Toxic Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products Are Affecting Your Health

What we put on our skin is just as important as what’s on the end of our fork.  Our skin is the largest and thinnest organ of our body. The skin is extremely permeable so anything we put on our skin will end up in our bloodstream and move throughout our body.  Taking the mindset of not putting anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat/drink is very important.

When we eat something, we have salivary enzymes and stomach acid to break down the food and eliminate out of the body. When we put these toxic chemicals on our skin it’s directly absorbed into the bloodstream and goes directly to our organs. Because the body has no way to really break these chemicals down, they accumulate over time. 

Toxic chemicals can be found in personal care products like makeup, lotion, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, nail polish, toothpaste, deodorant, perfume and sunscreens.  They are also commonly found laundry detergent, dry cleaned clothes, household cleaning products, just to name a few.

Women who use conventional makeup on a daily basis can absorb almost 5 lbs of chemicals into their body each year, this doesn’t include all the other personal care & household products that they use.

These toxic chemicals can cause skin & eye irritations, allergies, nausea, impaired breathing, disrupt hormones, birth defects, detrimental effects to brain and nervous system, liver, kidney & reproductive system damage and even cancer.


The top toxic chemicals to stay away from are…

1,4 Dioxane is used as a solvent and foaming agent.  It can be found in shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, foaming hand soap, cosmetics, deodorant, and skin lotion, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap and household cleaners.  1,4 Dioxane is an eye and respiratory tract irritant, can cause damage to central nervous system, liver, kidneys and is a likely human carcinogen.  Common names for Dioxane: PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethyelene, polyoxynolethylene, and chemicals ending in eth and oxynol.

Parabens are used as artificial preservatives in cosmetics & body care products to reduce growth of bacteria and viruses to increase shelf life. They are found in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, face and skin cleansers, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpastes, makeup along with many other products. Parabens can disrupt hormones in the body, harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, increase risk of cancer and cause skin irritation.  Common names for parabens:  Methyl paraben, Ethyl paraben, Propyl paraben, Isobutyl paraben

Phthalates are plasticizers which are found in cosmetics, shampoos, nail polish, plastic containers, children’s toys and plastic wrap. Also avoid any products that contain the word “fragrance” as these are often times phthalates.  Phthalates are linked to allergies, asthma, birth defects in male reproductive system, low sperm motility in men, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities. Common names for phthalates:  Diethylhexyl phthalate, Dibutyl phthalate, Dimethyl phthalate, Diethyl phthalate

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is a preservative that inhibits growth of bacteria.  It can cause contact dermatitis which is a sore, itchy rash on the skin and can cause damage to the central nervous system.  MIT can be found in adult and baby body washes, moisturizers, sunscreens & baby wipes.

Toluene is a solvent found commonly found in nail polish.  Toluene helps give nail polish that flat even finish and keeps the color from separating in the bottle.  It’s also found in cosmetics, most synthetic fragrances and household cleaning solutions.  Toluene can cause irritations to the skin and respiratory tract, nausea, memory & hearing loss and liver & kidney damage with prolonged exposure.              

Triclosan is antibacterial chemical found in liquid hand soaps, dishwashing detergents, toothpaste, facewash, deodorant, and many other personal care products.  Triclosan can encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics, is linked to liver & inhalation toxicity and can disrupt thyroid function. 

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (ALS) are a detergent, wetting additive and emulsifier that can be found in packaged foods, cosmetic products, shampoos, soaps, hair color, bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes, cleansers, makeup foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, bath oils & salts and other cleaning products.  It is linked to oxidative stress, inflammation in the body and allergic sensitivity reactions.

Propylene Glycol is the most common moisture carrying vehicle in cosmetics. It can also be found in many packaged foods labeled as “natural flavors” and transdermal patches which are used to put medication through the skin.  Propylene Glycol can cause central nervous system depression and kidney damage.

Formaldehyde is a preservative used to prolong a products shelf life.  It’s found in cosmetics, skin care, hair care, hair straighteners and kids personal care products.  Formaldehyde can cause dermatitis and is a known human carcinogen.  Common names for formaldehyde-releasing chemicals are DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol), 5-Bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, Hydroxymethylglycinate.

Artificial Fragrances are found in cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, air fresheners and more.  They are part of the top 5 allergens which can cause asthma, trigger asthma attacks, headaches, nausea and can cause hormone disruption.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin & Petrolatum coat the skin like plastic to clog pores and create a buildup of toxins. They slow cellular development which causes early aging of the skin, could cause cancer and hormone disruptions.                


To learn more about toxic chemicals in personal care products check out The Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.   You can search specific products, brands and ingredients to find out more about what you are putting on your skin.  They also offer tips on choosing safer personal care products for yourself and your family.


A few quick tips to help you start choosing toxic free personal care items.

  1. Make your own personal care products by using organic and natural ingredients like pure organic coconut or organic jojoba oil and other natural and organic ingredients.
  2. Use high quality essential oils like lavender or tea tree oil for skin blemishes instead of chemical laden acne treatments.
  3. Become a label reader. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient or don’t know what it is just walk away or if it’s in your house throw it away.
  4. Go for products that are fragrance free to reduce any allergic reactions
  5. If you don’t have the desire or don’t have to time to make your own, choose organic or all-natural products from ER Organic Solutions


Remember, we can eat healthy & exercise daily, but if we’re putting toxic chemicals on our skin no amount of exercising and eating healthy will help overcome the dangerous effects these can have on our body. 




Environmental Working Group

Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mark Hyman

A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. 7th Edition. Winter, Ruth 

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