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5 Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Mascara

woman applying mascara 5 harmful ingredients to avoid

Mascara is like the cherry on top of any makeup look. Its ability to enhance the lashes makes it arguably one of the most important steps in any routine. Unfortunately, many popular mascara brands contain harmful ingredients that shouldn’t go anywhere near your body, especially your eyes. To assist you on your quest for clean beauty, we’ve created a list of harmful ingredients to avoid in mascara. Humble brag- none of these can be found in Sacred Child Beauty’s products.

False lashes and mascara with toxic ingredients to avoid

Harmful ingredients to avoid in mascara

Formaldehyde/Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives (FRP’s)

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen used in mascara as a preservative. It can be added directly into personal care products or released from other preservatives such as Bronopol and Quaternium-15. While FRP’s keep microbe growth at bay, they are linked to allergic reactions and an increase in liver toxicity. Yuck.


Similar to formaldehyde, parabens are used as preservatives in cosmetics to prevent bacteria growth and increase shelf life. When using a mascara with parabens, it is absorbed by the skin through small pores around your eyes. Parabens are linked to breast cancer because of the way they mimic the hormone estrogen. Not to mention, they negatively affect the environment by killing coral and poisoning marine animals when released in waste streams.

A clean alternative for parabens is the ingredient caprylyl glycol which can be found in our mascara.

Coal Tar Dyes

Coal tar dyes, derivatives of coal, are artificial coloring agents used to give mascara that signature black tint. Not only do they contain heavy metals, but they are carcinogenic when applied to the skin. Keep an eye out for the ingredients FD & C Blue no. 1 or Carbon Black if you want to avoid toxic dyes. These harmful coal derivatives can be found in many popular brands of mascaras, including Thrive Causemetics, Smashbox, and Too Faced. You don’t want to find any of these mascaras in your stocking this holiday season, unless you’re on the naughty list. 

close-up of eye with mascara, 5 harmful ingredients to avoid

Retinyl Acetate

Retinyl acetate is a synthetic form of retinol (Vitamin A) that has moisturizing properties. While it may sound harmless, retinyl acetate is known to cause reproductive harm and is a potential carcinogen. It is rated a 9 on the EWG hazard scale. A real eye opener! Be sure to steer clear.


Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are synthetic antioxidants derived from petroleum and included in mascara for preservation. BHA is an endocrine disruptor because it interferes with hormone function and it is classified as… you guessed it, a carcinogen!  BHT can cause liver, thyroid, and kidney problems as well as decreased lung function. No, thank you.

The cosmetics market is highly unregulated which is why these ingredients have made their way into your favorite tube of liquid magic. Sacred Child Beauty is dedicated to providing non-toxic makeup so you can feel and look your best from the inside out. Our mascara and lash primers are formulated with clean ingredients without sacrificing the dark pigment and length you know and love.

For more information about harmful ingredients to avoid in mascara, visit Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database that rates mascara brands on a scale of 1 (safe) to 10 (hazardous) based on their ingredient lists. 










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