Heavy Metals in Your Beauty Products? How to Protect Yourself

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

Are there Heavy Metals in your cosmetics? I had no idea about this until recently. Here's what you need to know and what you can do about it.

I've been concerned about heavy metal toxicity for a long time, but I never thought about heavy metals in cosmetics.

For years I have seen different natural practitioners for things like candida, thyroid disease, adrenal fatigue.  And several times a practitioner would mention mercury or other heavy metals as being an issue.  I didn't really know what to think.

I got my mercury fillings removed (even though I didn't have many and they were really small), and took zeolite which for sure showed that I had some kind of heavy metal problem (when I took it, my urine smelled like metals for two weeks), and later did a program that was supposed to help my body release the metals on its own.  I'd also heard about chelating metals via an IV, but was pretty concerned about the safety of that method.

One thing kept bothering me…..

Where was all of this metal coming from?

Heavy Metals

Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Mercury are the metals that are of the greatest concern and they are linked to all kinds of health problems.

When you think about heavy metals, typically you think about their presence in water, soil (we got our soil tested when we planted our gardens), cigarette smoke, paint (lead), vaccines, and fluorescent bulbs.

One thing I never thought of was my foundation or my mascara.

Would you believe that heavy metals might be lurking in your beauty products?

I wouldn't have thought so either, but it's true.

Heavy Metals in Makeup

Mercury has been found in skin whitening creams (1 woman in the article had 100 times the average amount of mercury in her urine!) (Source [1] [2]. Lead, cadmium, chromium, manganese, and aluminum have been found in lipstick and lip glosses (some in very unsafe levels). Basically, in all kinds of color cosmetics, heavy metal contamination has been discovered. (Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4])

Regulation of the beauty industry is basically non existent.  In fact, here in the U.S., the federal government hasn't passed a law to regulate ingredients in beauty products since 1937 (yes, you read that right). (Source)

Even if there were “safe” levels determined for these products, when you add up the exposures that most women get between multiple beauty products and other exposures (think the air, water, food, bulbs, etc. listed above), then toxic levels can be more easily reached.

Are there Heavy Metals in your cosmetics? I had no idea about this until recently.. Here's what you need to know and what you can do about it.

Changing My Cosmetics

Now, I'm not a big makeup kind of gal, but I've worn a little throughout the years, and as I've gotten older I've worn a bit more –some foundation, an eye pencil and some mascara.

About 3 years ago I started switching over to more natural, organic products, and even tinkered with a few DIY versions.

It's been a long road, trying many brands.  And revisiting some again and again to really figure out what I like.

I'm glad that I have found some products that work for me, without sacrificing my health.

What You Can Do

Basically, you need to get informed.

Know what's in your products and know your manufacturer.

And what about DIY / Natural / Organic Cosmetic companies?

If you've been around Whole New Mom for awhile, you know that I LOVE making almost anything from scratch, from coconut milk to weed killer. Well, I love the idea of DIY personal care products too.  I make my own Eye Makeup Remover, Body Wash, and Hair Rinse, and even bought the ingredients to make my own face powder and foundation this past year.

But now I am not so sure I'll be using it.  In fact, I just sent the manufacturer an email asking about heavy metals in the iron oxides, etc. that I purchased to see what they have to say.

Because mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and more–they're all natural products.  So even if your products are “natural” or “organic” or DIY, if they have metals in them, they can still harbor dangerous heavy metals inside at unsafe levels.

1.  Skip the Color Cosmetics – well, maybe.

If you want to completely avoid heavy metals, you just might have to avoid color cosmetics completely and skip the whitening creams too.  Whitening toothpastes have also been known to have heavy metal contamination / ingredients too.

To be as safe as possible, skip the foundation, the blush, the eye pencil, the lipstick, the lip gloss, the mascara, and the eye shadow.  Unless you can find a line of products that uses only plant-based colors.  Keep reading…..

But if you, like me, want a little color on your face, then you need to do your homework.

