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The 5 Most Toxic Products in Your Bathroom

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article3722 In today’s modern society, we use far more everyday personal care and cleaning products than at any point in history. While many of these products are presented as beneficial in the short term, some of them contain chemicals that carry long term risks of disease, especially cancer.

With so many different types of products available, it’s hard to know everything to avoid, but here is a list of five very common products that may be putting you at risk.

1. Deodorant

Deodorants or antiperspirants have generated a lot of buzz lately, with attention being paid to a potential association between the aluminum they contain and cancer, particularly breast cancer. Research is ongoing into this relationship, but some studies have suggested that the aluminum (or perhaps another inactive ingredient) may increase the risk of a host of diseases, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, kidney disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease. So while more research is needed to clarify these potential associations, it may be wise to protect yourself by choosing aluminum-free deodorant, particularly if you are already at risk for any of these conditions for other reasons.

2. Makeup

Millions of people use makeup every day worldwide, but long-term exposure to cadmium, a heavy metal present in many different types of makeup, may increase a person’s risk of cancer. Recent research has suggested that cadmium may cause cancer cells, and breast cancer cells in particular, to become more aggressive and spread faster. When cells are repeatedly exposed to cadmium they tend to display higher levels of SDF-1, which is a protein that has been linked to tumors and cancer progression. As with deodorants, avoiding makeup that contains cadmium represents a harmless way to protect yourself against unnecessary exposure.

3. Moisturizer

Many types of moisturizers (and similarly-designed products such as soap, hair spray, and nail polish) contain dangerous chemicals called phthalates, which may increase the risk of a number of diseases with prolonged exposure. In particular, when phthalates are absorbed through the skin over a long period of time, they may increase the risk of developing diabetes, among other conditions. The body of evidence supporting this elevated risk has become far too great to ignore, but choosing organically manufactured products offers an easy way to avoid these chemicals.

4. Air Freshener

Air fresheners are often highly toxic and have been shown to aggravate respiratory problems, such as asthma.  Although some air fresheners may be labeled “natural” or “pure,” they typically contain the aforementioned phthalates. Aside from the already cited link to diabetes, these chemicals have been associated with hormonal abnormalities, as well as reproductive problems and birth defects. Rather than risk exposure to the dangerous chemicals in air fresheners, choose a natural solution such as cinnamon, cloves, and other spices, or essential oils.

5. Cleaning Products

With so many different types of cleaning products on the market, and so many different chemicals existing at varying levels in these products, it’s very hard to predict what long-term effect they could have on the body.  Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are particularly troubling in these products and can lead to a number of health issues, including a variety of cancers, and may negatively affect the development of children’s nervous systems and cognitive functioning. Luckily, organic multi-purpose cleaners are available, so get rid of the chemicals and turn to a safer solution.

Still think some of these chemicals are no big deal? Check out this video from Mind Body Green, featuring the Environmental Working Group’s Heather White. Some of her statistics on how exposure to seemingly innocuous chemicals in personal care products affect us will blow your mind.

Things to Consider

As you can tell from reading this article, the synthetic products that we use to make our everyday lives more comfortable and enjoyable may come at terrifying costs.  Rather than continue to subject yourself and your loved ones to these risks, spend a little extra time to make safer choices.  Avoid coming into contact with products that contain phthalates, cadmium, EDCs, aluminum, and other dangerous chemicals.  Natural, organic options are available for almost every type of product, and although they might be a bit harder to find or slightly more costly, protecting yourself from deadly diseases is well worth the effort.


Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.


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3 responses to “The 5 Most Toxic Products in Your Bathroom”

  1. Sue says:

    Dear Joshua,

    Thank you for this article on toxic products in the bathroom. I have changed the cleaning products I use to a more natural approach. I don’t use spray fragrances anymore since learning that they really shouldn’t be inhaled in quantity even if they’re purpose is for masking odors as they are bad for the lungs.

    I have to be careful what moisturizers and beauty products I use on my skin since some of these chemicals used in these products actually will make my skin itch and break out.

  2. Mainegirl says:

    Where is the article? All I saw was one response you got from it.

  3. Loni Lichfield says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot about aluminum lately- but I’m just wondering- if it’s so bad, should we be using the foil or the aluminum pots and pans (they are excellent heat conductors). Is it as dangerous in these applications (pots/pans and foil) as it is in deodrant?