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Dangerous Ingredients in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

dangerous chemcial ingredients cosmetics productsToxins from cosmetics and personal care products are being found in the blood and urine of teenage girls. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), these toxins are linked to health issues like cancer and hormone disruption.

Parabens, coal tar and 1,4 dioxane are only three of the many harmful ingredients found on personal care and cosmetic labels. While studies are still being conducted and some are still inconclusive, the warning flags have been raised with more consumers wanting to know how to better protect themselves.

Dangers of Parabens in Cosmetics

Parabens in cosmetics are also listed as: methyl-paraben, ethyl-paraben, butyl-paraben, propyl-paraben, isobutyl-paraben.

A common preservative, parabens enter the body through use of cosmetics and personal care products. Not surprisingly, concentrations in women versus men are much higher, due to more exposure through cosmetics and personal care products.

It is known that parabens mimic estrogen in the body and they have been found in breast tumors as well. More studies are being conducted while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to monitor new data on parabens.

A study involving 20 girls ages 14 - 19, conducted by the EWG, shows each girl tested positive for at least one type of paraben, many tested positive for more than one.

Coal Tar in Personal Care Products is a Known Carcinogen

A known human carcinogen, coal tar has been widely used in dandruff shampoos and hair dyes. It causes lung cancer, kidney cancer and skin cancer, though other types of cancer are not ruled out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends coal tar not come into contact with skin. Coal tar causes skin irritation, dizziness and drowsiness. In animals coal tar can cause liver and kidney damage.

1, 4 Dioxane is a Carcinogenic Byproduct in Personal Care Products

1, 4 Dioxane is a byproduct from the chemical manufacturing process. The EWG reports 1, 4 Dioxane contaminates up to 46% of personal care products including children’s bath products.

Reactions from coming into contact with 1, 4 Dioxane can include dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, skin irritation, liver and kidney damage. It has been found to be carcinogenic in animals and is believed to be a possible carcinogenic in humans. The CDC also recommends no skin contact with this ingredient and to wash immediately if contact does occur.

How to Avoid Harmful Ingredients in Cosmetics

By understanding the product ingredients and their possible health risks, consumers can better protect themselves from any potential side effects. The FDA, CDC and EWG provide information on chemical ingredients as well as their cosmetic uses.

Limit the amount of cosmetics used to reduce exposure levels. For products not required to stay on the skin, such as shampoos or bubble baths, rinse well with water to keep absorption rates lower.

There are also many natural products on the market today. Usually found in specialty stores, they do not use chemical ingredients or contain byproducts from manufacturing processes.


Environmental Working Group, “Natural Makeup and Chemical Free Cosmetics” (accessed June 28, 2010).

National Geographic Green Guide, “ The Dirty Dozen Chemicals in Cosmetics ”

(accessed June 28, 2010).

Food and Drug Administrations, “Parabens” (accessed June 28, 2010).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards” (accessed June 28, 2010).
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