Facts About Cosmetics

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classifies cosmetics and personal care products, but does not regulate them.  In 1938, the FDA granted self-regulation to the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the self-appointed industry organization.

With The exception of color additives and a few prohibited ingredients, a cosmetic manufacturer may use almost any raw material as a cosmetic ingredient and market the product without an approval from FDA” (“Prohibited Ingredients”, FDA Office of Cosmetics Fact Sheet, Dec. 19, 1994)

What this means is that the industry does not have to account to anyone, not even the FDA.  The direct result of industry self-regulation is that many products on the market today that we use constantly–and worse, products that we UNKNOWINGLY use on our children and even babies in the womb — are TOXIC

Wayne Stevenson of the FDA Cosmetics Registration Section says that “The cosmetic manufacturers aren’t required to submit safety data to the FDA, so we don’t really know what sorts of tests they run.  When they run tests, they keep the results in their own files.” (“Smelling Good But Feeling Bad”, Franz et al, E Magazine Vol. 11, no 1, Jan-Feb 2000)

The FDA must prove in a court of law that a product may be injurious… before the product can be recalled.  The FDA admits they don’t have the budget to win in court against the giant cosmetic companies.

The “FDA Consumer Complaints About Cosmetic Products 1999 Annual Report” lists complaints of adverse reactions to brand-name cosmetics and personal care products.  The FDA admits they probably receive only a very small percentage of actual complaints.  58% of these adverse reactions were in the dermatitis/pain/tissue damage categories, and 17% in the nervous system reactions category.  All of the named products were topical (lotions, shaving creams, toothpastes, etc GRAS List (Generally Recognized As Safe”) is that no one has shown it to be UNSAFE.

A “U.S. News and World Report” article published in 1998 stated “We look good, we smell good, and we have just exposed ourselves to 200 different chemicals a day, through personal care products.”  Now, six years later, that number is probably more like 300….
Potentially Harmful or Cancer Causing Ingredients and Contaminants found in most bathrooms! Read the labels on your personal care products. You may find ingredients that are harmful or toxic. You may find ingredients that react with others to produce a harmful or toxic substance. You may find ingredients that are commonly contaminated with harmful or toxic substances.

The table below lists SOME of the most potentially harmful ingredients and contaminants. If you have products that contain these ingredients, you may want to look for alternatives. There are safe products available; products that have been tested by third party scientists and are guaranteed as being free from potentially harmful ingredients and contaminants.


  • Acetone (nail polish remover)
  • Alcohol (mouthwash, toners, baby products)
  • Aluminum (antiperspirants)
  • Artificial colours (make-up, toothpaste, shampoos)
  • Artificial flavours (toothpaste, mouthwash)
  • Bentonite
  • Coal Tar Dyes (D&C Colors and phenylenediamine)(shampoo, conditioner, hair dyes, soap, skin care, cosmetics)
  • DEA (Diethanolamine) (Cocamide DEA; Laurimide DEA; Linoleamide DEA, Oleamide DEA) (shampoos, body washes, bubble bath, shaving cream)
  • Dioxins (shampoo)
  • Ether (nail treatments, shampoo, conditioner)
  • Fluoride (Sodium fluoride)  (toothpaste)
  • Fluorocarbons (hair spray)
  • Formaldehyde (antiperspirants, nail treatments, perfumes)
  • Fragrances (Synthetic)
  • Glycerine (moisturizers, lotions)
  • Kaolin
  • Lye
  • MEA (Monethanolamine)
  • Mineral Oil
  • Padimate-O (octyl dimethyl PABA) (sunscreens)
  • PEG (cosmetics, make-up, shaving cream)
  • Petroleum (Petrolatum
  • Petrolatum or Mineral Oil (baby products, washes)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol   (moisturisers, shaving cream, deodorants, baby products)
  • SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate) (shampoo, bubble bath, shaving foam, cleansers etc)
  • SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) (shampoo, bubble bath, shaving foam, cleansers etc)
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Talc baby powder, make-up, foot preparations)
  • Toluene
  • Triethanolamine (TEA, Tea, Stearate TEA)
  • Triclosan

CONTAMINANTS; you will NOT find them listed as ingredients on any bottle
BE AWARE OF … We have chosen to describe a few of the worst offenders of the thousands of toxic chemicals and potentially harmful ingredients used in personal and skin care products.  Many of these chemicals have more than one effect; some are suspected carcinogens, as well as being toxins, contaminates, skin irritants, hormone disruptors, poisons, etc.
Alcohol acts as a solvent

Found in mouthwash (which may have higher alcohol content than beer or wine), astringents and facial cleansers, some toothpastes

National Cancer Institute (4/22/91) states: implicated in mouth, tongue and throat cancers (women have 90% higher risk; men have 60% higher risk than non-mouthwash users)

on skin, strips away natural protecting oils (takes skin 24 hours to repair itself)

when ingested, may cause body tissues to be more vulnerable to carcinogens
Aluminum Found in antiperspirants, some cosmetics

Public Health Reports, Nov-Dec, 1993 v108, #6, p.798:
· suspected link between Central Nervous System dysfunctions (such as Alzheimer’s disease) and aluminum
Bentonite or Kaolin:  Used to suffocate forest fires.  May provide a suffocating barrier to the skin
Bisphenola (BPA)

In news that’s breaking today 9-16-08, researchers have documented the harmful effects of Bisphenol A (the plastics chemical), linking it to dangerous increases in the risk of diabetes and heart disease. This is huge news because just a few weeks ago, the FDA said Bisphenol A was so safe that infants could drink it. Now, science is trumping politics, and the research is revealing the truth about this dangerous plastics chemical.

