Why Buy Chemical-Free Cosmetics and Personal Care Products?

Klaus Ferlow, HMH, HA—01/2014
We are all becoming aware that the food we eat and the air we breathe bring health-destroying toxins into our bodies. But few realize that standard cosmetics and skin products also do the same, which is why we should always choose chemical-free, natural products.

EVERYONE HOPES TO HAVE a perfect body but, unfortunately no matter what we do, our bodies never seems to be perfect. Is our nose or are our breast to large or too small? Is our skin too dry or too oily? The problems are never ending. That's why plastic surgeons can't keep up with the demand. Perhaps it is not the body, but our attitude to it which is the problem. It is human nature to never be satisfied: unconsciously, we keep wanting more and aiming higher. These feelings are not completely unhealthy, as long as they are not overpowering.

What's in a bottle, jar or tube?

In the past decade, natural body care products including: organic (including certified organic), wildcrafted, and toxin-free items, have changed the way consumers look for, and use, cosmetics and personal care products. Today, customers are more savvy about products and more skeptical about the marketing claims of manufacturers. They read labels and know what to look for and what to avoid.

I remember 20 years ago, it would be difficult to find any personal care products without a long list of man-made chemicals in the laboratory on the label. Artificial colors, scents, parabens, preservatives and a host of other dangerous, hazardous chemical ingredients were commonly present. For years, the manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products used industrial waste by-products from the synthetic and chemical industry in their formulas. No one ever asked about the impact these poisonous ingredients had on your skin, your body and your health. Interesting enough on August 16, 2012 the multi-billion manufacturer of personal care products Johnson & Johnson decided to phase out harmful chemicals thought to cause cancer, birth defects, and even diabetes, including the infamous formaldehyde-releasing ingredients in their baby shampoo. One positive effect this will have on the other manufacturers is that, if they do not follow suit, they will lose in the future market share!

North American companies are world champions in "brainwashing" people to death with advertising and promotion in the news media and especially "as seen on TV!" They are selling misleading images like "new and improved" - what was wrong with the products before? - "natural", "organic", "hypoallergenic", "ph balanced", "anti-aging", "wrinkle-free" etc. Therefore, the old adage caveat emptor – buyer be aware, become all the more important in this unethical advertising world of commerce.

Manufacturers selling their products are hiding controversial or hazardous, dangerous chemical ingredients under the label of "trade secret." This spells disaster for you! Are you aware that there are over 10,500 harsh chemicals, that are used in cosmetics and personal care products that have toxic substances and can be harmful to your health and well being? (Source: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health).

Statistically, the average North American woman uses daily up to 10 cosmetics and personal care products, and can you imagine what kind of impact they must all have on their health. What can you do to protect yourself and your family? Read all labels and learn to decipher some of their chemical jargon and if you can't pronounce the names of the ingredients, it's chemical and don't buy it! Check the website: http://www.safecosmetics.org.

The Top 22 Global Beauty Companies:

In North America the annual sales for beauty products inclusive cosmetics and personal care products is between 50 – 60 billion dollars and rapidly growing. World wide, it is estimated to be between 100 and 120 billion dollars. These companies are not interested in your health but in profits. These are the words of well known Dr. Mercola: "I am very concerned about our freedoms and increasing "corpotocracy", where citizen are ruled by multi-national corporations with just one goal in mind: maximizing profit" so they can please their shareholders with double digits dividends!

Here is a list of companies targeted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and force them also to remove toxic chemical ingredients in their products:

