Detox Your Makeup Bag


For many of us, putting on makeup is part of our everyday routine. We reach deep into our bottomless makeup bag trying to find our go-to mascara, foundation and lip gloss. We don’t think twice about powdering our noses, but did you know that some of your favourite cosmetics might contain harmful chemicals that can increase your risk of breast cancer? explains in their blog post Chemicals in Cosmetics, that cosmetics, lotions and hair products are made up of tons of different synthetic chemicals, some that you might be surprised to learn are used in “industrial processes to clean industrial equipment, stabilize pesticides and grease gears.”[1] YUCK! Who knew that a little tube of lipstick could actually be dangerous to our health?

So, this week, Youth Advisory Council is challenging you to detox your makeup bag! Grab your bag, big or small, and take a look (probably for the first time ever) at all the ingredients in each of the cosmetics you use. If one of the chemicals below is listed on your cosmetic product, time to TOSS IT! Feel free to YACk about your no-go products in the comments below.

Happy detoxing 🙂


Alkylphenols are a family of organic compounds that are found in cosmetics, detergents, toothpaste, sunscreen and air fresheners. Once they are released into the environment or are absorbed into your body they stick around for a long time and are known to disrupt hormones in your body as they have estrogen-like properties.[2][3]

Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene Oxide is a known carcinogen; however, it is still used in some fragrances and hair products.[4] Ethylene Oxide is listed on Health Canada’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist which informs consumers of hazardous ingredients in products available for purchase. You can see the whole Hotlist here.


1,3-Butadiene is most often used in the production of synthetic rubber and plastics. [5] It may be found in aerosol products like hairsprays and sunscreens and the greatest risk of exposure is through inhalation.[6]


You might be surprised to learn that lead can be found in many of the most popular brands of lipstick. The U.S. Federal Drug Administration conducted a study in 2009 that tested hundreds of lipsticks for lead.[7] You can see the brands they tested and their lead content here.


Parabens are a type of preservative that is commonly used in cosmetics, nail polish, fragrances, lotions and other bath & body products. They are easily absorbed into the skin and are known to mimic estrogen, the primary female hormone. Studies have shown parabens to be present in some tumors which suggests a link between parabens and cancer. Despite these findings there are no regulations in Canada on the use of parabens in consumer products. [8]


Phthalates are commonly used in the production of plastic containers and vinyl products, like shower curtains. They are also added to some cosmetics in order to hold colour and scent. Studies have shown that phthalates disrupt the human hormone system, sometimes leading to early menstruation in girls.[9] It is known that early menstruation puts you at an increased risk of breast cancer.[10] Check out Not Too Pretty Report to find a list of cosmetics and fragrances containing phthalates.

Placental Extract

Brace yourself for a big ‘EWW’ moment. Placental Extract is a derivative of placenta. Yes, the stuff that female mammals produce to protect their babies. Placental Extract may disrupt the human endocrine system and may contain estrogen and progesterone.[11] It is mainly found in hair conditioners and facial treatments.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydocarbons (PAHs) naturally occur in coal and crude oil.[12] Petrolatum, a petroleum product that is used in some products to help moisturize skin, can be contaminated with PAHs. The European Union considers PAHs to be a carcinogen and regulates the use of petroleum in cosmetics. Canada has no legislation regarding use of petroleum in cosmetics, so it’s up to you to be aware of petroleum based products. [13]


Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that can be found in cosmetics, soaps, deodorants and toothpastes. Tricolan can change the bacterial composition of good bacterial in your skin, mouth and intestines and is suspected to disrupt hormones in your body.[14]


[1] “Chemicals in Cosmetics.” Breast Cancer Fund. ( Para. 2.

[2] “Reducing Your Chemical Exposure at Home.” Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. ( Para. 9.

[3] Schade, Mike. “Alkyphenols.” Center for Health, Environment & Justice, 8 March 2012. ( Para.1.

[4] “Chemicals in Cosmetics.” Breast Cancer Fund. Para. 8.

[5]  “1,3-Butadiene.” United States Department of Labbor. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. ( Para. 1.

[7] “Lipstick and Lead: Questions and Answers” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ( Para. 2.

[8] “Parabens.” David Suzuki Foundation. (—parabens/). Paras. 1-4

[9] “Phthalates.” The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. ( Paras. 1-3.

[10] “Early Menstruation and Late Menopause.” Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Prairies/NWT. ( Para. 2.

[11] “Placental Extract.” Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep. (

[12] “Chemicals in Cosmetics.” Breast Cancer Fund. Para. 11.

[13] “Petrolatum.” David Suzuki Foundation. (—petrolatum/). Paras. 1-3.

[14] R. J. Bertelsen, M. P. Longnecker, M. Løvik, A. M. Calafat, K-H. Carlsen, S. J. London, K. C. Lødrup Carlsen. “Triclosan exposure and allergic sensitization in Norwegian children.” Science Daily, 14 November 2012. (


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