Go Clean: The Top 10 Chemicals to Avoid in Cosmetics

Kale, celery, spinach and Formaldehyde?!? YUCK, no thank you. Shockingly, that’s a healthier alternative to what most of us put on our bodies everyday. That's because it would actually be better  for you if you mixed in your nail polish or face creams into your smoothie than if you apply it on your skin.

In the past decade, we've experienced a health craze in America that has millions of us examining labels and counting our carbs like never before. And it's great! But that newfound focus on health hasn't translated to what we wear on our skin as it has as much as what we put in our bodies.

This has to change.

In his book Toxic BeautySamuel Epstein, MD states it’s actually safer to consume your products than to put them on your skin, which is less than 1/10 of an inch thick, highly permeable and absorbs much more of the chemicals then if we were to ingest them. According to Dr. Epstein, “Most cosmetics and personal care products on store shelves today contain five major categories of toxic ingredients. These are: frank carcinogens (cancer causing); precursors of or “hidden” carcinogens; endocrine or hormonally disruptive; penetration enhancers; and allergens.”


When you ingest a toxin, a percentage of it is absorbed by other food/liquid that you consume before it is then digested and excreted from your body. That’s not the case for when you wear it. With cosmetics, the toxins seep through your skin, into your pores and right into your bloodstream. Your body won’t reject toxins absorbed by your skin as it as it might when it causes you to throw up, meaning that toxin is in your blood stream for a potentially much longer time. That would explain the results from The Red Cross and EWG study in 2004 which detected more than 180 carcinogenic chemicals in newborns related to “beauty” products of the mother.

That’s terrifying.

This is why the late U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, was so concerned about the matter.  In a 1997 Senate Hearing on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) Reform Bill, Senator Kennedy warned that, “The cosmetics industry has borrowed a page from the playbook of the tobacco industry by putting profits ahead of public health.”

So what can you do? Well, certainly don’t go add any chemicals to your green smoothie routine. That’s a bad idea. Instead, start to convert to organic and natural cosmetics. On average organic beauty products contain toxins 99.2% fewer harmful ingredients but you have to be careful. As the infographic below shows, a lot of cosmetics companies “Green Wash” and hide the fact that their products contain dangerous chemicals because they know the harm in doing so.