Chemical Ingredients You’re Probably Using Every Day

The terms “natural” and “organic” seem to be popping up everywhere these days. But just because a product has the right buzz words on the label, doesn’t mean it is free of harmful chemicals.

Many of us use beauty products every day, which means potentially toxic ingredients are being absorbed beyond the surface of our skin. To avoid this scary possibility, learn to check the labels of your cosmetics and skin care items carefully. Consult an esthetician specializing in natural or holistic skin care or talk to the helpful staff at your local health foods store.

For additional help, here is a list of potentially harmful ingredients commonly found in personal care products:

  • Benzyl acetate – Linked to pancreatic cancer; may also cause damage to lungs, liver and gastrointestinal tract
  • Bronopol – Found in moisturizer, body wash, makeup remover and anti-aging products; may harm immune system, lungs and skin
  • Benzalkonium chloride and benzethonium chloride – Found in moisturizer, sunscreen, facial cleanser and acne treatment; may harm immune system; can trigger asthma; possible carcinogen
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) – Found in sunscreen, moisturizer, foundation and hair color; may harm skin and immune system; possible carcinogen
  • Formaldehyde – Found in deodorant, nail polish, soap, shampoo and shaving cream; may harm immune system and respiratory systems, skin and blood; possible carcinogen
  • 1,4-Dioxane – Found in body lotion, moisturizer, sunless tanning products, baby soap and anti-aging products; found in 46 of 100 personal care products marketed as “organic” or “natural”; inhalation exposure to high levels has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs; may also irritate the skin; classified by the EPA as a probable carcinogen

For a full list of harmful chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health risks, visit


Women, Winter 2010