chemicals animal ingredients in makeup

6 Shocking Ingredients Hiding in Your Favorite Makeup Products

As many of you know, I have been making an effort to switch to a more conscientious makeup routine. For me, that means only buying cruelty-free makeup, not using makeup with animal derived ingredients, and being more aware of what chemicals and harmful substances are in the products I use every day. For more information on why I made the switch, check out this post!

Making that switch resulted in discovering a ton of stomach-turning ingredients that I can’t believe I once put on my face and body. Not only did I discover common ingredients in makeup that are plain disgusting, but many that can be harmful to your health and potentially cause serious long-term effects.

Below are a few of the many ingredients that I have learned to avoid since making the switch. Please keep in mind that not every single one of these ingredients is toxic—some are just gross.


Carmine is an extremely common ingredient in cosmetics made from crushed up red beetles. Yes, you read that right—carmine is made from dead bugs. This ingredient is used as a red dye in all types of makeup from lipsticks to blushes and eyeshadows.

After checking out ingredients lists of makeup I already own, I have found that this is extremely common, especially in eyeshadows. This isn’t necessarily cruel but putting dead beetles in makeup is just gross.


Lanolin is another common ingredient derived from animal products. Lanolin is cultivated from natural oils found on sheep hair. Yes, you are getting moisture from a greasy, greasy sheep.

Although this substance is generally safe for adults, it often contains sweat, dust, pollen or fecal matter before it is refined. Because of this, it is recommended to use extra caution when breastfeeding due to babies’ developing immune systems.

I’m no baby but I will definitely be avoiding this product from now on. One place I found this ingredient was in my shaving cream. It is also used in many ointments, creams, and heavy moisturizers. 


BHA and BHT are preservatives used commonly in makeup and food products. Although still widely used, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified BHA to potentially cause cancer and hormonal issues in humans. Some states in the US require warning labels on products that use BHA, but it can still be found in lip products and other cosmetics that use oils. 

I would highly recommend avoiding BHA and BHT, especially if you are pregnant! Luckily this one can easily be found on ingredients labels. 


Keratin is a hair and nail strengthener made from animal protein. It is basically a ground up cocktail of hooves, fur, claws, horns, quills and teeth. For the longest time, I had no idea where this ingredient was sourced and put it on my hair without a problem. Keratin is safe for use but should definitely be avoided by consumers who are looking for cruelty-free cosmetics! 

Now that I know where keratin comes from I do my best to avoid it. I don’t know about you, but ground up hooves and teeth will not be going in my hair!


I bet you would have never guessed that this anti-aging ingredient is extracted from the urine of pregnant horses! This nasty hormone is used in perfumes, and anti-aging creams and lotions. It can also be found in high-risk medications to treat menopause.

Not only is this ingredient really gross, but potentially harmful. Estradiol is just another name for the hormone estrogen, which can be damaging to your natural endocrine system, especially when taken as a medication sourced from horse pee.

I would love to never have wrinkles but I am sure there are better ways to take care of my skin than using horse urine! Ew.

PTFE, aka Teflon®

PTFE, listed as Polytetrafluoroethylene (that’s a mouthful), can be found in cosmetics but is more commonly known as the nonstick lining of cooking pans, Teflon. Teflon is a brand name owned by chemical and pesticide company, DuPont. This ingredient is used in mineral makeup, nail polish, skin care products, and others as a binder, conditioner, and to fill fine lines and wrinkles.

That’s all good and dandy, but studies show a certain acid (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) sometimes present in this chemical can cause cancer, immune system side effects, and developmental effects even at low doses.

Yikes! That is enough info for me to avoid PTFE overall, even if the presence of perfluorooctanoic acid is not always a given.

Dangerous chemicals and animal ingredients hiding in makeup

Please share this article on Facebook and Pinterest to spread the message. 🙂 For more lifestyle posts and info on cruelty-free and vegan living as a makeup addict, subscribe to my newsletter here!

More information:

10 Common Cosmetic Ingredients That Are Derived From Animal Products

10 Creepy Animal Ingredients Lurking in Your Cosmetics

‘Dirty Dozen’ cosmetic chemicals to avoid


  • Reply Sara Laughed November 28, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Oh man, I read about Carmine when I was in elementary school and the thought had stuck with me ever since! I’m trying to transition to cruelty-free makeup, a lot of which also doesn’t have a ton of preservatives or other icky ingredients. I’ll keep an eye out for these on the ingredients list!

  • Reply Mckenna Bleu November 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

    I didnt know what makes up some of these ingredients! You have to check what your makeup is made from!

  • Reply Rachel Ritlop November 28, 2016 at 10:57 am

    holy moly, I try not to think about all of this and also try not to wear make up because of all of this haha it’s all so overwhelming! I like the idea of going cruelty free is cool – i don’t care so much about wearing dead beatles, it’s just hurting the horses and stuff makes me sad

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

  • Reply Jenny November 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Very interesting. I didn’t know about any of this but I am glad to be informed now.

  • Reply Elly Leavitt November 28, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    tbh I try not to think of these things but you’re right, it’s important to stay informed! thanks for sharing and doing your part to help others learn these things xx

  • Reply Alix Maza November 28, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Okay, totally thinking twice about what’s in my makeup now! Great/scary post.

    Alix |

  • Reply Annaliese November 29, 2016 at 8:10 am

    I wish that more makeup came cruelty free!! Definitely good to be conscious of what we’re wearing on our faces!

    xoxo A

  • Reply Seersucker Sass November 29, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    This makes me thankful that I rarely wear makeup! It’s wild what we are truly putting on our skin.

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  • Reply nicole leigh November 30, 2016 at 10:46 am

    wow, this was a super interesting read. one of my goals for the new year is to update my skincare/makeup regime with all-natural products, so I loved reading about all this. thanks for sharing girl! x, nicole //

  • Reply Carolyn November 30, 2016 at 11:02 am

    LOVING these posts on your blog. I wear makeup in some form pretty much everyday (and make Youtube videos about it and spend way too much money on it) and this is so yucky to think about!

  • Reply Hannah November 30, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Wow i really loved reading through this and learning all the different things in my make-up! It’s kind of scary that most people don’t know (including myself) whats in our make up. Thanks for sharing this!


  • Leave a Reply