15 Unbelievable Harmful Chemicals in Body Cream

15 Unbelievable Harmful Chemicals in Body Creams

There are thousands of chemicals in your products, many of which are being absorbed into your body. These companies have cart blanche to use any ingredient or raw material without government review or approval.

This industry is highly unregulated. There is no pre-product approval before a product hits the market and enters your home. A minuscule approval process exists, but only for color additives and ingredients classified as over-the-counter drugs.

Many of these synthetic chemicals are skin irritants, skin penetrators, endocrine disrupters and are carcinogenic. I can’t go through all of these harmful chemicals, but here are 10 you should highly avoid.

1. Mercury

Exposure to even a small amount of Mercury is very toxic to the human brain and nervous system, as well as the digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys.[17] It has been banned in cosmetics in the U.S. since 1974. But mercury-containing cosmetics made overseas can be imported into the U.S, Some parts in Africa and sold in shops catering to Latin, African, and Middle Eastern communities.[18] Buyer beware! These products may release mercury vapor, which not only causes mercury poisoning to you, but to people around you.

To avoid hidden mercury, steer clear of products with these ingredients: calomel, mercurio, mercurio chloride, or mercury.

2. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is used to lighten skin pigmentation. However, its use sometimes results in a disfiguring skin disorder called ochronosis, which results in blue-black pigmentation that is difficult to treat. Animal studies have found enough exposure leads to tumor development, DNA mutations, and reduced fertility in males.

3. Parabens

Although the FDA still considers Parabens safe for use in cosmetics, they are so widespread in products and the environment that these chemicals are in the urine of almost every person in the U.S. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database, some parabens are worse than others, with the strongest evidence for endocrine disruption in isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. The FDA has yet to offer an assessment of the safety of other parabens. I recommend avoiding products with parabens altogether.

4. “Fragrance”

Fragrances are added to lotion, body wash, soap, and many beauty products. However, cosmetic companies don’t have to legally disclose which chemicals are in their fragrance because they are considered trade secrets.[29] Fragrances and perfumes emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals, some of which have been linked to cancer. Products that are labeled as unscented products may contain fragrances with masking agents. Masking agents are often phthalates which are known endocrine disruptors. Choose fragrance-free options. Some fragrances are linked to allergic reactions, asthma, and migraine headaches.[31]

5. Phthalates

A common ingredient in fragrances, phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic human estrogen and cause hormone imbalance issues for both women and men. Several studies have found phthalates contains chemicals that alter metabolism and result in weight gain. Phthalates have also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

6. Petroleum Distillates

Petroleum distillates are mixtures of volatile hydrocarbons created from petroleum, and used in mascara. They are categorized by the European Union as a possible carcinogen and possible mutagen, which is a chemical that mutates DNA. You can search the Skin deep database for mascaras that contain these and other chemicals.[26]

7. Siloxanes and Cyclomethicone

Siloxanes are used in cosmetics to soften and smooth skin, to help deodorants glide on more easily and for hair products to dry more easily. Three in particular – cyclotetrasiloxane (D4) and Cyclopentasiloxane (D5) cyclohexasiloxane (D6) are harmful to the environment, and D4 is a known endocrine disruptor which interferes with fertility. Cyclomethicone is a mixture of D4, D5, and D6.

8. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate

You will find sodium laureth sulfate (a contraction of sodium lauryl ether sulfate, SLES) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in most shampoos, soaps, and cleansers. Although these two ingredients are relatively safe themselves, during production, SLES may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen, and ethylene oxide, a chemical known to harm the nervous system. Because of possible skin irritation, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board recommends SLS should not exceed 1% in any product that stays applied to the skin.

9. Talc

Similar to asbestos in composition, it’s found in baby powder, eye shadow, blush, deodorant. Linked to ovarian cancer and respiratory problems.

10. Toluene

Known to disrupt the immune and endocrine systems, and fetal development, it’s used in nail and hair products. Often hidden under fragrance.

11. Triclosan

Found in antibacterial products, hand sanitizers, and deodorants, it is linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Avoid the brand Microban.

12. Lead

Known carcinogen found in lipstick and hair dye, but never listed because it’s a contaminant, not an ingredient.

13. Placental extract

Used in some skin and hair products, but linked to endocrine disruption.

14. Polyethylene glycol (PEG)

Penetration enhancer used in many products, it’s often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, both known carcinogens.

body creams


Used to make a product feel soft, these don’t biodegrade, and also prevent skin from breathing. Linked to tumour growth and skin irritation

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