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Happy Halloween! Today, we will be eating candy, passing out goodies to trick-or-treaters, and witnessing our fair share of costume frights and haunted house scares. While all of this make-believe stuff can be spooky, it is not nearly as scary as some of the ingredients that are legal for companies to put into cosmetics in the U.S. Here are some scary ingredients that are lurking in your make up products.

Allergies and Asthma Triggers

Makeup can smell really really good sometimes, like fruit or candy, but it comes with a side effect. Watch out for “parfum” (fragrance), as some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Also watch out for diethylphthalate, or DEP, which is widely used in cosmetic fragrances to make the scent linger.

Endocrine Disruptors

Mascara is widely used among women, but those cute pink, black, blue, orange, purple and lime green-colored tubes can contain parabens. What’s scary is that parabens happen to be the most widely used preservative in cosmetics yet are harmful. Parabens mimics the hormone estrogen and have a potential tie to breast cancer. Common parabens in mascara include ethylparaben and methylparaben, both of which are considered carcinogenic and banned by the European Union.

Phthalates are other known endocrine disruptors. The ones frequently used in cosmetics are dibutylphthalate (DBP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and diethylphthalate (DEP, also mentioned above).

Possible Cancer Causers

Aside from parabens listed above and their potential link to breast cancer, there are other toxins we can link to the disease, as well, like BHT and BHA, two preservatives that are used in makeup. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen. It’s also toxic to fish – a United Nations Environment Program assessment stated that BHT had a “moderate to high potential for bioaccumulation in aquatic species.”

Formaldehyde Releasers

Do you see these ingredients on the back of your makeup? DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15 are used in cosmetics. They also release a small amount of formaldehyde, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies as a known human carcinogen.

Some Tips for Avoiding Toxins

Check out Think Dirty, a handy app that scans your cosmetics for toxins and potential carcinogens. If you’re ever unsure about an ingredient, you can scan and get a quick answer!

It’s important that you search for buzz words like “paraben free” on your products and watch out for the harmful ingredients listed above. Also, you could try some DIY Eyeshadow, DIY Bronzer, DIY Perfume and Cologne, and check out these 10 Safe, Soft, and Cruelty-Free Make-Up Brushes.

Lead image source: re_/Flickr