How Safe Is Your Bathroom?

Many people are unaware that their bathroom contains a veritable chemical cocktail. Of the 2,983 chemicals permitted for use in personal care items 884 were found to be toxic.

Of these:

·         314 can cause cancer

·         218 can cause reproductive complications

·         778 can cause acute toxicity

·         146 can cause tumors

·         376 can cause skin and eye irritation

There are virtually no government regulations to protect us. This is a fairly extensive list of the more questionable chemicals.





Acetic Acid

Body moisturiser, hand lotion, hair dye

Suspected GI or liver toxicity hazard, can be irritating to skin.


Nail polish remover, nail finishes, perfumes, dishwashing detergents

Skin & eye irritation, can cause headache, fatigue; can enter through skin & sinuses; causes damage to the liver & kidneys; severe exposure to fumes can cause coma and death.



Nail polish remover, artificial nail remover and nail glue remover

Nervous system poison by absorption through skin or and by inhalation; may be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic.



Aftershave, cologne, soap, perfume, antiperspirant, deodorant

Nervous system damage, behavioural abnormalities.


Cosmetics, facial cleanser, aftershave, bubble bath, shaving cream, mouthwash, cologne, deodorant

Can dry the hair and skin; may cause contact dermatitis; can cause seizures, brain damage and comas in children or infants; may cause oral cancer in adults.

Alpha-hydroxy acids

Anti-wrinkle products, skin toner, skin cleanser, skin improver

Reactions may occur causing redness, swelling around eyes, rashes and itchiness, burning sensations, blistering, bleeding or skin discolouration.


Soap, cologne, perfume, shaving cream, deodorant, dishwashing liquid, air freshener

Damaging to the immune system.


Deodorant, antiperspirant

Links to Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis; increased risk of fractures; identified as a neurotoxin, which can actively interfere with many chemical reactions in the brain.


Hair tonics, hair dyes,

May cause adverse reactions; or may be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic.

Azo Dyes

Non-permanent hair rinse and tint

Skin contact can cause cancer; allergic reactions


Facial masks, anti-dandruff shampoo, liquid makeup, face powder

Can block the pores and tend to suffocate the skin contributing to acne.


Perfume, cosmetic cream and lotion, soap and dye

Highly toxic; can cause allergic reactions – eye and skin irritations; liver toxin.


Deodorant, soap, perfume, polish remover

Teratogenic, carcinogenic, inhalation of fumes may be toxic, poison when ingested.


Hair dye

Cancer hazard, suspected immunotoxic hazard, suspected neurotoxic hazard, suspected liver hazard, suspected kidney toxic hazard.


Sunscreen, hairspray, perfume, soap

May produce hives, contact sensitivity and other photoallergic reactions.

Benzyl Acetate

Perfume, soap

Carcinogenic. Vapours irritating to eyes and respiratory passages.

Benzyl Chloride

Shampoo, perfume, hair conditioner, cosmetics, dye

Cancer, allergic reactions, birth defects; kidney and liver damage, very serious irreversible effects.


Hair dyes

Known carcinogen

BHA (Butalayted Hydroxianisole)

Cosmetics, makeup, lip balm, lip gloss, lipstick

May cause allergic reactions; possible carcinogen.

BHT (Butalayted Hydroxytoluene)

Cosmetics, hand/body cream, lipstick, eyeliner, baby oil/lotions, shaving cream

Causes allergic contact dermatitis; causes hyperactivity; may cause cancer, asthma attacks, extreme weakness, fatigue, edema, damage to liver.  Avoid during pregnancy.

BNDP (Bronopropyl)

Shampoos, creams, lotions, rinses, eye-makeup

Possible carcinogen. Eye and skin irritant; can cause contact dermatitis, liver toxin.


Detergents, toothpaste

Can cause intestinal obstruction, may cause cancer

Carnauba Wax

Cosmetics, blush, lipstick, mascara

Sited as possible carcinogen.



Causes the type of changes in intestinal cells that lead to malignant tumours.

