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Toxic Hit List for Your Body Care Products and Cosmetics

Toxic Hit List for Your Body Care Products and Cosmetics


There is nothing a girl loves more than lathering her skin in the most luxurious creams or dabbing her wrists with the most luscious smelling perfume. Every day we use skin care products and cosmetics with no thought about the harmful chemicals used to make them. The skin care and cosmetics industry is unregulated, which means they can use whatever ingredients they want to keep you feeling beautiful, regardless of the implications it may have for your health.

Did you know that testing is seldom done before a product goes to market? Many people assume that if a product is available for purchase, it must be safe. This is not true at all. In our quest for the perfect skin and the shiniest locks, we may be undermining our health in a serious way.



Many of the skin care or personal care products we use on a daily basis contain chemicals linked to infertility, hormonal imbalances, thyroid imbalances, cancer and much more. Since our skin readily absorbs the products we put on it, it is important to be aware of the many toxic chemical ingredients to avoid. Here are the some of the most frequent toxins you can find in almost all cosmetic, hair, and body care products.


1,4-dioxane – A known carcinogen commonly found in cosmetics.  It is an eye and skin irritant. It is also known to depress the immune system.Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40) – A main ingredient in astringents, facial cleansers, liquid soaps and lotions. It makes your skin feel cool and refreshed, yet is very damaging. While it cleans, it strips your skin’s natural acid mantle, making it more susceptible to bacteria. After the skin’s surface has been stripped, it takes up to twenty or more hours to reset its oil base. Long term use of alcohol dries the skin and creates a dependency for moisturizers. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative.Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs) – Fruit acids commonly used for acne, wrinkle reduction and exfoliation. AHAs remove the outermost layer of the skin to stimulate the cells in the lower layers to grow and divide. When overused, AHAs destroy the vital lipid layer that binds skin cells together. Long term, irreversable skin damage may result from its use.

Aluminium – Synthetic aluminium chemicals—aluminium chlorhydrate and aluminium zicarnium are generally marketed as anti-perspirants and are designed to block the pores from releasing sweat. Aluminium has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and is suspect as a contributor to breast cancer.

Butane – Aerosol propellant. Flammable and in high doses may be narcotic or cause asphyxiation. Often used as a humectant (butane-2,3-diol) to trap moisture. Commonly found in shaving cream, mousse products, conditioner, lip stick, and more.

Collagen -An insoluble fibrous protein that is too large to penetrate the skin. The collagen found in most skin care products is derived from animal skins and ground up chicken feet. This ingredient forms a layer of film that may suffocate the skin.

DEA, MEA, TEA – Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA), and Triethanolmine TEA) are hormone-disrupting chemicals known to form nitrates and nitrosamines, often in conjunction with other chemicals present, ie. Cocamide DEA, or Lauramide DEA. They are almost always in products that foam: bubble bath, body wash, shampoo, soap, facial cleanser. They also cause allergic reactions, irritate the eyes and dry the hair and skin. Can be carcinogenic, especially to the kidneys and liver.

Elastin – Comes primarily from cows and birds. It is a protein similar to collagen that is the main component of elastic fibers. Its effect on the skin is similar to collagen.

Fluorocarbons – A colorless, non-flammable gas or liquid that can produce mild upper respiratory tract irritation. Fluorocarbons are commonly used as a propellant in hairsprays and shaving creams.

Formaldehyde – A toxic, colorless gas that is an irritant and a carcinogen. When combined with water, formaldehyde is used as a disinfectant or preservative. Formaldehyde is found in many cosmetic products and conventional nail care systems.

Fragrance – When the word “fragrance,” is listed on a label, it means a synthetic fragrance is made in a test tube from any of over 200 synthetic chemicals. These “fragrance” chemicals, which can bio-accumulate in your organs, can cause many symptoms, such as headaches, lung problems, skin irritation, dizziness, memory impairment, rash, hyperpigmentation, vomiting, even potential brain damage and more. They are very cheap, toxic imitations of real herbal scents. “Fragrance” is found in everything from shampoo, perfume, soap, baby lotion, sunscreen, scented candles, and more.

Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM hydantoin – These formaldehyde-forming preservatives can cause joint pain, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, insomnia and asthma. Can also weaken the immune system and can even cause cancer. Found in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish. Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115.

Mineral Oil – A derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Mineral oil forms an oily film over the skin to lock in moisture, toxins and wastes, and hinders normal skin respiration by keeping oxygen out. Those allergic to petroleum products may develop skin irritations.

Padimate-O (octyl dimethyl, PABA) – Found mostly in sunscreens. Like DEA, a nitrosamine-forming agent. There’s concern that the energy absorbed by this sunscreen is then turned into free radicals, which may actually increase the risk of skin cancer.

Parabens (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, and Ethyl) – These preservatives are used to inhibit microbial growth in skin care or hair products even though they are known to be highly toxic. They have caused many allergic reactions and skin reactions.

Petrolatum – A petroleum based grease that is used industrially as a grease component. Petrolatum exhibits many of the same potentially harmful properties as mineral oil.

Propane -Aerosol propellant. Is flammable and in high doses may be narcotic. Usually found in shaving cream, mousse, hair conditioners and makeup.

Propylene Glycol – A cosmetic form of mineral oil found in automatic brake and hydraulic fluid and industrial antifreeze. In skin and hair products, propylene glycol works as a humectant, which is a substance that retains the moisture content of skin or cosmetic products by preventing the escape of moisture or water. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) warn users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol as this strong skin irritant can cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware – these are related synthetics.

PVP/VA Copolymer -A petroleum-based ingredient used in hairsprays.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Harsh detergents and wetting agents used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and auto cleaning products. SLS is well-known in the scientific community as a common skin irritant. It is rapidly absorbed and retained in the eyes, brain, heart and liver, which may result in harmful long-term effects. SLS could retard healing, cause cataracts in adults, and prevent proper eye development in young children.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – SLES is the alcohol form (ethoxylate) of SLS. It is slightly less irritating than SLS, but may cause more drying. Both SLS and SLES may cause potentially carcinogenic formations of nitrates and dioxins to form in shampoos and cleansers by reacting with other ingredients. Large amounts of nitrates may enter the blood system from just one shampooing.

Synthetic Colors – Synthetic colors are used in skin and hair care products to make them colorful. They can cause allergy, skin, and nerve problems. Coal-tar dyes are generally labeled as FD&C or D&C followed by a number. Carcinogenic.

Talc – A mineral used in some personal hygiene and cosmetic products. Inhaling talc may be harmful as this substance is recognized as a potential carcinogen.


Phew!! That should be enough, but unfortunately there are many, many more ingredients in our body care products that should be avoided. To learn more, please visit:


For a detailed Toxic Ingredients list, click here to follow this link

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database



Love, peace and lead-free lipstick!

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