It’s hard to limit this list to just 10 toxic personal care components because unfortunately there are too many. Even products that claim to be “paraben free”, “clean”, or “natural” often hide toxicity in their ingredient list. Ironically, sometimes these hidden ingredients are toxic chemicals that are the worst culprits.
Over the years, we’ve gradually transformed brands of healthier, more natural hygiene and personal care products into one product at a time.
And when I couldn’t find them, I made them!
Hasn’t the FDA covered it?
It is a common misconception that scanner components must be proven safe and effective before they can be marketed. Worse, the FDA does not have the authority to ban skin care ingredients that show strong evidence of being dangerous or fatal. Talcum powder is the best example.
Products that contain talc (aka talcum powder) include make-up and some baby powders. Talcum powder is often contaminated with asbestos, which causes cancer. Johnson and Johnson paid millions in damages, and the lawsuit is still pending (15,500 lawsuits are pending).
It’s clear the item should be pulled off the shelf, right? Nope done. Baby powder is still sold in stores, is still being sprayed on baby’s genitals, and still does some harm. The FDA and government monitoring agencies don’t usually plug in toxins in scanners, so we all have to stay on top of what is in our products.
Many companies have embraced the fact that consumers want safe, natural products for their families. While this is causing a positive change, not everything is as it seems. Because the beauty industry is largely self-regulating, skin care companies can produce natural-looking colors and labels with terms such as “vegan” and “all-natural” – all of which are still toxins on the ingredients list. Hides a bunch of
Just because we can’t mention it;
I always read the list of ingredients on skincare products, but just because I can’t pronounce it doesn’t mean that any ingredient is necessarily bad.
For example, alpha tocopherol may look like a toxic chemical, but it is actually the antioxidant vitamin E. Shea butter has been listed as a boobster of the tongue (butyrospermum parkii) On the skincare label.
When in doubt, do some research!
Top 10 Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products
This is by no means a complete list, but it does help eliminate top criminals. In general, if a product contains one (or more) of these ingredients, I can be sure that there are also a lot of toxins.
Although they can smell beautiful, masculine or calm, the scent hides a nasty secret. Lots of dirty little secrets! Companies don’t need to disclose the chemicals that make up their fragrances (and sometimes they don’t even know it).
Fragrance chemists have more than 3,000 chemicals to work with. Many of these fragrances are derived from petrochemicals known as allergens and hormones and endocrine disruptors. These toxic ingredients can be hidden under perfume or perfume conditions and do not need to be labeled.
Here are some of the ones that are most fragrant.
- Air fresheners and scented candles (no, not skincare, but notable!)
- Perfumes, body sprays and colognes
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair Care Products
- Body wash, hand soap and bar soap
- Bubble bath
- Face wash
- Makeup cleaner
- Facial treatments and cleansers
Petroleum jelly, petro litmus, mineral oil; these are all names of the same ingredient. Lotions and balms on the skin are labeled “healing”, petroleum jelly is actually a very sophisticated product of the oil industry. The oil companies did not want the mud under the oil resins to be wasted, so it was improved and sold as a skin protector.
As a derivative of the oil industry, petroleum is not environmentally friendly or sustainable, nor is it so fast-friendly. A 2011 study Journal of Women’s Health Petroleum in cosmetics contains toxic hydrocarbons.
The researchers added that there was strong evidence that “mineral oil hydrocarbons are the most polluting element in the human body.” Toxins accumulate in women’s body fat and are also found in their breast milk.
Hydrocarbons and toxins, on the one hand, form a breathable layer on the petroleum skin. Although this layer locks in the skin’s natural moisture, it can also prevent its health. Petroleum also dries and prevents leaks.
Personal care products use more than a dozen types of flatlets to improve their fragrance and elasticity. Some phthalates have few safety studies to determine if they are harmful, while others have been linked to some serious health concerns.
A 2010 article in the journal Alternative medicine review Identified some major problems with these chemicals. MedSafe scientists also weigh in on the issue.
Here are some of the top health issues associated with flatulence.
