December 2, 2022

Ladies, Do You Know that Your Makeup Can Potentially Harm You?

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon an Instagram Reels where a woman recorded herself wiping her lipstick off before she ate. She justified herself by saying that she finds eating with lipstick on is disgusting. What makes her think that way? It’s because lipstick is made out of a bunch of chemicals. So, when you eat with your lipstick on and it’s gone when you’re done eating, it means that you digest your lipstick and whatever ingredients it has. That’s what she said.

That video got me thinking about other makeup products that, in a way, can enter our bodies. Think about when you accidentally poke your eyes when you want to draw a wing liner or when you accidentally inhale your loose powder. Those products may be safe for topical usage but no one can guarantee their safety if they enter our bodies.

Look, I’m not trying to scare you or anything. I also like makeup. Not a beauty enthusiast-level but enough to make me have like six or seven lip products (in my defense, they are not the same type tho). I like to put on makeup just so that I can look more presentable. Still, knowing that makeup may possess a harmful effect doesn’t make me want to stop wearing makeup and I’m not planning on doing that anywhere in the future. But, refusing to acknowledge this potential threat of makeup isn’t the right attitude either.

So, I decided to do some research to find out whether makeup can be harmful or not. Below is the information that I collect after digging into some sources. Let’s discuss them one by one!

Lip Products

(Source: The Beauty Minimalist)

I myself use lip products the most compared to other makeup products. Even when I only stay in my room, I always put on tinted lip balm. When I have zoom class, I usually wear lip tint so that I look more put together on the camera. And of course, I will wear either lipstick or lip cream when I go out. I don’t want to generalize others’ frequency, but there must be people who use lip products more than me.

The thing is, as you wear the product more, the more exposed you are to the harmful ingredients. There are several ingredients in lip products that can harm you. 32 lipsticks and lip glosses were tested for the content of metal in it. The result was very surprising. The test detect manganese, titanium, and aluminum in all 32 lip products. The highest concentration of metals in the products are titanium and aluminum . Also, lead was detected in 24 products. 12 of them exceed the standard amount set by FDA. A study found that some lip gloss, lip tint, lip balm, and lipstick contain lead, manganese, and chromium. As you can see, the finding support the previous claim.

There’s another thing to put in mind, the more pigmented the product, the higher lead contained in it. In another word, your lipstick or lip cream probably contained more lead than your lip gloss.

Though a study denied the claims, too much of something is never good. If you use a lip product daily and frequently reapply the product, there is a chance that you may (accidentally) digest a lot of those chemicals.

To put into perspective, a high level of lead exposure alone can potentially cause anemia or even brain damage. Lead exposure to a pregnant woman can badly hurt the unborn baby. High levels of aluminum may affect the central nervous system or brain and spinal cord. Other effects of it are Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. Meanwhile, a high amount of chromium may damage the kidneys.

It doesn’t stop there. A case study showed the side effect of lip balm that causes a 17 years old girl to experience ulceration as an allergic reaction. Tinted lip balms in particular can trigger this reaction in some people. The reaction can be varied from severe edema to ulceration. Lip balm can harm the mucus membrane of the lips. It happens because lip balm contains some ingredients that cause allergic reactions in some people.

The symptoms of lip balm allergy can vary from swelling and erosion of lips to itching, burning, and tingling sensations. The worst case is that it can lead to damage and death of cells.

Compact Powder and Loose Powder

(Source: Sephora)

Powder, be it any type of it, probably is everyone’s first makeup product. I myself have been using powder since I was in middle school. So, it has been roughly ten years since I wear powder for the first time.

Similar to lip products, there is this one ingredient of this makeup product that can harm you. The said ingredient is talcum powder. High exposure to this ingredient can lead to the development of mesotheliomas and carcinoma, two types of lung cancer. This can happen when the powder is inhaled. The particle can stick to the upper airways of the respiratory system. Over time, the build-up particle can cause fatal results.

Other ingredients found in cosmetic powder are cadmium, cobalt, lead, copper, and chromium. As stated above, lead and chromium have fatal effects that can harm you. Fortunately, the heavy metals found in cosmetic powder are still within safe limits.

Eye Makeups

(Source: Beyprern)

Eye makeup, such as mascara, powder eye shadow, eyeliner, eye cosmetic remover, and liquid cosmetics can potentially harm your eyes.

Eye makeup can cause dry eyes and can link to inflammation. This makeup product may contain pro-inflammatory agents in its ingredients. Those ingredients can increase the tendency of ocular surface disease development. One of the ways to treat this condition is through surgery.

Eyeliner application at the inner eyelash line or tightlining can also hurt the fragile parts of the eyes. Basically, it applies to any makeup technique that requires application near the eyeball. The said technique can also cause discomfort on the ocular surface.

Other Makeup Products

(Source: Instagram @chloehollywood)

At this point, I wouldn’t recommend you to have high hope for other makeup products. If you think other makeup products are safe and won’t harm you… you’re wrong.

For example, your foundation, concealer, blush, eye makeup, and lipstick contain talc. Your eye shadow and blush also contain lead. You also may get an allergic reaction from your eye makeup and long-wearing lip stains. From the previous parts, you know that those ingredients are not good.

So, basically, there’s no escape. There are always somewhat harmful ingredients in your makeup. I mean they are made out of a bunch of chemicals. Though I feel bad for chemicals for being stereotyped and seen as a bad thing, those chemicals I mentioned above are proven to be bad. It’s kinda scary the fact that the product that you use frequently contain some bad chemicals. As the users, you (and of course me) will be haunted by the side effect for the longest time possible.

Okay, enough with the scary facts, let’s see what we can do to decrease the risk.

4 Tips to Reduce the Risk of Harmful Makeup Ingredients

Wear Makeup Moderately

(Source: Beauty Affairs)

Going with a simple look or no-makeup makeup look may be the answer to this dilemma. By using less amount of product, you may decrease the possibility of getting exposed to harmful chemicals. Besides, it’s currently a trend to wear less makeup and go with a more natural look! It doesn’t hurt to wear less makeup because you can always go full glam once in a while for a certain occasion.

 

Stop Purchasing Products with the Harmful Ingredients

Metal contamination is unavoidable but it sure can be minimized. FDA has been listing lip products with the amount of lead they contain. You can check it out so you can avoid using or re-purchasing products that contain a big amount of heavy metals. Better safe than sorry!

Avoid Certain Makeup Techniques

This is especially good to avoid hurting your eye. Make sure you don’t apply the product in or near the inner eyelash line so that the eyelid margin doesn’t come into contact with the product. If avoiding the technique is not an option, minimizing the application can be the answer.

Reapply Makeup Less Frequent

One of the things that may worsen the effect of the bad ingredients in your makeup is constant exposure to it. The more you wear it, the higher possibility of you getting the side effects. Try using products that last longer (and of course safer) on your face. This way, not only you can save your health, but you also save money since you use less product!


This piece of information isn’t intended to scare you or make you question your priority. Though I would suggest you to consider putting your health above everything, the choice is still in your hands. Sure, you still can find a way to keep them in your life. You can wear safer lip products, eye makeup, or powder that aren’t going to hurt you in the long run.  You can also wear your makeup less often or avoid certain techniques. Maybe there are still more ways to decrease the chances of getting exposed to those harmful chemicals from your makeup.

Are you planning on implementing any tips I share or maybe you are planning on go makeup-free? Share your thoughts!


Author: Ananda Salsabila Febrianti
Word count: 1563


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