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Top 10 toxic ingredients in cosmetics


The products that we put on our bodies are just as important as the foods that we put into our bodies. There is growing concern about many of the toxic ingredients that are present in cosmetics, shampoos, perfumes, baby care products, toothpastes, sunscreens and skin care products.
that some of us use.  Listed below are some of the most toxic cosmetic ingredients that you should try to avoid.

If you have any queries about the ingredients that are contained in the products that you have purchased, just contact the manufacturer directly, and please be cautious greenwashing, many products feature the words 'natural' and 'organic' on their packaging however its not always true. The best way to find out if a product is 'safe' is to check the ingredients and check for certifications.

Parabens : Methyl, Propyl, Butyl,  Ethyl and Parahydroxybenzoate

Often used  as a preservative to inhibit microbial growth and as a preservative to extend shelf life.
Parabens are the second most common ingredient in skin care products second to water, its estimated that 75-90% of all personal care products contain Parabens.
These chemicals have been known to cause allergic skin reactions and skin rashes. Studies have show that they contain mild estrogen-like qualities. Preliminary research has uncovered Parabens present in human breast cancer tumors.
Found in some: baby preparations, cleansers, deodorants, eye-products, lotions and moisturizers, make-up, personal lubricants, nail products, shampoos and other hair products, and sunscreens.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

These chemicals are used as emulsifying & foaming agents that can cause allergic skin reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of the hair and skin. DEA and TEA are toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time, and are associated with cancer in lab animals.
Found in some: bath powders, lotions, shaving creams, shampoos, and soaps.

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Regularly used as a detergent and dispersing agent. There is high sensitivity to its use and prolonged contact is particularly irritating. It has been found to be toxic to lab animals. The CIR Expert Panel ( )  recommends use only in small, concentrations, not to exceed over 5%. They also recommend limiting it to rinse off products, such as shampoo. However, some hand and body lotions contain it. Combining TEA with nitrates results in cancer-causing nitrosamines.
Found in some: bath powders, lotions, shaving creams, shampoos, and soaps.

Diazolidinyl Urea &  Imidazolidinyl Urea

It’s often used as a preservative and antiseptic in cosmetics. Both chemicals release  formaldehyde which is known to be highly toxic. The American Academy of Dermatology  ( ) has conducted studies that have found these chemicals to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis.

Found in some: Body powders, cleansers and soaps, lotions and moisturizers, make-up and make-up removers, shampoo, shaving products, sunscreen.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This is a cheap, harsh detergent, emulsifier and wetting agent used in many shampoos for its ability to cleanse and foam. Often derived from petroleum, it causes eye irritation, dry scalp, skin rashes and other skin allergic reactions as well as eczema.

Beware of so called ‘natural’ products that list this ingredient as being derived from coconuts. The toxicity is the same.

Petrolatum (Petroleum jelly)

Purified petroleum is commonly used in moisturizers and other cosmetic products to smooth and moisture skin. It forms an oily layer on the skin that prevents moisture evaporation and clogs up pores, which can disrupt the body’s natural ability to moisturize its own skin.

Found in some: Baby creams, conditioners, creams and moisturizers, makeup, nail products, and wax depilatories.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene Glycol is one of the most common moisture-carrying ingredient that is extensively used in makeup products.

It is known to elicit allergic reactions, including hives, and is associated with eczema. Safer glycols are gradually replacing propylene glycol. The CIR Expert Panel maintains its safety in concentrations up to 50%.

Beware of related chemicals labeled PEG and PPG.

Found in some: Antiperspirants and deodorants, baby lotions, hair strengtheners, moisturizers, mouthwashes, shaving products, sunscreens, and stick perfumes.

PVP/VA Copolymer

A petroleum-derived chemical that's often used in hair styling products and some cosmetics. Considered toxic if inhaled, it can damage the lungs.

Considered toxic. Some individuals develop thesaurosis, which is foreign bodies in the lung, due to inhalation of PVP in hairspray. Rats ingested intravenously with PVP developed tumors.

Found often in: Bronzers, eye makeup, and hair products.

Stearalkonium Chloride

Stearalkonium Chloride is a toxic chemical was designed by the fabric industry for use as a fabric softener. Companies use it in hair conditioners and lotions because it's much cheaper than natural conditioning ingredients such as proteins and it softens hair, allowing easier combing.

Known to cause allergic reactions and irritation to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. It is considered toxic however the CIR Expert Panel is reassessing for safety guidelines.

Found often in: Hair conditioners and creams.

Synthetic Colors

Labeled as FD&C (Food, Drugs&Cosmetics) or D&C (Drugs&Cosmetics) and followed by a number, these make products look pretty but can be carcinogenic.

"D&C" followed by a color holds certification for external use only.
Unlike most ingredients used by the industry, synthetic colors are regulated by the FDA.

Synthetic colors are now banned in the US because of recognized carcinogenic properties.

Found in some: Hair dyes.

Synthetic Fragrances

Labeled simply as "fragrance," there's no way to tell what chemicals are actually in the product. People can get headaches, dizziness, rashes, and respiratory problems. People may also experience hyper-pigmentation, which means this chemical may cause brown spots to form on your skin.

There may be up to 200 ingredients encompassed by the term "fragrance". Furthermore, manufactures are not required to disclose actual ingredients in their formulas. They receive protection for such proprietary formulas.

Found often in: Hair products, deoderants, cosmetics and creams.

Imidazolidinyl Urea

The second most commonly used preservative in personal care products. It acts as a releaser of formaldehyde and used in combination with parabens, it has been proven to cause reactions on users with skin problems such as contact dermatitis and can cause allergic reactions on some uers. Gastrointestinal or liver toxicity hazards: suspected. Further testing is required.

Found often in: Baby lotions, shampoos, bath and body oils, skin cream, sunscreens, eyeliners, blush, perfumes, toothpaste, lipstick, insect repellant, styling mouse, anti-aging products, mascara, bronzes, polish remover, varicose vein treatment, body firming lotion. deodorants, hair dyes, shaving creams and face masks.


Most common chemicals that you should try to avoid in your hair products
  • Behentrimonium chloride
  • Cetrimonium bromide
  • Cocameade DEA
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • PEG-150 Distearate
  • Sodium Cocoyl Istheionate
Click here to read the full list ingredients to avoid in your shampoo products.






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    Dweezil says:

    Heck of a job there, it aboslutley helps me out.

    8th November 2011 . 12 years ago