Chlorine Dioxide

Mouthwash, toothpaste

Toxic and irritating to skin and lungs. May be carcinogenic.


Toothpaste, fabric softeners

Possible human carcinogen.

Coal Tar

Medicated shampoo, hand & body lotion, facial cosmetics, toothpaste hair & eyelash dye, lipsticks. Psoriasis medication

Severe allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration; linked to cancer.

Cocomide DEA

Shampoo, cosmetics, hand gel, shower gel, hand-washing  liquids, shaving gel, dishwashing liquid

Readily penetrates human skin and accumulates in organs where it induces chronic toxic effects.


Detergent, soap, hair dye, shampoo, deodorant

Allergic contact dermatitis and photosensitivity, listed as a teratogen.

Crystalline Silica

Blushers, facial powder, lipstick, lip gloss, lip pencils

Carcinogenic and an irritant to eyes, skin and lungs. Risk of harm is primary from inhalation.

Diazolidinyl Urea

Shampoo, shaving Gel, body moisturiser, conditioner

Possible sensitiser and causes contact dermatitis.

Dibutyl phthalate

Deodorants, nail enamel, perfume anti-perspirants

Mimics action of estrogen to disrupt hormonal balance, suspected carcinogenic and teratogenic, may cause contact allergy, vapour irritating to the eyes.

DEA (Diethanolamine)

The most common chemical in the cosmetic and personal care business

Cosmetics, shampoo, hair conditioner, detergent, soap, liquid soap, bubble bath, moisturisers, baby products, shaving cream.

Irritating to eyes, skin and accumulates in organs inducing chronic toxic effects, carcinogenic.


Cosmetics, baby shampoo, bubble bath

Suspected human carcinogen.  Use may result in eye, nose and throat irritation and kidney and liver disease, stress related illnesses, hormone disruption, lowered sperm counts

DMDM Hydantoin

Shampoo, lubricant

Allergen – causes dermatitis when used in cosmetic products. May break down into or release formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic.


Hormone creams, perfume



Shampoo, nail polish

Mild skin irritant; inhalation or ingestion causes central nervous system depression.

Ethyl & Methyl Metacrylate

Nail polish, artificial nails

Highly flammable; strong irritant causing severe allergic reactions.

Ethylene Oxide

Cosmetics, hand lotions

Skin and eye irritant and suspected human carcinogenic.



Component of aerosols that destroys the ozone layer of the atmosphere.


Toothpaste, cosmetics, dental treatments

Contact allergen; poison when ingested over long periods; can cause nausea and vomiting when ingested also death; linked to brain degeneration and cancer; causes damage to bones and organs in the body.


Mascara, nail hardener, nail polish, soap, hair restorer, shampoo, anti-aging cream, bubble bath, deodorant, toothpaste, mouth wash, permanent press and wrinkle resistant clothing, air freshener, mould and mildew cleaner, carpets, plastics, particle board, plywood, building insulation

Allergen causing eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, asthma attacks, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, nose bleeds, headaches and dizziness; confirmed carcinogen.


Cosmetics, toothpaste, eye gel, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, hand/body cream, personal lubricant

Can cause adverse reactions (animal source).


Antiperspirant, deodorant, hair sprays, setting lotion

Contact allergen, fatigue, headache, nausea, vision loss, asthma, contact dermatitis


Antiperspirant, deodorant, baby oil, shampoo, cold cream, toothpaste, baby powder

Nerve damage, MS, Contact dermatitis, liver toxin, asthma, birth defects, blindness

Hydrogen Peroxide

Detergent/soap, hair dye/bleach, permanent wave neutraliser, mouthwash

Tumour and cancer causing agent, inhalation can cause lung irritation, irritant.


Detergent/soap, freckle cream, suntan lotion, hair dye

Extremely toxic by ingestion.  Causes severe skin damage and hyperpigmentation


Hair colour, lipstick

Can affect female reproductive system; increase risk of cancer particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, also multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease and increase the risk of breast cancer.

