5 Toxic Substances Lurking In Your Bathroom

We’re often advised to check food labelling for hidden sugars, colours, flavourings and other toxic substances. But what about our beauty products? Are you inadvertently applying toxic substances to your skin everyday? Perhaps you’re confused about what’s safe and what’s not.

In this week’s blog I’m covering 5 toxic substances, which are commonly found in commercial beauty products and are likely to be lurking in your bathroom. Many of these products can irritate the skin causing dryness and itching, others disrupt your hormone balance and some can even trigger allergies. So next time you go shopping you can check the ingredients and make more informed choices about the products you buy:


A synthetic substance used as a preservative and an antimicrobial agent widely found in water-based care products like shampoos, lotions, cleansers and even in solid products like deodorant.

Health concerns: Parabens are has oestrogenic effect that can disrupt hormonal system, and could play a role in cancers linked to hormones.  Endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergies and immunotoxicity.

Found in: Shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers and scrubs. What to look for on the label: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in paraben.

Vulnerable populations: Pregnant women and young children

Regulations: Some forms of parabens are banned in Denmark (propyl and butyl paraben, their isoforms and their salts) in cosmetics products for children up to 3 years


Phthalates are plasticisers used to stabilise perfume and colour as well as to prevent chipping in nail varnish. Phthalates are a common ingredient in the generic term ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’, making almost any scented product at risk.

Health concerns: Several studies have shown that phthalates can slow down thyroid function, disrupt the reproductive system and lead to birth defects.

Found in: Nail varnish, baby care products, cosmetics, plastic products

Regulations: Six types of phthalates are currently banned for use in children’s toys and certain childcare articles.


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate is a chemical ingredient that creates foam in shampoos, cleaners and body wash.

Health concerns: SLS is a known skin and eye irritant. As it’s a very harsh ingredient, some manufacturers convert sodium lauryl sulfate, into the milder form which is  sodium laureth sulfate. However this process creates 1-4 dioxane, a byproduct that is suspected to be carcinogenic.


Oxybenzone is an active ingredient found in most sun creams.

Health concerns: Oxybenzone has the ability to penetrate deep into the skin and trigger allergic reactions and cause hormonal disruption.


Diethanolamine and triethanolamine are chemicals used to emulsify and create foam in shampoo and body wash.

Health concerns: They can trigger allergic reactions as well as creating hair and skin dryness!


If reading the back of your shampoo bottle has left you feeling worried then think about checking out your local health food shop for help and advice on which products are safer to use. Personally I use products made by Avalon Organics, Faith in Nature, Jasons, Green People and Pai, which all use natural ingredients, many of which are organic.

Until next time, have a happy healthy week!

Claire Zarb LCPHclaire1
t: +44 (0)7582 269569
e: claire@clairezarb.com
w: www.clairezarb.com
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photo credit: Viewminder via photopin cc

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