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Toxic Self Care - Things you need to know

Avoiding toxic ingredients in conventional toiletries, skin care & makeup, is extremely important to your overall balance and well-being. What is scary to think of is that, many of these horrible ingredients are lurking in the products you choose for your children. We on average, are being exposed to over 130 chemicals per day. The rise of childhood allergies, asthma, and developmental disabilities are on the rise. Cancer is on the rise. This is not a coincidence. The European Union has banned over 1300 toxic ingredients that are detrimental to the health of their citizens, yet the USA through the FDA has banned ELEVEN!!!! This is a disgrace. What can you do? A TON! You can continuously educate yourself on toxic ingredients, and avoid them at all costs. You can spread the word about organic and green clean living, and share with the people you love the most.

Common Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid:


  • Found in baby products, children’s bath products such as body soaps, baby shampoos and bubble bath, hair relaxers, curl creams, dyes, shampoo, sunless tanners, body lotions, detergents, face creams and anti-aging products. 1,4-dioxane is found in 22% of all personal care products and 67% of children’s bath products according to the Environmental Working Group.

  • Ingredients to look for: polyethylene, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polyoxyethylene, ethoxylated ingredients, sodium laureate sulfate, polysorbate, -eth – or oxynol-, oleths. It may also be found in Sodium laureth sulfate. Most often, however, it is not on the ingredients list because it is not what the FDA considers an “intended ingredient”. A study by the Environmental Working Group found that at least one-quarter of all personal-care products sold in the United States is contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. Another study looked at 24 baby products and found that 18 of them were contaminated with 1,4-dioxane.

  • Why is it listed among Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid?  A known animal carcinogen it is also believed to cause cancer in humans. (According to the EPA.) In one study, rats and mice drank water contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and developed liver and nose cancer. Long-term studies showed it impacts the kidneys as well. The FDA has no upper limits in cosmetics, but the limit in pills and spermicides is ten parts per million. It is also a biproduct of a petrochemical process known as, ethyoxlation, which involves adding ethylene oxide (a toxin linked to breast cancer) to toher chemicals to make them less harsh. More than 56 cosmetics ingredients are associated with this chemical toxin. In 2007, a study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found some products are using twice this amount.

Chemical Sunscreens

  • Found in  sunscreens (big surprise), creams, makeup and lip balms with SPF. Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays before they cause damage to the skin.

  • Ingredients to look for: padimate-O, PABA, octinoxate, benzophenone, oxybenzone, octyl-methoxycinnamate, homosalate. Generally speaking, if something doesn’t explicitly say that it is a mineral or physical blocker and claims to have SPF, it is a chemical sunscreen.

  • Why is it listed among Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid? For starters, chemical sunscreens aren’t all that great at protecting you from UVA rays, and this can lead to accelerated aging. PABA (Padimate-O) is suspected to be carcinogenic. Oxybenzone (benzophenone) is absorbed very quickly by the skin. It can accumulate in the fatty tissues of the body and is linked to cellular damage, low birth weight, allergies and hormone disruption. In fact, 97% of us have it in our urine. Homosalate and octyl methoxycinnamate (octinoxate) are linked to hormone disruption.

Coal Tar

  • Found in hair dyes, dandruff, and psoriasis shampoo, anti-itch creams, cosmetics, mouthwash, and toothpaste.

  • Ingredients to Look For: When it is the active ingredient you will see it listed as an ingredient. However when its constituent parts are used it does not appear on the label.

  • What’s Wrong With It? Coal Tar is a known carcinogen that is banned in Europe. Sadly, it is still used here. Coal tar is derived from petroleum. It can be contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain. The carcinogenicity or coal tar has been shown in animal studies and studies in occupational settings.


  • Found in eyeliners, lipsticks, lip glosses, lip conditioners, and hair dye. It is usually found as a contaminant and will not be listed on labels. In 2009, the FDA conducted a study and found lead in all chemicals tested. On average the levels found exceeded the FDA’s acceptable levels for candy by ten times.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Thimerosal and variations. But again, they are usually not listed at all because it is a contaminant, not an ingredient.

