Do You Know These 5 Toxic Beauty Products?


Have you ever wondered what you’re really putting on your skin or on your hair? What are all those ingredients listed on the bottle, and are they all safe?

Let’s start with your hair.

Who doesn’t want smooth, frizz-free tresses? One popular way to get them without slaving away with your flat iron every morning is the keratin-straightening procedure, commonly known as the “Brazilian Blowout”.

Well, it is more than just keratin; the procedure involves formaldehyde to break down and smooth your hair for several months. While you might not suffer too many consequences from brief episodic exposure, the stylist is repeatedly exposed to this chemical that causes cancer.


Many ingredients are listed, but do we know what they mean? One example is phtalates, a disruption in the hormone system.

These chemicals are found in shampoo, soap and other products. While the FDA has not found them to be unsafe, some research suggests that they might cause low-hormone levels in male fetuses.

Hair dye has also come into question as studies have revealed cancer development in animals. People are not exposed to enough, it is thought, to reach a critical or dangerous level. However, just to be safe, it might be better to skip the hair dye in the first trimester of pregnancy.


Hopefully, everyone knows that tanning beds can cause cancer. In addition to causing basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, tanning beds can also cause deadly melanoma. Many more young women are developing melanoma now than have in the past. You can also develop eye cancers from tanning, even if you wear goggles and cover your face with a towel.

Tanning beds emit UVA rays, which are responsible for aging changes, wrinkling and unsightly brown spots. You also might want to protect the backs of your hands if you are a devotee of gel manicures. The long-lasting polish is cured by UV light. Time will tell if more skin cancers occur on women’s hands from this nail spa service.


Can’t give up that sun-kissed glow? How safe are self-tanner lotions and spray tans?

Sunless tanners are much safer for your skin because they shed your skin cells. However, DHA, the chemical that gives you the temporary bronze look, isn’t FDA approved for spray tanning. Use caution, because we don’t yet know the long-term potential of repeatedly inhaling this substance or getting it in your eyes.


If you’re obeying your dermatologist by not going to the tanning bed and avoiding the sun when you can; how do you pick a sunscreen? Look for a sunscreen label that reads “broad spectrum”, includes an SPF of over 35 and is water-resistant if you plan on being in the water or perspiring. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are safe ingredients and are unlikely to cause allergic contact dermatitis. Have fun in the sun but protect your skin.


How about all the makeup you’ve bought that you never wear including those occasional fun “gifts” from the cosmetic counter? Are they sitting unused in your bathroom drawers and cabinets? It might be time to get rid of them. Cosmetics contain preservatives to prevent bacterial contamination, but they don’t last forever.

Here are some rules of thumb on makeup expiration dates:

  • Foundation – One year before they expire
  • Blush, powder and shadow – Two years before they expire
  • Lipstick – One year before they expire
  • Mascara – Three to four months before they expire

When in doubt, throw it out!

About the author

Dr. Christy Riddle
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Dr. Christy Riddle is a dermatologist on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. She is a native Texan, loves working out, volunteering with the Junior League and spending time with her fiancé.

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Do You Know These 5 Toxic Beauty Products?