The Real Price of Beauty

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:

•2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol
•5-bromo-5-nitro-1, 3-dioxane
•Diazolidinyl urea
•DMDM Hydantoin
•Sodium hydroxymethyl

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
•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
•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.’


Josh Axe

Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!

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11 comments so far - add yours!

  1. Stacy says:

    I have been transitioning my skincare and cosmetics to be free of dangerous ingredients for my body. What skincare line and cosmetic line is free of these chemicals? Thanks

    • Vickie says:

      I use coconut oil on my skin just like a lotion. I know that it won’t hurt me and my skin, including my face, feels so much better than ever before. Sorry, I have never worn makeup so I can’t help you there. I’m 56 years old and just have always hated the feel of makeup on my skin. And I just don’t like the fake look of other women who wear it. I really don’t know why they think that it makes them look attractive. To me, it’s a false face. My own mother (I loved her dearly) wore makeup every day, but I just never did. I like the natural feel and look. By eating good, clean food, exercise, your skin will look great without so-called enhancement. God bless you!

    • janice says:

      I use dr mercola’s organic skin care. It’s great-
      good enough to eat. It’s priced the same as
      other skin care lines. you can find it on his web

    • Jessica says:

      I love the skincare line from GreenRidge Organics out of Florida. I haven’t found a makeup line yet but i switched all of my cleansers, toners and moisturizers to this company and am REALLY happy. I also use coconut oil as my nighttime moisturizer.

    • LESLEE says:

      Hi Stacy,
      I use and promote Arbonne products! They are herbal and botanically based and are pure, safe and beneficial. Best of all, you will see incredible results. The texture of my skin changed with the first application. I would love to share more info with you if you are interested and allow you to have experience the products for yourself. I would love to have your opinion! Please email me your contact info if you are interested or call me at 615-477-8475.

  2. Carolyn says:

    I use jojoba oil like a lotion. Its what goes into your products to make them “smooth”. Its great for baby’s head. My comment about this article is that since the Health and beauty industry is not held to the same standard that the food industry is and required to post all of their ingredients, How Do we find which products are safer to use w/o calling every shampoo deodorant toothpaste cosmetic etc companies?

  3. Lori Winter says:

    Great infographic! I, too, use coconut oil as a moisturizer and a raw honey mask instead of face wash. And apple cider vinegar is a great facial toner!
    Gives new meaning to ‘food on your face!’ ;)

  4. jdl says:

    Arbonne is a Swiss-formulated health & wellness line that is manufactured in America. The skin care and cosmetic products are completely non-comedogenic, and are pure, safe and beneficial. These cannot be bought in stores but only through an Arbonne representative. Go to to check it out, or both of my daughters are reps, and you can respond to let me know if you want to order anything through them. I have used the anti-aging and body-care lines for five years and am really pleased with the results.

  5. Carol says:

    Stacey, The best cskin care line I’ve ever used is Eminence Organic Skincare line. Believe it or not, the company uses raw fruits and vegetables to make there skincare products. They are great! the web site is Eminence Organics skincare. The video shows it all. I know you will be sold. Carol

  6. Janet says:

    I am a 7 year cancer survivor who reads labels on all things i put in and on my body! I am a Cancer Research Advocate at Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. I use Arbonne products, which are herbal, botannically based, gluten free and vegan. What a difference in the way I feel!! The avg woman applies 515 chemicals to her skin daily! You can check out my site at for more information.

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