It seems like all of a sudden, there’s much ado about toxicants in beauty and wellness products these days. But believe me, it’s for a very good reason. Unfortunately, not every ingredient in the products we use is safe for our bodies.

Good for us, however, education has created a greater awareness about ingredient toxicity and ultimately, a growing demand for safer and better. So all the ado is simply the amplification of voices in unison for safer and healthier ingredients. We deserve them and we’re getting them.

It’s also important to note that living in a toxicant-free world is currently impossible. While you cannot control the toxicant in the environment and even all that’s in your home, you can control the toxicant load that’s absorbed and taken into your body. You can decide what you put on your skin. You can decide what you put in your mouth, and you can decide what lurks around your household.

Limiting the toxic load in your body, limits the toxic overload in your liver and allows the liver to effectively do the job it’s meant to do, detoxify.

There are thousands, yes, thousands of toxicants found in beauty and wellness products, and of course, food (but that’s a whole other blog). So if you’re a newbie this list is a great way to break the ice and get familiar with thirteen toxins that might be lurking in your beauty and wellness products.


Coal Tar Dyes

What it’s used for: an active ingredient in OTC drug products. Biocides: used to kill lice, gets rid of dandruff

Concerns: allergen, immunotoxicity, carcinogen (cancer-causing), organ system toxicity

Found In: hair products-hair dyes, shampoos, scalp treatments, lotions, soaps, cosmetics



What it’s used for: a.k.a. polymethylsiloxane, is an anti-foaming agent, skin conditioner, skin lubricant

Concerns: organ system toxicity, irritant, allergens

Found In: bath & body products, skin-care products



What it’s used for: a preservative

Concerns: immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, skin irritant, carcinogen. reproductive toxicity

Found In: bath & body products, eyelash glue, nail polishes

** Other formaldehyde-releasing preservatives: DMDM Hydantion, IMIDAZolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, 1-4 Dioxane, methenamine


Heavy Metals

What it’s used for: heavy metals include MERCURY (preservative, antimicrobial), LEAD, IRON, ARSENIC, CHROMIUM.

Concerns: organ system toxicity, reproductive toxicity, irritant, carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, environmental hazard

Found In: eye drops, cosmetics, whitening toothpaste, sunscreen, moisturizers



What it’s used for: skin lighter; bleaching the skin, which decreases melanin production in the skin cells

Concerns: organ toxicity, skin irritant, carcinogen

Found In:  some cosmetics, skin lightening creams


Mineral Oil

What it’s used for: skin moisturizer

Concerns: Allergen, carcinogen, organ toxicity

Found In:  bath & body products, skin-care products, cosmetics



What it’s used for: preservatives, UV filters, stabilizer

Concerns: reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity,

Found In: deodorants, toothpaste, shampoos, lotions, foundation, anti-aging creams, and nail polish



What it’s used for: a preservative and a hormone disruptor that mimics the hormone estrogen

Concerns: immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, skin irritant, a carcinogen. reproductive toxicity

Found In: bath & body products, oral care products, personal care products, cosmetics

Phthalate (pronounced “tha-late”)

What it’s used for: a plasticizer used to moisturize and soften the skin, blend ingredients and create flexibility

Concerns: carcinogen, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruptor, developmental toxicity,

Found In:  nail polish (with dibutyl phthalate), personal care products, fragrances, hair spray


What it’s used for:  are ethoxylated ingredients (polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80 etc.) and are used as an emulsifier, denaturant, fragrance ingredient, surfactant

Concerns: organ system toxicity, carcinogen

Found In: bath & body products, hair products, skin-care products


Propylene Glycol

What it’s used for: a.k.a. anti-freeze. Changes the structure of the skin to allow ingredients to penetrate the skin.

Concerns: neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity

Found In: cosmetics, food, moisturizers


Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate

What it’s used for: a cleansing agent/surfactant, denaturant that creates a lather to increase the effectiveness of cleansers

Concerns: organ system toxicity, irritant, a hormone disruptor

Found In: bath & body products, shampoo, mouthwash, toothpaste,



What it’s used for: absorb moisture, smooth or soften products, prevent caking, and make makeup opaque

Concerns: organ system toxicity, carcinogen, irritation

Found In: Baby powder, body and shower products, lotions, feminine hygiene products, eyeshadow, foundation, lipstick, deodorants and face masks.



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