Dangerous Chemicals

We are still learning on ways to take good care of our skin and protect it from damages and infections. If you are just seeing this post, please take your time and read our previous posts on skin health.

There are lots of chemicals in your body creams and makeup that gets absorbed into your bloodstream via the tiny pores on the surface of your skin. Some of them are dangerous and carcinogenic ad they cause a lot of health problems when inside your body in high concentrations.

A way to prevent this is to look at your skin care labels very well before purchasing them. It is not only food labels we look at. We look at labels on your body creams, hair creams, makeup products, and even soaps. Most of these chemicals present in these products are harmful to your body.

The cosmetic and beauty industry is highly unregulated and only a tiny test and approval is carried out on ingredients classified as drugs (over-the-counter drugs) such as color additives.

There is no testing of products or approval before they enter the market, and most of these chemicals used in producing these creams, lotions, and makeups are harmful.

They induce skin irritation, skin damage, and skin cancer because they are carcinogenic. They penetrate deep into your skin, enter your bloodstream and disrupt the functions of your endocrine system.

There are a lot of harmful chemicals that we should avoid, I will be giving 23 of them in this post. Harmful Chemicals to Avoid in Your Creams and Makeup includes;


Parabens are present in a lot of skin care products, makeups, roll-on, face cleansers, body washes, shampoos, deodorants, and even baby wipes.

They serve as preservatives and they prevent the growth of harmful microbes like yeast, bacteria, and moulds. They are actually put in these products for good but they cause more harm than good. The side effects of parabens are more than its good functions.

Parabens can mimic estrogen and this property increases your risks of breast cancer. Parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.


Phthalates are chemicals that are used to increase the softness and flexibility of plastics and they are used in lot products. The main phthalates used in cosmetics are dibutyl phthalates used in making nail polish, diethyl phthalates used in making lotions, and perfumes and dimethyl phthalates used in making hair spray.

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and they increase your risks of breast cancer. They also cause early development in girls and they induce reproductive birth defects in both males and females.

One scary thing about this substance phthalates is that it is not disclosed in the labels of these products, they include it under fragrances. We will talk on fragrance in a moment. This is not good and it is unfair to a lot of people using these products.

This great loophole in the law should be corrected and phthalates should be indicated in the labels if the products contain them so that people can be aware of what they are using. Phthalates can be found in many products such as body lotions and moisturizers, perfumes, cologne, deodorants, and hair sprays.


Many cosmetic and skin care products contain Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. They are added to prevent the growth of bacteria. The International Agency for Research on Carcinogen has named formaldehyde a carcinogen and has linked it to occupational caused cancers such as cancers of the nose and nasopharyngeal.

It is harmful to your immune system and it causes skin allergies, formaldehyde is used in making nail polish, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, eye shadows, face cleansers, and treatments for nail polish.

Propylene Glycol

This is an organic alcohol used as a skin-conditioning agent. It can penetrate deep into your skin and cause irritation. It is also linked to dermatitis and hives even when present in skin care products at 2% concentration. You can find this chemical in makeup products, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, and sunscreen.


This is a dangerous additive to body care products. Fragrance is a company’s “secret formula” which is a concoction containing lots of chemicals that are harmful to your health. This secret formula is not supposed to be listed on the label.

Fragrant mixtures induce skin allergies, respiratory distress, dermatitis, and even potential reproductive problems. Fragrances are found in body washes, moisturizers, perfumes, shampoo, conditioner, and cologne.

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

This is a surfactant present in more than 90% of skin care products and even cleaning products (those that produce foam). SLS is a skin, eye, and lung irritant and it can combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamine, a dangerous carcinogen.

These combinations can induce a lot of health problems and complications like respiratory problems and kidney damage. SLS and SLES are used in making face and body cleansers, body wash, mascara, shampoos, and creams used for treating acne.


This chemical is derived from petroleum and coal tar. It is labeled on products as Benzene, Methylbenzene, Phenylbenzene, and Toluol. This is a powerful solvent that can dissolve paint and paint thinner. It causes respiratory problems, it irritates your skin and also causes nausea.

Pregnant women should avoid this hazardous chemical as it can induce fetus damage and it also leads to toxicity of the immune system. Products containing toluene are nail polish, bleaching creams, hair dyes/colors, and nail treatments.

Sunscreen Chemicals

Chemicals used in making sunscreens to absorb harmful UV light are dangerous. They disrupt your endocrine system and they can be easily absorbed into the body. These chemicals cause skin cancer and cellular damage.

