There are many toxins lurking in our personal care products, the products we use every day. This means we are ingesting these toxins every day, leading to accumulation and disruption of our body’s healthy functioning. The effects occur slowly over time; we may develop allergies, a skin rash, or worse, cancer.
This is a list of the most common toxins we should be avoiding.
Parabens are used to keep mold and bacteria from growing in your personal care products. They have been found in breast cancer tumors and are shown to mimic estrogen, potentially leading to cancer and disrupting our endocrine system. There is a fear that parabens may contribute to breast cancer. (Source)
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP, DEP, also butyl ester) helps skin care products absorb into the skin. Phthalates are used to add flexibility to plastics and leach easily into the environment when that plastic is heated.
Phthalates have been found in people’s urine. A study done on rats found that high doses of phthalates changed hormone levels and caused birth defects. Women are susceptible to larger doses of phthalates because of all the skin care products they use. (Source)
3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is used in the manufacture of diethanolamides, which are common ingredients in cosmetics and shampoos. These are added to give a creamy consistency and foaming action. It is a potential skin irritant, respiratory irritant and has been shown to have neurological effects. (Source) EWG’s Skin Deep gives Diethanolamine a very high hazard rating.
4. Petrolatum (Mineral Oils & Paraffin)
A big-oil by-product, this substance is used as an emollient and moisturizer in skin and hair care products. The EWG gives petrolatum a moderate hazard rating because the ingredient can be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals found in crude oil and it’s by-products) (Source)
5. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
SLS makes cleansers foam and bubble. It is a known skin and lung irritant. The biggest risk comes from potential contamination with 1.4 Dioxane and Ethylene Oxide, two chemicals that are highly toxic and carcinogenic. (Source)
6. Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol is a skin conditioning agent. It is associated with irritant and allergic contact dermatitis in humans. This ingredient is a lung irritant and has been associated with asthma, hay fever, and eczema in children. (Source)
This ingredient binds and thickens. Exposure at large doses can cause damage to males’ reproductive glands. It is considered a potential human carcinogen (Source)
(Carbolic Acid) – Originally extracted from coal tar, but is now derived from petroleum. It has a toxic effect on the central nervous system and its vapors are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. It absorbs through the skin very quickly. This stuff is nasty. (Source)
This carcinogenic chemical contaminates 46% of personal care products tested by the EWG. Exposures to this impurity are linked to tumors of the liver, gallbladder, nasal cavity, lung, skin, and breast. Its presence in cosmetics is a large concern since it can be absorbed through the skin in toxic amounts. (Source) This impurity can be found in over 1000 ingredients.
10. Fragrance or Parfum
Fragrance or Parfum can be a mix of various scent chemicals and fragrance dispersants that are not disclosed on the label. They have been associated with contact dermatitis, allergies, respiratory distress, and possible reproductive system effects. When a company uses “fragrance” or “parfum” in their ingredients list, we really don’t know what they are using. (Source)
Another carcinogenic impurity found in personal care products, it is released into the air by cosmetic preservatives including Diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, quaternium-15, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, and sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen but isn’t labeled on products. Nail Polish releases this toxic gas. (Source)
12. Heavy Metals (lead, aluminum, arsenic, nickel, beryllium, mercury, cadmium & nickel)
Impurities and contaminants of different ingredients in cosmetics can expose you to some terrible heavy metals that bio-accumulate and cause cancer. Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil is used in eyeliners and other care products, it is often contaminated with these heavy metals. (Source)
Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, it can react with free chlorine in tap water which then converts to toxic dioxins when exposed to UV light. It has been shown to bind with estrogen and androgen receptors in vitro, raising concern that it may cause developmental and reproductive harm. (Source)
A petrochemical solvent, it is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea. Pregnant mothers who inhale toluene vapors can have developmental damage done to their fetus. (Source)
15. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
Antioxidant and fragrance ingredient. It is carcinogenic and disrupts our endocrine systems. (Source)
If you are looking for products that do not contain these potentially toxic ingredients, have a look at our best brands page for a list of skin care brands that are free of these 15 chemicals. Also, check out our product reviews and our Best Product Guides.
Yours In Beauty,