- Neurological disorders
- Cancer and breast cancer
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity
- Damage to sperm
- Changes in the development of genitals in boys
- Version dysgenesis
- Asthma and allergies
- Fibroids (these may be in the uterus)
- Reproductive system disorders
- Disruption of the endocrine system
Phthalates are often found in:
- Fragrance and fragrance (see above list for perfume products)
- Hair spray and hair care products
- Nail polish
This common protector is found in virtually all Americans. As more research is done, scientists are having more and more difficulties with this common protector.
Parabens can mimic estrogen and disrupt hormones. According to 2012 research, some probiotics can cause problems with breast cancer and reproduction and development. Journal of Applied Toxicology.
Researchers published a study in 2019 Environmental Science and Pollution Research International It was found that more than 23% of women with cancer had parabens in their endometrial tissue, compared with only 2% in the control group.
Also, a 2019 study International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health Examined the effect of parenchyma on birth results. The weight of the birth weight of the babies born to the pregnant women exposed to the perineum was less significant.
Parabens are commonly found in:
- Hair protection
Scientists do not understand how aluminum is absorbed through the skin. There is no statement that gives me too much confidence in aluminum as a scan care ingredient! According to a 2014 report by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Protection, aluminum is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is thought to be helpful in brain dysfunction, Parkinson’s disease and neurological disease.
Although research has shown no link between aluminum and certain brain disorders, it does appear to be toxic to the brain. Aluminum is also suspected to play a role in breast cancer.
Products that usually contain aluminum include:
- Antiperspirant deodorants
- Nail polish
6. PFOAS, PFC and Teflon Chemicals
Our food, water, and cosmetics contain thousands of fluorinated chemicals. Known as PFC or PFAS, their original purpose was to replace PFOA (which confirms toxic substances). The CDC realized that these scented chemicals had already contaminated almost everyone in the United States and were now a global problem.
The manufacturer of Teflon and PFC replaced the chemical with a new one which they called “GenX”. However, safety studies suggest that this may not be the case.
Mice exposed to Genix Teflon have more prenatal, lower birth weight and weight delay. When the rats were exposed to high doses of the chemical, they gasped in pain, had seizures and died within hours.
Both animal and human studies have linked fluorinated compounds (such as PFC, PFAS and phased PFOA) to the laundry list of health issues. Here are some big ones:
- Cancerous tumors
- Kidney disease
- Liver growth
- Uterine polyps
- Liver damage
- Damage to the immune system
- Damage to the reproductive system
It is thought that these chemicals are not well absorbed through the skin, but when applied to the sides of the eyes and lips, they are more likely to enter the body. Unfortunately, PFAS is often used in eye products and even in lip products.
There are more than a dozen PFAS in cosmetics, so it’s impossible to list them all. However, if the list of ingredients in a product contains the letter “fluoro”, it is a scented chemical.
Here are some cosmetic products that may contain perfumed chemicals.
- Eye shadow
- Bronzer / High Lighter
- Bravo liner
- Lipstick and lip liner
- Face moisturizer
- Eye cream
- Shaving cream
7. Vitamin A (retinal pelmet or retinoic acid)
Although vitamin A is essential for a healthy body, synthetic versions, retinal palmiti; not so much. When retinal palmitate is applied to the skin which is then exposed to sunlight, it damages the skin. Some studies have also shown severe skin irritation and sensitivity.
In animal studies, mice were mixed with retinal palmitate lotion and UV rays accelerated tumor formation. According to a 2012 report by the National Toxicology Program, tumor and cell mutations can form in very small doses. The same report warns that high levels of synthetic vitamin A in cosmetics and food can contribute to birth defects.
The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and the Environment (VKM) warns that skincare products containing vitamin A can increase birth defects if used before or during pregnancy.
Women who have more than 4.5 grams of vitamin A a day from all sources (food, supplements, and cosmetics) are 3.5 times more likely to have a baby with birth defects than mothers who have only Contained 1500 mg of synthetic vitamin A.
Too much vitamin A is equivalent to bone problems
Synthetic vitamin A not only plays an important role in skeletal congenital defects, but it can also contribute to osteoporosis. VKM is recommended for older women and those with an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis should reduce their use of synthetic vitamin A.
