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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Does Makeup Cause Cancer?

10-12% of Breast Cancer diagnoses are believed to be attributable to a genetic predisposition. This most assuredly leaves one to ask “then what is the root cause of the vast majority of breast cancer diagnoses?” Certainly environmental factors may play a significant role. But how do we know? What does the research say? Could makeup, shampoos, house cleaners, food preservatives and other chemical additives/ingredients be contributing to so many diagnoses and deaths? While we cannot say with 100% certainty that makeup causes cancer, what we can identify are the known carcinogens found within these common everyday products.

Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA approval before going to market. The FDA has actually prohibits less than a dozen ingredients and color additives. You may find it surprising that the last law regulating cosmetics was passed in 1938! A lot has changed since then, but not the regulations. The beauty industry is a $60 billion –a-year business where the average woman uses12 products with 168 different ingredients every day (according to

When I read this, I thought, that couldn't be true, I rarely put on makeup, how could I be using 12 products a day. Then I did the math:

  1. Body Soap

  2. Face wash

  3. Shampoo

  4. Conditioner

  5. Toothpaste

  6. Mouthwash

  7. Body lotion

  8. Face Moisturizer

  9. Hair Gel

  10. The occasional nail polish

  11. Chap stick

Depending on what's going on that day, perhaps some concealer (#12), eyeliner (#13), and (mascara #14).

Rush out the door with coffee and hand, and oh wait, cannot forget #15, Hand Sanitizer!

Our skin is our largest organ. What we put on our face and scalp can penetrate into the deeper levels of our skin and be absorbed into our bloodstream. There is some truth in knowing that what we scrub, lather, spray and pencil onto our faces and hair can enter directly into our bodies.

Let’s think about it. If we are using Cold Caps to limit the exposure of our hair follicles to toxic chemotherapy drugs, what chemicals are we messaging onto our scalp daily that are seeping into our pores?

A quick point of clarification: pores and follicles are terms people used interchangeably and rightly so, your pores are actually tiny hair follicles! Think of your pores as a chimney stack, the gateway between your deeper layers of skin and the outside world. Your hair follicle is what comes to the surface, our bodies are covered with millions of these tiny follicles! Think of them as the smoke that comes out from the chimney!

So what exactly are we putting on our skin? And what is "clean beauty"? In many countries, cosmetics ingredients must be assessed for safety before entering the marketplace. Those determined to be harmful are highly restricted. Unfortunately, this level of oversight does not exist in the U.S. (FDA) thus cosmetic companies are allowed to prey on the unwitting U.S consumer. I find this to be unethical and dangerous!

For example, in Canada, they have regulated 600+ chemicals from their beauty products and the EU has banned 1500. Where does the U.S. stand? The US has banned under 40 products and one assumption could be the US’s favoritism towards companies and manufactures over the consumer. Tiffany from Follain mentions, “The industry has been left to regulate itself and there hasn’t been a push or enough advocacy to more highly regulate this.”

I am not saying you must immediately toss out all of your makeup products, shampoos and cleansers (Although William did just that to me, and I still haven't forgiven him!) but I would argue that we should make the transition to conscious beauty. If we want to be healthy and we are adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, reducing and eliminating smoking and levels of alcohol and exercising regularly, then let’s also start to make the shift in terms of how we are taking care of our outer layers!

The top ingredients to look for when searching for cosmetics and self-care products:

  • Parabens & Long Chain Parabens like propylparaben and butylparaben

  • Phthalates

  • Ethylene oxide (Formaldehyde) also found in the following:

  • Diazolidinyl Urea

  • DMDM Hydantoin

  • Imidazolidinyl urea

  • Quaternium-15

  • Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin

  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol)

  • Polyoxymethylene Urea

  • 5-Bromo-5-Nitro-1,3 Dioxane

  • Methenamine

  • Glyoxal

  • Benzylhemiformal

  • Aluminum compounds

  • Fragrance

  • Phenoxyethanol

  • PEG Compounds

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS & SLES)

Check out our Podcast where we speak with three beauty conscious women about how we can start making the switch to with simple and actionable choices!


You may also be interested in other articles we wrote about on this topic!

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