Staying healthy and beautiful is the goal of many people. It doesn’t sound paradoxical, but if you choose a wrong way in the pursuing of the both, you may have the risk of losing both of them.

Poisonous cosmetic, for example, is such a pitfall. Are you sure about your lotion? Is your nail polish safe? What is in your makeup? If you have never think about these questions, think about them now, because even many well-known cosmetic brands have been reported of toxic ingredients in recent years. As we know, skin is the largest organ in our body.

It can absorb the substances we apply just as the digestive tract can absorb the food we eat. Although there are many sacrifices to be made for beauty, your life shouldn’t be one of them. So the first thing we should do before we buy a new bottle of lotion or perfume is to read the ingredient labels.

There are many common toxic cosmetic ingredients in skin care and cosmetics to avoid, such as Dioxane (二恶烷), Parabens (苯甲酸酯类), Toluene (甲苯), Triclosan (三氯生) and Sulphates (硫酸盐), Propylene Glycol (丙二醇), Phenol Carbolic acid (苯酚/石炭酸) and Paraffin (石蜡) to name a few.


Dioxane is a by-product of many ingredients such as laureth, polysorbates, PEG and ethoxylated alcohols. It is a synthetic derivative of coconut, which has been linked to certain cancers. The liver and nasal passages are most vulnerable.


Parabens come in the form of etyl, methyl, butyl and propyl. They are most often used as preservatives, and due to their low cost they are used extensively in many skin care, cosmetics and ‘beauty’ products. As they mimic human estrogen, these products have been linked to breast cancer, although there has been no conclusive proof to date. It is advisable to avoid products that include these ingredients.

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Toluene has been shown to be extremely poisonous and is well known to cause damage to the central nervous system. It can also cause a lowered blood cell count, anaemia and damage to the liver and kidneys. Studies have shown that pregnant women who have been exposed to toluene have given birth to babies with various abnormalities and deformities. When used on the skin Toluene breaks down the skin’s natural protective layers, resulting in dry, itchy skin and rashes.


Triclosan is used as an ‘antibacterial’ agent in many soap, detergents, deodorants, acne treatments, toothpastes and mouth washes. It has the potential to disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system and thyroid-effecting hormone levels. It reacts with the chlorine found in drinking water, and forms into dioxins, which have been shown to be a probable cause of many cancers.


Common toxic ingredients in skin care and cosmetics to avoid are sulphates such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES). These are foaming agents most commonly used in shampoos, soaps and bubble baths and products that produce a foam or lather.

These ingredients are derived from the ‘sulphuric acid’ family and have been developed as oil-stripping agents. They strip and deplete the natural oils from the skin and hair and may cause skin irritations such as rashes, dryness, roughness and flaking of the skin.


Propylene Glycol, a common toxic ingredient in skin care and cosmetics, is included in anti-aging creams and is also used in brake fluid, anti-freeze and photographic chemicals. Propylene Glycol, when used on the skin, is a potential skin irritant and cancer-causing agent that has been linked to kidney and liver problems and may even inhibit cell growth within the body.

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Phenol Carbolic Acid is found in many skin creams and lotions, hair dyes and sunscreens. It is a product made from the distillation of coal tar, and can be made synthetically also. Phenol Carbolic acid may cause convulsions, paralysis, circulatory collapse, coma and possibly even death due to respiratory failure.


These petroleum based products coat the skin and clog the pores and create a build-up of toxins which can slow and distort cellular development and create premature signs of ageing. Petroleum based products have been implicated as a major cause of eczema and similar skin conditions, and are a suspected cause of some cancers. These toxic ingredients in skin care products can also disrupt normal hormonal activity.

We’ve learned to read nutritional labels on the foods we choose; it’s time we all become more literate in the lingo of poisonous cosmetic ingredients as well. Acquainting yourself with the potentially hazardous chemicals can help you to make more informed shopping decisions when buying personal care products.

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