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Harmful Chemicals to Look Out for in Your Toiletries and Cosmetics

Learning which chemicals are harmful to skin is so important if you want to look after yourself! Did you know that most major brands use harmful chemicals which can cause more harm than good?

An organic lifestyle is about more than just eating organic foods or shopping at your local farm – the clothes we wear and the cosmetics that we use can play an equally important part.

Here are some of the chemicals you should look out for:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

A common ingredient in personal care products, sodium lauryl sulfate (or SLS)  is an additive that allows cleansing products to foam. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption.


These chemicals are among the most common that you will see on the ingredients list when out shopping for cosmetics and toiletries. Parabens can be found in shampoos and soaps, to name just a couple. You should be aware of these chemicals in all the different forms they appear – normally as part of a compound word which includes ‘paraben’. These are thought to increase your risk of cancer and can damage your skin and cause it to age quicker.


While we all like to smell nice, you can do it without having to wear a perfume which is full of chemicals. Sadly, many of the perfumes that we love and find on the shelves of our favorite department stores are full of harmful toxins and chemicals. There are more than 3000 different chemicals used to make the average perfume, and not all of them will have been tested before use. Use of parfum can cause people to develop asthma, or for those already suffering it, the symptoms can worsen.

Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

Used in many different cosmetics as a thickening agent, PEGs are thought to be carcinogenic to humans. Apart from the harm that it can cause to you, it is thought to take its time going down the drain too when you dispose of it after use. This means that long after it’s left your skin, it’s lingering around in the environment wreaking havoc in other toxic ways.


Another chemical which is often found in skin care products including chap sticks and other lip products, petrolatum is believed to contribute towards skin allergies and irritations. In certain parts of the world, use of petrolatum in beauty products has been limited since it is thought to carry chemicals which cause cancer.

Boric acid and Sodium Borate

These chemicals disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Men working in boric-acid-producing factories have a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido.

Methylisothiazolinone (MI/MIT), methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) and benzisothiazolinone (BIT)

Preservatives, commonly used in personal care products that are among the most common irritants, sensitizers and causes of contact allergy.

Triclosan and Triclocarban

These are both antimicrobial ingredients in a range of personal care products, including toothpaste and deodorant. They are linked to endocrine disruption and triclosan affects thyroid function and the proper function of reproductive hormones.


“There’s a lot of debate over whether certain aluminum compounds found in commercial antiperspirants are linked to hormone imbalance, endocrine disruption, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s,” says Rachel Winard, founder of Soapwalla, another clean beauty brand. “Others claim that there’s no basis for these fears. Either way, aluminum salts cause the skin cells to swell shut or clog them altogether, which is why you don’t sweat when you use antiperspirant. I’d argue that this isn’t particularly healthy for the skin.”

 Moral of the Story!

Always read the labels on your cosmetics and toiletries, and shop around to find organic or non-toxic alternatives. Just because a brand uses the word natural to describe their products does not always mean they do not have harmful ingredients in them. Do your research, I sure do!

Here are some clean brands that we enjoy:



I have been a professional nanny working with children of all ages for over 15 years. My work has taken me all over the globe and I have had many amazing adventures with the families that I have worked with, all of which has taught me a great deal about how to make parenting less stressful.

I helped create Mothers Lifestyle in order to share parenting tips and secrets that I learned along the way, as well as to provide life-saving tools and advice from the world’s leading experts that I rely on every day in my professional life.

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