Cosmetics, Chemicals and Cancer

Did you know there is lead in most lipsticks and mercury in most mascaras!? Did you know that cancer-causing phthalates, banned from use in children’s toys, are one of the most common ingredients in many skin products?  Did you know the FDA has no regulatory control over cosmetics companies, and allows them to decide their own safety standards? They don’t even have to fully label ingredients!

It is hard to believe, but it is a fact that experts say is becoming increasingly clear: most mainstream cosmetic and personal care products contain at least one hazardous chemical compound, and many contain far more than that. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 ingredients currently being used in everything from eyeliner and lipstick to shampoos and deodorants that are synthetic, unnatural, man-made chemical compounds. Many of these are assumed to be safe, but many more have been tested and proven to be dangerous and toxic. The National Institute of Occupational Safety, for example, has identified almost 900 personal care chemicals that are toxic in one way or another. Some cause cancer. Others cause hormone disruption. Some are neurotoxins. Others cause organ damage. In Europe, 1100 of these dangerous materials have been banned from consumer products. In America only 10 have been banned. Check out this excellent, comprehensive website to find exactly what chemicals are in your personal care products and exactly what health risks have been linked to each.

In a 2006 EWG study they analyzed the umbilical cord blood of hundreds of newborn infants and found an average of 300 toxic synthetic chemicals in every baby tested. This means that these mother’s bloodstreams were so full of man-made chemicals from their food, water, air, pills, vaccines, and skin products, that they’re transmitting these hundreds of toxic, unnatural, chemicals into the fresh blood of their newborns.

In 2008 EWG performed another study on 20 US teenagers who used chemical cosmetics. All of the girls tested positive in their blood stream for over a dozen known toxic chemicals used in their cosmetics. This means of course, as any dermatologist will tell you, that what goes on your skin, goes into your body, and stays there. Chemicals in lotions, soaps, moisturizers, deodorants, shampoos, gels, sunscreens, cremes, dyes, nail polish/removers, perfumes, colognes, foundations, blushes, eye shadows, eye liners, mascaras, and lipsticks, don’t just get washed away. Over 70% of what touches our skin is absorbed into our bodies.  The average American woman absorbs and gains 5 pounds of personal care products every year.

Above is Annie Leonard’s, The Story of Cosmetics, a fast-paced and informative narrated cartoon examining the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo; revealing the implications for consumer, worker and environmental health; and outlining ways we can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer alternatives (Visit to learn more about this project).

This next clip is a mainstream news segment with former Ms. America Susan Jeske who has been on a mission to alert the world to the dangers of cosmetics since she had severe health issues resulting from the toxic synthetic chemicals in her skin care and beauty products. She now travels around the US and the world talking about these issues.  Please do yourself and do your loved ones a favor today by checking the health risks of the personal care products you use at, then sharing this blog post with everyone in your email lists and social networks!  Thanks.  Peace.

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