Imidazolidinyl urea

Baby shampoo, bath oil, eye shadow, moisturiser, permanent waves, hair tonic, after-sun gel, cologne

Know to cause contact dermatitis.  May break down or cause formaldehyde, which is carcinogenic.


Fragrance, shampoo

Dermatitis, eye and respiratory tract irritation, dry skin, cough, headache, dizziness

Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol

A solvent in many hair care products. Spray type room deodorizer ,nail enamel, hand lotion, aftershave

Irritating and extremely damaging to the eyes. Large amounts can cause renal failure. Stays on the hair long after it has been rinsed off. Skin irritant, a potent central nervous system depressant, carcinogenic and teratogenic.


Facial masks, powders, powder blush, foundation make-up

May prevent skin from breathing, may dry out the skin.


Moisturiser, skin and hair conditioner, soap, eye shadow, detergent, hand cream, lipstick, mascara, nail polish remover,

Often contains chemical residue from pesticide used on sheep; can cause contact skin rashes; has acne producing properties.

Lauramide DEA

Shampoo, cosmetics, bubble bath, dishwashing detergent

Can have drying effect on hair, cause itching of scalp and allergic skin reaction.


Hair dyes

Carcinogenic, hormone disrupter

Lemon Essence/Juice/Oil

Fragrance, dishwashing liquid, skin bleach, shampoo, hair colour rinse

Can cause allergic reactions.


Fragrance, perfume, cologne, shampoo, bar soap, deodorants, shaving cream, fabric softener, dishwashing liquid, after shave, nail colour and remover, disinfectant

Mildly irritating to skin and can cause sensitisation, causes occupational allergic contact dermatitis.



Skin & eye irritant, may cause allergic reaction.

MEA (Monoethanolamine)

Detergent, soap

Carcinogenic.  Irritating to eyes and lungs.

Mercury compounds

Cosmetics, wax face masks, hair tonics, medicated soap, bleach and freckle cream

Allergic reactions, skin irritation and neurotoxic reactions are likely.

Methylene Chloride

Hair spray, spray paint, insect spray, fragrances,

de-caffeination, shampoo,

Cologne, paint & varnish remover, spray room deodorisers, cleansing cream

Skin irritant; Damaging to liver, kidneys and central nervous system; can stress cardiovascular system.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone

Shampoo, nail polish, hair conditioner, perfume

Irritating to eyes, skin and mucous membranes,

Methyl Isobutyl Ketone

Varnish, paint, glue, fragrances

Carcinogenic, can cause birth defects, irritant.

Mineral Oil

Detergent/soap, liquid foundation make-up, lip gloss, baby cream/lotion, suntan creams, cleansing cream, hair conditioner, hand cream, mascara, rouge, shaving cream, compact powder

May contain PAH, which is a mutagenic, and the carcinogen ‘anthanthrene’.

Musk Ambrette

Perfumes, soap, detergent, creams/lotions, aftershave

Contact dermatitis, known to damage nerve fibres, identified as neurotoxin


Creams/lotions, shampoo, hair conditioner

Contaminants in food and cosmetics. Potent cancer causing agent absorbed through the skin.



Cosmetic cream and lotions



Cosmetics and sunscreens



Cosmetics, spray room deodoriser

Moderate skin irritant, carcinogenic and mutagenic.

PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid)

Sunscreen, sunburn lotion, lipstick

Can cause allergic eczema, possibly phototoxic and photoallergenic.



Shampoo, hair tonic, baby products, antiperspirant, lipstick, ointments

May cause hives and eczema; linked to cancer; damage to nervous system or mutation. Toxic to the kidneys. May release formaldehyde.


Face creams, eyebrow pencil, eye shadow, liquid powder, lipstick, baby cream, blusher, detergent, soap

Prevents skin from taking oxygen and respiring out waste.  Produces acne; may contain carcinogens.