2.  Check Your Products for Safety

Go to Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep directory to see what is in your products.   Keep in mind, however, that only ingredients are listed — not contaminants.  So what is listed on the label is only part of the picture.

3.  Buy from a Safe Company

Contact different companies and see what they have to say about heavy metals and their products.  Ask if they batch test and what the presence is of heavy metals in their products.

I buy my cosmetics from several companies, since I don't think that one size really fits all, unless you're talking an umbrella :).

But most of my makeup comes from Beautycounter.

Beautycounter tests every single batch of their products for the presence of heavy metals — they're that serious.

Plus their makeup performs fabulously.


Christy Coleman is a world famous makeup artist, and she is behind all of the cosmetics at Beautycounter. She's done covers for Teen Vogue, Elle, Glamour, and more.  She knows what looks good.

Her goal is to have Beautycounter's makeup to be good enough for the runway, and perfect for every day as well.

And it is.

Beautycounter's mascara is practically waterproof without being toxic!

I once got caught in a downpour while wearing Beautycounter's mascara, and it didn't run one bit!  (That's really something for the Queen of Smudge — that's me :).)

Beautycounter's lipstick is the only one I have ever been able to wear.  My personal faves are Petal and Twig, with Terra being a close third.

Beautycounter also has a fabulous 60 day return policy, so you can buy without risk.  And I bet you'll love your purchase.

Here is a very informational graphic showing the concerns of heavy metals in cosmetics, as well as how you can avoid the dangerous risks.

Are there Heavy Metals in your cosmetics? Probably. Here's what you need to know and what you can do about it.


Read more here about what I love about Beautycounter.

No matter where you shop, make sure you do your homework and keep the heavy metals off of your face — 'cause no one needs that stuff in their makeup.

What brand of cosmetics / beauty products do you use?
What do you think about this?

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Hi, what do you think about the 100% Pure makeup company?

    • I am trying them out soon. I used their eye cream in the past and that didn’t work well for me, but trying other things next. Have you tried them? Thoughts?

      UPDATE 5/18/17 I will not be recommending their company for various reasons.

    • Hello there. Update – I am digging into them and am having issues with their fragrances. I can’t get the answers that I need about them. I hope to have more information but they are saying that they have a heat extracted coconut extract in their hair products and I can’t find such a product anywhere on the internet so I’m stumped. I have talked to a soap company that didn’t understand either as well as another extract company so I want to talk to one more. It’s a puzzle and I’m not comfortable yet. I am happy to help with other companies but so far can’t recommend this one.

  2. Connie Mauch says:

    I have been using some of the 100% Pure products. The mascara for me seems to be light. After a day at work I get home & it looks like I don’t have any on. I use the tinted moisturizer & love it. I heard about the Ava Anderson from my sister. Would like to try it but haven’t gotten around to ordering it yet. Now I see Suzanne Sommers has a makeup line out. Anyone tried her products yet?

    • Haven’t tried them -sorry.

      • Okay so I have been searching for a company that sells cosmetics that are free of the heavy metals. I looked at the Beauty Counter site, as well as Ava Anderson that you mentioned. I also looked into the other one mentioned above by someone Rejuva. Those three look pretty good so far. It looks like you are a consultant for the two you mentioned is there one you prefer over the other?? I really want to find something natural. I love Young Living Essential Oils and really want to find makeup that is more natural as well.

        • Hi there. I see why that is confusing. I am almost for sure moving away from Beautycounter and towards Ava Anderson. I have multiple thoughts about that, but if you look at the ingredients you will see that the Ava Anderson ones are much cleaner. Beautycounter is doing a great job of moving away from the toxic ingredients in most makeup and skincare and towards safer contents. What exactly are you looking for re: cosmetics? The Ava Anderson lip glosses are lovely and their mascara is fantastic. Happy to help with all of it. There are few items that Ava Anderson doesn’t carry, like eye pencil, but they do have an eyeliner. I suspect they will have it soon, but not yet. Hope that helps.