According to VKM, it is estimated that about 10% of older women have more than the maximum safe amount of synthetic vitamin A in food and supplements alone. Because vitamin A is often found in anti-aging creams, women are more likely to be used by the same group they are most likely to harm.
There are cosmetic and skincare products that may contain retinal palmitate or retinoic acid.
- Anti-aging creams and lotions
- Facial moisturizer
- Liquid and powder foundation
- Bravo liner
- Makeup cleaner
8. Polyethylene glycolus and polysorbate (PEG)
PEG, the only active ingredient in a popular laxative, is widely used in cosmetics. Skincare products contain hundreds of versions of PEG chemicals and most safety data have little support. However, the biggest problem with PEG is the toxins they can take with them.
PEGs are often contaminated with 1,4 dioxin. Numerous health agencies have suggested that dioxin may cause cancer and is linked to breast cancer and tumors in the liver, gallbladder, nose, lungs and skin.
PEGs may not only bring in cancer-causing chemicals, but they also promote the penetration of other potentially harmful chemicals. PEGs are used by the scanner formula to soften and open the skin pores in a product. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, anyone with the toxic PEGs in the product can get a free ride through our skin barrier.
Here are the products that may contain PEG:
- Facial moisturizer and serum
- Hand cream and lotion
- Bravo liner
- Hair serum and gel
- Shaving cream
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Body and face broom
- Face mask
- Make-up bronzer or highlighter
The FDA spoke out against the antibacterial ingredient trilosine and banned its use in some products in 2017, including hand sanitizers and some soaps.
However, Trilosan is found in everything from body washes and toothpaste to clothes and toys. This chemical helps in resistance to deadly antibiotics and adversely affects thyroid health. Triclosan can damage the endocrine system and reproductive hormone function even in very small doses.
In his 2018 article, “Triclosan and Cancer Risk: Is There a Link?” , Dr. Kissler cites possible risks of trilosine. There is evidence that triclosan may play a role in many different types of cancer, and the FDA is currently conducting further studies. Not only is Trilosan bad for us, but it is also known to be toxic to aquatic life.
Special concern for pregnant uncles
A 2014 report presented to the American Chemical Society found some disturbing evidence in the study of pregnant women. The researchers found all the urine samples in pregnant women and half the blood of children in the blood.
It was clear that trylosan passes from mother to unborn child. This can lead to serious problems because of the growing evidence that triclosan can lead to growth and reproductive problems.
Many manufacturers have phased out triclosan in their products (thankfully!), But that remains to be seen. These are the products that may contain trilosine:
- Hand and body soap
- Foundation, mascara, and other types of makeup
10. Methylsuthiazole (MIT)
The American Contact Dermatitis Society named the preservative “allergen of the year.” Not the award I want to win!
Government agencies in Europe, Germany, Japan, and Canada have restricted its use due to safety concerns. However, the United States does not seem to have faded and it is still widely used here with fewer restrictions than our international neighbors.
The US research group, Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR) Safety Report, concludes that MIT was not harmful when used in small amounts. However, CIR Research is funded by the Personal Care Products (PCP) Council, a group of more than 600 large cosmetic and chemical companies.
MIT is strongly associated with skin sensitivity and irritation, mainly due to its ban in other countries. A 2002 study Journal of Neuroscience MIT was also found to be highly toxic to brain neurons and recommended further safety research.
Here are some of the products that may contain the preservative methylcytosoline.
- Face moisturizer
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hair gel, mousse, and other hair products
- Bronzer and highlighter
- Foundation and primer
- Body wash
What to do about toxic ingredients
It can be amazing and frightening to see such lists, but it doesn’t have to be. Companies have come a long way in providing safer options. Also, I know where you can find natural and safe DIY skincare, soaps, lotions, and makeup recipes! 🙂
Admittedly though: As my kids get older, I don’t always have time to make DIY recipes! That’s why I started my own personal care product line! I hope this gives every family confidence in the non-toxic (and even healthier!) Product they can count on.
As mothers, we can reverse this trend and avoid potentially toxic ingredients and make natural, safe products the norm.
Check your bottles; do you recognize any of these ingredients? What are your favorite natural products or use instead?
This article was written by Dr. Scott Soares, MD, Medical Director, Family Physician and Study MD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk to your doctor.
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