10 Toxic Ingredients Every Woman Should Avoid

Here is a startling fact: the average woman puts roughly 500 chemicals on her body every day. The cosmetic industry is highly unregulated and many products contain synthetic chemicals known to cause skin irritation and endocrine disruption. We absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin, meaning that you should look at the labels on your beauty products in the same way you look at food. Over 10,000 chemicals are used in the cosmetic industry, but less than 10% have actually been tested for safety. Here are 8 toxic ingredients to look out for the next time you shop for cosmetics.

1. MEA

MEA, or monoethanolamine, is a surfactant and emulsifier commonly found in hair dyes and household cleaning products. Inhalation of MEA can cause asthma and significant damage to the lungs and respiratory tract.

2. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives commonly used to prevent growth of mold in cosmetic products. They possess estrogen-mimicking properties, interfering with hormone levels and increasing the risk of breast cancer. Parabens may interfere with fertility and cause birth defects or developmental delays in children. These preservatives are restricted in the E.U.


These surfactants are common in many skincare lines and hair products. They have thick detergent and foaming properties that are highly irritating to the skin, lungs and eyes. These surfactants are particularly dangerous as they have the capability of combining with other chemicals to form carcinogens (substances that lead to cancer).

4. DEA

Also known as diethanolamine, DEA is an emulsifier found in shampoos, soaps and cosmetics. It is a powerful carcinogen linked to bladder, stomach and esophageal cancers. DEA is banned in the U.K.

5. TEA

Triethanolamine, or TEA, is a surfactant and pH adjusting agent found in a wide variety of cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and shaving creams. TEA is an endocrine disruptor that causes asthma and eye irritation. It is a known carcinogen and is toxic to the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

6. Triclosan

This antimicrobial chemical is common in toothpaste, hand sanitizers, soaps, deodorants. Triclosan contributes to widespread antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to effectively treat infection with antibiotics. It is a known endocrine disruptor that can cause thyroid and reproductive dysfunction.

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7. Fragrance

This is a catchall name for up to 4000 chemicals used in shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics and cleaning products. These fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and, possibly, infertility. Some studies even report an increased risk for depression related to its neurotoxic properties.

8. Phthalates

This term refers to a group of chemicals intended to improve the flexibility of plastic. They are known endocrine disruptors linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive birth defects in children. Unfortunately, many companies do not disclose this product on their labels, simply referring to phthalates as part of the “secret formula.”

9. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a preservative used to prevent bacterial growth in cosmetic products. This chemical is a known carcinogen liked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancers. It also causes skin allergies and is toxic to the immune system. Formaldehyde is commonly found in nail polish, body washes, shampoos, and eye shadows.

10. Propylene Glycol

This organic alcohol is often used as a skin-conditioning agent. In reality, it deeply penetrates the skin, causing irritation, dermatitis and hives. Propylene glycol is often found in moisturizers, sunscreen, shampoos, and hair spray.

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14 thoughts on “10 Toxic Ingredients Every Woman Should Avoid

  1. Amazing! This is literally exactly what I was looking for. I want to try and go natural with my skincare and makeup but there are so many things to avoid!

    You broke it down perfectly. Thanks lovely xx

  2. It is so disturbing what all is in the stuff we are told we need to use. We have been on a long process of cleaning out all this kind of stuff. Sometimes it is so difficult!

  3. No – not so good at all. Thanks for the round-up. We don’t realizee what we are putting on and in our bodies often and don’t realize that to keep on so doing ends up with an “affect”. Thanks for the informative post.

  4. I’m afraid to look at my products! I have never thought about this (I will admit!) I try to buy organic food, but I should probably be doing the same with bath products

  5. Very cool to finally actually know why I’m avoiding some of these! I knew about parabans and fragrance for instance, but so many others too that I never liked the sound of… hahahaha…now I know why!

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