What You Don’t Know About These Popular Cosmetics

product_collageIn 2004, the Environmental Working Group, an environmental research and advocacy group, created a cosmetics database to log the potentially harmful chemicals found in personal-care products. Today, the Skin Deep database, which contains information on more than 70,000 products, reveals that many of the lotions and potions we put on our skin, hair and nails can contain dangerous levels of toxins and hormone-disrupting chemicals.

The United States is woefully behind when it comes to regulating its cosmetics industry, with only 11 ingredients restricted in the past 30 years. In comparison, the European Commission has restricted at least 1,100 cosmetic ingredients. This inaction has allowed harmful products to remain on the market despite their danger. In the latest issue of Ms., Heather White, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, pens a hard-hitting investigative piece on the threat this lack of regulation poses to women’s health.

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One of the most common toxic chemicals found in cosmetic products is profylparaben. Used as a preservative and a fragrance, it’s frequently added to personal-care products and pharmaceuticals. Profylparaben is dangerous because it mimics estrogen and can be a potential hormone disruptor. Profylparaben is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity.

Below are just five of the in the Skin Deep database that have been tested for toxicity. They all have received a a score of 7 or above out of 10, making them “high hazard” products, and all contain unsafe  levels of profylparaben.

Read and take heed, some of these could be sitting on your vanity, in your purse or in your shower.

CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipstick

Score: 7



The Body Shop Jumbo Shower Gel, Satsuma

Score: 8


Sally Hansen Nail Color, Nude

Score: 8



L’Occitane Shea Butter Body Lotion

Score: 8


Biosilk Shine On Finishing Spray

Score: 9


To learn more about the potential dangers in your personal-care products, read an excerpt of our investigative exposé or subscribe to Ms. to get the entire piece.

Photos taken from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database



Associate editor of Ms. magazine