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Clean Up Your Beauty Routine: How To Find Safe Makeup & Cosmetics

Years ago I took a hard look at all the beauty products I was using daily… everything from my shampoo, to my lotion, to my lipstick. I found that not only were most of them filled with controversial chemicals, but I was using way too many products that were not even necessary. That was a big wake up call.

That’s when I decided to majorly clean up my beauty product routine. I started getting rid of risky products and slowly replaced them with the safest (and simplest) products I could find. I’m happy to say that now my daily routine is super simple and I feel so much better knowing I’m not slathering potentially cancerous chemicals on my skin day after day.

Next time you’re walking down the makeup aisle at the drug store, pick up any cosmetic off the shelf – and you’ll likely find at least one ingredient that is linked to cancer. 

Some cosmetics contain ingredients that damage the skin and end up making you look older. Pretty ironic for “beauty” products, right?

That’s because cosmetics are not regulated as strictly as food products. Companies can get away with using these risky ingredients because they have been used for years and there is not enough pressure for them to change their ways. There are safer alternatives, but it all comes down to using the cheapest ingredients to pad their bottom line – even though it comes at the expense of our health.

Just take a look at what’s in some popular products, like Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, which is made with some very risky ingredients linked to cancer…

Quaternium-15 slowly releases small amounts of formaldehyde, a substance which can cause cancer.  The triethanolamine (TEA) is known to react with other chemicals found in beauty products, creating the nitrosamine NDELA – a carcinogen. Parabens (methylparaben and butylparaben) are endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems.

You’ll also find parabens in CoverGirl’s Clean Professional Loose Powder, but I’d say the worst ingredient in this product is the first ingredient: Talc.

Talc in cosmetics can be contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen that is especially dangerous when airborne. Talc containing asbestos is linked to lung cancer (when inhaled) and to other cancers near where it has been placed on the body. That’s why you want to avoid using talc-based makeup powders, as it can easily get into the air where you inhale it right into your lungs.

Not all talc is contaminated with asbestos, and I don’t know if CoverGirl’s powders are contaminated, but I would avoid makeup made with talc as a precaution. There are safer alternatives (which I will tell you about below). Talc is a very common ingredient in powders, eye shadows, bronzers, and highlighters… so keep an eye out for it!

Here you’ll find talc as a main ingredient in Neutrogena “healthy skin” concealer – but it also contains a couple other ingredients linked to cancer…

“PEG” compounds in makeup can be contaminated with Ethylene Oxide and 1,4 Dioxane, which are both linked to cancer. Also, the preservative BHT is a suspected endocrine disruptor that can mess with hormones in the body – another risk for cancer.

The preservative methylisothiazolinone is believed to trigger eczema and allergic reactions. According to the EWG, some research suggests that it may be neurotoxic.

One of the most sneaky ingredients you’ll find in cosmetics is “fragrance”. Just like “natural flavors” in our food, cosmetic companies don’t tell you everything that is in these fragrances and they can include highly toxic ingredients, hormone disruptors, and carcinogens. They often contain alcohols, which can irritate sensitive skin and make you appear older.

L’oreal’s True Match Lumi Foundation is filled with FOUR different parabens: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben…

Not only are parabens linked to cancer, but they have been shown to accelerate the appearance of wrinkles!

One study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that methylparaben dried the skin and made it appear more wrinkled, because it decreases collagen levels in the body (which is what makes the skin look young and supple). 

This foundation also includes Octinoxate sunscreen, which is an endocrine disruptor that can interfere with thyroid function and may increase risk of breast cancer.

Simple lip balm can be laden with risky chemicals too… 

Baby Lips by Maybelline is made with ingredient Petrolatum (petroleum jelly) – a byproduct of petroleum refining. If petrolatum is not properly refined, it may be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – a group of chemicals that are widely linked to cancer. This ingredient is commonly found in lipsticks, so make sure to check the ingredients in yours.

Be careful about what you wash that makeup off with too…

Most face washes use various sulfate ingredients which create that lathered up foam that makes you feel like you are getting clean… but are not exactly safe. Ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS) may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which is linked to cancer. You won’t see 1,4-dioxane on an ingredient list because it forms during manufacturing and the FDA doesn’t require a warning label.

The preservative DMDM hydantoin slowly releases small amounts of the carcinogen formaldehyde every time you use it. Another substance you won’t find on the label.

I don’t like the idea of using something that can potentially cause cancer over time.

