Firstly let me state the obvious and that is that every ingredient in a cosmetic product is a chemical { it is made up of compounds} however there is a huge difference between natural plant compounds and artificially simulated copies{which are cheaper to manufacture , not influenced by the environment and can be made in high volumes}.

Their are definite harsh chemicals which are not suitable for use on the skin and/or in cosmetic products and some of the more familiar are......

1 - Parabens {used as a preservative}
2 - DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA (Related chemicals: MEA and TEA) 
     { Used to make products creamy or soapy}
3 - Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP {used as a solvent in nail polishes & hairspray}

and loads more check it out here on Collective Evolution INGREDIENTS TO AVOID

The other controversy that has recently come up in the media is the claim of cosmetics to be 'NATURAL' and the question on every bodies mind? "How natural is natural and what determines an ingredient or product being called natural?"

Now personally I support the NPA Standards as listed below , however I do need to mention that as much as I would like to say that I am not negotiable on the NPA Standards personally I am sometimes swayed and do sometimes veer of the natural path, so a little grace would be greatly appreciated. My heart however truly does align with their standards..

The Essence of the NPA Natural Standard
The NPA Natural Standard is based on natural ingredients, safety, responsibility and sustainability.

  • Natural Ingredients: A product labeled "natural" should be made up of only, or at least almost only, natural ingredients and be manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity.
  • Safety: A product labeled "natural" should avoid any ingredient with a suspected human health risk.
  • Responsibility: A product labeled "natural" should use no animal testing in its development.
  • Sustainability: A product labeled "natural" should use biodegradable ingredients and the most environmentally sensitive packaging.

Under the Natural Standard for Personal Care Products, allowed ingredients come from or are made from a renewable resource found in nature (flora, fauna, mineral), with absolutely no petroleum compounds.

This excerpt is from the NPA'S Website for MORE INFO

 The latest furor being BOOTS & NIVEA in the UK being rapped over the knuckles for listing products as natural and then not meeting the criteria which has headlined in the TELEGRAPH today   READ ARTICLE

No matter which way you look at it , an educated decision and reading your product labels is the best way to assure yourself you are getting what is promised.