9 Toxins to Avoid in Personal Care Products
Find product safety ratings at CosmeticDatabase.org.
Find research on individual ingredients at Toxipedia.org,
and always avoid these nine worst toxins.
1. PARABENS: They’re in adult and baby shampoo and many other
products, and they are estrogen mimickers that can lead to cancer.
2. FRAGRANCE: The FDA requires that food, drug, and body care companies
list their ingredients on their products—but chemicals used to scent products
can be clumped under the vague term “fragrance.” Found in everything from
shampoo to deodorant, a single product’s secret fragrance mixture can contain
potentially hundreds of toxic volatile organic compounds.
3. NANOPARTICLES: Found in lotions, moisturizers, make-up, and
particularly sunscreen, these untested ingredients are so small,
many scientists are very concerned about their potential health
effects, as they can penetrate cell walls and are highly reactive.
Products with nanoparticles aren’t often labeled as such, so check
your conventional body care products at CosmeticDatabase.org or NanotechProject.org/inventories/consumer/.
4. FORMALDEHYDE: A common hardener in nail polish
and an ingredient in bath products, this chemical is a
known carcinogen. Nail polish also often contains the
developmental toxicant TOLUENE.
5. PHTHALATES: These hormone disruptors have been linked to
male genital abnormalities, liver and kidney lesions, and higher
rates of childhood asthma and allergies. They’re often hidden
in the fragrances of an array of products for men, women, and
children, and listed as DIBUTYL PHTHALATE in nail polish.
6. PETROLEUM BY-PRODUCTS: Listed as mineral oil, petrolatum, liquid
paraffin, toluene, or xylene, these chemicals are found in a dizzying
number of products, including many shampoos and soaps. Of most
concern is the fact that they are often contaminated by cancer-causing
impurities like 1,4 DIOXANE, which is a probable carcinogen. Industry
has done very little to prevent such contamination.
7. TRICLOSAN: A primary ingredient in anti-bacterial
soaps and products, triclosan has been linked to
hormone disruption and the emergence of bacteriaresistant “superbugs.”
8. LEAD: It’s a potent neurotoxicant,
and it’s been found in several
popular brands of lipstick and men’s
hair coloring kits.
9. MERCURY: A neurotoxicant that can
severely damage human health, mercury—
often listed as “thimerosol”—is still used in
some cosmetics like mascara.