Reading labels on beauty products is just as important as reading those on food

as toxic ingredients lurk in even the most “natural” brands.  Avoid these worst offenders, and you will be on the road to a truly clean, natural beauty routine.

 The top 5 to watch out for



Even those listed as “natural” can be a concoction of over 500 different chemicals that have been linked to everything from birth defects to cancer. According to the Environmental Working Group “…the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.” For a safe and natural fragrance, stick with organic essential oils.

Propylene Glycol

“This active ingredient is found in engine coolants and antifreeze, airplane de-icers, tire sealants, rubber cleaners, polyurethane cushions, paints, adhesives, enamels and varnishes, and in many products as a solvent or surfactant.

And guess what? Despite the fact the material safety data sheet warns users to avoid skin contact with propylene glycol, as it is a strong skin irritant and can also cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage, it’s “more than likely in your shampoo!”-Dr. Joseph  Mercola.

Parabens (methyl/butyl/propylparaben, or anything ending in “paraben”)

This preservative, found in most beauty products, mimics estrogen and has been linked to breast cancer. Doctors are finding a high amount of parabens in cancerous breast tissue, which has been cause for concern. Also, watch for it in baby products. Many baby products can contain up to three different types of parabens. This is especially dangerous for children, as they have thinner skin that is more absorbent than adults.


This harsh detergent is what creates the lather in shampoo. Not only is it toxic when used topically, it is also the cause of many skin disorders, ranging from eczema to inflammation of the scalp. It also causes the scalp to overproduce oil, creating an environment perfect for oily/dry/itchy scalp conditions and infections.

Diethanolamine or DEA

“In a recent FDA report, approximately 42% of all cosmetics were contaminated with NDEA, with shampoos having the highest concentrations. DEA also readily reacts with nitrite preservatives and contaminants to create nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a known and potent carcinogen.

This is a big problem because DEA seems to block absorption of the nutrient choline, which is vital to brain development. Pregnant women actually require extra choline so they can pass it onto their fetus.

An associate dean for research at the UNC School of Public Health mentioned that choline is necessary to help provide proper nutrients for a healthy baby; stating that, “At this point it is a caution. But it would probably be prudent to look at labels and try to limit exposure until we know more.””-Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Making sure these ingredients are not in any of your beauty products will lower your risk for a variety of diseases and disorders including: cancer, diabetes, low thyroid function and other hormone-related illnesses, as well as hair loss and skin problems. Avoiding these ingredients is a great first step to cleaning up your beauty routine. Not only will you be exposing you–and your children–to fewer toxins, but your hair and skin will likely look and feel better as well.