The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is a great source when it comes to verifying ingredients and determining if a product contains, what they term, high-hazard ingredients.
One ingredient to avoid is carbon black, which is often found in eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. It has been linked to an increased incidence of cancer. Mica is another ingredient under scrutiny. The naturally occurring mineral dust that is sometimes used in foundations and to add shimmer to other cosmetics has come under fire in Europe recently for the fact that it is oftentimes produced by child labor.
According to the article “Is Your Makeup the Result of Child Labor?” by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman in Marie Claire, many big players in the industry are working to legalize the mica industry or find alternatives to the controversial ingredient. Although phthalates are banned from use in cosmetics in the European Union, they’re still found in color cosmetics and more in the U.S.
Organic Spa Media’s Rona Berg doesn’t believe all synthetics are bad, but she wants to see the bad ones go. She recommends avoiding products with PEGs and ETHs in the name. She also recommends avoiding QUATS, such as QUATernium 15, which are ingredients that can release formaldehyde. “I am also not a fan of petrochemicals, such as mineral oil, petrolatum, liquid paraffin, ethylene glycol, and ingredients ending in -cone, like dimethicone,” says Berg. “These cheap ingredients can clog pores, strip skin of its natural oils, and contain impurities that may be potentially carcinogenic.”