beyond the labels: how toxic ingredients that can affect brain function slip into cosmetic products

Although the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA) tightened controls over drugs and food when it was enacted in 1938, it hasn’t been updated much since then. However, there have been many changes in the industry in the past 85 years. More synthetic ingredients have been introduced and new cosmetic products developed. Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of the industry is made up of merely voluntary regulations and good manufacturing practices (GMP) guidelines with which manufacturers aren’t required to comply.

This is why toxins find their way into the cosmetic products people apply to their bodies one or more times daily.

Although manufacturers might not deliberately include certain toxins in their products, toxins including heavy metals have been detected in many. Heavy metals can be absorbed into the body through product application to the skin or make their way in orally from cosmetics used on and around the mouth or handled and then transferred from hand to mouth.

Research has shown that toxic heavy metals, which may accumulate in the human body, have been found in the brain, creating a possible link with neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

Heavy metals and other known toxins slip into cosmetics when manufacturers value ease and profit over consumer health. They may also get into cosmetics when manufacturers believe they’re doing everything right, but still allow toxins to enter via:

  • Contamination: A non toxic cosmetic formula can become overrun with toxins through a variety of missteps throughout the manufacturing process, such as transfer of oils and debris left on machinery or a sullied environment.
  • Misleading supplier information: Manufacturers that don’t fully vet their ingredient suppliers or don’t verify sub-ingredients may unwittingly add toxins to their products.
  • International suppliers: Cosmetics are sometimes brought into the United States illegally, circumventing any regulations (weak or strong!) in place to protect consumers.

The best way to avoid exposure to heavy metals and other toxins is to be relentless about purchasing products for yourself and your family from trusted non toxic manufacturers with diligent processes in place to protect the purity of their formulas.

Shop Pure Haven for a guaranteed non toxic product experience and complete peace of mind. Our process includes adhering to a strict ingredients to avoid list and requiring affidavits from our suppliers with full disclosure of sub-ingredients. We formulate and manufacture our products in the United States and have each one third-party tested for contamination, pfas, heavy metals, and more. Visit our About Us page to learn more.


Alam, M.F., Akhter, M., Mazumder, B. et al. Assessment of some heavy metals in selected cosmetics commonly used in Bangladesh and human health risk. J Anal Sci Technol 10, 2 (2019).

Congressional Research Service. FDA Regulation of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products. (9 March 2022.)