Poisoning Yourself & Your Family: 12 Toxins in Your Personal Care Products

12 Toxins in Your Personal Care Products

The skin is your largest organ, what you put on it is absorbed into your bloodstream.

The average woman in the United States uses over 15 personal care products daily, the average man about six. Each product containing a dozen or more chemicals! Many of these chemicals are carcinogens, neurotoxins and contain reproductive toxins!

You pay attention to what you put in your mouth, so why not what you put on your skin?

Skin Deep: Old Spice Toxicity 7

After reading Nourishing Traditions, we did a 180° change with our diet, but it was another two years before we were convinced to swap out our personal care products for natural alternatives. I wasn’t ready to give up my Redken Shampoo and fancy pricy department store makeup and Andrew wasn’t ready to give up his Old Spice deodorant! It wasn’t until we found great alternatives that we gave up our old ways. I’ll share what we use below.

You probably look at the ingredient list of your favorite packaged foods, but why not look the ingredients in your favorite deodorant?

To find out if your makeup and hygiene products are toxic check out, SKIN DEEP from the Environmental Working Group, EWG.ORG

Toxins in your hairspray

At the Skin Deep website, you can type any product in the “search” field and it’ll rate the toxicity on a scale from zero to ten (best to worst).

Go through your personal care products and label the toxicity (zero to ten). See picture above, I used basic sticky notes. Leave the labels on for a week and I guarantee, you will be motivated to find an alternatives.

What surprised me after we labeled all of our conventional personal care products was that the woman and baby products were the highest in toxicity. Makeup and all the face cleaners, creams and fancy shampoos were double the toxicity of my husbands products… I still wonder why this is? Do you know?

Here’s a list of 12 toxins in personal care products:

1.) PARABENS commonly used preservatives in cosmetics such as moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners, and many types of makeup (source). Parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive fertility. parabens are linked to is early puberty in children (source) and early menopause in women (source). Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells (source).

2.) PHTHALATES work as softeners in personal care products such as cosmetics and shampoo, as well as flexible plastics like children’s toys (Source). Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors because they mimic the body’s hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage (source). Phthalates are also in products with “Fragrance” as one of the ingredients.

3.) DIETHANOLAMINE (DEA) is used in personal care, laundry detergent and cleaning products to give that foam lather. DEA by itself is not harmful, however DEA reacts in the cosmetic formula to form an extremely potent carcinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is absorbed through the skin and has been linked with stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder cancers (source).

4.) PETROLATUM (Mineral Oils & Paraffin) used as the base for creams, baby rash ointment and many other personal care products “Petrolatum coast the skin like plastic, clogging pores and creating a build-up of toxins. They can slow cellular development, creating earlier signs of aging. They’re implicated as a suspected cause of cancer. Plus, they can disrupt hormonal activity.” (source)

5.) SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLS) When it’s combined with other chemicals it forms nitrosamines. SLS is found in foaming products (toothpaste, shampoo, laundry, household cleaning, etc.) originally made as a pesticide and a heavy duty chemical cleaner for garage oil stains and in car washes! The biggest problem with SLS, is how is made. The manufacturing of SLS creates ethoxylation which is contaminated with dioxane, a carcinogen (Source).

6.) PROPLENE GLYCOL IS ANTIFREEZE. It’s linked to kidney and liver disease. Enough said. Watch out, you’ll find this in cosmetics, shampoo & conditioners, deodorant, and of all places… ice cream! What?! Yeah I know.

7.) ACRYLAMIDE found in many face creams. You’ll find this in mammary tumors. “Acrylamide is an industrial chemical known to increase infertility and neurological problems”. (Source)

8.) PHENOL (CARBOLIC ACID) found in skin lotion. “Phenol was first extracted from coal tar, but today is produced from petroleum. It is corrosive to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory tract causing lung edema. It’s harmful to the central nervous systems and heart and cause dysrhythmia, seizures, and coma. The kidneys may be affected as well.” (Source)

9.) DIOXANE is a petrochemical solvent found in cosmetics and products that foam, such as bubble bath, baby shampoo, laundry detergent (Source). Dioxane is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require 1,4-dioxane to be listed as an ingredient on product labels. However, if you look closely you’ll see ingredients such as PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols which are all dioxanes. Dioxane is linked to cancer. (Source)

10.) FRAGRANCE Watch out this is one of the biggest offenders. It’s what makes your lotion, perfume, deodorant and shampoo “smell good”. You’ll see it at the bottom of the ingredients list as “fragrance” or “parfum”. Fragrances can contain neurotoxins and are among the top five allergens in the world. Toluene which is in fragrances is known neurotoxin that causes loss of  muscle control, brain damage, headaches, memory loss, and problems with speech, hearing, and vision. (Source). Better options would be to use “un-scented” or scented with essential oils.

