Chemical Content in your personal products

Is this really Good News? Yes and No in my opinion…

The Good News part; Industry giant Unilever and world’s leading supplier of Food, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in more than 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day will disclose (by end of 2018) detailed information about the chemical fragrances in all of its personal care brands, a move that has been designed for consumer safety. Bad News; They are just advising us of types of chemicals their products contain, but not removing these chemicals from their products even though allergies and sensitivities to fragrance (chemicals) affects a large percent of the population. Not to mention other chemicals which I will list below that cause cancer, asthma and severe skin disorders.

It is an unprecedented leap toward transparency for a major company and a landmark win for consumers’ right to know” said EWG President and Co-Founder Ken Cook. EWG is the leading independent source of information on the health and safety of personal care products.

Transparency… ha-ha well that’s great that they are taking baby steps on exposing all toxins which are present in their products to the public. Now they can’t say we didn’t know. But that does not change the fact that their products and list of the ingredients are harmful and toxic, which brings me back to my earlier post Healthy Cosmetic Brands – why check the ingredients list? Why Do Ingredients Matter? and why I am so passionate about bringing such information out in the open as much as I can to as many people as I can. I have no respect for companies that do nothing but try to fool us in order to be able to sell dangerous and cheaply made products for a quick and massive $$$. Because these products are so affordable, thus the reason for their ingredients. If you think about it, products with health benefits have a much higher price tag and therefore an average consumer may not afford them. Unfortunately, the majority of population falls victim to such companies.

Why Do Ingredients Matter? Find Out

“We believe this initiative will help consumers know more about the products they use every day and build further trust for their favorite Unilever personal care brands,” said Tamara Rogers, EVP Personal Care, Unilever United States.  – Trust!!?? This statement does NOT make me trust them anymore than I already didn’t… they are forced to disclose their ingredients list so they can compete with companies who have always been openly doing so from the beginning, and because they had nothing much to hide in the first place. Smart companies that thrive on being and promoting Green, Safe, Non-Toxic products to their customers. And here is another kicker… because Unilever wants to expand their business to Europe, an in order to do so they must disclose their nasty chemicals by-law  “They will label fragrance allergens to European Union standards across its full range of personal care products on the U.S. market, where such disclosures are not currently required by the US government. The driving reason for the disclosures, company officials said, is their commitment to being as transparent as possible”. How about being as responsible as possible to everyone and each individual purchasing their products by providing the safest products possible?

In North America, Unilevers portfolio includes brand icons such as Axe, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Caress, Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy, Country Crock, Degree, Dollar Shave Club, Dove, Good Humor, Hellmann’s, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, Klondike, Knorr, Lever 2000, Lipton, Magnum, Nexxus, Noxzema, Pond’s, Popsicle, Promise, Q-tips, Seventh Generation, Simple, St. Ives, Suave, Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto, TIGI, TONI&GUY, TRESemmé and Vaseline.

“For decades, federal regulations have let companies use the word “fragrance” on soap, shampoo, skincare and other personal care product labels to hide the identity of multiple chemicals, many of them linked to allergies or other health effects. For the most part, personal care product companies and fragrance manufacturers have resisted calls for disclosure, and “fragrance” has remained a black box for hundreds of chemicals in thousands of everyday products”.

Retail product aisle

Most common chemicals found in your products:

Diethanolamine (DEA)

  • purpose: pH adjuster, foaming agent
  • concerns: skin irritation, possible organ system toxicity, contamination concerns
  • found in: variety of face makeup and hair products

Formaldehyde (formaldehyde releasers: bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15)

  • purpose: preservative
  • concerns: carcinogenic impurity, skin irritations, high rates of skin allergy reactions, rashes
  • found in: nail products, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, color cosmetics

Fragrance (perfume, parfum, essential oil blend, and aroma)

  • purpose: chemical combination of possibly 3,000 ingredients to create scents
  • concerns: skin irritation, allergic reactions, cancer or reproductive toxicity with long-term exposure
  • found in: most personal skincare products

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

  • purpose: antioxidant, preservative, stabilizer, fragrance ingredient
  • concerns: skin irritation, hormone disruption
  • found in: lipstick, eye shadow, some petroleum products

Phthalates dibutyl phthalate (DBP), dimethyl phthalate (DMP), and diethyl phthalate (DEP)

  • purpose: plasticizer, solvent, fragrance ingredient
  • concerns: male reproductive system damage
  • found in: nail polish, hair sprays, perfumes, lotions, soaps, shampoos

Parabens (specifically propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl- parabens)

  • purpose: preservative
  • concerns: hormone-disrupters
  • found in: makeup, moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers, shaving products, and scrubs

Sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate

  • purpose: cleansing and emulsifying agent
  • concerns: skin irritation, possible impurity contamination
  • found in: toothpaste, shampoo, and hand soap

Siloxane (ingredients ending in -siloxane or -methicone)

  • purpose: softening, smoothing, moisturizing
  • concerns: hormone disrupter
  • found in: hair products, deodorants


  • purpose: antimicrobial agent
  • concerns: disrupt thyroid and reproductive hormones, bacterial resistance development
  • found in: oral products, shaving products, creams, and color cosmetics


Many products can have contaminants, which are impurities or by-products of ingredients mixed together. Heavy metals like lead, nickel, and cobalt also fall into this category. These aren’t listed on the label, but the ingredients that are created from them are. The following ingredients have contamination concerns:

  • coal tar
  • diethanolamine (DEA)
  • 1,4-dioxane
  • formaldehyde
  • butane and isobutane
  • petroleum distillates
  • polyethylene glycol/ceteareth
  • talcum
  • nitrosamines

Can these chemicals affect your health?

It’s unlikely to get cancer from cosmetic use alone. However, any products that contain carcinogen contaminants like formaldehyde are definite triggers. Also exposure to chemicals such as Phalates, Triclosan, Musks, Parabens may result in infertility for both male and female as they disrupt your hormones normal function. Contact dermatitis a skin condition which results in irritation, itchiness, or rash from contact with a foreign substance with a high percentage of chemicals.

For decades, consumers have been kept in the dark from learning which chemicals are in fragrances scenting their shampoo, soap, and other consumer products — even though allergies and sensitivities to fragrance affect a large percent of the population.

Regulatory law treats fragrance as proprietary information, so companies are not obligated to reveal it. This practice originated with perfumers who feared their formulas would be copied by competitors, and it has persisted into the present thanks to loopholes designed to protect companies “signature” scents. If fragrances simply contained naturally derived scents it wouldn’t be a health issue, but today’s synthetic scents contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can contribute to fertility issues, birth defects, neurotoxicity, and more.

“Unilever’s “transparency initiative” will make a list of every ingredient in a product that exceeds a percentage of 0.01 percent, or 100 parts per million, and will be available on the company website and through “Smartlabel” technology, with scannable bar codes on packaging. The company plans to label fragrance allergens across its full range of personal products in the United States in accordance with the more rigorous European Union standards. Because Unilever owns such a significant percentage of the personal-care market, this change is expected to have industrywide impact”.

Shea Butter Body Care

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it educational, please feel free to comment or ask a question below.

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  1. Very interesting article, I totally agree with your, these big companies are poisoning us just to make millions out of what we buy. unfortunately natural products are more expensive and a lot of people cant afford them.

  2. Very informative article and very nicely presented. I must also add that your website looks so clean. Keep sharing your knowledge with all as it will help so many in making informed decision while purchasing products.

  3. It’s shocking to see what goes into our everyday products. Thank you for breaking it down so well in your article. I intend to try some of the products on your site.

  4. Thanks for sharing this post! I try to use organic products when possible… but to be honest I still use more “commercialized” products which I am sure to have the above mentioned. I like to use organic coconut oil sometimes to moisturize because it is free from any harsh chemicals.

  5. It is an interesting and yes, highly educational article to bring awareness to what we are exposed to. The fragrances used in these products come from all kinds of chemicals and because global companies are marketing them, the layman in most of us is unable to question the validity/safety of these products. I think while we can’t stop anything (nor that our intent), we should try to stay alert.

  6. LOVE IT!!! I got rid of all my personal care products 5 years ago and on occasion I miss it but the smell drives me away fast. Since I removed these, I have become sensitive to anyone that wears perfumes, colognes, lotions etc. I was sad to toss the make-up and found how expensive natural make-up is. Do you have recommendations?

    1. Hi Candice, you’re right… the better quality the products are, the more $$$ it requires. But there are some lesser priced items that you can find in the health section and natural stores. My personal favorite brand (not the most affordable maybe, but I LOVE IT) is Arbonne. You can find out more about it in my Website Tab SKINCARE & MAKEUP.

      Hope this helps, have a great day!:)

  7. Transparency has been a joke when it comes to the cosmetic companies, especially the larger ones. For decades they said nothing about the sodium laurel sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. I owned a salon for years and every week we would get people in who had hair, scalp & follicle damage from caustic chemicals. So yes, ingredients does matter.

    The problem is people are more concerned with who makes the next cut on American Idol that what type of ingredients they’re putting in their bodies. At some point, you can only point the finger at yourself when you FAIL to do your due diligence.

    Excellent post…

    1. Thank you Howard, for reading my post and your wise input. We’re all given choices… bad ones and good ones. It’s up to us to be in the know and choose wisely.

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