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The Toxic Dangers of Cosmetics Uncovered

Updated on September 4, 2013
The Toxic Dangers of Cosmetics Uncovered
The Toxic Dangers of Cosmetics Uncovered | Source

60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed – FACT

Children’s bodies will absorb 40-50% more than adults – FACT

Chemicals in our bodies can lead to Infertility, birth defects, skin allergies, cancer, learning disabilities and reproductive problems – FACT

The skin is our largest organ – FACT

Toxic Beauty

beauty at what price?
beauty at what price? | Source

Did You Know . . . .?

  • The average woman will absorb over 5lbs of toxins from her body, bath and skin care products each year.

  • Some of these chemicals have no known way of being eliminated from the body so the toxin residues may remain within the skin tissue for decades.

  • The average person in the U.S will use 15 hair, body or skin products daily.

Toxic Beauty ~

The Cosmetic and beauty industries have much to answer for.

The governing bodies who decide what is allowed in our products and how cosmetics are labelled have much to answer for.

The harmful ingredients that we are subject to inhaling or absorbing through the skin are very real. When governing health bodies responsible for allowing or banning certain chemicals use, sees fit to allow incredibly dangerous ingredients, who is worse, cosmetic company or health body?

Many of us are in the habit now of reading food labels but how many of us read what we are putting on our skin in the form of hair, hygiene or make-up products?

Here I am uncovering some of the most dangerous chemicals to be aware of when you see them listed on packaging.There are a large number of chemicals used in cosmetics so I would advise checking out the free download link further down or grab yourself a copy of the toxic chemicals dictionary for a more comprehensive list.

The scary truth is some companies do not list all the ingredients so without telepathy we are none the wiser of the missing ones be they toxic or not.

I have worked extensively within the cosmetic industry over the past 25 years and have now turned to a more natural less toxic way of having my supply of cosmetics, toiletries, make-up, cleaners and household products.

The industry I held so much respect and passion for has disappointed me and angered me.

Apart from sourcing the companies who have made more Eco friendly products, I have now turned to more nutrient rich, everyday ingredients that have tons of benefits rather than being loaded with toxins.

I do not have a degree in chemistry and do not want this to read like such so I will endeavor to explain each chemical or dangerous compound in order to make it understandable. My aim is to provide the known facts. It is up to each of us to decide what we do with this information.

What is a Carcinogen?

Have you heard this word and often wondered what the heck does it mean?

Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

Apart from cosmetic items carcinogens are in a large variety of products including asbestos, detergents, adhesives, paints, batteries, cigarette smoke, dry cleaning and nickel.

Cosmetic Products

hidden dangers lie beneath the good stuff
hidden dangers lie beneath the good stuff | Source


regularly known for containing parabans
regularly known for containing parabans | Source

Parabans (preceded by Methyl, Ethyl, Butyl, Isopropyl, Isobutyl or Propyl)

Used as a preservative and often not labelled.

Commonly used in skin care products and deodorants, they are also frequently used in pharmaceuticals to be taken internally.

They may contribute to sterility in men, hormonal imbalances in women and early puberty.

While parabens cannot be said to cause cancer, a study done in 2004 found that over 90% of breast tissue in cancer tumors contained parabens.

Liquid or Bar Soap

easily made at home or use Dr Bromner range of chemical free castile soaps
easily made at home or use Dr Bromner range of chemical free castile soaps | Source

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

These are the artificial foaming agents responsible for giving us the suds in our shampoos, liquid soaps, bubble baths, toothpaste, shower gels, liquid dishwasher soap, laundry soap, car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers.

They are present in over 90% of our personal hygiene products and are highly dangerous.

Over 16,000 studies published by PubMed have shown these to be highly irritating to skin, toxic to internal organs, to potentially cause developmental issues with babies and children, to cause reproductive problems, to alter our cells, to be an endocrine disruptor, a neurotoxin, to cause gene mutation and to possibly cause cancer.

Our bodies are not able to effectively break down and eliminate these toxins and the toxin has been found in liver, eye and brain tissue of deceased humans who stopped using sulfates 15 years prior.

Oral Hygiene

even toothpaste may be bought or made that is healthier for you and your family
even toothpaste may be bought or made that is healthier for you and your family | Source

Tap Water

potential health issues
potential health issues | Source


This synthetic chemical is an antibacterial ingredient commonly found in hand sanitizers, deodorants, antibacterial liquid soaps, dental products, antibacterial clothing, cleaners, plastic toys and general cosmetic products.

Triclosan is a major chemical of great concern. It has an almost indefinite afterlife in human tissue, is stored in the fat cells and studies in Sweden found it to be present in over 60% of women’s breast milk even years after they had stopped using antibacterial products because of triclosan concerns. It is a known endocrine disruptor.