11.) FORMALDEHYDE Is found in nail polish, body lotion, cleansers, shampoo & conditioners, body wash, styling gel, sunscreen and makeup! Formaldehyde a known human carcinogen, it’s toxic to the immune system and respiratory track. (Source)

12.) HEAVY METALS (lead, aluminum, arsenic, nickel, beryllium, mercury, cadmium & nickel) the number one ingredient in most conventional deodorants is aluminum. One or more of these metals is probably in your makeup! Lead is an ingredient so toxic it isn’t allowed in paint or gasoline, but it’s in most lipstick! Chick out this FDA list here to see if your lipstick on the lead list. Watch out for arsenic in eyeliner and cadmium and mercury in mascara! (Source)

Gather your make up and personal hygiene products and see if they rate poorly on the SKIN DEEP website, you may be surprised!

“Our skin is not only your largest organ – it’s also the thinnest. Only 1/10th of an inch separates you from all sorts of toxins. Your skin is highly permeable, allowing what you apply to your skin access to your bloodstream (and thereby to the rest of your body)” (Dr. Mercola, Source)

12 Toxins in your personal care products. The promiseland farm

My family and friends are always asking … what works and is below a toxic level 3?

I answer this question dozen’s of times.  My Mom still asks me where I get this and that. I’m going to use the last section as a “tell all”. It’s everything we use on our body and face. You have to decide what toxicity level you are comfortable with, is a zero to one? or maybe  a 2 to 3 toxicity. And if you’re fine using a 6-9 toxicity product… well at least you know you’re getting poisoned every time you use it.

WARNING: As you look for better hygiene care alternatives make sure to ALWAYS READ THE LABELS; because more than half of all the personal care products found on health food shelves have the same toxic offenders listed above… you’ll be surprised. Check it out for yourself.


I’ve found that buying these products at our health food stores is usually more expensive than buying them online. I probably get 90% of our stuff from Vitacost, because, for most personal care products, they’re much cheaper.




The toughest product we had to switch out was deodorant for my husband, Andrew. EVERY  “natural” deodorant would give him red bumps and didn’t do it’s job! 😉 Yes, I made the concoction with coconut oil, arrowroot and baking soda… didn’t work for him. It also get’s all over your clothes, it caused red bumps and it didn’t help with the smell. I bought so many different natural deodorants (probably over 20), but I finally found a solution after a year of looking… it’s not perfect (as Andrew says), but it works! Our favorite deodorant is the Crystal also called a “stone” (toxic level zero to one). It’s made of mineral salts. All the brands of Crystal work. Although we’ve found that the solid crystal covers better than the spray or the roll on liquid. The key is that you have to use it right after your shower, get the stone wet and rub it around thoroughly, like 15 times. It doesn’t stain clothes and you won’t smell! For Andrew it works for about 24 hours and for me it works 3-4 days before we have to apply it again. Also the stone / crystal will last you a looonnnnggg time (I’m talking months maybe even a year) compared to conventional stick deodorant.





  • MEN: Herban Cowboy Natural Grooming Cologne Dusk (Andrew uses this product and likes it. The box says it scented with essential oils, but on Skin Deep they say the “fragrance” is rated toxic level 8) – available here
  • WOMEN: I have yet to find a natural sent that doesn’t make me sneeze. If you know if one, please comment below! I’d love to find a perfume when I want to feel “pretty” and for special occasions. I should probably just mix my own essential oil blend in a carrier oil, like jojoba… one of these days I’ll make it! 🙂

How to make lotion


Making lotion is EASY and you’ll get a higher quality product than you can buy. We use this lotion from cow’s udders to baby’s bottoms and everything in between 🙂 Here’s how you make it: Equal parts Shea Butter, Coconut oil and Olive Oil. Directions: Warm the oil gently in a crock pot or on the stove and put in herbs like Comfrey, Calendula, Rosemary, and St. Johns Wort. Let the herbs infuse overnight. Then take out the herbs and gently melt some beeswax in the same pot on low. Wait until it is liquified and stir well, then pour in jars.  I buy the Shea butter, beeswax and herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in bulk.

