30. Hi everybody! thank you so much for all the valuable info Chris. I have a question for the readers. Have you used any of the line products Chris recommends? I recently trashed all my beauty make up, powder, mascara,etc since I was using commercial crappy brands and would like to hear from anybody that has already used any of the brands recommended above to start using them.
    Thank you,

    • 100% pure is great quality makeup and totally pure, as per it’s name-as in made of ingredients such a fruit dyes, natural oils and waxes.
      Aubrey organics is not great quality in my opinion.
      I do not know the other two brands Chris mentioned but I can mention some other all natural makeup brands that are great: Pacifica, ilia, rms and vapour. Lush makes great natural cosmetics as well and seem to be adding a lot of new makeup items to their collection lately. Also, you might want to check out a website called the, which carries a number of high-performance organic makeup brands.

    • I forgot to mention BITE cosmetics (sold at sephora believe it or not!) produces a wide array of beautiful lip products (lipsticks, glosses, lip liners) and their ingredients are totally pure; they are considered “food grade” lipsticks.

    • I like Real Purity and 100% Pure.

      You can also easily make some skincare products yourself.
      I use tamanu oil and rice bran to clean and exfoliate my face.
      Plant hydrosols make good toners.
      Various plant oils applied while your face is still moist from the toner make great moisturizers. My personal favorite is hemp oil.

    • I use the 100% pure body butters, nail polish, and shampoo/conditioner. Love it all. The nail polish is water based and free from the top 10 toxins in nail polish. It wears very well and there are many colors to choose from. My mascara I get from rms and I love, love Dr. Alkaitis for face wash, toner, moisturizer and eye cream. All organic. You could eat it. I am very happy with the switch I have made. Oh, and I order my lipstick and lipgloss from hemp organics.

  31. Suzanne Somers carries a great organic, nontoxic makeup, shampoo, etc. I have used them for several years. They are really great. She has a website.

  32. The Benedetta line of skin care products is absolutely wonderful, all organic 100% farm sourced botanical skin care I have been using their products for 5 years and wouldn’t consider switching! They are a small local company out of Sonoma County (Petaluma), Julia Faller the owner is great and if you have any questions or concerns just send her an email and she will get right back to you.

  33. I love “Juice Beauty” cosmetics, skin care, hair care products.Sold on their website, on Amazon and some of them at Whole Foods. All organic and natural. The Dr. Haushka products actually have some ingredients that I know ewg doesn’t approve of.

  34. Great read! Here in Alberta, Canada we have a great natural product line Rocky Mountain Soap Co. I have been using their soaps, body butters, and body wash for quite some time and have just recently started using their shampoo and conditioner products after reading the ingredient list of my salon product shampoo and conditioner. I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients which couldn’t be good for me. My skin and hair feel great and I feel more confident that I am taking control of the load of toxins I had been putting on my body.
    Thanks for more insight!

  35. Going to natural cosmetic products has been a non-starter for me. They just don’t look as good, don’t stay on as long, and often feel tacky and sticky. (The Avalon Organics vitamin C face lotion with SPF is the WORST.)

    Hair dye is difficult, too. As one commenter said, if you have a lot of gray, henna can turn your hair a very weird, brassy red/orange. Also, henna doesn’t dye your hair blonde.

    I’ve tried the natural stuff from Whole Foods and my experience was that it didn’t cover the grays at all. So I just keep using my L’Oreal but try to go 8 weeks in between.

    Sorry to be negative — but in my opinion, the “natural” cosmetics market has a long way to go. Luckily, I work from home and so only wear makeup a couple of times a week.

    • I took have had trouble finding a good natural line of makeup. I work in an office so I need to look professional. The other issue is the cost, the natural foundations cost so much more which if they worked I wouldn’t have a problem with but after buying several at $40 a pop and find they just don’t work is frustrating.

  36. Chris, Perhaps everyone knows enough about Talc, but it was news to me when I Googled it nearly 10 years ago. I spent a lifetime using talc to keep feet dry and happy, and powdered nether regions to avert chafing. Then I came across a line of cosmetics promoted as Talc-free. I wondered why that seemed important. What I uncovered was research dating back decades.

    Retired early due to breathing issues, I wonder how much that damned baby powder affected me, and if the rise in asthma-like symptoms in children is linked to talc.

    Just Google talc.

  37. Henna hair dye by Rainbow Research gives me beautiful results. The gray (I’m about 50%) covers like natural highlights since this hair is lighter than my brown hair.

  38. Celadon Road has pure 100% organic skin care products. We also have bath and body, organic dog shampoo and organic pure cleaning products. In addition we have non-toxic deodorant. Our ingredients are fully spelled out on our site and on our products.

  39. Great article Chris and food for thought. But per-leeze don’t expect me to stop wearing make up – I love it too much 🙂

    Seriously though, I am based in the UK and buy the majority of my skincare from a natural cosmetic company :

    Also I use organic virgin coconut oil as a moisturiser and this week used it to make my own toothpaste with baking soda, organic peppermint oil and stevia. It is great on the teeth but the taste isn’t wonderful!

  40. Just a note about henna for hair dying: I’ve read that henna products are often contaminated with heavy metals to boost the dying–pure henna can be too subtle for many people. Also, if you’re more than a certain percentage of gray, it can create some odd color combinations. I’ll never forget when I got my hair henna’ed in Paris and I came home with brassy orange hair. It was fun for awhile–a very short while! Now I buy my hair dyes from Whole Food–they are ammonia and paraben free.

  41. Ava Anderson has the safest line of non-toxic products hands down. They carry everything from shampoo to cleaning products to makeup to a full skincare line. It is organic and you could eat the products they are so incredibly safe. Please contact if you want any more information.

