When it comes to skin care, not all products are created equal.  Some contain ingredients that can actually damage your health if used regularly.  It’s important to become a label reader when purchasing personal care products and to avoid those products that contain harmful ingredients.  It pays to do a little research and know the ingredients in the products you’re buying.

The following list describes some of the ingredients that are commonly found in skin care products that can be harmful to our health:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Also known as sodium laureth sulfate, this is a harsh chemical cleanser that is frequently found in body washes, shampoos, facial cleansers and tooth paste.  It can be the culprit behind dry, flaky, or itchy skin.

Lead. Ugh!  Who wants to be putting lead on their body?  Unfortunately, it’s found in some lipsticks. It can accumulate with frequent use and cause lead toxicity.

Parabens. These offenders are also known as methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, and are used as preservatives.        Parabens are considered to be hormone disruptors because they can alter the estrogenic activity in your body and have been linked to breast cancer.   Parabens can be found in body washes, shampoos, conditioners, eye creams, make up, deodorants, and body and facials moisturizers.

Synthetic Dyes and Fragrances. These can increase your risk of allergies.  In addition, manufacturers can hide various chemicals under the heading of “fragrance”.  Most frequently, synthetic fragrance contains phthalates, which are hormone disruptors.  Whenever you find “fragrance” on a product label, know that it is likely adding to the chemical content of the product.

Formaldehyde. This nasty is harmful on a number of levels.  It’s a known carcinogen, can be toxic to your immune system, and can cause irritation to your respiratory tract.  Formaldehyde is found in a number of products from baby bath soap to nail polish.

Fluoride. When used in excess, fluoride may alter thyroid function, can cause irritation and toxicity. It’s found in most tooth pastes.

DEA and Cocamide DEA.  Found in shampoos, lotions, and moisturizing creams, DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, and has shown evidence of being toxic and carcinogenic.

Imidazolidinyl Urea.  This one is frequently used in combination with a paraben ingredient as a preservative system.  It can cause allergies and is harmful to your immune and nervous system.

Propylene Glycol. Classified as a toxic ingredient with restricted use in many countries, propylene glycol is a cosmetic form of mineral oil.  Found in antifreeze and brake fluid, propylene glycol can irritate your skin, eyes or lungs and can cause liver or kidney damage. It’s used to hold moisture on the skin and is found in skin care products such as lotions and moisturizers.

Paraffin and Petroleum Distillates. Made from petroleum (yuck!), these can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.  Considered possible carcinogens, petroleum distillates are restricted for use in cosmetics in Europe, but are often found in body and facial lotions, creams and moisturizers in the US.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are many more ingredients found in personal care products that are potentially harmful.  For more information and to check out the products you use, go to www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.