Skincare Toxins





To ease your pain before unloading all of the toxins lurking behind your favorite beauty products. Here are a few of my old old favorites that I had to part ways with.. 






 Pre Green Beauty Days:



51r-vsUfa4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Face cream: La Mer, anything Le Prairie

Foundation: Le Prairie, YSL

Concealer: YSL Touch’e clat & Kevin Aucoyn

Mascara: Dior

Lipstick: Mac Myth (biggest separation anxiety)

Eye cream: Whatever was most expensive that I could afford

Face mask: Fresh company masks

Toner: Ole Henerickson

Perfume: Hermes, Guerlan, Chanel

and many other scary products! lol


To request information about  Green Beauty counseling sessions with Eat Drink Shrink click here











Used in makeup, moisturizers, shampoos etc. May interfere with hormone function. Associated with breast cancer. Look out for ingredients with “pararaben” in their name (methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben). Widely used even though they are known to be toxic.




DEA, cocamide DEA and lauramide DEA  Cocamide_DEA


In creamy and foaming products such as moisturizer, shampoo. Can react to form cancer-causing nitrosamines. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.




Ethylene Oxideimages


Ethylene oxide is found in fragrances and is commonly used to manufacture popular brands of shampoo. It is classified as a known human carcinogen and is one of the 48 chemicals that the National Toxicology Program (NTP) identifies as mammary carcinogens in animals.





Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP


In nail products and some hair sprays. Toxic to reproduction and may interfere with hormone function. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.





Acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure to formaldehyde in humans can result in respiratory symptoms, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Some studies of humans exposed repeatedly to formaldehyde in workplace air found more cases of nose and throat cancer than expected. Animal studies of laboratory rats exposed for life to formaldehyde in air found that some rats developed nose cancer.


Found in:

  • antiseptics and cleaning agents

  • carpets and permanent press fabrics

  • cigarettes

  • cosmetics (nail polish)

  • fertilizers

  • insulation for electrical uses (i.e., wiring and appliances)

  • manufactured wood products (i.e., furniture, plywood, particle-board)

  • medicines and vitamins

  • paints and varnishes

  • preserved foods






Triethanolamine TEA


causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.










Lead may be a contaminant in over 650 cosmetic products, including sunscreens, foundation, nail colors, lipsticks and whitening toothpaste. Lead is a proven neurotoxin, linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls.










Used as a stabilizer in perfumes and as a preservative. Phenoxyethanol’s chemical name is: 2-phenoaxyethanol; ethylene glycol phenyl ether. It’s an oily, colorless liquid that belongs to the family of the glycol ether. Although Phenoxyethanol can be found naturally in green tea and chicory, the cosmetic ingredient is not plant derived. Instead it is synthetically produced in a laboratory.


The proliferation of this chemical was in part due to the health scare surrounding  Parabens and cosmetic manufacturers looked for an effective replacement preservative. Phenoxyethanol appeared to be a safe alternative that offered anti-microbial activity against bacterias, molds and yeasts.


Current cosmetic regulation advises that the ingredient only be used in proportions under 1%.

(Note: Ingredients are always listed in proportional order, so if you see Phenoxyethanol referenced high up an ingredient list, then the manufacturer may be using more than 1%).


Repeated exposure to the substance over prolonged periods has been linked to:

contact dermatitis (more info 1 and 2), worsening of eczema (more info), reproductive toxicity (more info) and neurotoxicity (more info 1 and 2).







Aluminum is found in some underarm antiperspirants. Like cadmium, aluminum is a metal that mimics estrogen and can also cause direct damage to DNA. Studies have not shown a direct causal link to breast cancer risk, but breast tissue has been shown to concentrate aluminum in the same area where the highest proportion of breast cancers are originally diagnosed.








Used for over 30 years as a preservative and antiseptic agent, acts by inhibiting bacterial fatty acid synthesis. Triclosan has been added to soaps, toothpastes, mouthwashes, acne medications, deodorants, and wound disinfection solutions, and has also been impregnated into some kitchen utensils, toys, and medical devices. 


Triclosan in humans has been found to impair human muscle contractions at the cellular level. Exposure to triclosan disrupts the cell communication that is necessary for muscles to function properly, and is said to cause failure in both the heart and skeletal muscle cells. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Triclosan everything from antibacterial soaps to deodorant to toothpaste to vacuum bags and hundreds of other household staples.  






Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)images-5


Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife









Propylene Glycol and Polyethylene Glycol 


Gaseous hydrocarbons which in a liquid state act as “surfactant” (wetting olagents and solvents). They easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles and to dispose of any PG solutions by burying them in the ground.

Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent consequences such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. But there isn’t even a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than in most industrial applications. Alternatives – water extracted herbs, Therapeutic Essential Oils, etc.








A Group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.  Polyvinyl chloride is made softer and more flexible by the addition of phthalates. Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products. 


Phthalates are used in cosmetics and personal care products, including perfume, hair spray, soap, shampoo, nail polish, and skin moisturizers. They are used in consumer products such as flexible plastic and vinyl toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, vinyl miniblinds, food packaging, and plastic wrap.


Phthalates are also used in wood finishes, detergents, adhesives, plastic plumbing pipes, lubricants, medical tubing and fluid bags, solvents, insecticides, medical devices, building materials, and vinyl flooring.  Phthalates are xenoestrogens, foreign to the body, that often act as estrogens once ingested or absorbed. These EDCs interfere with normal hormonal function and metabolism.


Conditions associated with EDCs include:

  • Infertility

  • Decreased sperm count

  • Breast cancer

  • Endometriosis

  • Prostate cancer

  • Ovarian cancer

  • Asthma

  • Allergies

  • Obesity







Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer  SiloxanesLook for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.  





Sodium Laureth Sulfateshampoo


Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).   TriclosanA synthetic antibacterial ingredient that has been compared to Agent Orange.


The Environmental Protection Agency registers it as a pesticide, highly toxic to any living organism. It is also classified as a chlorophenol. In other words, it is in a cancer causing chemical class. Triclosan disrupts hormones, can affect sexual function and fertility and may foster birth defects. Triclosan has been linked to paralysis, suppression of the immune system, brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. It is widely used in antibacterial cleansers, toothpaste, and household products. Synthetic dyesExamples include anything with F&DC preceding it, usually followed by a color and a number. (F representing food, D&C representing drugs and cosmetics), other color additives, including caramel, lead acetate, manganese violet, and more.










Contains a chemical that is similar to asbestos and can increase the risk of a certain testicular and ovarian cancers.






Isopropyl AlcoholIsopropylUnknown-2


Alcohol is used in hair color rinses, body rubs, hand lotion and aftershave lotions as well as in your car’s antifreeze and shellac! Scientists believe that it has the ability to destroy intestinal flora, leaving the body’s major organs open to parasites, and thus to cancers. Beyond attacking the intestinal flora, isopropyl alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, and coma.





Mineral Oilbaby-oil


Mineral oil is a petroleum derivative that coats the skin like saran wrap, which prevents the skin from breathing, absorbing and excreting. It also slows the skin’s natural cell development, causing the skin to age prematurely. Note that baby oil is 100% mineral oil – and 100% bad for your baby’s sensitive skin.






PEG (Polyethylene Glycol)PEG’simages-3



Commonly used in spray-on oven cleaners and in many hair and skin products. PEG’s main fuctions are to dissolve oil and grease. Thus, on the body, they take the protective oils off the skin and hair, making them more vulnerable to other toxins. PetrolatumPetrolatum is a petrochemical that contains two well-known carcinogens: Benzo-A-Pyrene and Benzo-B-Fluroanthene. As you might imagine from a petroleum derivative, petrolatum prevents the skin breathing and excreting.









I’m Gabrielle, the founder & creator of I established this blog in May of 2012 to share my experience and knowledge as I pursue a career as a Registered Dietitian in New York City. I currently hold a BS in Nutrition & Dietetics from NYU and am pursuing a MS in Nutrition & Health Sciences while teaching yoga and working with the Coalition for Healthy School Food


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