Synthetic Ingredients to Avoid in Skin Care Products

Make wise choices for your well-being!
Make wise choices for your well-being!

Learn & Read Labels...

There are many so-called 'Natural' products on the shelves of cosmetic departments and even Health Food stores which contain one or more of the listed potentially harmful ingredients. If you want truly natural products, you have to be willing to educate yourself, read labels, and use discernment. You will be amazed at how many of these ingredients you find in the skin and hair care products you currently use. Refuse to settle for half-natural hair and skin care. Care enough about the health and well-being of you and your loved ones to avoid these in your hair and skin care products.

Beware of harmful ingredients!
Beware of harmful ingredients!

Then Avoid These...

1. Propylene Glycol - Propylene Glycol is found in many products that are considered natural, ‘hypoallergenic’ and in baby products that are considered to be safe and gentle, yet it contains harsh toxins. It is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant and has been known to cause allergic and toxic reactions.

Being very inexpensive it is much used by manufacturers as a filler ingredient in hair conditioners, deodorants, cosmetics, body lotions, skin creams and toothpaste. More & more, human and pet foods contain propylene glycol because it helps retain moisture. It creates a smooth glide in skin lotions and draws moisture to the outer layers of the skin, giving the appearance of moisturizing the skin.

Stated on the Material safety data sheets for propylene glycol in the handling instructions for hazardous chemicals, it is implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities and can also causes eye irritation, skin irritation, nausea and headaches. The American Academy of Dermatologists shows propylene glycol to be a primary irritant to the skin even in low concentrations.

2. Triethanolamine (TEA), Diethanolamine (DEA) and Monoethanolamine (MEA) – These ammonia derivatives are possibly the most dangerous chemicals to be included in personal care products as they have shown to have hormone disrupting effects. Added to soaps, bubble baths and facial cleansers, these chemicals are used to thicken and cleanse.

Not carcinogenic in themselves, when combined with products containing nitrates, a common preservative, a dangerous chemical reaction takes place leading to the formation of nitrosamines, most of which are carcinogenic. In the 1970s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized this danger and urged the industry to remove these products from its cosmetics, however an FDA report in the last 20 years found many products still contained nitrosamines.

It has been suggested that all products containing DEA and TEA be boycotted. Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and similarly, Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLS) are found in most shampoos, bubble baths, shower gels and other cleansers as a detergent and for suds production. SLS is a strong detergent also used to degrease engines and clean garages.

Delicate tissues of the eyes have been found to be impaired by absorbing SLS, especially vulnerable to this absorption are children. SLS has been found to irritate skin tissue causing rashes and itching, corrode hair follicles, impair hair growth, cause scalp scurf similar to dandruff and cause various allergic reactions. Residual levels have been found in the heart, liver, lungs and brain.

Irritations and itching of the scalp have been relieved when a SLS-free shampoo is used. It is often on cosmetics labels espousing to be natural with the parenthetic explanation "comes from coconut" to make it appear natural though it is a synthetic ingredient.

4. Methyl, Propyl, Ethyl and Butyl Paraben – These are widely used even though they are known to be toxic. Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. Have caused many allergic reactions and skin rashes. Methylparaben combines benzoic acid with the methyl group of chemicals. Highly toxic. The parabens mimic estrogen and may result in reproductive damage, according to recent studies.

5. Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea (Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives) - These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens and are toxic. They are well known to be a primary cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology). Neither of these (trade name) Germall chemicals have a good antifungal and must be combined with other preservatives. Because formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen that can also cause irritation and allergic reactions, also avoid preservatives such as DMDM hydantoin quaternium-15 which release formaldehyde as they degrade.

6. PVP/VA Copolymer - A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since particles may contribute to foreign bodies in the lungs of sensitive persons.

7. Stearalkonium Chloride - A chemical used in hair conditioners and creams. Causes allergic reactions. Stearalkonium chloride was developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, and is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which actually help hair health. Toxic.

8. Dibutyl phthalate - Found in nail polish and moisturizers, this hormone-disrupting chemical accumulates in the body's fatty tissue and can cause reproductive damage.

9. Synthetic Colors - The synthetic colors used to supposedly make a cosmetic "pretty" should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Synthetic colors are believed to be cancer-causing agents. If a cosmetic has them in it, don't use the cosmetic.

10. Petrolatum - Mineral Oil causes a lot of problems when used on the skin and Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly. It can produce photosensitivity (promotes sun damage) and can interfere with the body's own natural mechanisms to moisturize, leading to dry skin. When you use a product with petrolatum, you are using a product that creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap. It is a by-product of the oil industry.

