November 17, 2019

Beauty Product Woes: Chemicals That Lurk in Your Cosmetics

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The beauty product industry in the United States is booming. According to statistical reports, in 2017, the United States alone generated over 86 billion dollars in revenue for cosmetic, fragrance and beauty product sales, followed by China at only 53 billion. Americans are spraying, wiping and applying all kinds of products on their skin, but how safe are these products? What kind of chemicals are we exposing ourselves to? Let’s look at just a few of the most concerning chemicals hiding in our beauty products.

Propylene Glycol 

Let’s just start with the fact that propylene glycol is also an ingredient in anti-freeze and paint. That alone should cause alarm bells to go off. Propylene glycol is able to penetrate the skin and when studied at high levels causes liver and kidney issues. You will likely find this worrisome chemical in your shampoo or deodorant. You can even find it in packaged food.


Formaldehyde is a gas that has a very strong smell and is commonly used in the production of cabinets, furniture and other building products. With that in mind, why is it in our cosmetics? Formaldehyde is a preservative and is used to prevent microbe growth. It has also proven to be linked to cancer and allergic reactions to the skin.


You can find phthalates in a wide range of lotions, hair products, fragrances and nail products. It is a solvent that has been linked to cancer, endocrine issues and early puberty and endometriosis. Due to the risks posed by phthalates the European Union no longer allows its use in cosmetics. Unfortunately, the United States has not followed suit.

When you think of hazardous chemicals, you might imagine a large chemical plant with large holding tanks of chemicals with a liquiflo gear pump at each end continuously moving liquid from one process to another. Maybe you envision plant workers in chemical protection suits, eye shields and hand protection, and that wouldn’t be far from reality. Chemicals that pose a strong enough risk that special machinery and hazard precautions have to be used to handle them should not be lathered on our skin or scalp. It is cause for concern and something more and more Americans are becoming aware of.