What we put on our skin ultimately ends up being absorbed into our organs and cells.

I have to admit, writing this made me feel physically ill. Some cosmetic companies are literally making us sick, sick and sick.

(Don’t you just hate corporate greed?)

Ingredient Uses Dangers
Parabens (Methyl and Propyl and Butyl and Ethyl Paraben) Very commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics. Found in shampoos, moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, lubricants, creams and toothpaste. Parabens mimic estrogen and could disrupt your bodyโ€™s endocrine system.

Widely used even though they are known to be toxic.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum Used in lip balms, moisturizer, eye drops, pain/wound treatments, diaper cream, itch/rash creams, sunscreens, tanning oil Suspected cause of cancer. Disrupts hormonal activity.

Cosmetic companies love these because it is so cheap.

Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) Found in over 90% of personal care products. Used in shampoos for its detergent and foam-building abilities. Breaks down our skinโ€™s moisture barrier, potentially leading to premature aging. As they easily penetrate our skin, they allow other chemicals to enter our bodies too.

Ironically, SLS and SLES are used in laboratories as skin irritants to test soothing products. However, their low cost means they’re in most of our shampoos and foaming products.

May cause urinary infections, kidney and bladder infections, fertility problems, eye, skin and scalp irritation and hair loss.

Acrylamide Used to make glue, paper and cosmetics. Found in many creams and soaps as thickeners. Also found in hair care products, and pre-shave lotions. Linked to breast tumors. Strong evidence of human neurotoxicity. May cause heritable genetic damage.

There is evidence of reproductive toxicity in both men and women.

Propylene glycol Common cosmetic moisturizer (keeps products moist) and carrier for fragrance oils. Also found in automatic brakes and industrial defrosters.

Found in liquid foundation makeup, spray deodorants, baby lotions, moisturizers, lipsticks and suntan lotions.

May cause dermatitis and skin irritation. May inhibit skin cell growth. It could cause dermatitis, ototoxicity, kidney damage and liver problems.

Easily penetrates skin, and can weaken protein and cellular structure. But cosmetic makers like it because it is cheaper than glycerin.


Phenol (carbolic acid) Found in many lotions and skin creams. Can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma, and even death from respiratory failure.
Dioxane (1,4-dioxane) Found in products that foam up, like shampoo, liquid soap, body wash and bubble bath.

The FDA does not require dioxane to be listed so this is a true hidden danger.

Usually found with PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols.

1,4-dioxane readily penetrates the skin. May cause cancer or birth defects. Is a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant.
Toluene (phenylmethane, methylbenzene, or toluol) Found in nail polish, nail hardeners, and nail polish removers. Also in most synthetic fragrances.

And guess what? It’s also used as an octane booster in gasoline fuels used in internal combustion engines.

A nervous-system toxin. Causes eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Toluene can also lead to birth defects, developmental abnormalities, liver and kidney damage. Associated with spontaneous abortions.

Aluminum (aluminium) Found in used in antiperspirants and antiseptics. May cause breast cancer. In antiperspirants, aluminium blocks the pores of the skin, preventing toxins from being excreted. These toxins then go to the closest fat reserve: the breasts. Linked to Alzheimer’s.


Do you know of any more silent killers in cosmetics? Drop it in below and I’ll add it to this list.

In the meantime, if you have 8 minutes, this is a great video about how screwed up the cosmetics and personal care products industry is.

The Story of Cosmetics (8-minute video)