What Chemicals Should You Look Out For In Your Personal Care Products?
August 16

Personal Care Products

This list was taken from my book REVIVE: Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT)

DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)
These three chemicals are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing agents — research indicates a strong link to liver and kidney cancer. They are commonly found in shampoos, soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers.

Phthalates and Parabens

Banned by the European Union in 2003, phthalates and parabens are a group of chemicals commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They keep hairsprays sticky and bacteria and fungus out of things like nail polish and perfume. Both have demonstrated themselves to be carcinogenic and particularly linked to breast cancer.

FD&C Color Pigments

Most FD&C color pigments are made from coal tar and studies show that almost all of them are carcinogenic. Many of these pigments cause skin sensitivity and irritation, or even oxygen depletion in the blood. FD&C Red #4 is no longer available for use in foods because of a known threat to the adrenal glands and urinary bladder.

Fragrance

“Fragrance” is a euphemism for nearly 4,000 different ingredients. Most “fragrances” are synthetic and are either cancer-causing or otherwise toxic. Exposure to fragrances has been shown to affect the central nervous system. “Fragrances” are found in most shampoos, deodorants, sunscreens, skincare and body care products.

Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin

These are formaldehyde donors, which means that they are derivatives of the formaldehyde, which is what scientists and morticians use to preserve corpses and body parts. Remember dissecting frogs in school? These chemicals are linked to allergies, chest pain, chronic fatigue, depression, dizziness, ear infections, headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, and can trigger asthma. They can weaken the immune system, and, surprise surprise, cause cancer. Imidazolidinyl Urea and DMDM Hydantoin are used in skin, body and hair products, antiperspirants and nail polish.

Quaternium-15

Quarternium-15 commonly causes allergic reactions and dermatitis, and breaks down into formaldehyde. Quarternium-15 is used as a preservative in many skin and hair care products.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol is used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion and aftershave lotions as well as in your car’s antifreeze and shellac! Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Beyond attacking the intestinal flora, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like saran wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing and excreting. It also slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil – and 100% bad for your baby’s sensitive skin.

PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)

PEG’s are most commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products. PEG’s main fuctions are to dissolve oil and grease. Thus, on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making them more vulnerable to other toxins.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze. It is also used in makeup, toothpaste and deodorant. Stick deodorants have a higher concentration of PG than is allowed for most industrial use! Direct contact can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. The EPA requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles when working with it. And yet, the FDA says we can put it in our mouths!!

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are the most toxic ingredients on this list. When used in combination with other chemicals, they can form nitrosamines, a deadly class of carcinogen. They are used to clean engines, garage floors and at car washes. AND still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste. Exposure causes eye damage, depression, diarrhea and many other ailments.

Triclosan

A synthetic antibacterial ingredient that has been compared to Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol. In other words, it is in a cancer causing chemical class. Triclosan disrupts hormones, can affect sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Triclosan has been linked to paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products.

Talc

Talc has been linked to ovarian and testicular cancer. It can be found in makeup, baby and adult powders and foundation.

Petrolatum

Petrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. As you might imagine from a petroleum derivative, petrolatum prevents the skin breathing and excreting.

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  • guest

    And where on earth can you find anything that doesn't have either Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate in it!

  • http://www.franklipman.com franklipman

    There are more and more options becoming available
    Check out http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ will be helpful

  • Strager33

    If I don't make my own products, I look for baby products in health food stores. There are many brands out there…just gotta read labels and do the research! ewg.org, the Environmental Working Group is a phenomenal resource for finding out the toxicity of your products. I highly recommend taking a look at that site.
    Bless!

  • Double Blind

    Lots of vague 'linked to' statements- can we have some references to relevent scientific research please?

  • VancouverSue

    Knowing that the public was getting wise to the sulfate sisters, many manufacturers began substituting formaldehyde byproducts.  I was reading the label on a shampoo called “Pure & Natural” the other day and it contained at least a half-dozen known carcinogens!  I also received a tube of chapstick as a promotional gift from a cancer treatment center.  It contained both propylparaben and methylparaben, two known carcinogens.  Kind of like the dentist handing out free candy for a good check-up!

  • Maggie

    Dr., I believe you could have provided a better service by explaining that the sources, purity and quantity/amount of so many of these dangerous toxins have a definite bearing on the hazards.  Many things are dangerous — even arsenic from apple seeds —  but it’s the amount of the toxin that is harmful that should concern us.  So many in the media wave red flags and forget about the rest of the story!