  • What’s Wrong With It? Lead is a known carcinogen and a hormone disruptive. Despite this, the FDA has not set a limit for lead in cosmetics though it has been found in lipstick in volumes about four times the FDA safety limit for candy. It is readily absorbed through the skin into the blood and can accumulate in bone. Although dying from poisoning is possible, it is more likely to lead to low birth weights, miscarriages, depression and aggressive behavior. Babies exposed to lead in the womb can develop serious complications including seizures, attention disorders, and brain damage.


  • Found in hair spray, hair gel, deodorant, lipstick, lotion, nail polish, fragrance, perfume, nail strengtheners, eyelash glue

  • Ingredients to look for: Phthalate, DBP, DEHP, DMP, DEP, with variations on dibutyl/diethyl ester or 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate, fragrance.

  • What’s Wrong With It? Phthalates are known hormone disruptors and suspected carcinogens. They are especially toxic to fetuses and can cause birth defects in male babies. They can interfere with fertility and have been linked to low sperm count. They are also suspected in Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Most recently, Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center has linked phthalates to ADHD. Also noted that women who have the highest blood and urine levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like phthalates, went through menopause up to 4 years earlier than those with lower levels. The European Union has banned most phthalates.

Formaldehyde (& Substances That Release Formaldehyde)

  • Found in nail products, shampoos, hair dyes, antiperspirant, makeup, bubble bath, liquid baby soap, bath lotions, keratin hair treatments and other hair growing products. Used as a preservative to prevent bacteria from growing in water-based products. It is banned in Europe.

  • Ingredients to Look For: 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3 diol; Diazolidinyl urea; DMDM Hydantoin; imidazolidinyl urea; quaternium -15, Cormalin, formic aldehyde, sodium hydroxymethyl glycinate, methenamine, bronopol

  • What’s Wrong With It? The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. National Toxicology program have classified it as a known carcinogen. It is also an irritant and allergen and can cause immune system toxicity and liver problems. It has been linked to dermatitis, joint pains, and headaches. Even at very low levels some people experience rashes, watery eyes, coughing, difficulty breathing, burning eyes and nausea.

Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA)/Ethanolamine (ETA)

  • Found in wetting agents and emulsifiers in products such as facial cleansers, shampoos, hair colors, hair relaxers and body wash.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Triethanolamine, TEA lauryl sulfate, cocamide DEA, Cocamide MEA, DEA-CETYL, phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, lin oleamide MEA, myristamide, DEA, Oleamide DEA, steramide MEA. (This list is not comprehensive.)

  • What’s Wrong With It? If these products also have nitrous in them, a chemical reaction may occur that leads to the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines that are readily absorbed into the body. 2-bromo-2nitro-propane – 1,3 dil and Padimate – O are also ingredients that can pose a threat of nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. The National Toxicology Program found a connection between the topical application of DEA and cancer in lab animals. Another study showed that DEA hinders brain development in baby mice when applied topically to their pregnant mothers.


  • Found in almost everything! It can be legally hidden because it is regarded as a “trade secret”.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Fragrance, Perfume

  • What’s Wrong With It? Because fragrance is considered a “trade secret” and companies don’t have to list the ingredients, it is often (75%) a hidden source of chemicals like phthalates. Fragrance can hide up to 100 different chemicals. Some fragrance ingredients are known neurotoxins, and many can irritate skin. Some also make asthma worse.

Diethylene Glycol (DEG), Propylene Glycol (PG), Ethylene Glycol, Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

  • Found in fragrances, shampoo, baby washes, lotions makeup, foundation and soaps

  • Ingredients to Look For: The names listed above, 1-2 propanediol, variations on 1,2-dihydroxypropane and variations on methyl ethylene glycol.

  • What’s Wrong With It? The biggest risk factor of these petroleum byproducts is contamination with known carcinogens, 1,4-dioxane, lead, nickel, and arsenic. Damaged skin is believed to increase the risk systemic toxicity. In addition to being linked to cancer, glycol’s have been associated with neurotoxicity, mental/reproductive issues, and endocrine disruption.


