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It is estimated that the average woman applies at least 12-15 beauty products per day, including everything from makeup to nail polish, cleansers, conditioners, fragrances, skincare products, lotion, and more. Hidden in those products are hundreds of chemicals, many of which are known toxins that can disrupt health.

What’s in Your Beauty Products?

A quick scan of beauty product labels will often reveal a cocktail of difficult-to-pronounce chemicals that can wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and acts much like a sponge, absorbing what is applied to it. You not only are what you eat, you’re also what your skin eats!

Let’s take a look at some of the most common ingredients in beauty products and their potential health risks.

1. Parabens

According to the FDA, a paraben is a chemical that is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, beauty products, and less often in foods and drugs.¹ Parabens are added to products to prevent the growth of bacteria and extend shelf life. Parabens are often used in combination with each other for maximum effect. The types you’ll most often find in beauty products include:

  • methylparaben
  • propylparaben
  • butylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • isobutylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben

These chemicals are hormonally disruptive. An article published in Scientific American states:

Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. Research has shown that the perceived influx of estrogen beyond normal levels can in some cases trigger reactions such as increasing breast cell division and the growth of tumors.²

Parabens have also been linked to fertility issues, increased risk of cancer (particularly breast cancer), lower testosterone levels, skin irritation and reactions, and neurological problems.³

2. Heavy Metals

Lead, titanium dioxide, aluminum, and other heavy metals are prevalent in many beauty products and can contribute to heavy metal toxicity. A report from the FDA cited the discovery of lead in nearly 400 brands of lipstick.⁴ Did you know that the average woman will consume 4 to 9 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime? While this number will vary depending on the woman and the amount of lipstick applied, it’s clear that lip products do not “evaporate” upon application. They are often smudged and eaten. That means that any heavy metals or other chemicals in your lip products are making their way into your body too!

High lead levels can lead to cardiovascular issues, nervous system disruption, decreased kidney function, and fertility problems.⁵ Titanium dioxide and aluminum, often added to SPF makeup and deodorant, are also linked to health complications including lung disease and cancer.

3. Teflon

Believe it or not, Teflon can be found in personal care products, not just non-stick cookware. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found Teflon in 66 different products from 15 different brands.⁶ Created with PFAS chemicals (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), Teflon can cause damage to the immune system and liver, and contribute to delayed development in children.

4. Crude Oil Derivatives 

Many beauty and personal care products are formulated with ingredients processed from crude oil (petroleum). These ingredients are referred to as petrochemicals. According to Au Naturale, a clean cosmetic company committed to creating vegan, organic, paraben-free, and ethical makeup, common petroleum-derived ingredients to avoid include:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Mineral oil
  • Toluene
  • Benzene
  • Anything with PEG (polyethylene glycol)
  • Anything with DEA (diethanolamine) or MEA (ethanolamine)
  • Butanol and any word with butyl: butyl alcohol, butylparaben, butylene glycol
  • Any word with propyl—isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, propyl alcohol, etc.
  • Parfum or fragrance—95 percent of chemicals used in fragrance are from petroleum⁸

Simple Swaps: Start Somewhere

It’s crucial to know what’s in your personal care products. Read labels before you buy and use your purchases to let large corporations know what you value as a consumer.

At The Wellness Way, we encourage our patients to reduce their toxic exposure whenever possible in an effort to support the body’s return to restored health. As is the case with avoiding pesticides in food or chemical-laden cleaning supplies, avoiding toxic personal care products is an important step in the health restoration process.

  • Start somewhere by beginning to read the labels of the products you use. Swap products with chemicals for healthier alternatives. To support you in your research, we highly recommend EWG’s Skin Deep database, which rates thousands of products on a scale of 1-10 based on a variety of health safety factors.
  • Be skeptical of product claims when reading labels. Many companies will remove the “common” hazardous ingredients like BPA or parabens but replace them with more obscure (but equally toxic) alternatives.
  • Support companies (like Au Naturale) who are creating cleaner product lines. Give your business to companies that value the health of their customers and prioritize product safety over profits.
  • Replace chemical-based perfumes with essential oils. Not only will you be avoiding toxic chemicals, but you’ll also be reaping the health-promoting qualities of high quality aromatic essential oils!

Detox Support

If you’re concerned about toxin exposure from beauty product use, we’re here to help! At The Wellness Way, we specialize in guiding our patients to their most vibrant health, often through customized detoxes carefully monitored by our doctors. A guided detox can help alleviate the burden placed on an individual by various toxic influences encountered in daily life. Our skilled practitioners go beyond symptoms-based care and address our patients’ unique physiology in ways that facilitate a return to total body wellness.

Reach out to a clinic near you to learn more about how we can support you on your journey to restored health!


¹FDA: Parabens in Cosmetics

²Scientific American: Should People Be Concerned About Parabens in Beauty Products?

³EWG: What Are Parabens?

FDA: Limiting Lead in Lipstick and Other Cosmetics 

NIH: Lead

EWG: Skin Deep Database

ATSDR: What Are the Health Effects of PFAS?

Au Naturale: Ingredients to Watch for in Your Lipstick


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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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