Hello friends, I hope you enlightened on dangerous cosmetic chemicals. We shall continue in this series by discussing endocrine disorders and neurotoxicity.



Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent found in soaps, detergents, toothpaste, tooth whitening products, antiperspirants, deodorants, shaving products, creams, and color cosmetics. Health concerns include endocrine disruption that affects thyroid function. Triclosan can penetrate the fetal umbilical cord; so care be taken in the first trimester of pregnancy. Vulnerable populations include pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers.


DEA is a hormonal disruptor present in many consumer products ranging from cosmetics, personal care products and household cleaning products. Other cosmetics DEA is found include soaps, shampoo, hair conditioners and dyes, lotion, shaving creams, paraffins and waxes, pharmaceutical ointments, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, blush, makeup bases, foundations, fragrances, and sunscreens. DEA is carcinogenic and affects human male reproductive health by altering sperm structure. DEA accumulates in the liver and kidney causing organ toxicity and possible neurotoxic effects such as tremors.


Parabens are preservatives found in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs. Parabens are not water-soluble and can penetrate the skin. As a result, repeated application of a product or multiple products containing parabens could mean continuous exposure. Parabens cause endocrine disruption due to ability to mimic estrogen, skin cancer, and reproductive toxicity by reducing sperm production. Parabens e.g. propyl and butylparaben should’nt be used by pregnant women and young children.


The term ‘fragrance’ may imply phthalates. Many products with ‘fragrance’ on their label try to mask what sort of fragrance it is. While most fragrance chemicals are not disclosed, we do know some linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities. They are found in shampoo, soaps, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup, facial cream, skin toner, and perfumes.


Benzophenone ingredients absorb and dissipate UV radiation, which serves to protect cosmetics and personal care products. As part of sunscreen products, benzophenone and related compounds protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Benzophenone is found in lip balm, nail polish, foundations, baby sunscreens, shampoo, fragrance, conditioner, hair spray, moisturizers, and foundation. It’s labelled as bezophenone-2, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, sulisobenzone sodium. It causes endocrine disruption, cancer, hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity).


Heavy metals are found naturally in the environment in rocks, soil and water, and be found in pigments and other raw materials in all industries including the cosmetics industry.

Lead exerts adverse effects on many organs and systems including the central nervous system (CNS), the kidneys and on the hematopoietic (blood forming) system. Exposure to lead is typically greater in children, who are also more susceptible to the effects of lead than adults.

Mercury in cosmetic products; used as skin whitening creams. Mercury is a neurotoxin. Mercury been used by many names such as “mercurous chloride”, calomel, mercuric, mercurio or mercury. The prolonged use of products containing mercury can lead to inflammation of the liver, kidneys and urinary tract. Presence of mercury in Skin Creams has become a global public health problem. Mercury compounds are readily absorbed through the skin on topical application and have the tendency to accumulate in the body. They may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation or neurotoxic manifestations.

Arsenic exerts adverse effects due to a pronounced affinity for skin and keratinizing structures including the hair and nails. Therefore, symptoms of acute overexposure include a variety of skin eruptions, alopecia and characteristic striation of the nails. Arsenic does not act as a sensitizer, due to poor skin penetrating ability of its naturally occurring compounds. he health effects of arsenic in humans vary depending on the compound and form. Metallic arsenic is not absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and does not have any known adverse health effects. Carcinogenicity only observed in its inorganic form. Inorganic arsenic compounds are more acutely toxic than environmentally occurring organic arsenic (such as dimethylarsinate).


p-Phenylenediamine is commonly found in hair dyes, this chemical can damage the nervous system, cause lung irritation and cause severe allergic reactions. It’s also listed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine. It can cause skin sensitization, cancer, DNA alteration, respiratory distress by swelling in upper respiratory tracts.


Hydroquinone is found in skin lighteners, facial and skin cleansers, facial moisturizers, hair conditioners, finger nail coating products. It’s listed as hydroquinone or tocopherylacetate. Hydroquinone can cause ochronosis (Ochronosis is the bluish black discoloration of certain tissues, such as the skin, ear cartilage and the ocular tissue), nose, throat, and upper respiratory tract irritation, and cancer.


I want to reiterate here that this series isn’t to scare you off the use of cosmetics; rather you need this information; and be sure your care products are safe. I hope to receive your comments on any grey area.



  1. Vetbest Health Network


  1. Campaign for safe cosmetics: chemicals of concern, http://www.safecosmetics.org, 2017

Niha Naveed: The Perils of Cosmetics, J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol. 6(10), 338-341, 2014

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