Killer Cosmetics

env health

“Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.” That’s the age old saying passed down from mother to daughter on the secret of looking young. It’s true that hydrated skin is happy skin, but before you slather on that lotion, do you know what the ingredients can do to your body?  Not all cosmetics and body care products are created equal.

Over the past few months, I’ve been noticing that my skin is easily irritable. My sense of smell is warped. My mood is a constant roller coaster ride (but if you ask my husband, that’s a normal thing). At first I thought that it’s just my hormones, considering I’m a woman and we go through hormonal fluctuations all the time. Then I thought about my daily hygiene routine and of the various products that I use. Perhaps it’s something in the lotions, soaps, perfume, lip balm that is having an adverse effect on me. Looking at the ingredients list on my lotion bottle, I didn’t recognize any of the ingredients aside from “water” and “mineral oil.” I looked up my lotion brand on Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics database and my suspicions were confirmed. Some of my lotion’s ingredients and concerns:

Retinyl Palmitate: biochemical or cellular level changes, cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

Propylparaben: developmental/reproductive toxicity, ecotoxicology, endocrine disruption, allegies/immunotoxicity

DMDM Hydantoin: allergies/immunotixicity, irritation

Fragrance (the mysterious catch-all ingredient): ecotoxicology, allergies/immunotoxicity, irritation, organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)

For two days, I checked the ingredients of my soaps, cosmetics, lotions, scented candles, cleaning products with EWG’s database and other online sources. I was stunned by how hazardous my hygienic routine is. Some of the products that I’ve been using for years were listed as “high hazard” on EWG’s database. I can’t imagine what kind of damage has been done on my body.

Not only am I damaging my body with these products, I’m also damaging my environment. Triclosan, used in anti-bacterial hand soaps, is an endocrine disrupter, and is suspected to bioaccumulate in wildlife (“suspected” because there is not enough research/knowledge on the effects of Triclosan). The chemical has been found to accumulate in bodies of water that can end up in drinking water supplies.  I wonder what other chemicals used in cosmetics and household items end up polluting our water sources. I wonder what effects this will have on public health in the future.

Wake up. Your body care products may be killing you.

To find out more about the safety and environmental concerns of cosmetics and household items, please visit


Updated on February 26, 2013

UN report examines link between hormone-disrupting chemicals and health problems

Parents talk about chemicals: Worry is everywhere, but we ‘begged’ for convenience


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