Cosmetic Ingredients Banned in Europe

Written by andrea julian
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Cosmetic Ingredients Banned in Europe
Many ingredients banned from cosmetics in Europe are still approved for use in the U.S. (Cosmetics image by Ellanorah from

There are 1,136 ingredients that are banned for use in cosmetics sold in the European Union, and the list is growing. Harmful chemicals used in soaps and shampoos can be turned to gas when used in a hot shower, released into the air, and inhaled. Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin when used in make-up and lotions, leading to dermatological and other health problems. Cosmetics on the list have adverse health affects on humans, based on their Material Data Safety Sheets, forms required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


Nickel is a known carcinogen and is toxic by all routes of entry. It has also been linked to many skin irritations and allergies by dermatologists. Nickel is often found in American laundry detergents and eye shadows. Nickel allergies are fairly common, and a dermatologist can determine if you are suffering from a reaction to nickel through patch testing.


This chemical is commonly used as a foaming agent in soaps and as a skin conditioner in lotions. It is a skin irritant, eye irritant, and harmful if ingested or inhaled. Acetamide is listed as being a suspected human carcinogen; it is known to be toxic to the blood, lungs, central nervous system, reproductive system (males and females), mucous membranes and the cardiovascular system. Prolonged or repeated exposure can cause organ damage.

Butyl Glycidyl Ether

Butyl Glycidyl Ether is reported to cause irritations to the skin and respiratory tract, and is flammable in liquid and vapour form. It is a common chemical that enjoys a wide range of uses within industry, including use as a reactive diluent and an intermediate in epoxy resins. Butyl Glycidyl Ether is used in many common household products and nail polish.


The Material Safety Data Sheet on Hexane reports that it's severely flammable and life threatening. It is commonly used in the cosmetics industry as a base in perfumes. Upon inhalation, it irritates the respiratory track and may cause lightheartedness, nausea, headache and blurred vision. Long-term overexposure can cause muscle weakness, numbness of the extremities, unconsciousness and even death.


Mercury has a level 4 health rating, meaning it is an extremely threatening chemical. Mercury is a known brain toxin and upon ingestion it can cause renal failure leading to death. Chronic exposure can lead to memory loss, behaviour changes, digestive disorder, and brain and kidney damage. In addition to being an ingredient in most vaccines (under the trade name Thimerosal), it is also found in mascara, eye liners and skin-lightening creams.

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