Harmful Chemicals in Hair Care and Skin Care Products

It makes my head spin just thinking about this topic, the number of synthetic and chemical ingredients that go into hair and skin care products is enormous. The scary part is… many of the chemicals have never been tested for human safety… hmmmm, and we’re slathering this stuff all over our bodies!? Yikes!

I stopped buying commercial skin and hair products twenty years ago. I had to stop… I couldn’t stand the poor results, the high cost, the amount of product needed (making even the cheaper brands FAR more expensive because I needed to use so much of the junk), the smells (YUCK!), and the fact that the ingredients are toxic chemicals. At the same time, I was beginning to get into higher quality essential oils – and am I glad that I did. Bringing them into my life and learning how to use them has been one of the smarter things I’ve done for myself. I cannot tell you how free-ing it is to not be in that consumer rat-trap and a part of the crowd that is locked into that whole system of really awful products, yes that includes the much more expensive brands too (which I once bought also).

I don’t really understand why the majority of the population is still locked into that trap, perhaps it’s due to human habit. I do know this, I am sooo glad that I found my way out of it… with the economy tanking, health care costs rising, the last thing I want in my life are products that WILL make me ill and/or diseased.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been using Young Living Essential Oils shampoo/conditioner. They have three really super quality shampoo’s & conditioners: Lavender, Lemon-Sage, and Rosewood. Yes, the price is high but I use so little – the conditioner, I probably only need to buy 4 bottles a year – that’s a whole lot cheaper than Suave and Pantene (which I refuse to put on my hair due to the nasty chemicals). I believe one 8 oz. bottle of the Young Living shampoo lasts me a little over two months, I think that’s amazing. My hair is soft, shiny and in really nice shape (I never blow dry my hair, that’s way too damaging, instead I wash my hair at night and let it air dry). The YL hair care smell fabulous – they contain the YL therapeutic-grade essential oils and the best part, they don’t have any chemicals that are going to create health problems!

It’s the same with the Young Living skin car products, they smell amazing (like REAL essential oils, not those chemically derived essential oils found in other products). My skin looks better now than it did 20 years ago! I attribute that 100% to the the products I refuse to use. I used to spend a small fortune on creams and things for my face and body, cheap brands and expensive. None of them yielded the results I truly wanted – clean, clear, near perfect looking skin. I got those results when I stopped using skin care products and started using essential oils and a few of the YL skin care products.

By the way, essential oils are NOT created equally! The vast majority are nothing more than chemicals or adulterated with chemicals – which you certainly do NOT want to apply to your skin or breathe. So, do not be tempted to buy oils that are cheap – they will not save you any money and they will not be safe to use in the same way we use the Young Living oils. In other words, you will NOT get the same results.

If you suffer from allergies, skin problems (dandruff, dry flaky skin, etc), and related health issues… take a look at your labels. Your problems are more than likely a result of the chemicals in the skin, hair, and household cleaning products you’re using.

8 Harmful Chemicals in Skin & Hair Care Products

Listed below are the 8 chemicals on the “most harmful” list – there are thousands more! But these 8 chemicals we most want to see OFF labels of skin and hair care products. Read your labels and avoid these harmful, toxic chemicals and you’ll save so much money all the way around, particularly in regards to health care costs!

1. Propylene Glycol – This is a cheap, synthetic petrochemical used as a emulsifying base in creams and lotions to make the skin look smooth, but ultimately it ages the skin faster. The Material Safety Data Sheet tells you to avoid skin contact with it because it’s a skin irritant! It can denature the skin’s protein, leading to poor, saggy skin. It can be absorbed through your skin and potentially cause allergic reactions, and liver and kidney damage.

2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This harsh, caustic detergent is used because it’s cheap and suds well. It’s used as an engine degreaser and garage floor cleaner but you’ll also find it in shampoo, soap, facial cleanser, etc. Research shows that SLS has a degenerative effect on the cell membranes and denatures protein such as in hair or skin.

