Beware of Toxic Hidden Ingredients in Skincare Products

Beware of Toxic Hidden Ingredients in Skincare Products

Have you ever considered how many chemicals your child absorbs through skincare products?  Those lovely packages that have labels stating "all natural" and "absorbs well" may be more harmful than helpful.  Children are more vulnerable to toxins than adults.  This is due to many reasons.  Children (are):

  • More exposed to chemicals (pound-by-pound)
  • Organs are still developing
  • Bodies are not able to detoxify as easily as adults
  • Lack a fully developed blood-brain barrier. This barrier prevents the passage of chemicals between the bloodstream and the brain.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), there are 126 Ingredients from 10 to 15 body products used on average each day!

The research done by EWG offers valuable insight regarding the amount of synthetic chemical ingredients the average American uses on a daily basis. How many times are you washing your hands, brushing your teeth, showering or applying sunscreen?  How about shaving, applying makeup or diaper rash cream on your baby? We haven't even considered hand sanitizers or baby wipes. This is a huge wake up call when you sit down and consider what kind of toxins you are rubbing into your skin or your child's throughout the day.  These toxins can build up in our organs and fat cells as the body attempts to encapsulate what can potentially harm it.

Our skin is the largest organ in the body.  The skin's absorption rates of drinking water chemicals was studied and the results were published in the American Journal of Public Health. The results demonstrated the skin absorbed an average of 64% of total contaminants.1  The face was discovered to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces and underarms had an absorption rate of 100%.2 

Petroleum derivatives, preservatives, synthetic fragrances and dyes may be hidden under alternative names. A few examples of common ingredients to avoid include: Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Luaroyl Sarcosinate, Potassium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sulfates, Parabens, and Phenoxyethanol.

Research demonstrates that another class of chemicals, parabens, are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental disorders, endometriosis, skin irritation and cancer. Be sure to steer clear of products that contain phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and ingredients ending in “–paraben.”

Formaldehyde is a preservative used to prevent mold from forming in water-based products.  It is directly added to products or released through another preservative. You end up breathing in the formaldehyde off gas in the air when products are applied. Formaldehyde is a human carcinogen  linked to allergy-like reactions including respiratory problems, headaches and nausea. Avoid products that contain formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, polyoxymethylene urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol) and glyoxal.

Typically found in liquid soap and bath products, 1,4-dioxane is a chemical byproduct, so you won’t recognize it on a label. A potential human carcinogen, 1,4-dioxane is linked to organ toxicity and skin allergies. Be sure to avoid any products that contain sodium laureth sulfate, PEG compounds and chemicals listed as xynol, ceteareth and oleth.

Vitamin A is usually considered safe, but when it’s used in sunscreen and skin is exposed to the sun, it may pose hazardous to human health. The National Toxicology Program performed a study that suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may increase the likelihood of skin tumors and lesions. When reading labels, steer clear of products that contain vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinoic acid. Another dangerous chemical that’s used in sunscreen and should not be used is oxybenzone, which is an endocrine disruptor and has been linked to endometriosis  and reproductive problems  

Top 12 Chemicals to Avoid in Skincare Products

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Sodium laurel sulfate
  • PEG compounds like propylene glycol
  • DEA
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  • Triclosan
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Siloxanes
  • Coal tar dyes (shampoos and lotions to help with dandruff and dry skin) ALTERNATIVE: aloe (hydrates)
  • Petrolatum (mineral oil)
  • Fragrance or parfum

Shocking Details About Baby Oil

What do you think is created when you remove gasoline and kerosene from crude petroleum through a heating process?  Baby oil, also called mineral oil.  Sulfuric acid, absorbents, solvents and alkalis: hydrocarbons and other chemicals are removed leaving the final product mineral oil. An artificial scent is usually added to this toxic mix. Mineral oils also contain hydrocarbons, that if ingested can lead to death. These dangerous substances enter directly into the bloodstream when slathered onto the skin. Baby powder is another known carcinogen potentially leading to lung and ovarian cancers. Babies can inhale this powder leading to health problems down the road.  Formaldehyde and donor ingredients found in hair and nail products are also linked to cancer.

When evaluating what skincare products to purchase, a good rule of thumb is if you can’t pronounce it or have only seen it in chemistry class, don’t use it!  We have found a deodorant that is safe and effective by Schmidt's

Purely Integrative offers a variety of effective organic skincare products including diaper rash ointment and lotions. You will feel good about what you are putting on your skin when you use products that are free of harmful chemicals.

  1. Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484.
  2. Kasting and Kretsos.Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2005;18:55-74
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