You don't need a chemistry degree to discover if your favorite makeup contains these hazardous ingredients. Read the labels and pass over products that contain one or more of these toxins.

1. Synthetic colors
Listed on cosmetic labels as FD&C or D&C, these colors are found in most conventional color cosmetics. All are potential carcinogens.

2. Talc
Loose powders, blushes, and eye shadows can contain up to 50 percent talc, a mineral that has been linked to respiratory damage.

3. Dibutyl phthalate
Found in nail polish and moisturizers, this hormone-disrupting chemical accumulates in the body's fatty tissue and can cause reproductive damage.

4.Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
Because formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen that can also cause irritation and allergic reactions, avoid preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, and diazolidinyl urea, which release formaldehyde as they degrade.

5. Parabens
Butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-parabens mimic estrogen and may result in reproductive damage, according to recent studies.

—K.E.

Sources: Mutation Research, 2002, vol. 514, no. 1-2; American Journal of Epidemiology, 2000, vol. 152, no. 4; Reproductive Toxicology, 2000, vol. 14, no. 1; Risk Analysis, 2000, vol. 20, no. 1; Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2001, vol. 39, no. 12; A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter (Three Rivers Press, 1999).