I believe exposure to carcinogens even at low levels is unnecessary – especially in products I use daily or often. Here’s how to clean up your beauty routine:

10 Tips For Cleaning Up Your Beauty Routine:

  1. Get familiar with the top ingredients to avoid. Check the products you are currently using for the ingredients discussed in this post and start looking for replacements for the offending products.
  2. Choose fragrance-free products. Buy everything unscented and then scent yourself with natural fragrances created from mostly plants and essential oils.
  3. Adopt a minimalist approach – do you really need to coat your eyes with eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and eyebrow pomade every day? How many products do you use on a daily basis? Think about the money you’d save if you just used a couple safe products.  
  4. Check all your products individually for safety.  Don’t assume if you use a certain brand, your product is safe. Many companies have products across the spectrum from really safe and natural to horribly toxic.
  5. Look for products made with simple organic ingredients. The simpler the better! 
  6. When in doubt, use natural oils on your skin. Sesame is considered one of the best because it contains several vitamins and minerals, has been known to fight skin cancer, and is naturally antibacterial. Try using coconut or sesame oil as a moisturizer and makeup remover.
  7. Choose products that focus on improving the health of your skin… versus how they will make you look. For instance, look for products full of antioxidants which help to rejuvenate the skin and defy aging.
  8. Don’t try to do it all at once. If you find out that some of the products you use are harmful, go ahead and use them until they are gone and then replace them with new safer products. I started with my mascara. I replaced it and systematically started replacing each item in my makeup bag. It can feel overwhelming at first, so start with one or two products that you use often and then take it from there. 
  9. Give your face a rest a few times a week. Spend a couple of days without makeup each week and allow your skin to naturally be rejuvenated.
  10. Find a safe makeup brand you can trust and vote with your dollars. Stop supporting companies that are harming the environment, your family and most importantly your own body with crazy chemicals! Choose to buy your products from a company that does all the RIGHT things.

I’m so happy to have found a cosmetics brand that I trust: 100% PURE.

All 100% PURE products are made with organic ingredients and no synthetic chemicals. Here’s why I love this brand:

  • They test each ingredient for pesticide residues
  • Cruelty-free with no animal testing.
  • Free of all of those controversial ingredients found in most cosmetics… no parabens, talc, chemical sunscreens, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, PEG compounds, or synthetic fragrances.
  • Instead of using artificial dyes like other brands, all 100% PURE products are pigmented using fruits and vegetables, which are full of beneficial vitamins and antioxidants. How cool is that?

Even if you don’t wear makeup, they’ve got amazing shampoo, bath products, body scrubs, soaps, face creams, and moisturizers too.

100% Pure is now a partner of Food Babe and I am so happy to give you a chance to try their products (or continue using them) at a great deal. 

Get 15% OFF all orders through FRIDAY 9/7  when you use the exclusive code FOODBABE.

Plus, get a FREE gift valued at $121 when you spend $70 or more – WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Your gift includes all this…

  • 100% PURE Pigmented Better Naked Palette ($53)
  • 100% PURE Cocoa Butter Matte Lipstick in Protea ($29)
  • 100% PURE Cruelty-Free Crease Brush E40 ($15)
  • 100% PURE Cruelty-Free Angled Contour Brush F30 ($19)
  • 100% PURE Limited Edition bag ($5)

This gift from 100% PURE is crazy good (worth over $120). There are a LIMITED NUMBER of these gifts available, and when they run out, they run out. This is a rare deal that doesn’t come around often.

This is my go-to look using 100% PURE products before a night out… 

  • Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara – Black Tea
  • Fruit Pigmented Satin Eye Shadow: Caribbean
  • Fruit Pigmented Cherry Lip & Cheek Stain
  • Fruit Pigmented Pretty Naked Palette
  • Volumizing Shampoo
  • Volumizing Conditioner

If you know anyone who loves to wear makeup, but who may need a beauty bag makeover… please send them this post. Everyone should know about the potential carcinogens lurking in beauty products (and I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to save money on these safe products too.)

Stock up on safe cosmetics at 15% OFF with the code FOODBABE right here. 



P.S. This exclusive FOODBABE discount from 100% PURE ends this Friday (9/7/18) at midnight. So make sure to get your order in quick to get your discount and super gift (which will run out)!

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27 responses to “Clean Up Your Beauty Routine: How To Find Safe Makeup & Cosmetics

  1. Is there any place I could buy 100% Pure locally? I looked up places online and Sephora came up. I checked Sephora and the prouducts weren’t found.

      1. What brand and color of lipstick do you wear in all of your pictures? It’s such a pretty color!

    1. Check your local health food store(s). I have a local store in my small town that happens to carry that brand. 🙂

  2. I have such a hard time finding makeup. I usually use physicians formula because, so far, it is the only one that doesn’t make me breakout or give me a bad allergic reaction. I also use neutrogena makeup remover wipes and facewash, because I just can’t find anything else. I tried 100% pure about a month or two ago and it made my eyes and face itch and my eye lids swell. Any clue why this would happen? I returned the products for a refund. They weren’t expired. My skin just didn’t react well to them. I’ve also tried beauty counter product samples. Those seem not to cause a reaction, they’re just crazy expensive.

