The Dirty Truth About Your Beauty Products

Illustration by Korri Lacalamita

You’ve detoxed your diet, and know all about eating clean, but do you know that hundreds of potentially dangerous chemicals could be lurking in your bathroom cabinet. Find out how you can clean up your cosmetics, without compromising on quality.

We all know ALL about detoxing. No doubt you’ve done a juice cleanse, or two. Perhaps you have even spent a fortune on foul smelling herbs that claim to cleanse your colon. But did you know that what you put ON your body is just as important as what your put IN it.

If you aren’t detoxing your make-up bag, and skincare routine, you are at risk of exposing yourself to a myriad of harmful toxins and carcinogens on a daily basis. It is estimated that on average a woman is exposed to an alarming 180 chemicals a day via her beauty products.

As the ‘clean eating’ movement has grown, we have all become much more aware of the pollutants and toxins in our diets.

We all know the benefits of eating organic foods, which are free from pesticides known to compromise health and vitality. Yet as a nutritionist I am always amazed by the people I meet who have the cleanest diets and yet expose themselves to hundreds of damaging chemicals every day via their skincare and beauty regime.

In fact, most people are completely unaware of the damage this exposure could be having to their long term health, and even fertility.

The skin is in fact the largest organ in the body, and it is said that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat, as it passes directly into the bloodstream, just like food.

Whilst we may check the ingredients of our food packaging, most of us are less discerning when it comes to our beauty products. But alarmingly your favourite lipstick and moisturizer may contain a cocktail of chemicals which are far from beautiful, including lead and formaldehyde.

Swapping your tried and trusted products may seem slightly daunting, but as more and more  brands begin to offer natural formulations, it is possible to say no to the nasties without compromising on quality.

A good starting point is to replace some of your main daily products such as body lotion or fake tan with more natural formulations. Paraben free formulations are now easily accessible in chemists and supermarkets and come without a hefty price-tag.

I first detoxed my cosmetics when I was trying to conceive, and have never looked back. Here are my pick of some of the best natural skincare and cosmetics brands around now.

Nails- The Organic Pharmacy, Pacifica, Little Ondine

Fake tan- Palmers Natural Bronze Body Lotion, Green people safe tan, Eco Tan

Sun lotion - Green People, Jason

Bath & Shower- Dr Bronner’s, Avalon Organics

Lips- Burts Bees, Dr Hauschka

Cheeks & Eyes- Bennecos, Dr Hauschka, Odylique

Hair- Avalon organics

Skin- Antipodes, Sukin, Neals Yard

Foundation/Tinted moisturizer- Lavera, Zao, Inika Organic

Always read the label. Here are some of the most common chemicals used in your everyday products, and how they could impact your health:


These chemicals are used to ‘plasticize’ products such as nail varnish and lip balm, enabling them to hold colour and fragrance. They are known to disrupt the endocrine system (which produces hormones), and have even been linked to both male and female infertility and conditions such as endometriosis.

2. Lead

You would probably think twice about sucking on the lead in your pencil, so why are you putting it on your skin? Amazingly despite being taken out of products such as paint as a result of safety concerns, lead is still used in foundations and lipsticks due to the colour pigments used.

Lead is a known neurotoxin which has been linked to infertility and even miscarriage.

Look for products coloured with natural pigments from brands such as Dr Haushka.


You will no doubt recognize formaldehyde as rather nasty chemical used in building products. It is a known carcinogen and has been linked to asthma. Formaldehyde is used as a hardening agent in many nail varnishes (one of the most toxic of all beauty products, and one you should certainly try and detox).

4. Parabens

Many products now claim to be paraben free, and most of us are aware that parabens are one of the main skincare ingredients we should avoid at all costs. Parabens are used as a preservative, but are known to mimic oestrogen, and have been found in human breast cancer tissue.

Beware of phenoxyethanol which many companies have used to replace parabens, which unfortunately comes with the same harmful side effects.

Editor's Note: If you want to learn more about Organic skin care, food, and just why choosing organic is a positive step for your health, wellbeing, and the planet, then join Balance Garden at the Go Organic Festival by entering our giveaway to win a pair of tickets!


Amy Huggins is a nutritional therapist and fertility specialist. After being diagnosed as infertile, she used nutrition and naturopathic techniques to heal her body and reverse her diagnosis, giving birth to her first child in 2017. Amy now helps women achieve their dream of motherhood with nutritional and lifestyle coaching. You can find out more about Amy and her work over on her website or instagram, twitter or facebook