With the thyroid problem in USA being extremely high it is very possible triclosan is a contributory factor.

This toxin forms a carcinogen when exposed to chlorine in tap water. What that means is every time you wash your hands with antibacterial soap and rinse it off under the tap it makes chloroform gas which is a known carcinogen.

Using triclosan products has been proven to be the cause of increased rates of eczema, allergies and asthma.

Sunscreen Chemicals

Commercial sunscreens often contain toxic preservatives and dangerous ingredients including PABA and Oxybenzone.

These two increase the production of free radicals in the body, they cause hormone imbalances, are endocrine disruptors, increase estrogen levels and have been linked with increased cancer rates.

It has been researched and stated that those people who use the highest amounts of sunscreen are also the ones with the highest levels of skin cancer.

While the use of sunscreens is an ongoing issue, the one thing that is evident is that Vitamin D is required by the body and essential for good health.

Sun exposure is the most efficient way of absorbing this vitamin (really a hormone) into the blood cells.

Essential Oils

the good guy for adding fragrance to a product, inhaling therapeutic benefits or providing antibacterial qualities in house cleaning.
the good guy for adding fragrance to a product, inhaling therapeutic benefits or providing antibacterial qualities in house cleaning. | Source

Synthetic Fragrance

Synthetic fragrance can be made of a wide variety of harmful toxins. These include Phthalates, Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Petrochemicals and Menthol.

Phthalates is the most common and a known endocrine disruptor and highly suspected of being a carcinogen.

What is most worrying with artificial fragrances is that they can be inhaled AND absorbed through the skin. Inhaled toxins will reach the bloodstream faster than those absorbed through the skin.

A study conducted by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed that the majority of perfumes or colognes on the market will contain dangerous chemicals that are not listed on packaging or product.

That is outrageous yet I can appreciate recipes and formulas of perfumes are highly guarded. The FDA in America who is responsible for banning or passing ingredients, have made perfumes exempt from their labeling laws and so good and bad ingredients go undisclosed.

The best way to incorporate fragrance is to use essential oils.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Commonly used in treating acne or in acne products, this toxin” is a free radical-generating skin tumor producing agent” and has been linked to cancer for many years.

In North America for example, the concentration for prescription or over the counter acne treatments is 2.5% to 10% benzoyl peroxide.

In teeth whitening or hair bleaching treatments it is higher.

This toxin interferes with the healing process of the skin so the acne takes longer to heal than it should.

If purchasing acne treatments over the counter or on prescription, look for benzoyl peroxide as an ingredient and avoid it. Look for a suitable one without it.


home to an assortment of chemicals and synthetic fragrance
home to an assortment of chemicals and synthetic fragrance | Source

Lip Balm

homemade lip balm is so easy to make and ten times better for your lips
homemade lip balm is so easy to make and ten times better for your lips | Source

Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

PEG is commonly found in an assortment of cosmetic products including cleansers, soaps, lip balms, lotions, creams, body washes, hair products, shaving creams, baby wipes, eye drops, contact lens solution and toothpaste.

It is also used in spray on oven cleaner! The risks of this toxin are lengthy.

PEG when used topically strips the skin of natural sebum and oils.

Some studies have shown it to cause kidney damage when taken internally or applied over broken skin.

The National Toxicology Program revealed that PEG causes increased risk of not only leukaemia but of breast, uterine and brain cancers. PEG is commonly known to be contaminated with the carcinogen 1, 4-dioxane.

The sickening reality is that this toxin could be easily removed at a small cost but most cosmetic companies will not pay for this and they do not have by law. PEG is known to contain heavy metals.

This type of contamination in our bodies can cause autoimmune, neurological and kidney problems.

DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl)

Both these toxins are preservatives used in a wide variety of products.

The EWG have over 1,300 products listed with DMDM Hydantoin. The most widely used products are shampoos, conditioners, body washes, styling gels, moisturizers and cleansers.

It may cause skin, eye or lung irritation as it is absorbed through the skin and is airborne.

The EWG has just over 200 products listed with Urea including moisturizers, facial moisturizers, foot moisturizers, and sunscreen and anti-aging products.

Both these preservatives release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, chest pain, headaches, depression, ear infections, dizziness, chronic fatigue, insomnia and cancer.

Lemon Juice

the better more chemical free alternative for skin lightening
the better more chemical free alternative for skin lightening | Source

Have you cut down on chemicals in products?

See results

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)

Although banned in the European Union, this chemical is commonly found in bath and body products in the USA.

It is said to be a very probable carcinogen in humans and is commonly found in skin lightening products and is the possible cause of pigment loss in individuals.