  • http://www.facebook.com/SkinVitalityComplaints?sk=info Skin Vitality Complaints

    Everybody uses personal care products, there’s no doubt about it. But the truth is that only a small part of them are indeed healthy. Most products contain such chemicals which rather create problems for the human skin than help take care of it. Other products are useful for skin, but affect our body in other ways. Choosing the right products is really a challenge.

  • http://twitter.com/debbysunshine1 Debby Sunshine

    I’ve been meaning to post a blog about these chemicals to watch out for in personal care products for quite some time. You did an excellent job so now I won’t have to. Thank you!

  • susan yassa

    Hulda Regehr Clark, Ph.D., N.D. writes in her book THE CURE FOR ALL DISEASES (ISBN: 978 189 003 5013), there are “ONLY TWO HEALTH PROBLEMS … pollutants and/or parasites.”

  • susan yassa

    That is such a good question! I would to find a better shampoo … but where?

  • Jane

    I find it hard to believe that parabens are banned in the EU, given how prevalent they are in personal care products there… Go to any supermarket in France, Germany, Italy, and you will find parabens.

  • Katie

    We make ethical soaps and shampoo bars at Clear Conscience Soap Co. in Australia – http://www.clearconsciencesoapcompany.com/product-category/hair-care/ No nasties :)

  • Sarah Harvey

    Living nature !! 100% natural , made in New Zealand,
    reasonably priced, And lovely to use :)

  • Bek

    I use Arbonne!!!! None of the following: Mineral oil, petroleum, waxes, formaldehyde, acetone, toluene, phthalates, dyes, parabens, PABA, animal products or by-products, harmful levels of chemicals and chemical frafences. These are vegan certified and botanically based.
    Check out “Bek Brown Arbonne” on Facebook.

  • Braydich Beauty

    Philip Pelusi products are the safest on the market!!!! All-Nutrient color is the safest on the market!!!! They are the only products I use on my clients.

  • Braydich Beauty

    Philip Pelusi and All-Nutrient Color

  • Braydich Beauty

    Philip Pelusi and All-Nutrient Color

  • Kim

    I love Ava Anderson Non Toxic! You won’t find any of the above ingredients in their products or any other toxic chemicals! It is 100% safe and they work amazing!!!!!!! http://www.AvaandersonNonToxic.com

  • Dee

    You just named my all time favorite!! “Arbonne” !
    To people who argue knowing the truth about
    what’s in their cosmetics, look up the first
    5 ingredients in the new, clinically tested,
    Doctor recommended , repairs & firms,( buzz words)
    that the EPA hates by the way,
    product you just bought & then
    tell us what you think.
    I for 1 am throwing some pricey cosmetics away
    then writing some long over due letters to some companies.

  • Reads Books

    It is kind of amazing you can post straight lies and get away with it. Maybe research before writing an article and misleading people? Ethylene glycol is the main ingredient in antifreeze. Propylene glycol is the non-toxic relative which is why it is approved for use by the FDA. FDA also outlines amounts allowable in products. Disgusting that you can post lies and pseudo-science, “Dr.” (in sociology maybe?) And all you are doing is perpetuating the ignorance of your readers. You should be ashamed.

  • Anonymous

    Although Propylene Glycol is less toxic than Ethylene Glycol, we still don’t recommend it (despite being approved by the FDA!).
    -Laura, Be Well Health Coach

  • SwamiMami

    Can any one point me to scientific literature/studies about the danger of SLS?

  • Veit Mehler

    the FDA approved GMO’s as safe, despite being linked to a lot of health issues.

    The FDA approved Aspartame as safe, despite 92 known side-effect, including harming embryos in the womb.

    I don’t think you can rely on FDA labelling and regulations for your health.

    If something is “non-toxic”, then you shouldn’t need to outline allowed amounts. If you outline allowed amounts, it means that it IS toxic.

    For which person in which age and in what state of health were these amounts “safe”? for baby’s, for elderly, or again only for 25-34 year old males in top health?

  • monte

    ethylene glycol is the main ingredient of antifreeze, not propylene glycol. frank need to do some better fact checking.

  • Christopher Saxon Whittle

    Complete rubbish. Water is toxic when ingested to a certain level.

    Many other ‘natural’ substances are toxic when taken in excessive amounts too.

    If something is ‘toxic’ it means that a very small amount of it will have adverse effects on you.