Common Skin Care Ingredients and Their Hazards


Ingredients found in skin and hair care products and a summary of the “Health Hazards” they present are published in the manufacturers' Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). An MSDS is produced by the chemical manufacturer and supplied to users of the chemicals to inform them of potential hazards, uses, handling, clean up, etc. The MSDS for any chemical can be obtained from the internet. It is not possible to include all of the chemicals used in cosmetics within the confines of this article. If a chemical is not listed, it should not be taken to mean that it does not present a health hazard, the chemicals listed were chosen at random to present a concept. Also note that the chemical names in this article are the chemical manufacturer’s names and may vary slightly on a cosmetic label.

Common Skin Care Ingredients

MSDS Hazards


Inhalation of dust may irritate respiratory passages. And, “May be harmful if swallowed.” Prolonged or frequent contact may cause irritation.


Medical conditions aggravated by exposure: Skin, eye, and respiratory disorders and impaired functions. Red 151 is a carcinogenic.


Yellow 3 is a known carcinogenic that can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion, and skin penetration. It oxidizes into potentially harmful chemical compounds. Exposure may cause eye and skin irritation, skin contact may cause allergic reaction. Yellow 3 is an animal carcinogen causing primarily liver carcinomas. It is a possible human carcinogen.


Inhalation of vapor or mist can cause irritation to the respiratory tract. Repeated or prolonged contact may cause skin irritation. This material is an eye irritant. If ingested it may cause irritation of the digestive tract. And, if inhaled reports have associated reported and prolonged exposure with permanent brain and nervous system damage.


Prolonged or repeated contact may cause skin irritation.


Causes skin irritation causes eye irritation.


Harmful if inhaled or swallowed, may cause skin irritation, may cause eye irritation, exposure can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, CNS depression.


Inhalation of dust may cause irritation of nose and throat. May be a skin irritant. Chronic affects unknown.


Hazards of this product are unknown, the manufacturer cautions against skin, eye, inhalation and ingestion contact.


Sodium Laurel Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate, the alcohol or ethoxylated version of Sodium Laurel Sulphate may be two of the most harmful ingredients in commercial cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners. They are industrial detergents used for engine degreasing and heavy cleaning. Some products, particularly in health food stores are beginning to label “SLS Free” in recognition of the hazards of these chemicals. SLS’s can penetrate and be retained in the eyes. Other studies have shown that SLS and SLES can react with other ingredients and form carcinogens in the form of nitrates and dioxins which easily enter the blood steam through the skin and hair follicles.