Baby: Earth Mama Angel Baby Angel Bottom Balm (toxic level zero) This is a great size for the diaper bag. Be careful with conventional baby bottom balms, they usually have a petroleum base – available here


Aubrey Organics Silken Earth, favorite place for base, blush, lipstick (toxic level 1-2 usually) –  available here

Honeybee Gardens makeup (toxic level 1-2 usually), we like there mascara – available here

Zoya Nail Polish


Zoya Nail Polish (toxic level unknown, not listed) It does NOT HAVE formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or camphor. I found this brand while shopping at Whole Foods a few years ago.

This stuff works! I take it with me when I get a mani/pedi. This nail polish performs just like your top no chip brands. I’ve tried all the 1-3 toxicity nail polishes and they don’t last more than a day, they peel off! Zoya is by far all my friend and family’s favorite. They also have great colors. We buy the basecoat, color and then top coat. The three set works beautifully.

Best wishes to you as you discover what’s really in your vanity! Don’t leave a bottle unturned! 🙂 If you’re wondering where to start… if you have children, start with their products… then tackle your products that are the most toxic and work your way down the toxic scale… you’ll probably find hairspray is the highest on the toxic scale.

Good luck! I’m cheering you on!





Never Put this on Your Face: Dr. Mercola

Top 4 Personal Care Ingredients to Avoid: Underground Wellness

Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’?: The New York Times

Make-up ‘triggers early menopause’: News.com.au

Want Babies in Your 30′s or 40′s? Lose the Makeup: Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist

Toxic Heavy Metals Widespread in Cosmetics: Safe Cosmetics

*This blog post contains affiliate links



This blog post is linked to:

The Prairie Homestead at Homestead Barn Hop

Fight Back Friday’s at Food Renegade

Party Wave at Holistic Squid

Tasty Traditions at Cultured Palate

Small Footprint Fridays at Small Footprint Family

Kelly the Kitchen Kop at Real Food Wednesday

Thank Your Body at Thank your Body Thursday

Wise Woman at Wise Woman Link Up


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  1. http://Rachael%20F. says

    My daughter has an auto-immune disorder and to help get it under control we removed all chemicals from our home (always wanted to so I finally got a reason!). I really like Cal-Ben’s Shampoo. In fact, I love it. My hair is “even tempered” all the time. No more is it going to be a good or bad hair day. Their bar soap is pretty good, but Dr. B’s is better (although more expensive..). I also found that Bio Kleen with a little Washing Soda works great for laundry. I have 4 kids and I needed something that actually worked. We tried making our own but most that work have ingredients we can’t use like Borax and laundry bar soaps (too harsh). Thank you so so much for the deodorant review! That was where I was struggling the most. I made my own and it worked, but despite the recipe claiming it didn’t stain clothes, all my shirts were discolored in the arm pit, esp light colors.

  2. http://Ed%20Doherty says

    Ava Anderson specialized in non-toxic skin care products. See http://www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/

  3. I sell a natural product line, much that is organic, and without the dirty dozen (above and more)…see my site: http://www.OurLemongrassSpa.com/homespalady. Worth checking out …or have a party here in Denver!

  4. Great post! Our family is very careful about our beauty and health products too. My favorite deodorant for the past 3 years has been Young Living brand toothpaste. Sounds weird I know! But a very small amount (half a green pea size) on wet fingers and spread across the armpits keeps me stink-free for at least 24 hours! And I love that I can use one product for two uses. It has Thieves (natural antibiotic) and peppermint essential oils along with the baking soda base. The p’mint oil makes it delightfully refreshing when applying 🙂

  5. http://Lindsey says

    Simply.Natural from
    Sioux Falls, SD makes a variety of roll on,great smelling essential oil blend if you’re looking to smell “pretty.” 🙂
    Simplynaturalbalm. Com
    Her “heal up” is an excellent, all purpose balm for everything from diaper rash, burns, mosquito bites…


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    Poisoning Yourself & Your Family: 12 Toxins in Your Personal Care Products

  2. […] you know that these products are wreaking havoc with your […]

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  9. […] your hair and clothes in personal care products that are full of toxins? There are more than 12 toxins lurking in many of your bathroom and laundry room products you would never have guessed were […]

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