Chemicals in your Cosmetics

Written by Dr. Laura Jones

Many people do not realize the effect of the ingredients in beauty and personal hygiene products can be more than just skin deep.  It is estimated that the cosmetic industry uses over 13,000 different toxins in everything from lipstick, to lotion, to hair conditioner and perfumes.  Several of these same substances are also used as cleaners, pesticides and lubricants in industrial manufacturing processes.

In the U.S., federal laws allow the cosmetics industry to incorporate thousands of these synthetic chemicals into our personal care products despite the fact that many have been formally linked to birth defects, cancer and infertility. The average individual does not begin to comprehend the severity of the risk they are taking with repetitive exposure to multiple chemicals each day.  While many of these chemicals have been introduced to our daily lives, breast cancer, along with several other types of cancer, have been steadily increasing.

The average American consumer uses 9-12 personal care products and/or cosmetics each day.  A study put together by the Environmental Working Group ( found that just these 9-12 products resulted in an average daily exposure to 168 different chemicals for women.  The study found men were exposed to an average of 86 per day and teens were much lower with an average exposure to 17 chemical today from personal care products used.

EWG conducted a study in which was featured on ABC news in 2014. This study tested teens to find out which chemicals in personal care products were found in their blood.  16 different hormone-altering chemicals, including parabens and phthalates, were detected.

In the report “Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup,” 49 different cosmetic were tested. Products included eye liners, eye shadows, powders, blushes, mascara, lipsticks, foundations and lip glosses. Significant heavy metal presence was found in each category of product.

  • 96 percent contained lead
  • 90 percent contained beryllium
  • 61 percent contained thallium
  • 51 percent contained cadmium
  • 20 percent contained arsenic

Here at Whole Health Concord, we encourage you to take a close look at what you are using for hair products, lotions, scents, cosmetics, even laundry detergent and cleaners in your home. Cancer rates are sky rocketing and we all need to pay better attention to what we are putting in and on our bodies, as well as which products we are using in our homes. The skin is a big sponge and a great way to transport chemicals to our bloodstream and tissues.  If you use perfume or cologne, please reconsider. We are having a Make You’re your Own Scent class with essential oils in November in an effort to get patients away from toxic scents and allow them to study and design their own scent with nontoxic essential oils. Our office is also pleased to carry Hylunia and Hymed skin care product lines. If you do no use nontoxic facial products, we encourage you to check out these reputable, efficacious and non-toxic product lines.  Whole Health is also involved with doTERRA products and sells their nontoxic laundry detergent, cleaning agents, hair and facial products as well. Grab a catalog to peruse next time you are in the office or check out some of the samples we have on display.

We have been successful in teaching many of our patients the value of eating high quality and organic foods.  It doesn’t make sense, however, to invest the money and time to eat food without toxicity if you are applying dangerous chemicals to your skin, countertops, floors, hair, laundry, etc.

Here are some of the most common chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products that you should be aware of and aim to avoid.

Found in cosmetics such as perfumes, colognes and nail polish, phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.  Exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens with the ability to bind to our estrogen receptors and trigger cell response.

This petroleum-derived contaminant is not listed on ingredients labels but is formed in the manufacturing process of shampoos, body wash, children’s bath products and other bubbly cosmetics. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has ranked it as a possible carcinogen, and the National Toxicology Program (NTP) has identified it as a reasonably anticipated carcinogen.

Triclosan is a chemical which is classified as a pesticide yet is widely used in toothpastes, deodorants and antibacterial soaps.  Triclosan limits the growth of mold and bacteria. This chemical can impact thyroid function and metabolism and is so powerful that it may disrupt normal breast development.

Parabens are a widely used group of chemical compounds. They are most commonly found in cosmetics, lotions, deodorants and creams for their preservative properties. Parabens are easily absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.

Lead has been found in hundreds of cosmetic products including foundation, nail polish, lipstick and certain whitening toothpaste. Lead has many negative consequences as it build up in our bodies. These consequences include neurotoxicity, infertility, and hormone disruption.

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