Think about this: Nary a day goes by when we don’t use beauty products – toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, moisturizer, deodorant, soap, shaving cream and perfume, among others. The list could go on and on. We use them so often, we cast them off as harmless and simple, everyday necessities. The truth is, they are anything but harmless and can be replaced easily with safer alternatives. You see, over time, these supposed “harmless” products’ hazardous ingredients compound and grow in the body, ultimately allowing a bunch of little doses to add up to a much bigger problem.
The following 8 ingredients are among the most dangerous found in common beauty products. Most of them are skin irritants that have cancer-causing effects.
My rule of thumb is to never put a product on my skin or hair that has ingredients in it I cannot pronounce. This has meant getting used to DIY beauty products as well as all-natural options found at my local health store. But if you enjoy the convenience and the price of mainstream products, at least avoid these 8 offenders.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that is one of the most common additives found in everyday consumer products, such as shampoo, toothpaste and soap. A study conducted by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine linked triclosan to cancer. Triclosan also creates resistant bacteria, which can represent a potentially severe public health risk.
Synonyms: 2,4,4′-Trichloro-2′-Hydroxy Diphenyl Ether; 5-Chloro-2- (2,4-Dichlorophenoxy) – Phenol; 5-Chloro-2- (2,4-Dichlorophenoxy) Phenol; Phenol, 5-Chloro-2- (2,4-Dichlorophenoxy) -; Phenol, 5chloro2 (2,4dichlorophenoxy) ; 2,4,4′-Trichloro-2′-Hydroxydiphenyl Ether; 5-Chloro-2- (2,4-Dichlorophenoxy) Phenol; Ch 3565; Irgasan; Irgasan Dp300; Phenol, 5-Chloro-2- (2,4-Dichlorophenoxy)
2. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT or MI)
Used as a preservative in baby wipes and lotions, MI is a skin irritant that has long been associated with allergic reactions. It has also exhibited neurotoxic effects.
Synonyms: 2-Methyl- 3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-2h-Isothiazol-3-One; 2-Methyl-3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-4-Isothiazolin-3-One; 3 (2h) -Isothiazolone, 2-Methyl-; 3 (2h) Isothiazolone, 2methyl; Methylchloroisothiazolinone225methylisothiazolinone Solution; 2-Methyl-3 (2h) -Isothiazolone; 2-Methyl-4-Isothiazolin-3-One
3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
Both of these chemicals are toxic to the body and the environment, with SLES slightly more hazardous since it is often contaminated with 1,4 Dioxane (see #4). SLS and SLES work to make beauty products more easily absorbed by the skin. They are linked to skin, eye and lung irritation as well as organ system toxicity.
SLS synonyms: Monododecyl Ester Sodium Salt Sulfuric Acid; Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate; Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Salt Sulfuric Acid, Monododecyl Ester; Sulfuric Acid Monododecyl Ester Sodium Salt; Sulfuric Acid, Monododecyl Ester, Sodium Salt; Ai3-00356; Akyposal Sds; Aquarex Me; Aquarex Methyl
SLES Synonyms: Ethanol, 2 [2 (Dodecyloxy) Ethoxy], Hydrogen Sulfate, Sodiumsal; Sodium 2- (2-Dodecyloxyethoxy) Ethyl Sulphate; Sodium Lauryl Di (Oxyethyl) Sulfate
4. 1,4 Dioxane
This chemical is a known carcinogen. It can fall under the umbrella of SLES (see #3) or a slew of other ingredients listed below as a contaminant, or it may not even be listed at all. It contaminates up to 46 percent of personal care products. The chemical is a byproduct of an ingredient processing method called ethoxylation used to reduce the risk of skin irritation for petroleum-based ingredients. Even though 1,4 dioxane can be easily removed from products before sale, it often is not.
Possible impurity in: Polysorbate-20, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Peg-100 Stearate, Polysorbate-60, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Peg/ Ppg-10/ 1 Dimethicone, Laureth-7, Peg/ Ppg-18/ 18 Dimethicone, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polysorbate-80, etc.
Synonyms: 1,4-Diethylene Dioxide; 1,4-Dioxacyclohexane; Di (Ethylene Oxide); Diethylene Dioxide; Diethylene Dioxide (Osha); Diethylene Ether; Diokan; Dioksan (Polish); Diossano-1,4 (Italian); Dioxaan-1,4 (Dutch); Dioxan
Often found in spray-on sunscreens, oxybenzone is a major hormone disruptor. It causes biochemical and cellular level changes. It is easily absorbed by the skin and has been determined to contaminate the bodies of 97 percent of Americans.
Synonyms: Benzophenone-3, (2-Hydroxy-4-Methoxyphenyl) Phenyl- Methanone; (2-Hydroxy-4-Methoxyphenyl) Phenylmethanone; 2-Benzoyl-5-Methoxyphenol; 2-Hydroxy-4-Methoxybenzophenone; 4-08-00-02442 (Beilstein Handbook Reference) ; 4-Methoxy-2-Hydroxybenzophenone; Advastab 45; Ai3-23644; Anuvex; B3; Benzophenone, 2-Hydroxy-4-Methoxy
6. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Already banned in the EU, BHA and BHT are used as stabilizers and preservatives in beauty products. BHA is considered a human carcinogen. BHT is a toluene-based ingredient that is a moderate irritant and has tumor-promotion effects.
BHA Synonyms: Antioxyne B; Antrancine 12; Eec No. E320; Embanox; Nipantiox 1-F; Protex; Sustane 1-F; Tenox Bha
BHT Synonyms: Dbpc; Advastab 401; Agidol; Agidol 1; Alkofen Bp; Antioxidant 29; Antioxidant 30; Antioxidant 4; Antioxidant 4k; Antioxidant Kb; Antrancine 8
7. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
These two are foaming agents and emulsifiers that are both skin irritants and potential carcinogens. To activate their carcinogenic effects, DEA and TEA combine with nitrates. However, companies are not required to label nitrites on their products, so you may not even be able to determine whether your beauty products are a recipe for cancer or not.
DEA Synonyms: 2,2′-Dihydroxydiethylamine; 2,2′-Iminobisethanol; 2,2′-Iminodiethanol; Dea (Ewg) ; Ethanol, 2,2 Iminobis; N,N-Diethanolamine; 2,2′-Dihydroxydiethylamine; 2,2′-Iminobisethanol; 2,2′-Iminodiethanol; 2- (2-Hydroxyethylamino) Ethanol; Bis (2-Hydroxyethyl) Amine
TEA Synonyms: 2,2′,2″-Nitrilotris [Ethanol] ; 2,2′,2”-Nitrilotriethanol; Ethanol, 2,2 ,2 Nitrilotris; Ethanol, 2,2′,2″-Nitrilotris-; Tea; Trolamine; 2,2′,2”-Nitrilotriethanol; Alkanolamine 244; Daltogen; Nitrilo-2,2′,2”-Triethanol; Sterolamide
Used as a conditioning agent, petrolatum is often listed under other names that sound relatively harmless, such as mineral oil or mineral oil jelly. However, they are all petroleum-based ingredients that contain chemicals linked to cancer, allergic reactions and skin irritation.
Synonyms: Mineral Grease (Petrolatum) ; Mineral Jelly; Petrolatum Amber; Petrolatum White; Petroleum Jelly; Yellow Petrolatum