The Everyday Dangers of Using Harsh Chemicals On Your Skin

The Everyday Dangers of Using Harsh Chemicals On Your Skin

Most of us want beautiful, fresh, blemish free skin. After all, our skin (especially on our faces) is one of the first things you notice about a person. Therefore, it is no wonder that the average woman spends $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime!

Of course, this is why many of us reach for bottled lotions and potions, be it to eliminate enlarged pores or fill in wrinkles – but if you’re an acne sufferer, you’re even more likely to reach for anything that claims to alleviate the issue.

The problem is, the beauty products we find on our shelves today are highly unregulated. There are thousands of chemicals in everyday beauty products and what is important to remember is that many of these are absorbed by your skin and enter your bloodstream. That’s why just in the same way you would check food packaging to ensure what you’re putting into your body is safe, the same should be considered with beauty products.

Are There Really Harsh Chemicals in Beauty Products?

Yes. Currently the regulations regarding beauty products are minimal. Some of the most common chemicals have been shown to have serious long term negative health effects including promoting the development of different kinds of cancer.

Let’s take a look at just some of the most common chemicals and their potential dangers.


Parabens are preservatives that are widely used in cosmetic products as they prevent the growth of bacteria. You may have heard of parabens before as nowadays, many plastic drinkware companies advertise their products as “paraben free”.

The reason many companies are quick to boast about the lack of parabens in their products is because studies have shown them to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, due to their estrogen-mimicking abilities (source). Parabens have even been identified in breast tumor biopsy samples.


Fragrance is a pretty vague term – I mean, what is a fragrance anyway? The truth is, that fragrance concoctions can be responsible for extreme allergic reactions and dermatitis according to the EWC Deep Skin Database (source).

Originally, the term fragrance was coined as a way to prevent companies from giving away their “secret ingredient” that gave their product that special je ne sais quoi. However in reality, it has enabled companies to concoct a blend of potentially harmful toxins and not have to state it on the label.

Synthetic Colors

Certain types of synthetic colors are actually made from coal tar and petroleum (source) and current scientific research suspects them to be a human carcinogen (source).

You will note synthetic colors listed on the back of product labels as D&C red 1 or FD&C Green 26 for example. These food (F), drug (D) and cosmetics (C) colors have been shown to not only irritate skin but also show links to ADHD in children (source).

FD&C and D&C colors are considered so dangerous in some parts of the world that the European Union has actually banned their use (source).

How to Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals on Your Skin

Of course, the above chemicals are only the top three of a very long list you will find in everyday skincare products throughout your home. It is obviously impossible to avoid all the synthetic chemicals out there as they are in everything we use from deodorant to sunscreen, but you can do your best to limit how many toxic chemicals your body is exposed to, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Ideally, everyone should try to remove these kinds of products from their skincare regime, but those with skin issues like acne or with allergies should definitely leave these products by the wayside.

The best way to avoid using harsh chemicals is to choose products that are organic and natural. With everyday, well known, natural ingredients such as herbs and probiotics. Also, aim for products clearly advertised as “100% natural” and “chemical free / fragrance free”.

Moreover, look for certifications from the governing bodies like the FDA or labels like “certified organic”.  This will help to ensure anything you put on your skin will not have any kind of adverse effects.


In order to stay safe with beauty products and prevent the everyday dangers of using harsh chemicals on your skin, try doing your research about products before purchasing them, especially when buying online. Also, make checking your beauty product labels a habit.

Educate yourself in order to recognize the ingredients to beware of to help you and your family stay safe.

Helen Sanders is chief editor at Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.