Harmful Chemicals That Find Their Way Into Your Personal Care Products

Beautiful woman buying body care products

You must be using personal care items just like the rest of us. And like everyone, unknowingly exposing yourself to danger in the form of dangerous chemicals which are present in your personal care items. These chemicals are harsh and can cause many skin problems and other much more serious diseases, over a period of time. These powerful chemicals sometimes cause immediate reactions in extremely sensitive skins. It’s good to know about these chemicals as you can avoid buying products which contain them and protect yourself and your family. Read on to find out more:


make up products

Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, and Propylparaben are found in makeup products, creams and moisturizers, shaving and hair care products like shampoos and conditioners, spray tans, sunscreens and lotions, antiperspirants and deodorants. A number of studies have shown the presence of parabens in breast cancer tumors and this group of chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system functions. 

1,4 dioxane

This chemical is a byproduct of cancer causing petrochemical ethylene oxide. Products which contain this chemical are “organic” and “natural” brands of shampoos, lotions and body washes. Check for ingredients which end with “eth” – myreth, laureth, oleth and ceteareth, polyehthylene glycol, oxynol, PEG, and polyoxyethylene in your personal care items before buying. These chemicals are toxic for your brain, kidneys and respiratory organs.



Some skin lightening products may have mercury, which is damaging to the kidneys, brain and liver. Inorganic mercury may harm the central nervous system too, if used for a long time, and increase nephritic syndromes and neurotoxicity risks.


Many cosmetics contain lead which is harmful for pregnant women and is also carcinogenic. It causes irritability, nausea, headaches and affects the nervous system too. Children too are harmed by lead as it affects their physical and mental growth.


Hair smoothening products contain formaldehyde and excessive exposure can produce allergic reactions in the eyes, throat, nose and skin, and can even cause asthma. Formaldehyde ups the risk of many types of cancer, apart from causing menstrual disorders in women. 


Phthalates (diethylhexyl, dibutyl, dimethyl and diethyl) are extremely harmful and found in plastic, cosmetics such as nail polish and removers, perfumes, lipstick, hair spray, shampoos and moisturizers are extremely harmful. These chemicals affect the reproductive system in men, may cause liver cancer and are linked to birth defects in boys.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)


SLS is an emulsifier and de-greaser, which is the reason why it is used in soaps, shampoos, shaving cream and face cleansers. Products containing SLS causes skin and eye irritation and dries out the skin.

Mineral oil

Mineral oils found in cosmetics and other personal care products, may cause allergies, skin irritation and can block skin pores. This causes the restriction of the movement of nutrients within the body and disrupts the removal of waste matter from your body. Studies suggest that mineral oil might lead to arthritis too. 

Coal tar

liver cancers

Hair dyes and makeup products contain coal tar which causes cosmetic dermatitis and folliculitis. Coal tar is also associated to lung, skin and liver cancers. 

DEA or diethanolamine

DEA is used in the preparation of soaps, shampoos and cosmetic products. This chemical may harm the development of the brain if there is prenatal exposure to this chemical. 



Triclosan has been used since 1972 in toothpastes, deodorants, antibacterial soaps, cosmetics and body washes. This chemical has been linked to heart failure and heart disease, impaired muscle function and alters hormone regulation.

Propylene glycol

This is a common ingredient in lotions and creams. It is a petrochemical derivative and behaves as a emulsifying agent. Products which contain propylene glycol smoothens the skin but they speed up signs of aging such as age spots and wrinkles, and cause irritation and other skin problems.

Kohl stone

brain function

Kajal, a favorite cosmetic among women since ancient times, contains harmful chemicals like zincite, galena and magnetite. Longtime use may increase lead levels, cause convulsions and anemia and affect brain function and bone marrow function. 

There should be stronger legislation to regulate the personal care items industry and manufacturers should provide complete information about the chemicals used, so that people can make safe and informed decisions about the products they buy.

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