BHA has been shown to have a negative effective on the levels of thyroid hormones, to potentially have an effect on the development of the reproductive system, to cause liver damage and stomach cancers.

Food for Thought . . . .

Did you know what you are putting on your skin? It makes for scary reading and unfortunately until the laws become stricter and companies grow a conscience it will not change quickly. We have it within ourselves to say no enough is enough. Caring about what we put in our bodies is part of normal life so why not what we put on our skin? When you think of some the facts here like we absorb 60% of what goes on our skin, that should speak volumes alone. I have given you my opinion based on my research, experience and passion for creating awareness, the rest is up to us all individually. It is our choice.

if you would like to try some homemade recipes out please do check out some of the selection here or on my profile page which will have over 100 homemade beauty solutions to choose from.

"Creating health awareness through homemade beauty solutions"

Author Info ~

Information on the author, her bio and full body of works available @ Suzie HQ

Credit to sharkye11 ~

© 2013 Suzanne Ridgeway

The Toxic Dangers of Cosmetics Uncovered Comments

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    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi GTF,

      So nice to see you enjoy this one. So many nasty chemicals to be aware of is important and what is regulated and what is not varies so much too between continents. Thanks for checking this one out!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

      I knew there was a reason I did not like my daughter playing with those cheap play makeup kits. Well done and informative hub.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi livingsta.

      Appreciate your interest and comment on this topic. So grateful for you sharing on too and spreading the word!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Stephanie,

      Appreciate you dropping in and for is quite frightening the long-term effects chemicals may have on our health even when we stop using them for lengthy periods of time. Many companies also advertise they are chemical free when in fact they are not, which really annoys me. Thanks for your votes and for sharing on, they are much appreciated!

    • livingsta profile image


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is definitely an eye-opener Suzie. It all sounds so scary what these chemicals can do to us. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am sharing this so that many can benefit.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      7 years ago from USA

      Although I've read a little about the harmful ingredients in some of our commonly used soaps and cosmetics, I had no idea how harmful they really are. Your article is certainly an eye-opener! In the last year, four people that I'm close to have been diagnosed with different types of cancer. How frightening to think that the products we rely on every day might contribute to our illnesses!

      Voted up, useful, interesting and shared!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Mike,

      Appreciate you taking time to read and comment. Glad to see you found it interesting and useful even if you don't use many cosmetics as such. Soaps, shower gels, shaving creams or gels and deodorants are all part of this group too. Thanks for your thumbs up and for sharing on!

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 

      7 years ago from London

      I'm not that much into using cosmetics - that is on a daily basis - but your hub is quite useful and informative about the potential side effects and dangers of such products. Great hub, Suzie. Voted and shared.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Audrey,

      Many thanks for your visit and comment. Delighted you enjoyed and felt relevant and warranted. There are so many dangers it does make your head spin and wish it were so much simpler today! Cheers for the support!

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Suzie. Amazing stories but not surprising. I must read labels of everything I eat due to the toxic ingredients. Thank you for bringing us this information about these dangerous ingredients in cosmetics. How I long for the good old days when our products were better. I think. It is so nice to meet you at this hub with warnings. Blessings. Audrey

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi jenbeach21,

      Welcome and thanks for your comment! Glad you enjoyed the information, it is an important subject we all need to be aware on.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Janet,

      Delighted you enjoyed and of course thrilled you have found the homemade route so beneficial. Thank you as always my friend on your comment, visit and continued support!!

    • jenbeach21 profile image


      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      A lot of great information. I wish more people were aware of what they are putting on their skin and in their bodies!

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      7 years ago from Georgia country

      It's so scary to read about all these chemical toxins. It's better to read the labels carefully or best to avoid these commercial beauty products and turn to homemade beauty solutions. Thank you for sharing this very important and useful hub.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Shauna,

      Many thanks for your visit and comment. Chemicals are in so many beauty products and make-up. Glad you enjoyed this and found it useful. Apologies, yes thanks for the email with your recipe in hub! i had forgotten the actual one. Cheers!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Jaye

      What lovely comments, thanks so much! Good to hear about your own experiences and path down the "green" route. You are dead right about some companies who say they are safe and are far from that. Thanks for sharing your own research, you certainly show how it can be done. if there is a will there is a way! Cheers for spreading the word!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you my friend, glad you found this informative. Bill it will always be there whether for food for the body or food on the skin, people will choose to ignore the health issues or at least block them out. Most people know the right things to eat or not eat. Making as many aware as possible is all we can do and show options. If they decide to take those options seriously then it is a start but you cannot make anyone change. They have to want to as with so many things in life. Appreciate all your support, always a pleasure having you in my corner :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Natashalh,

      Lovely to see you. it is so true, I wonder what they will make of some our treatments and products? Maybe it will be super hi-tec or maybe it will revert back to basic plant remedies of olden times! Cheers for your thoughts, interesting !