    1. I have acne prone skin and since I switched to Gabriel face powder I have had no problems! They are sold at Whole Foods and Sprouts markets as well. They have great eyeliner and mascara too, never had an allergic reaction. And I used to react to certain drugstore eyeliners with super itchy, puffy eyes and yellow mucus in the corners of my eyes, it was the worst!! That was years ago that I switched to the all natural makeup in Whole Foods and never looked back 😉

  3. The only makeup product I use is once in a while lipstick. Poofy organics has very clean lipstick – only mica and iron oxide – no more harsh chemicals.

    1. Essential oils! Mix a couple drops with a little carrier oil, like coconut or almond, then dab it on where you normally wear perfume. So much healthier for you.

  4. Hi Vani, thanks as always for your time and effort to investigate for us! And thanks for the new clean products of Truvani. My husband and I use your tumeric faithfully and we are getting ready to try the protein powder.
    I have a minimalist approach to makeup and have been using “clean” makeup for years. I use hemp organics (now called colorganics) lipsticks but found a company called beautycounter after finding some questionable ingredients in my favorite hemp organics lipsticks.
    I was wondering if you came across beautycounter or colorganics at all in your investigation and if so, what you found. Thanks for all you do!

    1. I live beauty counter but they are kinda pricy. Alcone by limelife is good too but it is kinda pricy too

  5. Hi Vani, I have a severe allergy to Carmine commonly know as red dye #4, cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, Carmine lake, natural red 4, CI75470 and last but not least E120. It is very difficult for me to find cosmetics that do not contain carmine so I am excited to know about PURE 100% cosmetics. Thank you again!!

  6. I had issues with 100% pure mascara. Found it had wheat in it. It actually burned my eyes when applying! My lashes began to thin out so now I apply castor oil to rebuild them up and. Just use an eyeliner while healing!

    1. Yes, one of their mascaras does contain wheat. However, they have another one that doesn’t! It smells like chocolate! 🙂

  7. I have been using 100% Pure for almost 2 years. Great products. I really like their foundations and hair care. Some of their foundations and tinted moisturizers have sunscreen in them, which is a bonus. I like Jane Iredale for lip glosses and face powder. I hope Jane’s products are as clean as 100% Pure.

  8. There are other brands out there with products that aren’t harmful if you are willing to read the ingredients. Like some of the commentators, I have sensitive skin with redness so I can only use certain products. Makeup should never be put directly on the skin but over a good moisturizer /primer and that’s one of the products that needs to be made of ingredients good for your skin and not make it react negatively. Plus what you clean your skin with to remove makeup.

  9. I like 100% Pure cosmetics and I do use their blush. However, it is concerning to me that many of their products, including shampoo, contain Japanese Honeysuckle (which has been compared to Parabens). Many of their products also list GSE ( Grapefruit Seed Extract) in the ingredients. That is also something that I am not comfortable using as I have read a lot of controversial articles on that particular ingredient. I would appreciate it if you could further investigate these 2 ingredients because you can find many articles and blogs that question their safety.

  10. I use and love Mineral Fusion which I can buy at Whole Foods and other healthy markets. It’s on Amazon and on their website at I like a hands on approach and like to try testers first or be able to return a product to the store if I don’t like it. I don’t usually order online unless I know it works for me. Their makeup is EWG verified, vegan, cruelty free and perfect for my sensitive skin. I used Clinique for over 40 years but wanted to get away from the chemicals and found Mineral Fusion. I like their skincare, too and use Andalou Naturals. I have tried some 100% Pure samples since I have a store by me but still like Mineral Fusion better.

  11. I am 61 and have been in search of non-toxic products since I went vegetarian at age 18 in 1975. Before the internet, there was no way to compare products and there was limited non-toxic items on the market. Nowadays, I just try to keep it simple and have currently narrowed my makeup to Gabriel Mascara, Pacifica Eyeliner, Ecco Bella Concealer and Eye Shadow and Mineral Fusion Lip Pencil. I keep these and my face moisturizer, CSI DMAE Alpha Lipoic Acid Hydrating Cream in a clear zippered bag in the refrigerator. Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Oil, Aura Cacia Grapeseed Oil, CocoBody Oil, Andalou Body Butter and Everyday Fair Trade Shea Butter are what alternately use for moisturizers.

  12. Food Babe. What do you think about all Amway products ie: nutrition, cleaning products, beauty products. A rep is telling me all of it is healthy, nothing bad is in it. Thank you for any reply.

    1. Amway has been steeped in controversy for many years-pyramid schemes and political contributions to candidates who would just as soon gut if not dismantle the few regulations and enforcement agencies we have to protect our food, air and water. Amway’s friends in government are among the best friends of corporate polluters and the big food companies.

  13. I use Rejuva Minerals! I have very sensitive skin and it’s the only brand that I have found I can wear without any irritation.

  14. I appreciate all your investigations and recommendations but after I used the nuna pipa for my newborn on your recommendation I found out they had a HORRIBLE EWG rating.

    100% pure also says its may have titanium dioxide and it does use Mica .

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