What's On Your Skin?

I'm all about natural skin and body care. Especially during the past few years I've really been reading labels and looking into the safety of products my family and I use. Ever wonder what that strange-sounding ingredient in your face cream is?
There are many suspect chemicals found in personal care and household products. This list is from the Fresh Organics website.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Most commonly used foaming ingredient in shampoos & toothpaste
Can cause damage to the immune system
Commonly contaminated with carcinogenic dioxane
Can cause permanent eye damage – without getting in eyes
Denatures skin oils – skin irritant with serious drying effect
Penetrates to systemic tissues such as heart, liver, brain

Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl or Butyl Paraben

Most widely used preservatives in Personal Care
Accumulates in the tissues of the body over time
Mimics the action of the female hormone estrogen
Detected in human breast tumors
May affect development of the male reproductive system

Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea

The most commonly used preservatives after the parabens
Primary cause of contact dermatitis
Releases formaldehyde (see below)

Bisphenol (BPA)

Found in certain hard plastics and is released into any liquid that comes into contact with it.
An endocrine disruptor that mimics the body`s own hormones and can cause permanent reproductive harm.
Builds up in the body so that long term low dose exposure can induce chronic toxicity.


Used in synthetic rubber and are also released by certain preservatives used in cosmetics.
Has been linked to Alzheimer`s, Parkinson`s and Type 2 diabetes.
Is a known carcinogen, linked to bladder, brain and spinal cancers

2-bromo2 nitopropane 1,3 diol (also known as Bronopoll)

Can break down into formaldehyde
Can form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic


Not listed on labels but released by the following preservatives:
* 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3-diol
* Diazolidinyl urea
* DMDM hydantoin
* Imidazolidinyl urea
* Quaternium 15.
Also found in:
* Permanent press sheets
* Mattress foams
* Nail polish and hardener
* Building materials
Known carcinogen and neurotoxic - linked to leukemia, pancreatic, skin, lung, and liver cancer; banned in Canada and Japan but determined safe to use in U.S. cosmetics
Skin, eye and respiratory irritant
Can cause insomnia, coughing, headaches, skin rash, nose bleeds and nausea

Cocamide DEA

Foaming agent
Clear evidence of carcinogenicity
Disrupts hormone balance
Causes yeast infections
Causes contact dermatitis and skin irritations - Dandruff
Produces cancer-causing nitrates and nitrosamines
Note that all of the following may contain DEA:
* Cocamide MEA
* DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
* DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
* Lauramide DEA
* Linoleamide MEA
* Myristamide DEA
* Oleamide DEA
* Stearamide MEA
* TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
* Triethanolamine


Not listed on labels but present in many artificial colors and fragrances. Also present in PVC plastics - especially flexible pvc sometimes used in teething rings.
Known to be a hormone disrupter for both sexes
Associated with diminished fertility and genital birth defects
May have links to breast cancer

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Often used to adjust the pH
Causes allergic reactions
Severe eye irritant
Drying to the skin
Reacts with nitrites to form carcinogenic nitrosamines

Petroleum Bi-products (Mineral Oil, Petrolatum)

Inexpensive oil substitute
Reduces the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins
Interferes with the body’s natural moisturizing system
Passes through liver & sequesters fat soluble vitamins
Known to be comedogenic – acne causing
Increases photosensitivity - promotes sun damage
Accelerates aging

Propylene and Ethylene & Polyethylene Glycol

Solvents, also a kind of alchohol
Many industrial uses including anti-freeze
Used in personal/baby care, hand sanitizers, toothpaste & cosmetics
Also used as a carrier for artificial fragrance
Can cause allergies, dermatitis, drying to skin
Reported to cause kidney and liver damage
Linked to throat & tongue cancer in mouthwash

PEG’s (Synthetic Polyethylene Glycol)

Powerful solvent - dissolves proteins
Accelerates aging
Potentially carcinogenic

Isopropyl, Ethyl, Cetyl or SD 40 Alcohols

Severely drying to the skin
Changes Ph balance
Accelerates aging
Can cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression.

Artificial Colors - (FD&C Colors)

Made from coal tar and petroleum
Often contain impurities like lead acetate
Toxic to the nervous system.
Known allergens, irritants - some known carcinogens.

Artificial Fragrances aka parfum, perfume...

Made from coal tar and petroleum
Can involve as many as 600 separate chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic, such as methylene chloride
May contain or release formaldehyde
Can cause allergies, skin irritation, headaches and nausea
Musk fragrance, xylene, is hormone-disrupting
Can trigger asthma attacks


An antimicrobial agent used in many hand washes
Registered as a pesticide with EPA
Hormone disrupting agent
Produces chloroform when mixed with chlorinated water
Interferes with reproductive and sexual functions


Animal derived lubricant
Often causes allergic skin rashes
Can be contaminated with pesticides such as DDT, dieldrin and lindane which are carcinogenic and diazinon which is neurotoxic

Octyl Dimethyl PABA (Padimate-O)

A sunscreen
Can cause formation of nitosamines
Carcinogen suspect


Most common ingredient in baby bath & dusting powders
Is a known carcinogen.
Has been linked to ovarian cancer.

Aluminum (Pure Aluminum Powder)

Linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease;
Causes birth disorders in animals

Aluminum Chloride

Human endocrine disruptor linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease
Causes brain disorders in animals

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a non-aluminum based deoderant that works for me. Any suggestions?

Wondering about the safety of that ingredient? Try EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.


Jenn @ Beautiful Calling said...

Frightening isn't it?

willowsprite said...

You bet... I wish everyone knew more about these things!

mom said...

well, you've helped, Sherri by informing us all in this way of your blogging.
Good job.