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi healthylife2,

      Thanks very much for checking this out. i think many know but choose to forget, ignore and think it won't happen to me or affect me. The scary thing is it probably has affected us all in different ways without realizing it. try my deodorant recipe out if you are having problems or take Jay's advice! Cheers for your interest, greatly appreciate it!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Mary,

      Thanks so much for visiting and for commenting here. I never paid huge amounts to the dangerous ingredients when I worked as a Therapist, Make-Up Artist and then in Cosmetic Sales. The benefits and positive nature of products was what everyone wanted to hear, not the down sides. it was many years later it gradually became more talked about and in the media. i am glad you enjoyed this and thank you for speaking so positively for the article. Appreciate your votes, sharing and pin in spreading the word too!

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Carol,

      Many thanks for your support as always. it is hard to completely transform when you consider the amount of products we use daily. Being aware and making changes as you go makes sense for many and I know you have been making and using homemade products successfully. it is true that as we make changes we do feel that much closer to cutting down on toxins for good. Cheers for spreading the word!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Wow, I had no idea chemicals are found in so many products that we use daily. Shampoo, facial cleansers, deodorant and toothpaste? Scary stuff here, Suzie! Thank goodness you've done the research and informed us.

      BTW, did you get my email regarding the furniture polish recipe?

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Suzie - Thank you so much for publishing this excellent, well-researched and organized article which I hope will find a broad audience. I will do my part by sharing it. I've been going "green" for the past two years and read labels assiduously to avoid toxic chemicals in everyday products. This is necessary because many products labeled "green" or "natural" still contain toxic substances.

      After researching toothpastes, including the brands promoted as "green", which aren't, I found only one that has no harmful ingredients. It's made by miessence (a brand name of ONEGroup--organic and natural products), and I have to order it from Australia.

      I also routinely check the database of Environmental Working Group ( to discover the relative safety of ingredients. This brings me to a tip for healthylife2: Naturally Fresh deodorant crystal (roll-on) is effective, while being free of aluminum, parabens, PG, fragrance, allergens, and it works for me. (You may want to use it twice a day instead of once.) I checked the EWG website to find out about the two ingredients I didn't recognize, and they are both safe (though one should not be used on the lips or around the eyes--not where you're likely to use deodorant!)

      Most people won't take the trouble to do the research. In fact, the average person feels overwhelmed by the issue of toxins in household products and simply adopts a fatalistic attitude about their use. (This is what I call "ostrich syndrome", and I think it's very sad as well as dangerous.) There is also the factor of price. Safe products usually cost more, but again, the average person doesn't think beyond initial price. He or she doesn't consider the much greater cost toxins cause by destroying health.

      Voted Up+++ and shared


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great information, Suzie, and it points to the importance of your natural beauty articles. What I have found, and it is alarming, is that many people know they are using harmful products and just don't care. How do you combat that?

      Keep doing what you are doing my friend.


    • Natashalh profile image


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Really eye opening! In the past, people used lead based cosmetics and it seems crazy to us today. I wonder what people will be amazed at when they look back at us and what we wore!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's surprising how many people are not aware of the toxins they are absorbing on a daily basis from cosmetics and personal care products. I have been gradually replacing them with safer alternatives but have yet to find a safe deodorant that actually works. This hub will help many reduce toxins and minimize health risks.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I didn't pay too much attention to the ingredients in things until I got Celiac...then I found out there was wheat in some lipsticks, etc. etc.

      You've picked a topic that is way overdue and as usual, you have handled it well, written it well, and made it something worth sharing! Great job Suzie Q.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, pinned, and shared.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      This is very special..and so glad you took time to write this. I still use some chemical products...but slowly ebbing away...At least for facial and body creams. And I love my toothpaste...After reading this I am even more inspired to use natural and home made products. We do live in a toxic world including the GMO food, the pollutants and of course what we put on our skin. I prob. will never totally go natural..however each time I do something I feel a little closer...Thanks for this..Will get this all over the net.

    • Suzie HQ profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi phoenix,

      How good of you to comment! It had been suggested I do this article so it took awhile to check and triple check info as it is such a huge topic. it is alarming the extent of chemicals used and it does baffle me why ingredients are banned here and have been for years yet they are deemed okay in America for example? Crazy! Thanks for your support and interest, you have been a tremendous support!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I am becoming more aware of the types of chemicals present in cosmetics and beauty products. That's why I read hubs like yours to find alternative methods for these products.


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