  • Johnson & Johnson, USA (Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, Piz Buin, Sundown, Roc, Shower to Shower, Soft and Soothing Natural)
  • L'Oreal, France (Maybelline, Garnier, Kiehl's, the Body Shop, Softsheen-Carson, Lancome, Vichy, Ralph Lauren, Redken)
  • Procter & Gamble, USA (CoverGirl, Pantene, Secret, Old Spice, Aveeno)
  • Estee Lauder, France (Clinique, MAC, Prescriptives, Aveda, Aramis, Origins, La Mer,)
  • Avon Products, USA (Avon Color, Beyond Color, Skin So Soft, Naturals, Avon Wellness, Advance Techniques)
  • Revlon, USA (Revlon, Colorstay, Age Defyin, Almay, Charlie, African Pride)
  • Unilever, USA (Dove, Ponds, Axe, Caress, Organics, Lux and Lever, Rexona Teens)
  • Alberto Culver, USA (St.Ives, AlbertoNexous, Consort, Salon Success, Motions, Soft & Beautiful, Tresermme)
  • Coty, USA (Coty, Adidas, Lancaster, Davidoff, Rimmel, Healing Gardens, Calvin Klein Euphoria, Love at First Glow)
  • Limited Brands, USA (Victoria Secret's Beauty, Beauty Rush, SuperModel Sexy Hair, Garden Pure Paradise, American Girl, Breathe Body Care)
  • Colgate-Palmolive, USA (Speed Stick, Irish Spring, Palmolive Naturals Protex soaps)
  • Access Business Group, USA (Artistry color and skin care products, Satinique, Lustertone, cosmetics)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt, USA
  • Elizabeth Arden, USA
  • Mary Kay, USA (Time Wise, MK Signature, Private Spa Collection)
  • Beiersdorf, Germany
  • Henkel, Germany
  • LVMH, France
  • Yves Rocher, France
  • Shiseido, Japan
  • KAO, Japan
  • Kose, Japan

Please note that no company from Asia, including China and India, is listed here. Neither is any company in South America.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has the Skin Deep database on their website which is much loved by many consumers.

So, to rise awareness, I began in 1998 to research the topic, and in early 1999, wrote an educational article "What is really in your beauty products?" which later was revised, upgraded and published as "Cosmetics to die for" and finally "Hidden dangers lurking in your cosmetics and personal care products." This information was a real shocking eye opener to consumers! In the article, I list 70 of the most hazardous, dangerous toxic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products.

My premise was that already there were many chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat etc, so why put additional toxic chemicals on your body? Whether using a cream, lotion, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash or make-up, chemicals are readily absorbed into the bloodstream and will damage the liver and kidneys, creating even more health problems. My recommendation to the consumers is to "read the labels carefully", and if you can't pronounce the name of the ingredients, don't buy the products, it's a chemical!

Anti-aging hyperbole

Be skeptical about label claims. Anti-aging products in particular are prone to hyperbole. At age twenty five, the oil glands produce double the amount of oil as in a 50-year old, and this continues to decrease with age. As skin loses its elasticity becoming thinner and dryer especially with the elderly who mostly don't drink enough fluids. Wrinkles appear. The layer of fat that gives the skin its soft appearance in youth, begins to shrink and eventually does not regenerate. Also, remember there are three ways people age:

Chronological aging:

This is impossible to stop, and most anti-aging wrinkle creams do not work but, you can buy into the illusion.

Environmental aging:

This happens at any age, so protecting the skin, especially from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun and wind is recommended.

Lifestyle aging:

You are what you eat. Poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, a general positive attitude towards life and laughing a lot (since laughing is the best medicine) will affect how you look and feel. Drinking enough water that is free from chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals is very important since it flushes out toxins.


As many people have mature and damaged skin, you will feel better about yourselves and healthier as well, using only "chemical-free body care products."



Beauty to die for, Judy Vance, iUniverse 1999

Healthy Beauty, Samuel S. Epstein,, Ben Bell books 2009

Health risks in cosmetics, Nikolaus J. Smeh, Alliance Publishing 1995

Drop dead georgeous, Kim Erickson, MaGraw-Hill 2002

Our toxic world, Doris J. Rapp, M.D., Environmental Research Foundation 2003

Dying to look good, Christine Farlow, Kiss for health publishing, 2005

Not Just a Pretty Face, Stacy Malkan, New Society Publishers, 2007

There's Lead in your Lipstick, Gillian Deacon, Penguin Group, 2011

Beauty Imagined, Geoffrey Jones, Oxford University Press, 2010

Cosmetics Unmasked, Stephen & Gina Antczak, Harper Collins Canada/ Thomsons, 2001