Coal Tar Dye

(esp. D&C Blue #1, Green #3, Yellow#5, Yellow #6, Red #33, phenylenediamine)

Found in shampoos, especially dandruff shampoos, bubble bath, toothpastes, hair dyes can cause severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, nervousness, lack of concentration · increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease

The 1938 Act created a specific exemption for coal-tar dyes….The FDA cannot now ban them, even though their carcinogenicity has been recently proven.” –Politics of Cancer: Revisited, page 252

Collagen (makes skin feel artificially smooth) Found in creams and lotions

Molecules too large to penetrate skin; may suffocate skin (other than that, not harmful, just useless –adds to price)

Some companies now make lower molecular weight collagen, which is absorbed easily (this is safe)
DEA (Diethanolamine), TEA (Tea, triethanolamine), MEA Cocamide DEA; Laurimide DEA; Linoleamide DEA, Oleamide DEA) (solvent, emulsifier, wetting agent)

Found in most things–shampoos, conditioners, lotions, shaving gels, bubble bath, skin creams, etc.

US Dept of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program, 1997 (NTP TR 478)

Clear evidence of carcinogenic activity
“Diethanolamine was selected for evaluation because its large-scale production and pattern of use indicate potential for widespread human exposure.”

NTP requested that the FDA require a warning label on all formulations containing cocamamide DEA

1979–FDA warned that 42% of all cosmetics were found contaminated with NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) which is formed when DEA reacts with nitrosating agents (may be through actual addition of nitrite as a preservative, through degradation of other ingredients or by exposure to air)

1991–FDA found that 27 of 29 of the products they tested were still contaminated

No way of telling if NDEA has been formed…so avoid all DEA, TEA, MEA–in 1996, the Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association stated that “These chemicals…should not be used as ingredients in cosmetic products.”

Fluoride (Sodium fluoride) Environmental pollutant

May contain lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, radionuceides accumulates in body contributes to bone disease (American Medical Association, December, 1993)

carcinogen (known since 1990: shown to not reduce cavities)

Dr. Dean Burk of National Cancer Institute: “Fluoride causes more human cancer death, and causes it faster than any other chemical”

Dr. Hardy Limeback, Head of Preventive Dentistry at the U of Toronto and former advocate of fluoridation, has (December, 1999) come out against it.

Formaldehyde   -  preservative, fixative, disinfectant)

Found in shampoo, nail care, cosmetics, also may be contaminate (not listed as ingredient)

suspected carcinogen


may be created by the breakdown of ingredients such as 2-bromo2-nitropropane-1, 3-diol, Diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, Imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium 15 or Bronopol

You will be shocked to learn that formaldehyde is a common ingredient in baby shampoo, bubble bath, deodorants, perfume, cologne, hair dye, mouthwash, toothpaste, hair spray, and many other personal care items.

The following information is taken from a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which, by law, must be supplied to anyone who uses any chemical product in the workplace.  The MSDS for formaldehyde warns: “Suspected carcinogen; May be fatal if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through skin; causes burns; inhalation can cause spasms, edema (fluid buildup) of the larynx and bronchi, and chemical pneumonitis; extremely destructive to tissue of the mucous membrane.”

All these symptoms and more are caused by formaldehyde. Yet manufacturers can put formaldehyde in shampoo and not list it as an ingredient! (Debra Lyn Dadd, “Home Safe Home”)  Some of most allergenic and irritating preservatives release small amounts of formaldehyde, which is an irritant and sensitizer as well as a carcinogen and neurotoxin.  Many cosmetic companies do not use such ingredients because they can make the eyes sting and irritate the skin.  But many companies do, and you should be able to identify these ingredients so you can avoid products containing them.

The following ingredients contain formaldehyde, may release formaldehyde, or may break down into formaldehyde: (The “Safe Shopper’s Bible”, by David Steinman & Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.)

  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Quaternium 15

Fragrances  (Synthetic)

Synthetic fragrances are made up of hundreds of chemicals. Some, such as methylene chloride, are carcinogenic; others can cause brain damage. Avoid unless you can be assured they are NOT carcinogenic. A scientific analysis of one very popular perfume showed it to contain a very potent neurotoxin.

Related Video: Harmful Cosmetics

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  • comment avatar Hang Sagrera Jul 22, 2010

    Canadian/American Items Are Safer Since We Have Really Strict Guide Lines In Whats Safe and sound For Our Use, And For Other people Use. I Now Do not Trust China Manufactured Merchandise, Mainly because On the Lead, Melamine, And Formaldahyde Recalls They Had Within the Past “Last” Year. Products Like, Make-up, Dog Food, Childrens Toys, Toothpaste, And Numerous Other Items Had These “Chemicals” In Them. Alittle Googling, And Reading Of Labels, Are Often Critical To Making Safer Buys And Options.

  • comment avatar Tyler Mcgeever Aug 31, 2010

    Hand lotions are made to penetrate the skin for moisturizing. Not to mention they’re scented. After a while it could start to hurt because of the added perfume. Baby oil is ok,

  • comment avatar Julieta Kastner Nov 27, 2010

    Good day I enjoyed your post. I believe that it is necessary when talking about diabetes to at least refer to natural therapies that have been shown to be efficient in managing high blood sugar. Numerous natural herbs can be including in a diabetics treatment that may help maintain a wholesome sugar level.

  • comment avatar Onita Watley Jan 7, 2011

    Wow I found this site on Yahoo searching around for another subject entirely, and now I’m going to need to go back and go over some pages on your site.

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