The Ugly Truth About Beauty Products

The desire to look and feel beautiful begins when we are mere children. As little girls we love to play dress up. We would look into the mirror and pretend to be little princesses and squeal with excitement, as mom and dad would tell us we were “so pretty.” Most women by the time they are in their twenties begin to think about healthy wrinkle free skin and luscious locks. We research the best shampoos, conditioners, face wash, moisturizers, make-up and body washes all in the hopes to maintain our youthful glow and vibrancy. We have put our faith and trust into the beauty industry that they would only provide us the very best in ingredients and products. The truth is, only 11% of the ingredients used in cosmetics have been tested for safety. 33% of the ingredients used in cosmetics have been linked to cancer. 45% contain ingredients that are harmful to the reproductive system and to a baby’s development and 60% have ingredients that mimic estrogen and disrupt hormones. We absorb 60% of what we put on our skin. This makes it vital that we are aware of what we are putting on our skin and how it is affecting our health.

Breast cancer, heart disease, birth defects, memory loss and depression are just a few of the many health conditions that have been linked to the toxic 12 found in many beauty products. Several years ago, former Miss America beauty queen Susan Jeske developed severe health issues. After going to a holistic doctor who told her that her beauty products were making her sick, she went to all organic natural products. After only 2 weeks her health issues were all cleared up. Now Susan is on a mission to help educate men and women about the products that they are using and how they could possibly be making them sick.

What really is in our products? Let's take a look at the toxic 12 and educate ourselves with what we are really putting on our skin and how it is affecting our health. Now is the time to take a new look at beauty.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient commonly used in acne products. The University of Oxford Department of Chemistry states, “Facilitates action of known carcinogens. … Possible tumor promoter. May act as mutagen; produces DNA damage in human and other mammalian cells in some concentrations. Also, toxic by inhalation. May be harmful if swallowed and in contact with skin. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.”

DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA ( Monoethanolamine), And TEA (Triethanolamine)

These ingredients are ammonia compounds used as a foam boosters or emulsifiers. They are added into products to control the PH level of products and to help water-soluble and oil-soluble ingredients blend together. Ethanolamines are found in bubble baths, body wash, shampoos, soaps, facial cleansers, eyeliner, mascara, blush, make up bases, foundations, fragrances, hair dye, hair care products, shaving products and sunscreens. DEA, MEA, and TEA are known skin and eye irritants and can cause contact dermatitis. DEA, MEA, and TEA are easily absorbed through the skin and can accumulate in body organs such as the brain. Repeated use of these ingredients can cause liver and kidney cancer. Finding products that do not contain ethanolamines can be very difficult in your typical grocery or drug store. Shop online for organic or go to a health food store to find products that are ethanolamine free.


Dioxin refers to a group of dioxin-like chemical compounds that share similar chemical structures. They all contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine. Dioxin is an ingredient that you will not see listed on the ingredient list but if you use cotton balls, facial tissues, toilet tissue, sanitary pads, and tampons (all of which make close contact with your body) you may be exposed to dioxins. These pollutants are created unintentionally as a by-product of municipal waste incineration and burning of fuels. Chlorinated dioxins are also formed by the bleaching process of cotton balls, facial tissue, toilet paper, sanitary pads and tampons. Exposure to dioxins has shown to have serious health risks such as reproductive damage, birth defects, miscarriage and cancer. Avoiding products that have gone through the chlorine process is best. Look for TCF (totally chlorine free) products and products bleached with hydrogen peroxide.

DMDM Hydantoin and Urea (Imidazolidinyl)

These ingredients are used as a preservative and often slowly release formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. The effects of formaldehyde exposure can cause joint pain, cancer, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pain, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Inhalation of formaldehyde can cause respiratory distress, trigger heart palpitations, asthma, or coughs.

FD&C Color and Pigments

Synthetic colors derived from coal tar contain heavy metal salts that deposit into the skin. Coal tar is commonly used in shampoos made to combat dandruff or dry skin/scalp. It also has been used as a color in cosmetics and hair dye. FD&C color pigments can cause skin sensitivity, rashes, hives, allergies and cancer. Look on your labels for FD, FDC, and FD&C.

Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)

Parabens are another ingredient used as a preservative used specifically to extend shelf life. Parabens are known as xenoestrogens. These chemicals are false estrogen found in pesticides, herbicides, cosmetics and skin care. These chemicals bind with receptors in our cells causing our bodies to change the way they should function. These parabens are used in deodorant and antiperspirants and have been found in breast cancer tumors. May also cause sterility in mice and humans, hormone imbalance for women and early puberty.

PEG (Polyethylene glycol)

PEG is made from the same chemical that is used to create anti-freeze, hydraulic fluids, and solvents. Unsafe levels of dioxins have been found in PEG from the ethoxylation process. PEG helps to penetrate products deeper into the skin, which allows an increased amount of other chemicals and toxins to reach the blood stream. PEG’s can be found in almost all products from skin care, baby products and sunscreens.


Petroleum is commonly used in lip balm and baby products. Made from mineral oil jelly, Petroleum can cause sun sensitivity and it can interfere with the bodies own ability to moisturize leading to unhealthy dehydrated skin. May contain impurities linked to breast cancer.

Phthalates (DBP)

This chemical is under scientific scrutiny because of the high levels found in all women of reproductive age. Phthalates are absorbed through the skin, ingested and/or inhaled. DBP’s are in everything from skin care to cosmetics, to nail polish to perfume. Studies have shown that Phthalates damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, testes, early breast development in boys and girls, and can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system.

Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol

These ingredients are used as a surfactant or wetting agent. The Environmental Protective Agency considers PG to be so toxic they require people to use protective gloves and goggles when using products with this ingredient. The EPA warns that skin contact with PG can cause brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

These two ingredients are commonly used in shampoos and other foaming cosmetics to create lather. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfates are also used in car washes, garage floor cleaners, and engine degreasers. Animals that had been exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, labored breathing, diarrhea, skin irritation, damage to the immune system and in some cases even cause death. SLS also contributes to hair loss, rashes, dandruff and allergies. Be aware that SLS and SLES are frequently disguised in cosmetics with the term “derived from coconut.”


Triclosan is a synthetic antibacterial ingredient with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange. Studies have linked Triclosan to many health effects from skin irritation, endocrine disruption, and thyroid malfunctions. Hundreds of consumer products contain triclosan such as: antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpaste and cosmetics.

Beauty Redefined

The desire to look and feel young and beautiful is real. We want good products that will help us to achieve the fountain of youth, but while on the journey to a younger you make sure you know what you are using. Many products claim to do great things for our skin and hair, yet the very ingredients that the manufacturer uses can bring us much harm. Don’t let this keep you from your beauty pursuits. Make sure you are reading labels and staying educated on what cosmetic companies are using. There are many organic and natural products out there that will help you to have the results you are looking for, but it will require a little more work and research to find.

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