Are there carcinogens in your beauty products?

ingredients in beauty products linked to cancer

Most our community of friends at Healthy Harvest are healthy eaters. We read nutrition labels and are cautious of what ingredients we’re putting in our bodies. We choose organic and avoid GMOs and hormones whenever possible. But how often do we pay attention to what we’re putting on our skin?

Our skin is our biggest organ and absorbs ingredients directly into our bloodstream. A recent article by The Atlantic suggested as many as 1 in 5 beauty products contain ingredients linked to cancer.

So what’s in your cosmetic bag? We put together a list of ingredients we’ll never include in our organic small-batch facial oils. Here’s why:

ingredients in beauty products linked to cancer


Also in: deodorants and antiperspirants, shampoo, conditioner, lotions, cleansers and scrubs

Parabens are a preservative that prevent bacteria in water based products. “About 85 percent of cosmetics have them,” says Arthur Rich, Ph.D., a cosmetic chemist quoted by Real So what’s wrong with them? Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, and estrogen disruption has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive problems.

Synthetic fragrances

Also found in: perfumes and colognes, baby lotions and wipes, air fresheners and candles, dryer sheets and detergents

In the U.S., manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of synthetic chemicals in the one word—“fragrance”—without revealing what those ingredients are.

Cited on Huffington Post, “Environmental Working Group (EWG) researchers found more than 75 percent of products listing the ingredient “fragrance” contained phthalates (THAL-ates) which have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts, and cause reproductive malformation, and have been linked to liver and breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity.” See more phthalates below.

Propylene glycol

Also found in: antifreeze, medicines, cosmetics, or food products

Propylene glycol is used as a skin conditioner and to enhance absorption, but Canada has listed it as toxic or harmful. While described as safe by the FDA, the CDC Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry claims it affects the skin, urinary system or kidneys, and respiratory system. It has been shown to worsen eczema and skin allergies.


Also found in: vinyl flooring, paints, shoes, disinfectants and deodorizers

According to Mother Earth Living, “phthalates are a probable carcinogen, some of which have been linked to reproductive harm, learning disabilities, asthma, and allergies – even at low exposure levels.”

Mineral oil

Also called: petrolatum or paraffinum

Also found in: lip balm, shampoos, conditioners, lotion, creams

Mineral oil is extremely common in skin care because it reduces loss of water. It is actually a byproduct from the distillation of petroleum for gasoline. Mineral oil doesn’t actually hydrate your skin; it just forms a barrier, so it can clog your pores or seal in bacteria, which can cause you to break out.

According to mineral oil also "attracts needed moisture from cells deep inside your skin. This means that cell renewal is slowed, collagen breaks down, and the connective tissue is destroyed. Normal cell development is slowed down and the skin ages prematurely when skin cells are robbed of moisture.”

We want to hear – what are your favorite safe, non-toxic beauty and self-care products?



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