  • Found in skin lightening creams and mascara

  • Ingredients to Look For: Thimerosal is one thing you can look for. However, since Mercury is a contaminant you most likely won’t find it on a label.

  • What’s Wrong With It? Mercury is a known irritant and allergen. It accumulates in the body over time and can eventually impact the brain and nervous system.

Mineral Oil

  • Found in moisturizers and skin treatments.

  • Ingredients to Look For: White oil, liquid paraffin, pariffinum liquidum (Latin), and Baby Oil

  • What’s Wrong With It? Mineral oil is a petroleum ingredient. It coats the skin much like plastic wrap. This inhibits its ability to breathe and absorb natural moisture and nutrition. It can promote acne and may lead to premature aging.


  • Found in nearly every type of cosmetics. It is estimated that parabens are in between 75% and 95% of all products.

  • Ingredients to look for: Methyl/ethyl/butyl/isobutyl/propyl paraben, hydroxybenzoic acid, hydroxybenzoate or ester.

  • What’s Wrong With It? Parabens may play a role in cancer and are linked to developmental defects, reproductive toxicity, and endocrine disruption. A 2004 study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology discussed the estrogen-like properties of parabens and found that they were detected in breast cancer. We also know that it can penetrate body tissues. It is believed that it can mimic estrogen. A 2011 California study of BPA and methylparaben combination turned healthy cells into cancer cells and rendered tamoxifen ineffective.


  • Found in many different products across the board. It is common to find it in face cleaners and lotions. It can also be used in fragrance. This preservative is an alternative to parabens and has become very popular with companies who are greenwashing their products.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Phenoxyethanol, 2-phenoxy, ethanol, 2-hydroxyethyl phenyl ether

  • Why is Phenoxyethanol among skin care ingredients to avoid? It has been shown to cause both reproductive and developmental toxicity. Use in cosmetics is restricted in Japan and Europe. The FDA has even issued a warning about the presence of it in nipple cream.


  • Found in sunscreens, acne treatments, anti-aging creams, blush, sunscreens, lotions, eyeshadows, bronzers.

  • Ingredients to Look For: In the United States and Canada, nanoparticles aren’t listed at all. They are untested, and are extremely minuscule, so they go undeclared on product labels, even though they are directly absorbed into the blood stream. You can find them in bronzers, eye shadows, sunscreens, and lotions.

  • Why are Nanoparticles among skin care ingredients to avoid? There is a lot of complexity surrounding nanoparticles, Since they are absorbed quickly due to their small size, this includes penetrating the human brain. They may cause cellular damage, cancer, gene damage and bioaccumulation in the body.

Petroleum Distillates/Solvents

  • Found in mascara and other makeup and skin care products.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Petroleum distillate, Stoddard solvent, light liquid paraffin

  • Why are Petroleum Distillates among skin care ingredients to avoid? An EPA report indicates that breathing in small amounts can lead to chemical pneumonia, pulmonary damage, and death. There is also evidence that people who are exposed have an increased risk of developing undifferentiated connective tissue disease.


  • Found in hair dyes, hair bleach, colored shampoo, henna dyes

  • Ingredients to Look For: 1,4-Benzenediamine, p-Phenylenediamine, 4-Phenylenediamine

  • Why is p-Phenylenediamine among skin care ingredients to avoid? It has been linked to bladder cancer, and there is evidence that it may be a neurotoxin. Exposure can cause allergic reactions, bronchial issues and nervous system damage.

Retinyl Palmitate

  • Found in makeup, skincare, self tanners, sunscreens and moisturizers.

  • Ingredients to Look For: retinyl palmitate, axerophthol palmitate, hexadecanoate retinol, retinol palmitate, retinoil, hexadecanoate, vitamin A palmitate

  • Why is Retinyl Palmitate among skin care ingredients to avoid? According to a 2011 report, in the presence of sunlight it enhances skin cancer lesions by 21%.  It has been linked to cancer and other types of reproductive toxcicity


  • Found in hair products, facial treatments, deodorants and moisturizers.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending ins “siloxane”.

