Toxins Primer


Here’s a little bit to give you pause in the drugstore aisle next time you run out of soap.

Mercury: has the ability to damage brain function at low levels. it’s hard to believe it’s still used in cosmetics. But it is. It’s commonly used in mascara, listed as the mercury preservative “thimerosal.” If you get a little bit of mascara in your eyes or face when it clumps or as you wash it off, you may also be getting a little dose of mercury. Watch out for mercury in eye drops, too. What cosmetic products contain significant levels of mercury?

Lead: Lead harms the developing brain of a child. The government demanded its removal from gasoline and house paint — but not hair dye. This pernicious neurotoxin is in Grecian Formula 16 and other black hair dyes for men. What cosmetic products contain significant amounts of lead?

Hydroquinone: FDA recently warning the public to avoid skin lighteners with hydroquinone. This skin bleaching chemical can cause a skin disease called ochronosis, with “disfiguring and irreversible” blue-black lesions that in the worst cases become permanent, intensively black bumps the size of caviar all over the skin. What cosmetic products contain significant levels of hydroquinone?

Phthalates: Pronounced “tha’-lates,” these little plasticizer chemicals pack a punch to male sex organs. Whether it’s sperm damage, feminization of baby boys, or infertility, a growing number of studies link phthalates to problems in men and boys. Pregnant women should avoid it in nail polish (“dibutyl phathalate”) and everyone should avoid products with “fragrance” on the label, chemical mixtures where phthalates often hide. What cosmetic products contain significant levels of phthalates?

Petroleum Byproducts: Petroleum byproducts are often contaminated by cancer-causing impurities. These ingredients include carcinogens in baby shampoo (see new research on 1,4-dioxane) and petrochemical waste called coal tar in scalp treatment shampoos.What cosmetic products contain significant levels of petroleum byproducts?

SLS: Both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. Both chemicals are very effective foaming agents, chemically known as surfactants. SLES is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which can be highly irritating and dangerous.

Visit Skin Deep’s Special Report || Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews.