Women want to be beautiful and are willing to spend a lot of money to get it. According to a YWCA report, in one year American women spend about $7 billion on beauty products. That’s a lot of money spent on numerous products put on the skin. From creams and lotions to eye shadows and lipsticks many of these products contain ingredients that are questionable at best.

With the skin being the body’s largest organ it’s vital to know what you’re putting on it and do so with caution. A recent report by Bionsen, a natural deodorant company, found that in just one day women expose their bodies by means of beauty products to about 515 dangerous chemicals.

And while all this is done in the name of beauty, the adverse side effects of many of these beauty products are not so beautiful. These chemicals found in most women’s beauty products can result in serious health issues. From skin sensitivity and allergic reactions to more serious problems like hormonal imbalances and cancer, the list of side effects and reactions to these chemical ingredients is long and scary. Many of these ingredients can also be found in your household cleaners. Are these the kinds of ingredients you really want to be putting on your body?

Many of these dangerous and toxic chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. If you wouldn’t even consider eating these ingredients, it’s time to re-consider allowing them into your system via the skin.

Top Ten Offenders

As it goes with food so it goes with the numerous beauty products on the market. It’s up to you, the consumer, to read the labels and know what you’re putting onto (and into) your body.

There are about ten ingredients common to beauty and personal care products that have been linked to severe allergic reactions and/or health problems that can be considered quite serious. In fact, 450 of the ingredients that can be found in American made beauty products have been banned by the European Union. That means it’s up to you to protect yourself from toxic ingredients in your beauty and personal care products.

Let’s take a look at these top ten beauty ingredient offenders.

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

This common ingredient acts as a detergent in many products including car washes, garage floor cleaners, and engine degreasers. As for beauty and personal care products they can be found in cosmetics, toothpastes, hair conditioners and about 90% of all shampoos.

2. Mineral Oil

A common ingredient found in lotions, creams and baby care products this clear, liquid oil doesn’t go bad and is odorless. This by product of gasoline distillation from crude oil presents a number of problems for the body and should be avoided especially in children.

3. Synthetic Fragrances

Synthetic fragrances can have as many as 200 ingredients in them that irritate the body in numerous ways. From migraines to asthma synthetic fragrances can wreak havoc on the body.

4. Phthalates

About one billion pounds of this compound are produced each year. Phthalates can be found in numerous beauty and personal care products as well as other products such as wood finishers, softeners, plastics, hair sprays, lubricants and more. These dangerous chemical compounds have been linked to damage to the liver, heart, kidney, and lungs in animal studies. Look for the abbreviations DEP, DEHP, BBP, DBP, and DMP on labels in order to avoid phthalates.

5. Imidazolidinyl Urea And DMDM Hydantoin

These two preservatives release formaldehyde and are used in the manufacturing of synthetic resins used for adhesives in numerous products such as plywood and molded plastics as well as extensively used in the textile industry to make fabrics permanent press, waterproof, hold their color and create fire retardant fabrics.  Look for the following names for these dangerous, toxic ingredients:

Paraformaldehyde
•Benzylhemiformal
•2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol
•5-bromo-5-nitro-1, 3-dioxane
•Diazolidinyl urea
•Quaternium-15
•DMDM Hydantoin
•Sodium hydroxymethyl
•Glycinate
•Methenamine

Even small amounts of formaldehyde can have detrimental effects on the body and OSHA regulates formaldehyde as a cancer causing substance. It can be commonly found in nail treatments and polishes, moisturizers, eye make up, lip products, shaving products, shampoos and even baby shampoos.

6. Triclosan

Registered by the Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide this new to hit the market chemical can be found in everything from soaps and deodorants to lotions and toothpastes. The EPA assesses triclosan as a risk to both humans and the environment. In a study by Peter Vikesland, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, triclosan reacts with the chlorine in tap water to form chloroform.

Triclosan accumulates in the body tissues and at toxic levels will cause damage to the liver, kidney, and lungs. And even though it is used to kill bacteria the cure is worse than the problem when it comes to triclosan.

7. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine)

DEA works as a wetting agent in shampoos, lotions, creams and cosmetics to create a rich lather and consistency. Although alone DEA is harmless when it comes into contact with other common beauty and personal care product ingredients it can become a carcinogen called NDEA or nitrosodiethanolamine. NDEA is absorbed rapidly through the skin and has been shown to be linked to stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder cancers and have restricted use in Europe.

8. FD and C Color Pigments

Artificial colors are linked to cancers. Not only can these dangerous, toxic chemicals cause serious health problems they are also a danger to the environment. According to Jane Hersley, director of The Feingold Association of America, these artificial and synthetic colors can cause damage to the body “whether we ingest them, breathe them or just come in contact with them on our skin.” Think eye shadows, blushes, lipsticks. Look for these synthetic colors on your beauty product ingredient lists: 

aluminum lakes
•astaxanthin
•azulene
•canthaxanthin
•carmine (because of the synthetic process used to secure the color from the insects)
•sodium copper chlorophyllin (chlorophyll)
•D&C colors (all)
•FD&C colors (all)
•iron oxides
•titanium dioxide
•ultramarine
•zinc oxide

9. Propylene Glycol (PG)

This antifreeze ingredient is no different than the PG used in personal care products. This compound is used to break down proteins and cellular structures – exactly what the skin is made of. It is found in most make ups, hair products, lotions, after shaves, deodorants, mouthwashes and toothpastes.

10. Isopropyl Alcohol

Last but certainly not least is isopropyl alcohol. This solvent and denaturant strips the natural acids of your skin. These natural acids are your first line of defense against viruses, bacteria, fungus and the like.

While not all of the top ten dangerous ingredients listed here may cause an immediate life threatening condition, it’s wise to look carefully at this list and decide for yourself if you really want to add more toxins to the already long list of toxins you’re exposed to everyday through your beauty and personal care products. For me the answer is an unwavering, ‘no.’

Sources: thegloss.com, wen.org.uk