  42. Ava Anderson Non Toxic products are the most TRULY natural and nontoxic ones I’ve found on the market! They have cosmetics but also personal care and home products- and their baby products are the best!!

  43. Fat face skin care has An amazing line or organic grass fed products. I use their cleanser toner and moisturizer and my skin is healing not just clearing. It’s literally paleo skincare.

  44. Beautycounter is a skin care and cosmetics company that is revolutionizing the industry with their unrivaled approach to product testing and safety. 100% non-toxic AND high-performing (and affordable!), which I had a hard time finding among other brands. Click on my link to read about them.

    • Just placed an order at BeautyCounter, so I am hoping it lives up to the hype! I don’t see very many selections for eyeshadow, so I am holding off on that for now.

  45. * EWG’s Skin Deep Data Base ranks over 72,000 cosmetic & body care items for toxicity. Most of Chris’s readers probably know about this. For those that don’t, it is an invaluable resource.

  46. Some great choices for natural makeup are Vapor Organic Beauty, Kjer Weiss, Ilia, RMS, W3LL People (mineral makeup) & Jane Iredale (mineral makeup and lots more)

  47. Ava Anderson non-toxic is the best! So glad you mentioned it Emelie! It’s non-toxic, organic, non-GMO and gluten free! Ava started the company to share the toxic message and I’m so glad she did! This is safest full line of products on the market. Not only does the makeup rock, there’s everything from shampoo, a baby line, and including cleaning products! I’m so glad I found this company. 🙂

  48. Chris, I am so glad you brought this up. It’s so important to be aware of what we put on our skin in addition to what we eat. I know so many people who eat healthy but “eat and drink” garbage through their skin.

    I am currently using 2 lines that I am very pleased with.

    One is Beautycounter. They are the new kid on the block and their mission is really compelling — trying to raise awareness of toxins. They refuse to use all of the ingredients banned in Europe (over 1000) in addition to the paltry 11 (yes, only ELEVEN) banned in the US. Here is a link to their mission: Their products are all 0-2 on EWG’s Skin Deep.

    The other is Miessence. Their products are so clean – almost all organic.

    Hope that helps someone clean up their beauty regimen.

  49. Great Skin Care: Evan Healy Sea Algae Serum and Blue Lavender facial cleanser.
    Cosmetics: RMS Beauty Cosmetics.

  50. I love pure, hexane-free jojoba oil for the skin. It won’t clog your drains like coconut oil will. I find that many non-toxic, natural lotions and potions contain corn, wheat, and/or soy.

  51. Arbonne is another company that is very conscious of the ingredients put in their products. We have a very strict ingredient policy and test all of our products. We are botanically-based and follow European Union standards, which are much, much more strict than US standards by far! We offer skincare, makeup, daily use products, and nutritional supplements.

    I used the products long before becoming a consultant because I fell in love with the ingredient policy and the focus on educating others about the harm that ingredients mentioned in your article can do. I will be sharing this article! Thank you for bringing these harmful ingredients to light!

    • Did you manage to get the ingredient list for the cosmetic products? Apparently Arbonne won’t disclose the information. Check the EWG skin deep website and see the ingredients for their baby line. Toxic!

      • Hi Sheena 🙂 Just an overall FYI, Arbonne is the safest combination of botanicals and science combined and we follow the European Union Cosmetics Directive which is one of the highest quality of standards in the world. It is our #1 mission to provide Pure, Safe, and Beneficial products, and we are continuing to do our best to improve our formulations, quality, etc..We are certified gluten-free, Vegan, non-GMO, and low glycemic index (in regards to our nutrition line) And in regards to Arbonne’s baby line, it is not toxic and the listing on the EWG website is from a formulation Arbonne used previously. The one ingredient that people were worried about, while according to numerous clinical tests and extremely strict standards was safe, was removed by Arbonne. They reformulated the baby line to be safer than ever and the website has finally been updated where the ingredients list is easy to find. Feel free to ask any other questions regarding our products, I’d be happy to answer 🙂 Have a great day!

    • Arbonne still has some toxins in question including in the baby line…..there are safer products. I like some of their products but have been researching even safer ones since cancer became a word in our family.

  52. EWG has an awesome database for many body care products that shows ingredients and their researched levels of health harzard.
    If you google Skin Deep you can find the site and search for just about anything.

  53. Ava Anderson Non-Toxic is also an amazing brand with both skin care and make up, where all ingredients are non-toxic and with good pricing too! Sadly they are not in Europe yet but I have lots of friends in the States who use Ava’s products and love them all! They also have a home range with non-toxic cleaning products!

    • Hi Helen,
      I use Dr. Hauschka make-up for a couple of years and I love it! When I lived in Europ I used also the scincare and it was great!

  54. Hi Chris
    Love your work, excellent info.
    My tip isn’t about makeup, its about hair wax/gel. I got concerned about the chemicals in hair product some time ago, so I looked on the bottom of the container I had been using for the ingredients. I believe the second ingredient listed (after water) was lanolin. So I thought, ‘hey, lets try straight lanolin and see how it works.’ I bought a tub of pure lanolin from iherb and it works great, and its so much cheaper than buying fancy hair wax products! Although it has a bit of an odd smell which dissipates a few minutes after running it through your hair.

  55. Thanks Chris for sharing the great information about skincare and the harmful ingredients that are hidden in the beautiful bottles. Your readers can enjoy 20% off their Primal Life Organics order with coupon code KRESSER20. I pride myself in making skincare that heals, nourishes and protects the skin and body!

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