Bad Chemicals For Bath And Beauty Products

Do you read the ingredients in your lotion or shampoo bottle? Does “propylparabens” or “polyethylene glycol” mean anything to you? I can’t pronounce half of these chemicals, let alone, understand why they are in the lotion that I am putting on my skin. After all, skin is the largest organ in the body and it absorbs everything you put on it. So, what are these chemicals that I can’t pronounce and what will they do to my body once they get absorbed?

Well, let’s sample a few of these funky sounding chemicals and see what they actually do. There’s a lot of information so I’m going to cover only two chemicals today.

1) Parabens (i.e.butyl-methyl-, ethyl and propylparabens)

What they are – chemical preservatives used in up to 90 percent of cosmetics
What they do – keep products from going bad.
Why avoid? Ongoing studies suggest parabens causes typical Contact Dermatitis due to allergic reactions and parabens may act like estrogen in the body causing proliferation of breast cancer cells due to the increased estrogenic effects of paraben.
Products: Some lines of products from: Revlon, Noxema, Desitin, Cover Girl, Aussie,Kohl Eye Liner, Johnsons, Clairol, Ponds, Jergens, Avon, Neutrogena, Sensodyne, Olay, Baby Magic, Four Paws Petdental Products, 8 in 1 Pro Pet Products. Read here for the detailed list.

2) Propylene glycol (PG)

What it is – a thick, clear alcohol
What it does – helps the skin soak up moisture, thins out liquids, and enhances skin’s absorption of other ingredients in the product.
Why avoid? If ingested, it can cause toxicity, especially in young children, and can cause respiratory problems, systemic organ failure to coma. And at the least, PG causes stinging in the eye and allergic reaction upon contact. The problem with this chemical is that the general population may be exposed to PG through dermal and ingestion pathways when products containing PG are used. It is used in aerosol mists (in hospitals and public buildings for disinfection purposes) and in many personal care products as well as industrial products.
Products: Noxema, Clairol, Keri Lotion, Loreal, Cover Girl, Suave, Benjamin Moore, Behr, Glidden, Colgate, Avon, Armorall, Softgel Hand Sanitizer, and Aussie.
Read here for the detailed list.

Go read the labels on your personal products. See if you can pronounce the ingredients. Like my daughter says, if you can’t pronounce it, the chances are, it’s not good for you.

NOTE: The information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Dr. Karen disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. Opinions and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not your doctor and you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional on any matter relating to their health and well being on one-on-one basis with thorough physical examination. Dr. Karen encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. Products Dr. Karen recommends and their properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using the products. For more info, visit the Disclaimer page.


Angie,Thanks for visiting and your comment. You are right; Ethylene Glycol is toxic and Propylene Glycol (PG) is not as toxic, but nevertheless toxic if you are sensitive to it. Not everyone reacts to any of these chemicals the same way. Some babies, for example, have become sick from exposure to PG, a very common ingredient in baby wipes and diaper rash ointments. (see And according to, PG can be irritating to the skin although considered safe. It breaks down very fast in the body although symptoms might be present. I'm just trying to make readers be aware that these substances, although considered 'safe', can be irritating to the system if you are sensitive to them.


Propylene Glycol is safe. It is used not only in cosmetics but medicines also. I think fear about this ingredient is due to confusion of Ethylene Glycol which is toxic and used in Anti-Freeze. Glycol is now added to "Safe" anti-freeze products. Not everything is bad. Just think, Water is natural, pure, and sustains life. However, it can be deadly as well if you breath it in or even drink too much.


Great post. I'm sending readers over. link


Thanks for the info! Going to go home and check all my lotions and such :)