Everything you need to know about Carcinogens in cosmetics sold in the US

Posted by Empress Naturals on

In the United States, cosmetics are loosely regulated by the FDA– it is not required by law for most ingredients to be approved before they are released on the market, which is the exact reason as to why there are so many scary ingredients floating around out in our everyday products. 

Essentially, there are two laws that pertain to cosmetics in the United States: the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Both acts basically require that products be labeled and include ample directions for safety purposes.

Unfortunately for consumers and cosmetic shoppers, this leaves a lot of space for toxic and harmful products and ingredients to be used as long as the ingredients are disclosed, and the product shows how to safely use it. 

Carcinogens in cosmetics sold in the US


  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives (FRPs) can be found in products like nail polish, eye shadow, mascara, and various shampoos. It is used to prevent bacteria growth and to prolong the shelf life of products. 
    Although the amount of FPRs is limited to a concentration of up to 0.2%, it is still worth mentioning that exposure to larger amounts can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and the respiratory system as a whole.
    The use of it is strictly prohibited in Japan, and is also restricted in the EU by the European Commission. 

  • Parabens are definitely one of the most talked about ingredients to avoid, and already have an incredibly negative reputation in the world of cosmetics, unsurprisingly.
    They appear in moisturizers, shampoos, spray tan products, and shaving creams to name just a few. Various parabens can cause breast and skin cancer, and can even decrease sperm count in men.
    This one is particularly unsettling because of how powerfully they can upset your hormones, disrupt growth, development, and reproduction. 

  • Triclosan can be found in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, shower gels, and other products that claim to have antimicrobial properties. This chemical that is also used as a preservative and a preventative measure against bacterial growth, has been linked to thyroid issues upon long term exposure.
    Newer studies have also shown that it is possible that
    triclosan can actually create bacteria resistant to antibiotics. A number of studies are looking into the development of skin cancer after prolonged exposure to triclosan, which is really scary to think about. 

Carcinogens in US cosmetics
  • Phenacetin was previously used as a pain reliever and fever reducer until it was banned by the FDA in 1983 because of its carcinogenic properties. The fact that it is no longer used as a drug but is instead used in smaller amounts in cosmetics is deeply concerning!
    Products containing bleach like facial hair dyes and hair removal agents often utilize phenacetin. It can cause health problems like kidney failure and anemia, and can even be linked to malignant mammary tumors. 

  • Coal tar is a known carcinogen, and a product of coal processing. It is used in a wide range of products from hair dyes, shampoos, dandruff treatments, and skin redness treatments. It is associated with cancers of the lungs, bladder, kidney, and digestive tract.
    If you need yet another reason to be turned off from this chemical, it is also considered to be toxic to aquatic animals– not only is it bad for us, it can seriously and negatively impact the environment as well. 

  • Benzene is a toxin that can cause harm by being inhaled and ingested, and is used in the production of plastics, hair conditioners, and hair styling products.
    Occupational exposure to benzene has been linked to leukemia, and can cause serious damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory system, nervous system, and blood.
    The European Commission prohibits its use in cosmetics, which makes you wonder why it is still used in the United States.


In spite of the overwhelming amount of products on the market that contain mysterious and sketchy ingredients that are potentially harmful, the outstanding brands part of the Conscious Beauty Collective offer a wide selection of clean beauty products that you can trust, and will fall in love with!

Empress Naturals Oils

The Empress Luxe Night Elixir is an extremely lightweight product that effortlessly melts into the skin, leaving you with a hydrated plump skin barrier.

Many other products utilize silicones because of their supposed ability to retain youthful looking skin, but Empress Naturals takes a healthier and all-natural route to achieve even better results– a delicious blend of USDA certified organic oils (sunflower oil, rosehip oil, coconut oil, geranium oil, vitamin E and lavender oil) gently fight the issues of aging such as hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dark spots, and more.

This mask by Caire Beauty deeply hydrates and smoothes the skin by providing vital nutrition while tightening wrinkles and reducing the appearance of impurities.

It is vegan, cruelty free, specifically formulated for mature skin, and includes clean active ingredients including red algae, fermented polysaccharides, coccinia indica fruit extract, HA molecules– all a recipe for smoother, more youthful looking skin!


There are so many questionable and toxic ingredients that get used in cosmetics and skin care products on a daily basis, and it certainly can be a daunting task facing this harsh reality.

Fortunately, Empress Naturals and other brands that are committed to cleanliness and transparency have your (and your skin’s) best interest at heart, always!

Empress Naturals skincare for mature women

Shop with Empress Naturals Oils today to treat your skin because you deserve the very best. 

Anti-aging Conscious Beauty Collective Empress Naturals Harmful chemicals natural skincare Organic Skincare sustainable skincare wellness Women over 40

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