          Update – Ava Anderson had a lot of mislabeling and other issues so I no longer recommend them nor their new brand, Pure Haven Essentials.

          • I am mainly looking for makeup, I am not one to wear a ton of makeup or even to wear it everyday, but I do like to wear it and want to feel good about it. I am trying to get into using better products in general, but it can all be very overwhelming. I will see something that looks good and then look a little deeper and maybe something else is saying that it is not so good. I have people I know that use Arbonne, and some use Younique, but from what I read there are still some questionable things in those. I know that there is not a perfect line out there I just want to find what will be best and affordable. It really is a lot to take in 🙂

          • Hi there. Yes, I am not a fan of many of the ingredients in those lines. This list from Ava Anderson might be of interest to you. It has a list of ingredients to avoid. https://extranet.securefreedom.com/Ava/Personal/Resources/Did%20u%20know.pdf Update – Ava Anderson had a lot of mislabeling and other issues so I no longer recommend them nor their new brand, Pure Haven Essentials.

            They have a new one out now but I don’t have a link to that. Hope that helps.

  3. I sale beautycounter and I will never use anything else. I get so many compliments on how beautiful my skin looks. I was so so shocked to find out what I did about cosmetics and personal care. This is a great article. Thanks for posting it.

  4. You are such a great resource … I only just recently found your blog … I’m in the process of reducing the chemicals, metals and nastiness … two almost adult kids, one with asthma one recently diagnosed with gluten sensitivities and dust mite allergies. Her allergist told us to be vigilant in finding GF make-up that is also dust mite free. This brings me to ask … do you know if Beautycounter products are gluten free? And do you know if they test for dust mites? We discovered my daughter’s dust mite allergy months after we went to the ER with an allergic reaction following a meal of GF/organic pancakes … after several visits to an allergist he told us she has “pancake syndrome” … caused by dust mites in packaged mixes and flours … basically every baking mix and flour product (bottled dry spices and herbs too) has the potential of having dust mites … baked goods (like cakes, brownies, etc.) cook at a higher temperature and for a longer period than pancakes … apparently the dust mites were still alive in her pancakes and caused the allergic reaction. Soooo, dust mites in makeup is yet another issue my family is trying to eliminate in our products. She’s currently using GF-make up from Tarte and so far, no problems.

    • Hi there. Thanks for your encouragement – it means a great deal. As for the gluten and dust mites….I have never heard of dust mites in products — food or otherwise, but I am happy to find out whatever would help you. As for gluten, there is a very detailed response to that on the Beautycounter site. I looked at Tarte’s and it appears that they do not have a definitive “gluten free” statement, but that they state that they do not use gluten to formulate their products. The information on gluten from Beautycounter is on this page under their FAQs. I would think that you would be fine with all or most of their products, but you can also rest assured that they have a 60 day full refund policy so you could try whatever you like and return it if it doesn’t work. The last I heard their return rate was only 1.3%.

      Here is the FAQ section. http://www.beautycounter.com/faqs/?ConsultantFirstName=Adrienne&ConsultantID=125903&ConsultantLastName=Urban

      Feel free to comment with any other concerns. Is there something I can ask them about the dust mites? Did you ask Tarte about that and if so, what was their response?

      You can also email me at wholenewmom at gmail dot com if you like.

    • Hey Sharyn, have you heard about Danielle Walker from Against All Grains? She is a on very strict gluten-free diet and she recently started using Beautycounter products, including makeup 🙂 She has zero reactions to them and even joined the company as a consultant 🙂 She is very sensitive to gluten so she also needs to be very careful.

      • Thanks for sharing, Kasia. That’s very true. There are some people who are celiac who avoid certain Beautycounter products but for the most part they are not an issue. Thanks again!

  5. Thank you for sharing this information! I thin the heavy metal screening that Beautycounter uses is incredible and I’m so glad someone is out there asking the hard questions. I don’t think we need to sacrifice having fun with make up and our health!