  • Why are Siloxanes among skin care ingredients to avoid? These known toxins have the ability to bioaccumulate. They are believed to be endocrine disruptors that have the capacity to impair fertility. Research has also linked to uterine tumors, immune system compromise, and nervous system issues.

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

  • Found in shampoo, bubble bath, soap, body wash, toothpaste, face wash, mascara, conditioner, baby wash, exfoliants

  • Ingredients to Look For: Sodium Lauryl/laureth sulfate, sodium salt sulphuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, mono dodecyl ester, and other variations including sodium sulfate or sodium salt combined with other chemicals and PEG lauryl sulfate and variations.

  • Why are SLES and SLS among skin care ingredients to avoid? SLES and SLS penetrate the scalp quickly and are unable to be metabolized by the liver. Both are considered carcinogens and the biggest concern with SLES is contamination with 1,4-dioxane. They are believed to be endocrine disruptors and are known skin, scalp and eye irritants.


  • Found in sunscreens, face powders, eye shadows, liquid powder and baby powder.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Talc, talcum powder

  • Why is Talac among skin care ingredients to avoid? Talc is in the same family as asbestos. Scientific studies have linked talc exposure to ovarian cancer. Applying the powder to the genital area appears to increase risk. It is believed to be a possible lung irritant and carcinogen.


  • Found in nail polish and nail hardener.

  • Ingredients to Look For: Toluene, toluol, fragrance, phenylmethane, methylbenzene

  • Why is Toluene among skin care ingredients to avoid? Benzene, which is derived from toluene, is a known bone marrow poison. It has been related to leukemia in some studies. It has been linked to miscarriages as well.


  • Found in soaps, acne treatments, antiperspirants, toothpaste, and lipstick. It is the active ingredient in “anti-bacterial” products. It also happens to be registered with the government at a pesticide.

  • Ingredients to Look For: chloro and dichloro phenoxy – there is a long and confusing list of how it can be listed.

  • Why is it among skin care ingredients to avoid? A known endocrine disruptor, triclosan is also believed to contribute to liver toxicity. In animal studies, it has been shown to impact thyroid function. While it is a very effective antimicrobial agent, there is some concern that it can cause resistant strains of bacteria to form. It has been found in both breast milk and plasma.


  • Found in skin lighteners, sunscreens, nail treatments and anti-aging creams

  • Ingredients to Look For: Hydroquinone, variations of dihydroxybenzene or 1,4-benzene or variations of hydroxyphenyl

  • Why is it among skin care ingredients to avoid? Some evidence suggests that it is linked to cancer in lab animals. Severe reactions can occur with ingestion in even small amounts and death as low as 5 grams.


  • A compound used in hair dyes and bleaches. It releases a caustic, pugent gas that severely irritates the eyes and respiratory tract.


  • Used as a preservative and antibacterial agent used in cosmetics such as mascara, where it can be listed under the name, thimersoal, mercury can damage the brain at too high of levels. It can be found in some eyedrops, and skin lightening creams.

Red, Blue, Yellow, Green #

  • Synthetic Colorings in food and self care items have endless side effects. Provoking childhood behavioral disorder, allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, cancer, neuron disruption, tumors, liver damage, thyroid problems, the list goes on and on. These colors and dyes, are in thousands of household items, skin care and self care products, and children's foods and body washes, lotions, and candy.

Aluminum Salts/ Aluminum Chlorohydrate

  • Found in antiperspirants, used to help to kill bacteria that causes odor and seal the sweat glands.

  • Ingredients to look for: Aluminum chloride, aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum hydroxybromide, and aluminum zirconium.

  • Why is it among skin care ingredients to avoid? Aluminum is a known neurotoxin that accumulates in your fat cells. There is also research that links it to Alzheimer’s and Breast Cancer. It has been found in breast tissue. Aluminum antiperspirants have been shown to produce oxidative skin damage

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