Guest Post: Toxic Ingredients in Beauty Products that Could Actually Harm You

Written by Nicole Noel

There is a lot of noise lately about “going green” in all of the life areas, including cosmetics. Even the world famous supermodel Gisele Bundchen has been very loud about the use of chemicals in sunscreens.
Following foods, beauty and skincare products are something that we are exposed to in the most direct manner. Human skin is capable of absorbing more than half (50%) of what is applied to it. Add to that the fact that an average woman usually uses hair and skin products with more than 200 chemicals, and you will understand the need for a change. Because of the FDA rules for labeling products, there is no need to list some ingredients with the concentration less than 1 percent. So, in a majority of cases, you will not know to which kinds of additives, colors and active drugs you are exposed.


You must think: “What can a scent do?”, but “fragrance” is actually a combination of several thousands of different ingredients on an undercover mission by a single name. Many companies use FDA loopholes for naming the ingredients according to their concentration in the product to conceal a whole range of ingredients under the name of “fragrance”. Many of these masked chemicals are hormone-disrupting ingredients, such as phthalates. Chemicals associated with this term are believed to induce asthma, headaches, and irritated eyes. Steer away from them and always choose originally-scented or fragrance-free products.


Debates about parabens are often really heated, and they have been going on for quite some time now. In the European Union, those discussions were fruitful and resulted in the ban of using them in cosmetic products. However, they are still used in the USA, and some other countries around the globe. The function of parabens is to preserve beauty products from fungi and bacteria, but that is just one side of the coin. Other, more frightening is that parabens are, in their different forms (ethyl paraben, methyl paraben, propyl paraben and butyl paraben), associated with the development of breast cancer.


Triclosan is known to disrupt reproductive and thyroid hormones. One of its less severe consequences is skin irritation. It is a widely used chemical with the function of minimizing the number of bacteria. Still, there is a concern that, instead of doing just that, triclosan is slowly making the bacteria antibiotic-resistant. Most frequently it can be found in deodorants, but it is also used in the production of antibacterial soaps and toothpaste.


Similar to parabens, experts from the European Union saw the harmful consequences of hydroquinone and banned it. The ingredient is also not allowed in Australia and Japan, but it is still used in the U.S. and some other countries of the world. The chemical is used in the production of skin-lightening products and creams in charge of lighting up the age spots. Because it is basically a skin-bleacher under a fancier name, it can lead to photosensitivity, allergic reaction, and ochronosis. According to experts from Ultraceuticals, the chemical also has carcinogenic properties.

Diethanolamine (DEA)

There is no concrete evidence that DEA is a health hazard by itself, but there are claims that this lathering agent in shampoos and soaps, can react with other ingredients when it comes to contact with
them, and create a carcinogen which will be absorbed by the skin. Make sure you avoid this chemical but do not allow yourself to be fooled by many different names for diethanolamine, such as Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA, and Oleamide DEA.

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Just like with the previously mentioned DEA, it is not proven that TEA poses a serious threat, and usually, people do not think so because it is used in mild beauty products. However, it is linked with allergic reactions, eye irritation and skin and hair dryness. And although this PH-balancer cannot do anything concrete now, who knows what could happen when it piles up in the body.

Phenylenediamine (PPD)

Found in hair dyes, PPD is most directly influencing the hairdressers, because they use it on a daily basis. PPD has a significant allergic potential and it can lead to rather complicated skin reactions on the neck, ears and scalp, or wherever the dye is in contact with the skin. A 2005 study suggested that hairdressers’ overall exposure to this ingredient continues to grow, even though we know how harmful can PPD be. Do not forget that skin is the largest organ in your body, so choose the best for it and stay clear of these chemicals.

Nicole is a lifestyle blogger passionate about travel and healthy living. She always seeks new adventures and enjoys sharing her experiences with others. In her free time, she likes to prepare healthy and delicious food for her friends. You can find her on Twitter and FB.

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