Mindful Wellness

Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics and Skin Care Products

August 19, 2016

As a young child with wide-eyed vision and huge ideas, I dreamed of discovering the cure for cancer.  I grew up in northern Indiana with a very large extended family and that dreaded disease took its toll on numerous family members and friends.  Somehow I knew way back then that the human body was not able to handle the many harmful chemicals we were being exposed to in our foods and in our environment, and that this was the key to discovering a cure. 

As a biology major in college, my goal was to go into medicine.  I was in awe of the human body and how this amazing, well-oiled machine, with its complex systems, works to keep us healthy. Life took me in a different direction and although a career in medicine didn’t pan out I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband of 41 years, two happy healthy children and two wonderful grandchildren. 

When a health and wellness company entered my life four years ago my original passion was renewed.  Arbonne has given me what I’d dreamed of for years – an opportunity to educate and help people to live their healthiest by making simple lifestyle changes.

Thank YOU for taking the time right now to educate yourself.  “With knowledge comes power.”

Our skin is the largest organ of the body and it is part of our immune system.  It emits toxins and absorbs nutrients from the air.  I’ll admit that wasn’t terribly exciting until I learned that what we put onto our skin enters our bloodstream in 26 seconds!  We absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin, and children’s bodies absorb 40-50% more than adults, making them at higher risk for disease.  Think about what our skin comes into contact with every day - lotions, household cleansers, sunscreens, bug repellants, not to mention things in the environment.  We are bombarded by harsh chemicals!   

The kicker is that what absorbs through our skin does not go through any type of filtration process and is quickly in our blood stream circulating through our body.  For this reason these are actually the most dangerous toxins we come in contact with, more so than what’s in our food or what’s in the air, yet they typically get the least amount of our attention.

A Toxic Chemical is defined by the EPA as any substance which may be harmful to the environment or to your health if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.

When we are impacted by toxic chemicals, it can cause inflammation in the body.  And, inflammation can lead to about 60 diseases that we don’t want to get.  (One of the many reasons to go see Jacky to get a thermography scan!)  A thermography reading can show inflammation in the body before it becomes a health risk, and by making some important lifestyle changes it is possible to reverse that risk. 

Let’s talk a bit about current legislation.  The government is supposed to protect us, right?

In 1976 the Toxic Substance Control Act was passed in the U.S.  This act has never been updated and it is badly broken.  There is no oversight on the rapidly expanding production of chemicals and the EPA has little power to remove hazardous chemicals already in use.  There may be as many as 80,000 chemicals in consumer products and the majority have never been tested.

Since 2004 the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics coalition, a project of the Breast Cancer Fund, has pressured companies about toxic chemicals and educated the public.  This has led to increased demand for safer products and hundreds of companies are now disclosing ingredients and avoiding the use of cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive toxicants, and unsafe chemicals.  

There is a recent bill, the Lautenberg Act, passed by Congress, that is awaiting signature.  This is chemical safety legislation which gives the EPA the tools to require testing of all new and existing chemicals.   

There is movement in the right direction but much more work to do to effectively get rid of the toxic chemicals. 

For the purpose of this discussion, I’ve listed the most harmful toxic ingredients that can be found in U.S. formulated personal care products, where you might find these ingredients, and their potential health risks.  When we start paying attention to what is in our products, we are steps ahead in helping ourselves and our loved ones to live healthier as smarter, informed consumers.  

Parabens  BHT/BHA

  • Usage: as preservatives, in deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, facial cleansers, body washes and scrubs
  • Health risks: can mimic estrogen, can increase cell growth in breast cancer, melanoma, organ-system toxicity, endocrine disruption

Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfates

  • Usage:  in car washes, engine degreasers and 90% of personal-care products that create suds - soaps, shampoos, toothpaste
  • Health risks: eye damage, depression, skin irritation, can damage immune system, capable of changing DNA, has been found in breast cancer tumors, sterility, hormone imbalances


  • Usage:  Fragrances in cosmetics, sunscreens, soaps, shampoos, deodorant, lotions, scrubs, and perfumes
  • Health risks: can cause obesity, disrupt normal endocrine function

      increase risk of breast cancer, reduce fertility, genital malformation in baby boys, allergies, asthma in children


  • Usage:  Skin lighteners in women of color
  • Health risks: cancer, immune system damage, reproductive and developmental harm

Carbon Black

  • Usage:  Dark powder used in eye liners, mascara, and lipsticks
  • Health risks: increased risk of cancer

Mineral Oil/Petrolatum

  • Usage:  byproduct of petroleum refining, illegal in Switzerland in beauty products, found in nearly every personal care product in US
  • Health risks: primary concern is cancer, makes women Estrogen dominant – throws off hormone levels causing depression, weight gain, thyroid problems, blocks pores from releasing toxins (toxins are found in lymphoid and breast tissue of breast cancer patients), blocks skin from receiving moisture – dryness, #2 cause of aging (1996 John Hopkins Study)

Formaldehyde-donating preservatives

  • Usage:  found in nail polish, soaps, baby soaps, deodorant, shaving cream, eyelash adhesive, shampoos
  • Health risks: linked to skin and respiratory irritations, eye irritation, cancer, immune system damage, genetic damage, triggering asthma


  • Usage:  soaps, toothpaste, deodorants, tooth whitening products, shaving products, cosmetics
  • Health risks: hormone disruption, antibiotic resistance, may interfere with fetal development


  • Usage: to absorb moisture and add sparkle in eye shadow, blush, baby products, deodorant and soaps
  • Health risks:  human carcinogen, has been directly related to ovarian cancer, can act like asbestos when inhaled-may lead to lung tumors

Synthetic Dyes

  • Usage:  FD&C Color and Pigments – soaps, shampoos, shaving products, baby products
  • Health risks:  from coal tar that contain heavy metal salts and deposit toxins on skin, depletion of oxygen and death, carcinogenic in animals

Although a surprisingly high number of well-known companies take shortcuts in their product formulations using multiple harsh and harmful ingredients known to be carcinogenic and otherwise detrimental to our health, I am happy to report that there are companies that truly care about our safety and are committed to developing unparalleled products free of harmful ingredients. 

Arbonne is one such company.  Now in its 37th year this Swiss-based, Cincinnati-led company uses European formula standards that are the strictest in the world.  Arbonne’s promise to the public is that each of its 400 plus botanically-based products is “Pure, Safe, and Beneficial”.  They offer a wide-range of personal care products, cutting-edge anti-aging, detox, cosmetics, and a complete line of nutritional products that are safe for babies to baby boomers.

Safety depends on a company’s commitment to testing.  Arbonne uses independent labs and is diligent and unwavering in their promise to provide Pure, Safe, Beneficial products.

Be Proactive

Read Labels

Safeguard your Family’s Health


I am so thankful for the opportunity to provide what I hope is valuable information to you in this article.  It would be my absolute pleasure to help you on your health journey and quest for safe, effective products.    


Cheryl Keitel, Arbonne Independent Consultant

Consultant ID19800284, 513-305-5232

Cherylkeitel.arbonne.com, Cheryl.keitel@gmail.com



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