This can damage skin or hair, leading to aged skin and poor hair. SLS can corrode hair follicles and inhibit hair growth, contributing to hair loss. SLS has the potential to cause cataracts (through skin absorption, even without direct eye contact). SLS can denature the protein of the eyes and delay the healing time of the eyes. From skin contact, SLS can be absorbed into your circulation and concentrate in your organs, such as your heart, liver or brain. This is potentially dangerous since SLS is a mutagen, capable of changing the information in the genetic material of your cell and organs.

3. Mineral Oil – This cheap, petroleum-based oil clogs the skin’s pores and enlarges them, leading to poor, saggy skin. It decreases the ability of the skin cells to exchange nutrients and waste products. Those allergic to petroleum products may develop skin irritations.

4. Fragrance – When the word “fragrance” is listed on a label, it means a synthetic fragrance made in a test tube from any of over 200 synthetic chemicals. These “fragrance” chemicals, which can bio-accumulate in your organs, can cause many symptoms, such as headaches, lung problems, skin irritation, dizziness, memory impairment, rash, and more. They are very cheap, toxic imitations of real herbal scents.

5. Parabens (Propyl, Methyl, Butyl, or Ethyl) – These cheap preservatives are used to inhibit microbial growth in skin care or hair products even though they are known to be highly toxic. They have caused many allergic and skin reactions.

6. Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl Urea – These are the most commonly used preservatives after the parabens. They are an established cause of contact dermatitis (American Academy of Dermatology) and release formaldehyde (a toxic chemical).

7. Synthetic Colors – Synthetic colors are used in skin cream or shampoo to make it colorful. Avoid them at all costs, along with hair dyes (with the exception of some henna products). They can cause allergy, skin and nerve problems. Synthetic colors are labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a number and color.

8. Triethanolamine (TEA) – Often used in the base of a product and to adjust the pH. TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and can be toxic if absorbed into the body over time.

Get Young Living Essential Oils and Products Here!

Related articles by Evelyn Vincent:

Hair and Scalp Problems Helped by Essential Oils

Dandruff, Itching, Flakey Scalp – may be caused by a fungus or imbalance in Omega 3s & 6s

60 Ways to Use YL Therapeutic-grade Essential Oils

Air Fresheners and Dryer Sheets Make Me Feel Sick

Gender Benders – Phthalates in Personal care Products

Edible and Highly Effective Dental Care Products

All-Natural Soaps

2 thoughts on “Harmful Chemicals in Hair Care and Skin Care Products

  1. Thank you for this information. However, there are no sources listed citing where you got this information on the “most harmful list “. This, along with your mention of a specific organic product to buy makes me question if you have actually done independent research of chemical effects or you’re merely paraphrasing someone else’s opinion to promote a product.

    Hi Anonymous,

    Sources of this information are all over the internet today. I personally have not done any lab research because I’m not a lab tech, but I do site information from reputable sources that do have lab access and skills to perform such work.

    I don’t need to be “merely paraphrasing someone else’s opinion to promote a product” – the science is out there.

    A few years ago I went into a popular box store to read the ingredients on personal care products sold these days. I even brought my magnifying glass to avoid eye-strain from reading the super print of ingredients lists – that is IF the ingredients were even listed at all.

    I haven’t bought box store personal care products in over 25 years because even back then they were loaded with very toxic ingredients – and they haven’t gotten any better as I discovered on that trip to the store to do nothing more than ‘read labels.’

    I was absolutely appalled by what I found out. There were even products claiming to be “Organic” and they didn’t have one speck of anything organic in them! It was even worst in regards to products claiming to be “all-natural.”

    I was in the store reading labels for 4 hours! I walked out sick to my stomach because of being in the stores around so many toxic chemical scents from these products – but also sick to my stomach because companies are allowed to manufacture such poisonous stuff and them flat out lie to the consumer through their false advertising.

    So something I knew over 25 years ago was still more true than ever – the stuff, even for babies is poisonous and/or hazardous.

    I could not find at that popular box store even ‘one’ personal care product that did not contain any ingredients that are known to be hazardous, not a single one – even those with “organic” and “all-natural” on the label.

    I have nothing whatsoever to do with the studies below, they are not performed by anyone who I have any influence over, they are not performed by Young Living – they are independently done.

