How to Avoid Toxins In Your Makeup

Steps on how to avoid harmful toxins in your daily makeup routine! Did you know your makeup likely contains heavy metals like lead and mercury, hormone disruptors like phthalates and parabens and carcinogens hiding under words like “fragrance?” Learn all about how to identify toxins in your makeup and my favorite safer makeup brand!


Oh makeup… as Lauren Conrad put it at the ripe age of sixteen, “It’s like art for our face.” And I couldn’t agree more. Makeup is an artistic expression for many of us, a way for us to stand out or make a statement, and often times just a fun morning ritual that makes us feel more awake and ready for the day. 


Makeup’s history spans thousands of years at this point with the first “products” created from earthly clay, copper and ash.


In modern day times, most cosmetics in the marketplace contain a mix of:

  • parabens (widely recognized hormone disruptors)1,4-dioxane (a potent carcinogen),

  • heavy metals (like lead, mercury and arsenic),

  • phthalates (endocrine disruptors and carcinogens)

  • plant extracts,

  • alcohol,

  • PEGs (often contaminated with carcinogens),

  • fragrance/parfum & flavorings (which require no disclosure or testing and can contains hundreds of thousands of chemicals),

  • hydrolyzed wheat protein (thought to be unlikely to cause a gluten reaction except in very sensitive individuals),

  • retinyl palmitate (a cell disrupting potential carcinogen),

  • mineral oil (which can be contaminated with more dioxane),

  • aluminum,

  • titanium dioxide

  •  and water. 


You can probably figure out which of those ingredients you want to be putting on your skin every morning and kissing your kids or partner with and which you do not.



The Cosmetic Industry Is Hardly Regulated 

The FDA does not approve cosmetic ingredients before they hit the market with the exception of colorants. 

The FDA does not require “fragrance” or “flavoring” ingredients to be expanded on or made transparent to the public. Those words can mean absolutely any chemical, whether or not it has been tested for safety. 

The FDA is currently unable to issue mandatory recalls of cosmetics with known toxins in them such as lead or arsenic. That’s right. If L’Oreal knows their lipstick contains lead (as third-party testing has revealed), they have no obligation to pull it from the drugstore shelves. 

The FDA has no legal limits on heavy metals in cosmetics despite Health Canada’s guidance on the issue. 


Heavy Metals in Cosmetics Are Rampant

“Natural” mineral makeup is often times more likely to be contaminated than non-mineral makeup as the mining and manufacturing process of minerals makes heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium more bioavailable. 

The vast (vast) majority of cosmetics companies do not test their sources or their end products for heavy metals which can be contaminated in harmful amounts with repeated chronic exposure (such as daily or weekly use). Repeat exposure is key here. The FDA has recommended  cosmetic companies set the level of allowable lead in lip products to 10 ppm but it does not require this limit nor does it test marketplace products nor issue recalls if products exceed this amount.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different: 

Beautycounter triple tests each batch of color cosmetics for 12 of the most common heavy metals including lead, mercury, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and copper. We aim for non-detectable levels in every batch and often times achieve that or very low levels of 0.5 ppm (which is why we don’t believe any cosmetics company can truly call themselves “heavy metal free” for true transparency). I have yet to find another cosmetics company going to this level of testing for every single batch of ingredients and final product.  


Is Talc In Makeup Harmful?

In recent years, talc has gotten a bad rap in the media after a well-publicized lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson alleged their baby powder directly caused reproductive cancer. It turns out it wasn’t talc that was the issue but the asbestos-laden talc that J&J was sourcing for their best-selling baby powder. Sufficient evidence exists that J&J hid their knowledge of this asbestos contamination for decades from the public.


What Makes Beautycounter’s Makeup Different:

– Beautycounter sources only certified asbestos-free talc which is both tested by our trusted source as well as our own third-party tester for every single batch




These five Beautycounter makeup products perform like my old MAC & Sephora favorites & I’m always getting compliments on my makeup when I wear them! 

 1. Tint Skin Foundation: a lightweight, breathable and buildable foundation that helps you achieve that bright, hydrated and slightly luminous glow. It’s not a heavy matte foundation, which I prefer, as heavier foundations cause me to breakout or my skin to look dull and dry.

2.Luminous Highlighter These new highlighters are the best I’ve ever used (and I’m coming from MAC & Sephora) – finely milled cocoa butter powder helps them go on naturally but provide a noticeable and gorgeous glow. Apply to your cheekbones, bridge of nose, cupid’s bow, shoulders & anywhere else you want a natural glow with either the Powder Brush or Fan BrushThey can be used as eyeshadows too!

3. Color Intense LipstickI personally prefer a more matte, long-lasting lipstick so Beautycounter really upped the ante with this lipstick line. Safer lipsticks have the reputation or wearing off fast but not here! Don’t be fooled by the name – there are plenty of neutral colors including Brunch, Backstage, and First Date (for a light rosy pink). No gluten or soy either and you can rest assured you won’t be slathering your lips in lead or mercury as well! 

4. Velvet Eyeshadow Palette in Classic: To me, this is the perfect all-in-one day to night palette. Browns, neutrals and golds look beautiful on all skin tones and you can really achieve the most natural to a bold, dramatic look with this palette. I recommend the All Over, Crease and Precisioneyeshadow brushes for applying Beautycounter’s eyeshadows. Great mix of mattes & shimmers for all ages.

