Carcinogenic Ingredients to Avoid in Personal Care

What you put on your skin will go into your body, and can affect your health and sense of well-being. This can result in a negative or positive outcome. Personal body and skin care ingredients are absorbed into your body just as surely as if you had eaten it. What you choose to use could result in products that have toxic ingredients that could in the long run -  harm you. It is highly suggested that you take the time to understand what you are putting onto and into your skin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may prohibit certain ingredients and misguided labeling, but what goes in your creams and sprays is left to each company’s discretion. So, this protocol is a very different process than with certain foods and drugs.  Personal care products aren’t required to announce the harmful byproducts and carcinogens that they may contain.

However it is noted by the American Cancer Society, that health risks related to long-term exposure of toxins is not to be completely ruled out.

Skin irritants is also a big concern behind toxic ingredients.

What Harmful Toxins Should You Avoid?

There are many toxic ingredients that you should avoid.  But the most common chemicals that can be found in personal and skin care are below:

1. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

  • purpose: antioxidant, preservative, stabilizer, fragrance ingredient
  • concerns: skin irritation, hormone disruption
  • found in: lipstick, eye shadow, some petroleum products

2. Diethanolamine (DEA)

  • purpose: pH adjuster, foaming agent
  • concerns: skin irritation, possible organ system toxicity, contamination concerns
  • found in: variety of face makeup and hair products

3. Phthalates dibutyl phthalate (DBP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP)

  • purpose: plasticizer, solvent, fragrance ingredient
  • concerns: male reproductive system damage
  • found in: nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, lotions, soaps, shampoos

4. Formaldehyde (formaldehyde releasers: bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15)

  • purpose: preservative
  • concerns: carcinogenic impurity, skin irritations, high rates of skin allergy reactions, rashes
  • found in: nail products, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, color cosmetics

5. Fragrance (perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, and aroma)

  • purpose: chemical combination of a possible 3,000 ingredients to create scents
  • concerns: skin irritation, allergic reactions, cancer or reproductive toxicity with long-term exposure
  • found in: most personal skincare products

6. PEGs (polyethylene glycol or ceteareth)

  • purpose: conditioning and cleaning agents
  • concerns: contamination concerns
  • found in: variety of skin-care and makeup products

7. Parabens (specifically propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl- parabens)

  • purpose: preservative
  • concerns: hormone-disrupters
  • found in: makeup, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers, shaving products, and scrubs

8. Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate

  • purpose: cleansing and emulsifying agent
  • concerns: skin irritation, possible impurity contamination
  • found in: toothpaste, shampoo, and hand soap

9. Synthetic colors

  • purpose: colorants
  • concerns: unapproved colors used in products
  • found in: all product types
  • found in: all product types

10. Siloxane (ingredients ending in -siloxane or -methicone)

  • purpose: softening, smoothing, moisturizing
  • concerns: hormone disrupter
  • found in: hair products, deodorants

11. Triclosan

  • purpose: antimicrobial agent
  • concerns: disrupt thyroid and reproductive hormones, bacterial resistance development
  • found in: oral products, shaving products, creams, and color cosmetics

12. Contaminants

Many products can have contaminants, which are impurities or byproducts of ingredients mixed together. Lead, nickel, and cobalt are heavy metals that also fall into this category. These are not listed on labels independently, but the ingredients that create them are. Contaminants can still be harmful. The FDA has a list of contaminants that they continually monitor among products.

Ingredients that have contamination concerns:

  • coal tar
  • diethanolamine (DEA)
  • 1,4-dioxane
  • formaldehyde
  • butane and isobutane
  • petroleum distillates
  • polyethylene glycol/ceteareth
  • talcum
  • nitrosamines


Protect the Skin You’re In

It’s very important to always be selective when choosing skin care and personal care products. This is a responsibility that you must practice when choosing your skin care regimen. Organic and natural is always suggested for keeping your skin and body healthy, because what you put on your body or in your body will show itself in your overall health.

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