    I will provide ‘some’ sources here so I don’t spend the rest of my life replying to this comment (not trying to be a wise-guy – it’s just that there are literally billions of studies proving what I wrote that are easily obtainable to the average person, well at least for the moment there are – one day they may not be so available to the consumer because big companies don’t like it when word gets around that they are essentially slowly poisoning the masses and they look like nothing more than big fat liars).

    Propylene Glycol
    The Ugly Face of Our Cosmetics
    Looking Good Can Be Hazardous
    Environmental Impacts of Propylene Glycol
    PubMed – toxicity of Propylene Glycol

    Is an ingredient in over 11,000 commonly used products – I’ll bet it’s in most of the personal care products you have in your bathroom right now. I could go on for hours putting links in for reputable sources on Propylene Glycol alone.

    Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

    PubMed – toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
    The Case for Nontoxic Shampoos and Conditioners and Hair Coloring
    Carcinogens in “Organic” Personal Care Products

    Mineral Oil

    Resolve This Year to Upgrade Cosmetics to Eo-friendly Brands
    Pesticide Database and scroll down to the section on “Signs and Symptoms of Mineral Oil Poisoning and click on the Source for Symptoms Hazardous Substances Data Bank, National Library of Medicine, Bethseda, MD. July 2002 – they have a lovely WordDoc on the symptoms of mineral oil symptoms that are found in personal care products.
    Organic Consumers Association – 10 Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid
    PubMed alone has 316 studies on the toxicity of Mineral Oil alone

    I could go one for hours and hours just on mineral oil too – it’s all right out there, no one is hiding the scientific studies.


    PubMed – a search on Fragrance Toxicity yields 440 scientific studies
    One Out of Five Cosmetics May be Contaminated With Cancer-Causing Impurity
    Studies done on Fragrances for: allergies / immunotoxicity and neurotoxicity = a HIGH Hazard
    A list of common brands that contain “Fragrances” – check it out, even brands that claim to be natural are on the list, hundreds of them!

    Again, the science is out there and there is tons of it.

    Some of the most toxic Paraben’s

    Methylparaben – extremely hazardous and is in at least 17,618 commonly used products!

    Propylparaben – in 15,726 common products.

    BHT – is another one of extremely high hazard and is in at least 5,000 commonly used products.

    Sodium Methylparaben – another one that’s highly toxic and is in 277 commonly used products.

    Imidazolidinyl and Diazolidinyl Urea

    An ingredient used in “Fragrances”- is in over 20,000 commonly used products and scores in toxicity an 8 out of 10 (10 being wildly toxic).

    Triethanolamine (TEA)

    Is in over 5,000 commonly used personal care products.
    At least 13 studies of toxicity on PubMed

    I could sit here for the rest of my life producing studies on the mentioned ingredients – but I’m not going to as I have work to do. You can research for yourself. I can tell you this much, you will not find anyone anywhere claiming that these studies are false or that these aren’t some of the most toxic ingredients found in everyday personal care products.

    Additionally, I never said the products I sell are organic – to clarify what I said – the products I sell do not contain any known hazards ingredients.

    The only part of the Young Living products that are above (the now lax) USDA organic qualifications and standards are the Young Living essential oils, which are in all of our products.

    I’m not trying to tell you you have to buy my products. I’m saying… here are the facts (in case you don’t know), if you want to avoid the known health risks associated with using them, here is a more healthy solution.

    I sell a product I believe in ‘not’ because someone told me to use it. I read the label and inquired before I became a customer (over 11 years ago). I became a customer because I knew the difference.

    I began selling Young Living oils and products (over 4 years ago) because, sorry, Young Living is by far the best out there. I am a purest, not a blind follower.

    I’d use Young Living and even recommend it even if I wasn’t selling it. As a matter of fact, I recommended Young Living for 6 years before I began selling it (makes me wonder if I should have done it as a business sooner because other distributors were making the commissions on people I knew, live and learn I guess).

    There is no way, you would ever get me to buy the stuff sold in stores, that’s how bad it is. Personally, I’d rather have filthy hair than use something like Pantene or any of the others on shelves.

    I have to get back to work here, hope this is enough info and sources to help you find your way around stores shelves and empower you to make choices that are right for you. ~ Evelyn

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