8 Toxic Ingredients that May Be Lurking in Your Personal Care Products

When it comes to personal care products, most people are unaware of what is in the products that they use. What can be dangerous for their health however, is how often they may be exposing themselves to toxic ingredients without even knowing it!

In order to have optimal health, it is vital to limit exposure to toxins. And yet, without being informed consumers and having an understanding of what chemicals may be absorbed into the body through the skin, millions of people each day are exposing themselves needlessly to products that can affect their hormones and cause cancer.

What are the ingredients you should avoid?


Parabens are a type of preservative that is commonly found in many personal care products. They help to prevent bacteria from growing in the product. Currently, about 80-90% of all personal care products contain them. The danger of parabens is that they are known endocrine disruptors. They can mimic estrogen and lead to reproductive issues and can also cause cancer. Parabens are commonly found in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

They are typically used in products such as moisturizers, makeup foundation, shampoos, shaving creams, toothpaste, deodorant and suntan lotion.


All food, drug and body care companies are required by the FDA to list the ingredients of a product on the label. But the ingredient breakdown of the scents used in products are not required to be individually labeled and can instead be lumped together under the term “fragrance”. Any product that contains fragrance could potentially contain hundreds of chemicals. The danger is that many of these chemicals may be volatile organic compounds which are known to contribute to cancer. They can also cause damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system.


There has been growing concern about aluminum toxicity from use of personal care products. Aluminum is most commonly found as an active ingredient in antiperspirants where it helps to prevent sweating by temporarily plugging the sweat ducts. But it is known to be toxic to the body. It is particularly damaging for brain health and has been linked to an increase of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Aluminum is also equally damaging to the nervous system, the respiratory tract, and the bones. Continued exposure, such as that caused by regular use of products containing aluminum can damage the reproductive system and may cause cancer. Although it is a common ingredient in deodorants, it is also found in sunscreens and as a colorant in cosmetics.


Formaldehyde is a common preservative that is found in approximately 20% of all personal care products. It is used primarily to prevent the buildup of bacteria in products to help increase shelf life. But it is a known carcinogen and can cause skin irritation. It is commonly found in products such as baby shampoo, body wash, nail polish, cosmetics and hair gel.


This group of chemicals is added to personal care products to soften and moisturize the skin. Banned in the European Union, these toxic ingredients are still widely used throughout the US. They are know for being hormone disruptors, but also cause reproductive and developmental toxicity. They can be found in lotions, body washes, nail polish, hair care products and cosmetics and may be hidden in the fragrances of an array of personal care products.

Petroleum By-products

Petroleum, otherwise known as crude oil, is a fossil fuel that is largely used in products such as gasoline and plastics. By-products of petroleum, such as mineral oil, petrolatum, liquid paraffin, or petroleum jelly are commonly used personal care products. When petroleum is properly refined there are no adverse health risks. But problems come from improper refining which produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). PAH are known to be carcinogenic and cause cancer.

Many countries mandate that proof of proper refinement has occurred in order for petroleum by-products to be used in manufacturing. But currently the US has no mandate and so it is common for PAH to be found in products that people buy and use daily. You can currently find petroleum by-products in shampoos, conditioners, lotion, body wash and cosmetics.