  6. It’s scary that this stuff is so pervasive. No wonder people are experiencing so ,any health issues! I’m now starting to make more and more of my own beauty products. My latest favorite is a homemade face serum that has made an amazing difference in my skin. I wrote about it here: http://everydaymindfulliving.com/amazing-homemade-face-serum/

    • Looks interesting. Thanks! I know – the heavy metal thing really upset me. I had no idea. To see how much is in some cosmetics is really frightening.

  7. You say you “took zeolite” could you explain the exact regimen? Also, what was the ‘program that was supposed to help the body release the metals on it’s own’? Thanks!
    I am not much for makeup, but I HAVE to have mascara! I have been using the 100% PURE mascara it smells wonderful and does a good job, but a bit too light, so I ‘beefed’ it up with some homemade mascara recipes, which has helped a lot. I also use a tiny bit of cream makeup to even out my skin, but when it is gone, I plan to make my own using recipes found on blogs like this (you might have even had one or two recipes here)…

    • Yes, there is more in this post about what I did. I did nutritional balancing but I am not sure it really did that much for me. It was all about hair analysis and I have moved on since. I don’t use a lot either…foundation and eye pencil and mascara pretty much. Does the 100% pure smudge? I am going to have to ask them about metals. Beautycounter is coming out with one soon apparently so I am excited about that and about ditching my Cover Girl :(. I have a few recipes – eye makeup remover and hair rinse and such. I hope to have a few more soon. Thanks!

  8. Rejuva Minerals tests for heavy metals and they are rated quite well on EWG Cosmetics Safety Database.

  9. Thank you for the article. Have known this for years and am glad you put all the info together in a good informative article! I don’t wear make-up and haven’t for decades now….. I’m sending this to my sister who uses all kinds of make-up…maybe she will believe me now!
    Question: What type of Zeolite do you use? Powder, liquid or capsules? Where do you purchase it? I am a Dental Hygienist and have mercury toxicity! I did do chelations years ago, however, I’d like to start detxoing again. Thank you!

  10. Who do you purchase your mascara from?

    • Right now, sadly, I buy Cover Girl, b/c I think I have literally tried every natural one on the market and they all smudged :(. But Beautycounter is coming out with a mascara soon so I am really looking forward to it. Do you have smudging issues too?

  11. Wow, so interesting, thank you! Makes me kind of sad.

    • You are so welcome. I agree with you. I was shocked to learn all of this too. What product line are you using, by the way?

      • Currently, I’m using basic mainstream products like Lorac, Urban Decay, Tarte, etc. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve become interested in products that aren’t toxic to my health.

        • I want to get my certification in makeup though, specifically because I adore makeup. So finding this out is a huge bummer haha

          • Oh wow. Well, you could follow in the footsteps of Christie Coleman at Beautycounter. She’s amazing. If you go here you can see her in a video with their products. She does covers for Elle, Teen Vogue and Glamour – she’s uber talented. Apparently her relative developed Parkinson’s and they linked it to chemical exposures so she became convinced that it was important to get toxins out of beauty products. You can see the video here. I think you’ll find it to be inspiring. https://wholenewmom.beautycounter.com/our-story

            I never was a big makeup gal but I am using lipstick now and find it to be fun :). (and minus all the lead, of course)

        • I haven’t used any of those but I’ve seen them in stores. When I started making the change to more “natural” beauty products, I was using Cover Girl and Revlon and Maybelline (buying stuff on sale mostly).

          It’s good you have some better choices now. I will say, and this is no pressure at all, that I am thrilled w/ the Beautycounter performance. They have a makeup artist on staff who does covers for Elle, Teen Vogue, and Glamour – so you know the stuff is good. He relative got Parkinson’s (I think) and they linked it to chemical exposures and she became convicted that she didn’t want to put harmful products on models’ faces anymore.

          And they have a 60 day money back guarantee and their return percentage is only 1.3%. It’s good stuff. I encourage you to take a look at it.