They increase the risks of cancer than even the UV light itself and the rate of skin cancer is higher in people who use sunscreens that those who don’t. Common names of these sunscreen chemicals which you will find on the labels are homosalate, ethoxycinnmate, and avobenzone.


This is a synthetic chemical added to skin products to fight the growth of microbes but it is harmful because it is an endocrine disruptor. It damages your thyroid gland, a very important organ in your endocrine system, it is a skin irritant and it also disrupts your reproductive hormones thereby leading to infertility.

This chemical also makes bacteria resistant to antibiotics and it is one of the causes of antibiotic resistance. You can find triclosan in antibacterial soaps and detergents, deodorants, and toothpastes.

Synthetic Colors

Synthetic colors are used to color these products and make them attractive. They are labeled as “FD&C” or D&C, if you see these on your product, know that these are artificial colors and they are harmful.

These letters precede a color and a number, for instance D&C Red 27 or FD&C Blue 1. F stands for Food while D&C stands for Drugs and Cosmetics. These artificial colors are derived from coal tar and petrol. Studies have shown that they are human carcinogen, they cause skin irritation and induce ADHD in children.

Synthetic colors are banned in the European Union and some organizations like the European Classification and Labeling considers artificial colors as human carcinogens.

Mineral Oil

This ingredient is also known as petroleum jelly or petrolatum. This is the most commonly used ingredients in the cosmetic industry because it is very cheap and very easy to obtain. It is colorless, odorless and has a long shelf life.

It is added to body care products because it is said to be a superb moisturizing agent and it is found abundantly in shampoos, hair creams, hair serums, facial creams, and body lotions. Though mineral oil has been certified safe by the FDA, it can harm your body if is not well purified.

It can contain traces of benzene which is extremely hazardous for your health and it is a known carcinogen. Some health experts consider mineral oil to be a foreign substance (xenohormones) and it interferes with the functions of your endocrine system. This will impair your immune system negatively.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals also known as Metalloestrogens are used in making anti-perspirant, skin whiteners, lightening agents and colorants. Common heavy metals used in cosmetics and skin care products are mercury, iron, lead, chromium, aluminium, zinc, and mercury.

These metals disrupt the activities of your hormone and they cause hormonal imbalance. It takes your body a lot of time and energy to get rid of them, so the more you use products containing heavy metals, the more harm you are inflicting on your body. High levels of these heavy metals in the body have been linked to infertility and reproductive problems, damaged immune system, allergic reaction, and cancer.

The use of heavy metals in products has been banned in the European Union, Japan, and Canada and the use is restricted in the U.S. Heavy metals are used in making lipsticks, nail polish, whitening toothpaste, foundations, eyeliner, blush, eye shadows, sunscreens, moisturizers, eye drops, concealer, etc.


These are compounds that contain boron and they are labeled as sodium borate (borax and also known as sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate), perboric acid, sodium perborate, and boric acid.

It is used as a preservative and emulsifying agent. It stabilizes the combination of ingredients used in products like body washes, body creams and lotions, bathing soaps, shampoos, and teeth whitening products. In studies, animals that were exposed to these compounds developed shrunken testes and low sperm count while the females experienced birth defects.

It also caused mutations in hamster cells by inducing chromosomal rearrangements. European Union has banned Borate and the government of Canada advises the citizens against the use of these chemicals.


BHA is the short form for butylated hydroxyanisole while BHT stands for butylated hydroxytoluene. They serve as preservatives in beauty products and it is listed as a carcinogen by the United State National Toxicology Program.

It is used in oily makeup and lipsticks and eye shadows. Studies were conducted and lab animals that were exposed to BHA developed liver damage, stomach disorder, reproductive problems and thyroid dysfunctions. BHT causes liver and kidney damage but not cancer.

Polyethylene Glycols

Polyethylene glycols also known as PEGs are derived from petroleum and they are added to body creams and lotions because they help to lubricate and soften your skin.

It also enables other active ingredients to be properly absorbed into your skin and it allows oil and water-based ingredients to mix properly.

Though PEGs have extremely low toxicity, they can be contaminated with carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide. These carcinogens enter your bloodstream via your skin pores, they interfere with your growth and development and they also have a toxic effect on your brain.


This is a skin lightening pigment added to body creams, soaps, and lotions. It causes a lot of skin problems like ochronosis, infertility, DNA mutations, and the development of tumors. We have said a lot about this dangerous chemical in one of our post.


This is a common ingredient used in making deodorants and body powders like baby powders and face powders.

