Top Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

submitted by: admin on 04/22/2024

Found in Skin Care, Body Care, and Self Care Products


  1. Parabens: Methyl, Propyl, Butyl and Ethyl parabens
  2. Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA)
  3. Formaldehydes: Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea
  4. Sodium lauryl sulfate: and/or Laureth Sulfate.
  5. Petrolatum: petroleum jelly, mineral oil, paraffin, etc.
  6. Phthalates: dibutyl phthalate or DBP, Di ethyl hexyl phthalate or DEHP,Diethyl phthalate or DEP. Often hidden, such as in       parfum, other, or inert ingredients.
  7. Propylene Glycol and PEG, PPG (related synthetics)
  8. PVP/VA Copolymer
  9. Stearalkonium Chloride
10. Synthetic Colors: Any FD&C or D&C
11. Synthetic Fragrances: says "fragrance" on label
12. Talc/Talcum Powder
13. Aluminum/Mercury
14. Polyethylene and Ceteareth -20 (contains formaldehyde/1-4 dioxane)
15. Oxybenzone (in commercial sunscreens)

*And many many more . . . .

Compliments of Vicki Saputo, RN


You might be surprised to find that your favorite skin care products contain one or more of these toxic and possibly carcinogenic ingredients. Get a bottle of one of your personal care products and look carefully at the ingredients. Chances are it contains one and, most likely more, of these dangerous ingredients.

These chemicals have many effects on the body.  The definitions of the most common ones, and what effect they have on the body are explained below.


 Phenol carbolic acid    Notice the word ACID. Acid in this form can have many serious effects on the body including:  convulsions, paralysis, circulatory collapse, respiratory failure, coma, and yes, even death.

Sodium laurel or Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)   Also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). This is one of the world’s most commonly used poisons. It is found in shampoos, soap and even your toothpaste. It is estimated that over 90% of personal care products contain SLS.  A clue that the product you are using contains SLS or SLES would be the words “coconut-derived”, or “comes from coconut. Sodium laurel sulfate is found in engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners and car washes.  SLS affects the body because it easily penetrates the skin. It breaks down the skin’s moisture barrier and makes it easier for other chemicals to penetrate.  A nitrosamine is a potent carcinogen.  When combined with other chemicals, SLS becomes a nitrosamine. Besides being carcinogenic, SLS can cause hair loss.  So why is it used in most of the shampoos today?

Propylene glycol   The cosmetic industry uses Propylene glycol to hold fragrance oils and is common in moisturizers. Did you know antifreeze also contains Propylene glycol? It can cause skin irritation, may inhibit skin cell growth, and cause dermatitis. Propylene glycol has been shown to cause liver or kidney abnormalities.

Dioxane   Dioxane is found in compounds such as ethoxylated alcohols, Polysorbates, PEG, and Laureth. It too is widely used many personal care products.  It is estimated that 57% of baby soaps contain 1,4-dioxane. You may not find dioxane listed because it is considered a by product, and therefore many companies will not include it on the list of ingredients. Easily absorbed into the skin, many dioxane compounds contain the highly volatile 1,4-dioxane.  First reported as a carcinogen in 1965, the National Cancer Institute studies also reported it as carcinogenic in 1978.  Even though dioxane can be easily removed, companies that manufacture personal care products rarely do so simply because they are not REQUIRED to. In the body, the liver and the nasal passages are high risk for damage. As a synthetic derivative of coconut, be sure to check labels for the words “derived from coconuts” or “comes from coconut”.

Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum   Petroleum Jelly was first discovered by men working on oil rigs in 1859. The light colored product we use today was created and patented in 1872. It was made of the same petroleum products as car oil. When applied to the skin it is like putting on a layer of plastic. This can clog your pores and then lead to a build up of toxins and cause a multitude of dermatologic problems. Use of these products can cause earlier signs of aging due to slow cellular development. It is a hormone disruptor and a suspected cause of cancer.

Toluene   Have you ever seen the warnings on a can of paint thinner? Danger! Poison! Harmful or fatal if swallowed! Harmful if inhaled, or absorbed through the skin! Found in most synthetic fragrances, toluene is made from petroleum or coal tar. Long term exposure with toluene is linked to liver and kidney damage, lowered blood cell count, and anemia. Researchers have known for many years that exposure may affect a developing fetus. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

So the next time you reach for that bottle of lotion, shampoo, and even your baby’s soap, think about whether you really want to put these chemicals on your skin. You probably don’t.  There are many natural personal care products made from plants. Choose a product that contains ingredients whose names you can pronounce and even eat.

So, do you want to put these chemicals on your skin? Hopefully not...You are better off if you switch to skin care products made of plant names you recognize, can pronounce, and could even eat (if you had to).


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