5. Touchup Concealer Pen: A sleepy mama’s dream come true for under-eye darkness, redness or breakouts. I love this Chanel-inspired concealer pen and how long it lasts me too. Just a few dabs under my eyes and in the corner of my nose where I’m prone to redness, and I’m looking like I got more than 6 hours of broken toddler-banging-on-our-door sleep! 



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Does our skin always absorb what we put on it?

Have you heard that “fact” that says what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream within 26 seconds? I heard it for years, and I would knowingly use toxic shave cream and body wash and frantically rinse it off before my 26 second in-my-head countdown went off!

Now that I’m more educated on what is safe for our skin, lungs and other organs, I can’t help but laugh at the sheer lunacy of my in-shower ritual.  There is an idea in the clean beauty industry that EVERYTHING we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream and causes dire health consequences. And that’s simply not true.



The everyday product I’m most passionate about helping others switch to safer is SKINCARE. Why? Because the average woman uses 12 products on her skin daily which can contain upwards of 100 different chemicals – most of them with little to no safety testing and many of them with proven harmful effects such as immunotoxicity, hormonal imbalance, reproductive/fetal harm, infertility, PCOS, autoimmunity, and cancer. 


While 100% of every chemical we put on our skin does NOT reach the bloodstream, many chemicals have UP TO a 60-70% absorption rate (some have a 0% absorption rate or will only be absorbed if skin is broken – i.e. a cut, scrape or open blemish). Each chemical we apply to our skin has a varying penetration and absorption rate. Some chemicals in presence of others increase absorption rate and broken skin significantly will increase rates as well. Molecule size affects the ability of products to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which is why there are certain chemicals we don’t have to worry about being absorbed like gluten (the molecule size in it’s non-hydrolyzed state is too large to penetrate the skin barrier) and silicone (which creates a barrier blocking absorption but can also clog pores). 


Think you’re completely immune to what goes on your skin entering your bloodstream though? I ignored the facts for years until I read countless studies showing correlative and causative links between the ingredients I was putting on my skin and my chronic health issues that DO NOT RUN IN MY FAMILY. I recommend using PubMed to do your own research too (search words like “phthalate”, “paraben”, “triclosan” “personal care products”) to find science-backed articles examining these particular chemicals. 


In fact, phthalates are one of the most heavily studied environmental toxins used widely in the personal care industry with dangerous health effects documented in hundreds of studies worldwide. Not only do their metabolites show up in your urine, but men with higher concentrations of phthalate metabolites in their urine also demonstrated decreased total sperm count and concentration as well as altered sperm morphology.







Did you ever see this ABC news segment showcasing the lab work results for the anchor who eliminated toxic chemicals from her skincare/makeup routine? Within less than a week of eliminating her previous products, her lab work showed a significant decrease in levels of harmful chemicals.


In a separate study, in just 3 days teenage girls who eliminated toxic personal care products saw a  significant reduction in the concentration of hormone-disrupting chemicals in their urine. Our bodies have several mechanisms for proper detox and methylation – they just need a break from the daily load in order to regain efficiency. Trust me, your internal organs will thank you for the support! We live in a toxic world and many of the toxins we simply can’t avoid (i.e. Round-Up impacts all of our air quality not just farmer’s), but the ones that touch our skin… we have an immediate ability to say “No” and choose better.



  • More than 200 chemicals have been found in the body of nearly all Americans – including newborn infants – and the majority of them have toxic or potentially toxic effects. These chemicals are frequently absorbed via the skin and respiratory system.

  • 16 different hormone-disrupting chemicals, linked to early puberty, hormonal imbalances, reproductive concerns, PCOS and more, were found in the bodies of teenage girls

  • Currently, more than 85,000 chemicals are registered for use in the marketplace with the vast majority of them with little to no safety testing

  • Only 2% of the chemicals in the marketplace have been verified for safe use on children




The clean beauty industry is growing rapidly which means there are plenty of safer options in the marketplace now. You can’t even walk down the beauty aisle of Wal-Mart without seeing packages adorned with green leaves and words like “all-natural” which hold no industry regulation. Greenwashing, or the marketing industry’s slippery tendency to use words, colors and images that mislead consumer’s to believe their products are “healthy” is a whole OTHER topic though.


The reason I personally support Beautycounter and joined their mission as a Consultant is because they set the bar high for industry safety standards. Our headquarters also works tirelessly to lobby for stricter regulation at the federal and state level – so we’re not just changing the industry with our products but with legislation too. I wanted to be able to provide my audience a solution to the very real problems I was presenting; a solution that I trusted, loved using myself and have been using on myself and my kid (soon to be kids) for over two years now, nearly exclusively.


Beautycounter’s strict ingredient screening (from source to finished product), contaminant and heavy metal testing, and commitment to only using ingredients they feel confident will not have a harmful effect on human, animal or environmental health is bar none. I’ve never found another makeup company that tests for heavy metals – let alone TRIPLE tests for them in every single batch. I find it empowering each day I’m applying my lipstick or foundation that I know *not just am guessing* my makeup has been tested this stringently.

And what makes every lifestyle change more doable? If you love what you’re doing or using! Think of how much easier it is to make a healthy dietary switch when you’re armed with the best-tasting recipes or starting a new fitness routine when the activity gives you joy! Same goes for personal care products – and Beautycounter has made the switch to safer so much easier for me because the products PERFORM like all my old toxic faves that I had so much fun playing with!


Take Beautycounter’s Skincare Quiz HERE for 10% off your regimen!


Take my 2-minute survey here & I’ll email you back with a budget-conscious routine addressing all your skincare concerns!