Toxin Free Beauty + Body

Toxic Beauty: 5 Dangerous Chemicals in Your Beauty Products

Getting gorgeous shouldn’t give you cancer.

That’s a tough statement to disagree with, right!?

Yet most conventional beauty products are LOADED with harmful chemicals that have been linked to infertility, hormone disruption, and yes, even cancer.

Toxic Beauty: 5 dangerous chemicals hiding in your beauty products

I don’t know about you but no pretty face is worth infertility.

It was 2006 when I first started to detox my beauty and body routine, and wow, it was overwhelming.

It took over a year to get a handle on what was dangerous and why, what was safe and what wasn’t, and how to find products that weren’t trying to kill me.

To make everything more complex many “natural” brands simply aren’t. The label is virtually meaningless and many companies do include harmful chemicals in their “natural” products.

A few of these toxic chemicals are banned in some countries (mostly in Europe and Canada), but none are banned in all.

I know you are here because you want a healthier life.

I also know you are busy building that awesome life of yours so I don’t want you to spend years trying to sort out what’s dangerous and why (like I did). You don’t have time for that and that’s exactly why I started Filtered Family. To make this kind of stuff so easy that anyone can make the lifestyle changes without sacrificing hours of research or thousands of dollars in coaching and sketchy products.

In this part one of the Dangerous Beauty Series I’m helping you get to bottom of what’s safe and what isn’t from your head to your tippy toes. Because that’s just how I roll.

Okay ladies and gents (yep this is for the fellas too) let’s do this!

Here is the busy person’s guide to, Toxic Beauty: 5 Dangerous Chemicals Hiding in Your Beauty and Body Products.


Toxic Beauty Chemical #1: Fragrance

Also listed on labels as: Perfume, aroma, and parfum.

Linked to, known as, or causes: Endocrine disruption, organ system toxicity, skin and eye irritants, nervous system damage, and carcinogen (cancer causing) [1].

Why is it dangerous: “Fragrance” is an umbrella terms for a whole bunch of chemicals.  According to the International Fragrance Association in 2011 there were 2,947 compounds used to make Fragrance [2].

Many of these chemicals are linked to endocrine disruption, organ toxicity, and are known carcinogens.

Because labels don’t usually detail which of these 2,947 compounds are used in their product’s fragrance I say stay away from any products that have added fragrance. The exception being natural brands that use high quality essential oils and list them exactly on their labels.

Fragrance is found is almost every kind of beauty and body product from deodorant to shampoo to hair gel to baby lotion. I typically buy fragrance free versions of committed natural brands to stay on the safe side, I recommend you do too.


Toxic Beauty Chemical #2: Ethanolamine Compounds

Also listed on labels as: Triethanolamine, diethanolamine, DEA, TEA, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, DEA-cetyl phosphate, DEA oleth-3 phosphate, lauramide DEA, linoleamide MEA, myristamide DEA, oleamide DEA, stearamide MEA, TEA-lauryl sulfate

Linked to, known as, or causes: Carcinogen, reproductive harm, liver and kidney toxicity, impaired brain development and memory function in fetuses [3].

Why is it dangerous: Ethanolamine compounds act as an emulsifier, making things sudsy or creamy (think shampoos, bubble baths, shave cream, hand soaps, body wash), but they are also found in many kinds of makeup and other products [4]. Because these compounds and their byproducts (either through breakdown or interaction with other common chemicals) are linked to cancer, organ system toxicity, and neurological fetal damage I highly recommend avoiding anything with ethanolamine compounds.

Getting gorgeous shouldn't give you cancer! Avoid these toxic chemicals and stop the toxic overload!Click To Tweet

Toxic Beauty Chemical #3: Butylated Compounds

Also listed on labels as: BHA or BHT

Linked to, known as, or causes: Endocrine disruptor, reproductive system toxicity, and carcinogen [5]

Why it is dangerous: According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Report on Carcinogens, 12th Edition, reports that BHA is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from animal studies.” [5].

In addition the EU Commission on Endocrine Disruption has placed butylated compounds on its list of potential endocrine disruptors [6].

The shocking thing is that not only are butylated compounds found in makeup, hair products, deodorants, sunscreens, and other personal body products, but are also a common food additive.

Yep that’s right, the very thing you should avoid putting on your skin is also very likely IN your food. This is another reason why I advocate an organic whole foods based minimally processed diet.

So if you don’t feel like taking chances on eating or applying this potential carcinogen then I suggest you avoid it in all your products and foods.


Toxic Beauty Chemical #4: Parabens

Also listed on labels as: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, and basically anything that ends in paraben.

Linked to, known as, or causes: Endocrine disruptors, cancer (especially skin and breast cancer), reproductive system toxicity, and behavioral changes in fetuses [7].

Why it is dangerous: Despite years of linking parabens to cancers and reproductive harm these compounds are still pervasive. They are found in numerous products from shampoos, sunscreens, body washes, lotions, face creams, makeup, and prescription medications.

Because of their strong link as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors it is highly recommended that you avoid any products containing parabens in any form.



Toxic Beauty Chemical #5: Phthalates

Also listed on labels as: phthalate, DEP, DBP, DEHP and fragrance

Linked to, known as, or causes: Endocrine disruptor, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and carcinogen.

Why it is dangerous: Phthalates have been linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and even infertility. Maybe most concerning is that phthalates seem to have a feminizing effect on male fetuses, causing a decrease of testosterone and linked to physical changes in male genitals. Additionally phthalates have been shown to cause a decrease in sperm motility as well as linked to infertility [8].

I don’t know about you but no product is worth cancer and infertility. Avoid products with phthalates and with fragrance as phthalates are one of those 2,947 compounds used in “fragrance”.


So what is safe?

So far it’s been all sorts of doom and gloom but there is a very simple fix. Swap out all of your beauty and body care products for natural options and reputable natural brands.

Back when I was started on this journey half the battle was learning about everything that was harmful, the other half was finding products that were safe.

And in 2006 there weren’t a ton of options. That’s when I realized a lot of “natural” brands weren’t. I can remember being shocked and pissed at how many “natural” products listed chemicals that I knew to be harmful. It was tempting to throw my hands up, curse the industry, and give in…but I stayed focused.

Today there are soooo many options to choose from, and to make things a little easier on you I’ve put approved beauty and body product recommendations in the Beauty and Body section of the Filtered Shop. From deodorants to toothpaste to shampoo and even hair spray there are safer options for every man, woman, and kiddo.

You can also read my post The Best Rated Natural Body Products, for tons of great safe options.

But I also recommend simple food grade basics for things like moisturizing. My favorite body moisturizers are olive oil, avocado oil, and shea butter. I wrote more in this post, 3 Natural Oils for Head to Toe Beauty.

I also love natural oils like argan and rosehips along with essential oils for my anti-aging routine. I wrote about my favorites in this post 5 Amazing Essential Oils for Radiant Beauty.

How about you? Did you know about the dangers in these products? Have you started to make changes? How has the transition been? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time!




[2] IFRA Ingredients List:








IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician or M.D. about the use of these or any other complimentary modalities. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.


  • Thank you for all of this information! I am starting to cycle out the harmful beauty products I use, and I’m mostly replacing them with things I make, so this post is a gold mine. I will definitely come back to read more!

    • Hi Emmi, I’m so glad you found the post helpful! That is such a huge step in the right direction. It can be tough but small steps make big changes. Best wishes on your wellness journey!

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