Safety guide to skin care products


While running through EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database for updates, I noticed that they’ve put up an ingredient guide for children’s products which highlights 20 common ingredients of concern.  Some of these information are actually useful for us to know as many of our skin care products do contain the said ingredients too. 

Fragrance in most products
This ingredient has a health hazard rating of 8 out of 10 on EWG’s database.  Fragrances are among the top 5 allergens in the world and known to trigger asthma attack.  In addition, it contains ingredients suspected of neurotoxicity, plus known or suspected hormone disruptors.  But because of its widespread use, it makes it difficult to avoid completely so EWG has listed this as an ingredient to avoid when possible.

Ceteareth & PEG Compounds in body wash & shampoos
These petrochemicals may contain impurities as well as possible and known human carcinogens. Many of these compounds are not safe for use on injured or damaged skin as they absorb readily into skin and make it easier for other chemicals to penetrate. Rated as 8 in terms of health hazard.

Parabens in many products
One often heard, that’s why we’ve products on the market that are promoted as paraben-free. Lab studies link parabens to cancer and reproductive or hormone-disrupting effects plus some are skin sensitizers or irritants. The European Union has banned use of sodium methylparaben in fragrance because it can depigment skin. No wonder it has a high rating of 8 in terms of health hazard.

Oxybenzone in some sunscreens and lip balms
In sunlight, oxybenzone can trigger photoallergenic reactions and form reactive chemicals that harm cells. Limited evidence suggests this chemical may affect the hormone system. Has a health hazard of 7 according to EWG.

Dibutyl Phthalate & Toluene in nail polishes
Probably the worst with a health hazard of 10, both ingredients trigger allergic response, and toluene can irritate the eyes, skin, and lungs. Dibutyl phthalate is suspected as a hormone disruptor linked to reproductive abnormalities in baby boys and men, and limited evidence links toluene to cancer.  The E.U. has banned its use in cosmetics and this ingredient has been found unsafe for use in cosmetics by the fragrance industry.


While it may not always be possible to avoid some of these ingredients like fragrance in our products, we can be more aware of the potential harms we’re exposing ourselves to and make a more informed decision when purchasing or using the products. 

For details and the other ingredients of concern, please visit the EWG website with the link I’ve provided above. 


  1. Karen says:

    This is a really helpful and informative post. I’m trying to be more careful about what’s in the products I use, so thank you!

  2. doris says:

    the problem is most consumers do not actually care about what’s in the beauty products they are using. all they are is what the label promises to deliver – beautiful skin, silky complexion, radiant face..etc. But once we know the facts, we tend to be more careful yet, we can still fall into this trap. I guess we can only blame it on our vanity ?

    Doris: Haha…you’re right. It’s a delicate balance and sometimes the vanity aspect overtakes. But I would say compared to the past, I’m a bit more careful now with what I buy…

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