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List of Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Skin Care Products



The US personal care and cosmetic industries greatly lack oversight and regulation. In today’s climate it is necessary to arm yourself with the essential knowledge to be your own product police. Unfortunately, this is what it has come down to.  Companies put their bottom line before the well-being of their consumers’, and load their products with toxic chemicals.

The average adult uses nine personal care products a day, with roughly 120 chemicals spread among them, many of which are incompletely tested for toxicity. That is why Natural Cosmetic News wants to provide you with a list of 15 toxic chemicals to avoid in personal care products. And be aware, just because a company claims to be natural does not mean there really are. Read the ingredients list, and use a discerning eye. 

  1. Parabens - In 2004, findings from a study published in the "Journal of Applied Toxicology" were released indicating that parabens may play a role in the development of certain types of breast cancer. Specifically, parabens act like estrogen, which may increase the risk of women developing estrogen-positive breast cancer.Synthetic colors. If you take a look at your product label and notice FD&C or D&C, they represent artificial colors.
  2. Fragrance - This term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.
  3. Phthalates -Dangers of Phthalates and DEHP. Phthalates, a family of industrial chemicals used to soften PVC plastic and as solvents in cosmetics and other consumer products, can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes — according to animal studies.
  4. Triclosan  - The use of triclosan is linked to the following effects on human health: Abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling. Weakening of immune system. Children exposed to antibacterial products at an early age have an increased chance of developing allergies, asthma and eczema.
  5. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).  - Some household soaps have a concentration measurement as high as 30 percent. This level is considered unsafe and a likely cause of skin irritation.SLS is also found in toothpaste, mouthwash, makeup, body wash and shampoos. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate(SLS) is one of the common ingredients used in shampoos.
  6. Formaldehyde - Aside from ALS risk or other nervous system consequences, formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and nose and throat irritation, according to the ATSDR. It can also cause cancer, and has been linked to an increased risk of asthma and allergies in kids.
  7. Toluene - Symptoms of toluene exposure include: irritation of the eyes and nose; weakness, exhaustion, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache; dilated pupils, lacrimation (discharge of tears); anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia; numbness or tingling of the skin; dermatitis. Toluene exposure may cause liver and kidney damage.
  8. Propylene glycol  - The Dangers of Propylene Glycol. Skin Irritation and Allergic Reactions. Potentially Toxic to the Kidneys and Liver. Probably Not Safe for Infants or Pregnant Women. Neurological Symptoms. Cardiovascular Problems. Respiratory Issues. Potentially Bioaccumulative in Certain Cases.
  9.  Sunscreen chemicals. - Many chemical sunscreens have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer. Among the most hazardous are those containing oxybenzone, synthetic fragrances and retinyl palmitate (vitamin A)
  10. Coal Tar: A known carcinogen
  11. DEA/TEA/MEA: Suspected carcinogens used as emulsifiers and foaming agents for shampoos, body washes, soap. 
  12. Hydroquinone: Used for lightening skin. Regular use of hydroquinone can cause serious irritation of the skin, especially for people that already have sensitive skin or allergies. In some cases, hydroquinone can cause extreme redness, itching or even a burning sensation when it is applied to the skin.
  13. Talc: Similar to asbestos in composition, it’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, deodorant. Linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.
  14. Mineral oil: By-product of petroleum that’s used in baby oil, moisturizers, styling gels. 
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