8 nasty chemicals that are in bottled beauty products

Bars over bottles

Bar soaps and products aren't just making a comeback due to their aesthetic and plastic-free credentials. They're also free from a range of toxic chemicals because bars only contain active ingredients. 

The average bottled product is between 60-95% water with a fraction of active ingredients. Water leads to the growth of mould and bacteria. This is why products with water must contain preservatives - most of which are synthetic.

Here are 8 nasty chemicals commonly found in conventional bottled beauty products and cosmetics:


The synthetic preservative with a bad reputation. This is due to a study that found concentrations of methylparaben in breast tumors. While this research didn't prove that parabens can cause cancer, it lead to many buyers looking for products without paraben preservatives.


This stuff isn't just used to embalm dead bodies, formaldehyde is used as a preservative in liquid personal care products too. It's officially listed as a carcinogen which means it's known to cause cancer.

Coal Tar

Permanent hair dyes are sometimes referred to as coal-tar dyes because they contain colourless substances such as aromatic amines and phenols. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, these substances go through chemical reactions to become dyes. Research has shown hair dyes may increase the risk for certain types of cancer due to these chemicals. 


Also known Kanthon, was named the 2013 Allergen of the Year. Methylisothiazolinone is widely used as preservative in personal care products and has been credited with causing an epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis.


Phthalates are a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. They're used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Phthalates also appear in many personal care products, often disguised under the general term "fragrance" or "parfum."



This preservative has taken the place of parabens after they became an unpopular additive. Phenoxyethanol may cause central nervous system damage in infants so it's best to avoid if you're pregnant, breastfeeding or using on babies and toddlers. 


While alcohols might not have the carcinogenic status of other toxic chemicals, it can still have a negative impact. That's because alcohol is very drying. Ironically, it's a common ingredient in moisturisers, lotions, conditioners and other products that are supposed to be 'hydrating.'

Heavy metals

While they won't appear on the label, heavy metals are often present in cosmetics as impurities from ingredients. In a study by University of California, researchers found nine toxic heavy metals including cadmium, aluminium and lead in testing of popular lip glosses and lipsticks. These chemicals are known neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors.

The preservatives needed in these bottled products are there due to the high water content. Switching to eco bars is the easiest way to ditch the known carcinogens found in many bottled products. Download our free guide on how to "Stop Paying For Water" which will show you how to easily find or make waterless products for yourself and your home: