You may have 45,990 unique chemical exposures from personal care products. Are they safe? The American woman uses 12 personal care products per day with 126 unique ingredients and men use 6, multiply that by 365 days per year and you have a large exposure that your liver and kidneys have to process. Your brain, hormone systems and nervous system have to cope with them as well. Cosmetics and personal care products are the least regulated products and not much attention is paid to health concerns from prolonged chemical exposure. After all, many people think their skin won’t absorb these chemicals but they are wrong.

Your skin is a window into your health. It’s not just a protective barrier against bacteria; it’s the body’s largest organ and it removes toxins through perspiration, regulates temperature, takes in oxygen and absorbs nutrients and medication. Almost everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream. Do you know what’s in your products and if are they going to help or hurt you?

Here’s a list of some common ingredients that studies show may be hazardous to your health.

-Parabens, a family of synthetic preservatives, have been shown to be hormone disruptors and cannot be broken down in the body. Parabens were found intact in breast cancer tissue and thought to come from applying skin care products. They mimic estrogen and can stimulate the estrogen receptors as if they were estrogen. Studies also showed that parabens interfered with detoxification, and androgen hormones such as testosterone and DHEA. They may also be toxic to genes. They are a family of compounds so look for anything that includes the word “paraben” in it such as butylparaben, parabens, isobutylparaben, sodium methylparaben, sodium propylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben and benzylparaben.

-Sodium Laurel Sulfate is a skin irritant and is found in many products from toothpaste to shampoos and body washes. Products containing this may be contaminated with1,4 dioxane, a known cancer causing substance. 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant created when common ingredients are mixed together and react to form the compound. Because of pressure from environmental groups, leading brand baby products companies will no longer contain two chemicals, formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.

-Phthalates and/or Fragrance: Phthalates are found in fragrance, toys, vinyl flooring and wall coverings as well as many personal care products such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. Studies indicate that phthalates damage the male reproductive system, decreases male fertility and may be associated with breast cancer and increased risk of allergic illnesses. Pregnant women should avoid phthalate exposure as it may interfere with normal development and produce behavioral problems in boys.

-BHA is used in food and cosmetics as an antioxidant that prevents fats from going rancid. Although it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in food, It has been shown to be a hormone disruptor and lowers thyroid hormone and testosterone, interferes with the development of the reproductive system and causes cancer in rodents and its health effects in humans are not clear. Since The National Toxicology Program classifies it as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” and the European Union bans its use in cosmetics and fragrance, why put it on your skin where it will be absorbed and add to your toxic load, when you are already getting it in prepared food?

-Petroleum distillates: Propylene glycol, mineral oil, petroleum jelly and fragrances are extracted from petroleum, which may be contaminated with poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are known carcinogens. Theses can irritate skin, and in high doses can affect liver and kidney function. The European Union bans these chemicals from use in cosmetics unless “the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.”

-Other – gluten, herbicides, and pesticides and other chemicals and substances can be absorbed through the skin.


There are many safe and natural products to take the place of these chemicals on your skin. Choose natural plant based products with ingredients that are organic, safe for your skin as well as the environment. Look for cold pressed oils, gluten free, free of the chemicals listed above, compliance with European Union Cosmetics Directive, and be sure they are made in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) facility.

Healthy and Safe Ingredients:

-Cleansing include honey propolis, hazelnut oil, and shea butter

-Antioxidants in the form of extracts of fruit, green tea, oiive leaf, rosemary and aloe

-Moisturizer with sunflower, jojoba, sea buckhorn oil and/or shea butter and adaptogenic herbs such as astralgus, elutherococcus, Panax ginseng, schizandra and rosemary

A good rule of thumb is don’t use anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. This will reduce your toxic load and your liver will love you. It will be reflected in vibrant health and clear glowing skin.

Author's Bio: 

Lorraine Maita, MD is a recognized and award winning physician and author-transforming people’s lives through preventive and anti aging medicine. She is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Anti Aging and Regenerative Medicine and Board Certified in Internal Medicine and has over 20 years experience in Preventive Health and Wellness, Internal, Occupational and Travel Medicine and Executive Health.

Dr. Maita served as Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Prudential Financial, Medical Director on The Pfizer Health Leadership Team and Medical Director of North America for Johnson & Johnson Global Health Service and was an attending physician at St.Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital, Emergency Department and Executive Health Examiners in New York City. She is a consultant for companies wanting to develop or enhance their employee and occupational health and wellness programs and has a private practice in Short Hills, NJ. She is author of “Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier.”

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