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5 Most Toxic Ingredients in Eyeliner

5 Most Toxic Ingredients in Eyeliner

Is your eyeliner toxic? 


Avoid these 5 ingredients to prevent eye irritation.


We've heard it all before..

"Don't use these products."

"This causes cancer!"

But seriously, there are a few ingredients that can cause major irritation and even more severe long term effects to your health. We're going to break down the 5 most common ingredients found in eyeliner, what they're used for, what names they are typically disguised as, and why to avoid them.


1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde ingredient cosmetics eyeliner



Embalming ingredients.. in eye makeup?! Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in eye makeup. It can irritate skin, eyes and other senses. 


Common names are: Methylene glycol, formalin, formic aldehyde.

Why you should avoid it:

While the health effects are still actively being tested, there have been some notable discoveries thus far. And remember, cigarettes were considered healthy for decades! So just because testing isn't complete, doesn't mean an ingredient is ok.

Health effect information:

Canada - Banned in aerosol cosmetics.

Europe - Banned in cosmetics.

California - Banned in cosmetics.


2. Parabens


paraben ingredient cosmetics


What is a paraben? It's a type of preservative mostly used in skincare and hair products, but still can be found in several cosmetics. This ingredient allows products to have an extended shelf life and prevents the growth of mold and bacteria.


Common names are: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and any ingredient ending in "paraben."


Why you should avoid it:

Parabens are an endocrine disrupter, which means it messes with your body's hormones. In women, it mimics the hormone "oestrogen," which can increase breast cell division and accelerate the development of breast cancer.

Health effect information:

 Europe - A substance of very high concern due to endocrine disrupting properties

- Strong evidence of human endocrine disruption

Cosmetic Ingredient Review Assessments - Strong evidence of human skin allergan.



3. Lead


lead ingredient cosmetics eyeliner


Lead.. in cosmetics?! You bet. While it is not legal to have lead or lead byproducts I cosmetics, there is a legal threshold of acceptable amounts (10ppm). Product recalls are common for containing lead levels that exceed the threshold. Since lead is a naturally occurring element, it is common for trace amounts to appear in other color pigments.


Common names: Lead isn't allowed in products as a listed ingredient, therefore it is best to stay updated on product recalls for safe threshold violations.

Why you should avoid it:

Can cause cancer, reproductive and organ toxicity.

Most countries have banned it's use in cosmetics, however the US allows restricted amounts.


4. BAK (Benzalkonium chloride)


Benzalkonium chloride cosmetic ingredient eyeliner


Benzalkonium chloride is a preservative found in mascara and eyeliner to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Common names: Zephiran, alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride

Why you should avoid it:

Human skin allergen - strong evidence.

Human immune toxicant or allergen - strong evidence.


5. Prime yellow carnauba wax


Prime yellow carnauba wax cosmetic ingredient harm


Carnauba wax is used to stiffen products and make them waterproof. Seems harmless right? I mean what can wax really do that's that bad? Read on to find out how it's harmful.

Common names: Copernicia cerifera wax, Palm wax.

Why you should avoid it:

While carnauba wax is not toxic, the wax can clog pores in the eye area and lead to dry eye disease, styes and other infections.



 Final thoughts

It can be challenging to know what ingredients are safe in cosmetic products, but rest assured that with a little research and help you can stock up on clean cosmetics.

At Bali Lash, we provide non toxic, vegan products so you won't have to ever second guess what you're putting on your skin.

Check out our adhesive eyeliner if you're looking to update your eyeliner to a toxic free one.


shop now adhesive eyeliner


*For further information please check out


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