It is a carcinogen that has been linked to cancer of the ovaries. When you inhale it, it accumulates in your lungs and cause respiratory problems and disorders. Thousands of babies die each year or become critically ill since the early 1980s just from inhaling baby powder.

Talc gotten from talc rocks is used in powders because it has anti-moisture properties. It is also used in making some drugs like antacids because it is resistant to moisture and it is also used in making pesticides and insecticides.

Scientists found particle of talc in tumors of the ovaries and they discovered that women with ovarian cancer used more talc products in their genital regions than women who don’t have ovarian cancer. Talc is related to asbestos, a powerful carcinogen and it causes cancer in the lungs and ovaries.


With the recent talks and protest against the use of parabens in body care products. Many companies started labeling their products “paraben free” but most of these products labeled this way contain Phenoxyethanol.

This is used as an antibacterial because it can stop the growth of bacteria in products and it is used as a substitute for parabens or it can also be used in conjunction with paraben.

This substance is a skin irritant, it triggers eczema and induces severe allergic reactions. Next time you want to buy a body cream or body lotion, while checking for parabens, remember to check for Phenoxyethanol.


This is a polymer made from silicon and used in making cosmetics because it gives a smooth and soft feel to your hair and skin. It is used in making face serums, facial moisturizers, makeup, hair creams, body moisturizers, sunscreens, anti-aging products and acne products.

It causes acne and other types of skin irritation because it prevents your pores from absorbing moisture from the air and it releases toxins into your bloodstream.


This is a powerful and commonly used preservative in the cosmetic industry. It has other cousins namely benzisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone and it can be used in conjunction with these two.

It is a powerful biocide, it kills and suppresses the growth of bacteria and fungi and it is also a strong sensitizer and strong irritant. It is responsible for a lot of allergic reactions, nerve damage, and contact dermatitis.

Studies have shown that these substances are toxic, they impair developing neurons even in very low concentrations. Avoid products containing these ingredients.

Retinol and Retinyl Palmitate

These substances are known as synthetic vitamin A. It is considered safe and it also help reduce skin wrinkles and other skin problems but it has a lot of negative effects too. It is bad for pregnant women, because it fetal damage, tumors, and DNA damage. It is mostly found n body moisturizers and anti-aging body creams.

Coal Tar and Colors Derived from Coal Tar

Coal tar is gotten from burnt bituminous coal and it is used in making anti-dandruff shampoo and body creams. Coal tar causes cancer of the skin, liver and lungs and also DNA mutations. It also blocks the pores of your skin and increases your sensitivity to light. Hair dyes made with coal tar are usually labeled D&C and FD&C.


This is a major ingredient used in making sunscreens, but this substance is a potent carcinogen and it mimics your hormones and causes a lot of problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2008 nearly all Americans are contaminated with oxybenzone. It penetrates deep into your skin and produces free radicals when your skin is exposed to sunlight. It is a potent carcinogen.

Other dangerous chemicals that we need to avoid are:

  • DEA/TEA/MEA: these are foaming agents used in making shampoos, soaps, and body washes. They are toxic.
  • Ethoxylated surfactants: they are added to reduce the harshness of other chemicals. They are toxic, they are found in baby soaps and washes. Avoid products with ingredients containing the letters “ETH”.
  • Paraphenylenediamine (PPD): used in making hair dyes. It is toxic and it affects your skin and immune system.
  • Placental extracts: they disrupt your endocrine system.

To see more of these chemicals that you should avoid, click here.

What’s Next?

It is impossible to avoid all these synthetic chemicals, so one of the best ways to protect yourself is to use natural products and reduce the number of products you use on your skin.

You should also eat healthy foods and drink lots of clean water. This will help your body detoxify and eliminate all these chemicals present in your bloodstream. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and herbs, like ginger, watermelon, lemon, limes, garlic, etc.

Drink lots of herbal teas like green tea, ginger and lemon tea, apple cider vinegar, lemon water, and raw honey. You should also read a lot on health, make your own research. Information is cheap these days and don’t forget that Google is your friend. Always remember, what you put on your skin goes into your body.

Are They Healthy Alternatives to These Harmful Ingredients?

There are a lot of powerful natural alternatives to this and a lot of natural remedies for skin problems. They are safe, effective, and potent and they do not give side effects.

Some of them are:

  • Licorice root and vitamin C
  • Lemon water
  • Turmeric
  • Cocoa butter, mango butter, shea butter
  • Carrots
  • Papaya
  • Lime
  • Etc.

Increase your intake of these foods on a daily basis and they are ways you can make your home-made soaps with these natural ingredients. To see and learn more ways to whiten your skin naturally, click here.