Avoid 13 Synthetic Ingredients in Cosmetics and Beauty Products


You are what you eat but also what you put on your skin and in your hair! There are so many ingredients in today’s beauty care products that are unhealthy and add to liver, digestive and skin ‘disorders’. Read the information below and avoid ingredients that are hazardous to your health, especially if you are having any of the problems mentioned below.

#1. Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl Paraben– Used as inhibitors of microbial growth and to extend shelf life of products. May cause allergic reactions and skin rashes. Studies have shown that they are weakly estrogenic and can be absorbed by the body through the skin. Widely used even though they are known to be toxic.

#2. Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA)– Often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. DEA and TEA can form cancer-causing compounds when they come in contact with nitrates. Toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

#3. Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea– These are widely used preservatives. The American Academy of Dermatology has found them to be the primary cause of contact dermatitis. Two trade names for these chemicals are Germall II and Germall 115. Both these chemicals release formaldehyde, which can be toxic.

#4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate– A cheap, harsh detergent used in shampoos and toothpastes for its cleansing and foam-building properties. Often derived from petroleum, it is frequently disguised in pseudo-natural cosmetics with the phrase “comes from coconuts.” It causes eye irritation, scalp scurf similar to dandruff, skin rashes and other allergic reactions.

#5. Petroleum– Also known as petroleum jelly, this mineral oil derivative is used for its emollient properties in cosmetics. It has no nutritional value for the skin and can interfere with the body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism, leading to dryness and chapping. It often creates the very conditions it claims to alleviate. Manufacturers use petrolatum because it is unbelievably cheap.

#6. Propylene Glycol– Ideally this is a vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural. Usually it is a synthetic petrochemical mix used as a humectant. It has been known to cause allergic reactions, hives and eczema. When you see PEG (polyethylene glycol) or PPG (polypropylene glycol) on labels, beware-these are related synthetics.

#7. PVP/VA Copolymer– A petroleum-derived chemical used in hairsprays, styling aids and other cosmetics. It can be considered toxic, since inhaled particles can damage the lungs of sensitive persons.

#8. Stearalkonium Chloride– An ammonium compound used in hair conditioners and creams. Developed by the fabric industry as a fabric softener, it is a lot cheaper and easier to use in hair conditioning formulas than proteins or herbals, which are beneficial to the hair. Causes allergic reactions. Toxic.

#9. Synthetic Colors– Used to make cosmetics “pretty”, synthetic colors, along with synthetic hair dyes, should be avoided at all costs. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number. Example: FD&C Red No. 6 / D&C Green No. 6. Many synthetic colors can be carcinogenic.

#10. Synthetic Fragrances– The synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients. There is no way to know what the chemicals are, since on the label it will simply read “fragrance.” Some problems caused by these chemicals include headaches, dizziness, rash, hyper-pigmentation, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation-the list goes on.

#11. Aluminum– Aluminum is another ingredient you want to stay away from. Besides cookware, baking products (such as baking powder), and color additives (aluminum is a color enhancement), aluminum is found in most antiperspirant products and toothpaste. Aluminum is a heavy metal, therefore a poison and neurotoxin. It has a capacity to modify the metabolism of cells by inhibiting certain enzyme systems.

#12. Talcum Powder– Talc, so widely used in baby powders, feminine products, and as soap filler is toxic and carcinogenic. Talc is a respiratory irritant that may cause lung fibrosis; prolonged use around genital area may increase ovarian cancer risk; talc is like asbestos!

#13. Phthalates– Phthalates are a family of industrial chemicals that are used as plastic softeners or solvents. They are found in many leading beauty care products, including hair spray, deodorant, nail polish and perfume that you may be using everyday. Hundreds of animal studies have shown that phthalates can damage the liver, the kidneys, the lungs and the reproductive system, especially the developing testes.

All of the above ingredients should be avoided. Read the labels! These offenders are also found in many of the natural and organic brands. For example, Tom’s of Maine and Natural Dentist of toothpaste contain SLS. Nature’s Gate deodorants are aluminum free but contain parabens. Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic line of shaving moisturizer has parabens in the ingredients’ list. (So buyers beware!)

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About Author

Julie Eltman

Julie is a dynamic holistic health expert based in Los Angeles. In her 25 years as a nutritionist, fitness instructor, energy healer, speaker, and author, she has become a nationally-recognized leader in the alternative health community and has helped thousands of people on the path to perfect health! See my profile page for more information!

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