11. Talc - Loose powders, blushes, and eye shadows can contain up to 50 percent talc, a mineral that has been linked to respiratory damage. Do not use on your babies!

12. Industrial alcohol is a major ingredient in mouthwash. The alcohol acts as a solvent in the mouth, making the skin tissues more vulnerable to carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute of America has found that mouthwashes with an alcohol content of 25% or higher have been implicated in mouth, tongue and throat cancers. Also, men had a 60% higher risk and women a 90% higher risk of these cancers compared to those not using mouthwash

13. Aluminium is a metal that is widely used in most antiperspirants, processed foods, soft drink cans, foil and cookware. It is highly recommended that we avoid the use of aerosol antiperspirants since aluminium in aerosol form may be more readily absorbed into the brain through the nasal passages.

For more extensive information on this subject visit these links:

You will learn so much about the toxic chemicals commonly used in personal care products from the compiled information on this website from the UK. It is arranged in an easy-to-read, convenient table with very good cross-linking for explanations of the chemicals, their effects and hazards.

Bookmark this one! Natural Skin Care Authority is a treasure trove of information, very well organized. You can spend a lot of time at the Cosmetic Chemicals Watch-List: The "A" to "Z" Of Toxins in Skin Care.

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Comments 12 comments

Victoire profile image

Victoire 7 years ago from Paris, France

Wow, I'll have to print this out and carry it around every time I go shopping! These ingredients are in EVERYTHING. Thank you for such important information!

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

You're welcome! And thank you for being interested! We all need to be aware of the ingredients that manufacturers' use that are not in our best interests.

Jack Rowe 7 years ago

Good info! It's hard to believe that skin care manufacturers are so callous to the issue of toxic chemicals, but this sort of info will help as it gets out. Thank you!

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

You're welcome! We do have to be very careful about our choices since most manufacturers make rather poor ones not in our best interest. Thank you for your comment!

Molly 7 years ago

This is the most comprehensive list I have seen anywhere, and I've seen a lot of them. Thanks so much for providing such a thorough listing... I really appreciate it!

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

So glad it can be of some use to you! Thank you for visiting!

Mu'ina 7 years ago

Thanks for doing such clear groundword. I'll pass this on.

What can we do since many of us or our children have already

used these failible products? I feel aluminum is a biggie.

Is there a way to get these toxins our of our faces and armpits?

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

That is a very good question! I will plan to write a Hub on that subject soon. Meanwhile, thank you for passing on the information and hopefully it will provide incentive for all of us to stop using products we already have with these toxic ingredients and be more selective in our future choices of what we put on our bodies. Thank you for visiting!

Sterling Sage profile image

Sterling Sage 7 years ago from California

Very interesting. I like to read labels, so I'm very familiar with the ingredients you mention. As Victoire said, they are in everything.

I particularly like the way you point out the financial motivation to use questionable ingredients.

I'm not sure I agree with you about aluminum, though. I thought it was no longer considered to be a cause of Alzheimer's disease. My understanding--and I studied it extensively a few years back--was that Alzheimer's disease caused aluminum to accumulate in the brain, rather than the other way around.

You said that "Studies show that regular use of these products can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 3 times." Could you point me to them? I'm always curious and very nerdy. ;-)

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

Thank you, Sterling, for your thoughtful comments.

Thank you for calling my attention to that statement. You're right. I borrowed that without thorough enough investigation. It has not been shown conclusively to be the cause of Alzheimers at all. It is just as likely to be a result of the disease as a cause. This has long been debated since levels of aluminum in the brain are higher in Alzheimer's patients.

I'm going to remove the statement. I still do think aluminum has other problems it creates such as decreased synthesis of some neurotransmitters. When aluminum has been injected into the brains of animals, it produces tangled brain cells.

You may like this resource:

Again, thank you!

Sterling Sage profile image

Sterling Sage 7 years ago from California

Thanks, WB. Cool resource.

Intuitively, it makes sense to me to avoid aluminum. Metals are often at least mildly toxic. I think even gold is, although it's hard to absorb enough to matter.

walksbeauty profile image

walksbeauty 7 years ago from Sapello, New Mexico Author

You're welcome. I have a few friends who are dealing with metals issues in their children (autism as a result of Thimerisol in immunizations, also very controversial)as well as health issues that their doctors have suspected are linked to Mercury and aluminum specifically in their bodies from who-knows-what... amalgam fillings, aluminum cookware, deodorants & other personal care products? Even making an effort to stay away from all of it, we're bound to inhale fumes and have contact with all kinds of environmental stuff.

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