Shaving cream, hand lotion, skin peelers, soap, mouth wash, sunburn lotion, throat lozenges

Fatal poisonings can occur through skin absorption; suspected carcinogen.


Hair dye, eyelash dye

Causes facial dermatitis; may produce bronchial asthma, gastritis, skin rash and death; found to cause cancer in animals.


Cosmetic creams and lotions, liquid soap, shampoo

Known skin irritants, enhances the activity of known chemical carcinogens.

Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP)

Shampoo, nail polish, lipstick, hair spray, styling mousse, toothpaste, liquid lip and face rouge

Suspected human teratogen and carcinogen.

Propylene Glycol

Shampoo, cosmetics, hand/body lotion, industrial anti-freeze, moisturiser, hair conditioners, soap, baby-wipes, detergent, hand cream, hair dye, mascara, antibiotics, medications

Affects liver and kidneys suspected of causing abnormalities; central nervous system depression, skin and eye irritant, a carcinogen in trials with experimental animals, a teratogen and the cause of adverse reproductive effects.


(Polyvinyl pyrrolidone)

Shampoo, nail polish and varnishes, cosmetics

May damage lungs and kidneys and can remain in the human system for up to a year. Suspected as a human teratogen and carcinogen.


Permanent hair dyes

Possible human carcinogen and can cause eczematous dermatitis.


Permanent hair dyes

Skin irritant, causes eczema, poisoning and death have occurred through skin absorption.


Cosmetics, shampoo, hair conditioner

Releases formaldehyde; can promote rashes and irritation in sensitive people.

Quarternium-15 (Formaldehyde)

Cosmetics, shampoo

Neurotoxic, causes contact dermatitis.


Toothpaste, mouth wash, lipstick

May cause adverse reactions; may be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic.

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)

Toothpaste, hand & body wash, shampoo, bubble bath, hair conditioner, moisturiser, emollient cream, mascara, industrial cleaners, antibiotics

Tissue damage that could result in liver, brain, heart and lung damage in the long term; can cause cataracts; causes improper eye development in children (effects the protein structure of the eyeball), degradation of the immune system; severe skin irritation and drying of the skin; hair loss and contact eczema; damages DNA within the cells, in toothpaste it can cause mouth ulcers,

SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulphate)

Shampoo, toothpaste, bath gel, bubble bath, liquid hand and body wash, dishwashing detergent

Irritating to scalp and may cause hair loss.



Cancer; liver, kidney and blood toxicity; eye and mucous membrane irritation.


Baby and bath powders, cosmetics, foot powders

Linked to ovarian cancer and urinary tract disorders; lung irritant and cancer-causing agent.


Soap, shaving cream, lipstick, shampoo

May cause eczema and blackheads;


Hair dye, hair preparations, mould inhibitor

Carcinogenic and liver cancer, skin irritant, causes allergies.

TEA (Triethenolamine)

Hand and body lotion, shaving cream, shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, foundation

Can cause irritation and sensivity; can accumulate in organs.


Nail polish and varnish, furniture wax, tyres, garbage bags, ink, hair gel, hair spray, kitty litter, perfume, dyes, artificial fragrances, toilet rolls, glue

Causes skin irritation, allergic and irritant contact dermatitis, headaches, fatigue and bronchial irritation; causes asthma; is a neurotoxin, liver damage, decreased learning ability.


Soap, deodorants, medicated cosmetics,  cleansing creams

Suspected of causing cancer with daily use.


Drain cleaner, polishes, dry cleaning fluids, cosmetics, glue, nail polish, liquid paper

Cardiac arrest, liver toxin, irritant to eyes and mucous membrane

Trisodium Edetate (EDTA)

Cosmetics, soap

Can cause cancer.

Vinyl Chloride

Hair spray, deodorant

Cancer and liver cancer, liver toxin, mutagenic, degenerate bone disease.

Zinc Pyridinethione

Anti-dandruff shampoo, fragrances

Allergic dermatitis, known neurotoxin.

Zinc Stearate

Cosmetic powders and creams

Possible carcinogenic.