• Beauty

The top 5 toxic ingredients to avoid in beauty products

Safe Cosmetics Australia’s Amina Kitching spills on the toxic ingredients to avoid in beauty products

According to the Australian government’s chemical inventory list there are over 40,000 chemicals that can be used in beauty products in Australia, and 80,000 chemicals used worldwide, so to say it’s a minefield out there when it comes to deciphering what’s in our favourite skincare products is an understatement. We’ve enlisted the advice of Safe Cosmetics Australia founder Amina Kitching to list the toxic ingredients to avoid in beauty products.

Amina’s dirty 5

Synthetic fragrances

These are a combination of thousands of chemicals, which are added to products as aromas or scents, many of which have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
Amina says: “The main issue with fragrances is there is no regulation around listing what is in a fragrance; companies only have to state they have used a fragrance; they are not compelled to reveal the chemicals used to create it.’’

Phthalates, plasticisers

Amina says: “Banned in the European Union, phthalates are used mainly in nail polish and are linked to early onset of puberty and an increased risk of cancer.”

Petrochemicals and their bi-products

This is a big category as there are many bi-products to look out for including mineral oil, petrolatum, paraffin, dipropylene, glycol, butylene glycol, disodium EDTA, tetrasodium EDTA, trisodium EDTA, polybutene, triclosan and polyethylene.
Amina says: “Petrochemicals disrupt the skin’s natural breathable function clogging the pores that leads to acne and blackheads. They are also likely to be contaminated with carcinogens. One of the common ones is Benzene, which is derived from coal tar, a known carcinogenic.’’


Examples of parabens include butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben.
Amina says: “These are all common preservatives that are linked to breast cancer (according to the Breast Cancer Fund). They are also known to cause skin irritation and sensitivities.”


These are ingredients used in cosmetics such as face creams, make-up and sunscreen.
Amina says: “Nanotechnology experts warn that products are insufficiently tested, so the jury is out.”

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