Estrogens and toxins in our soaps and lotions


Our world is now filled with estrogenic and toxic chemicals which are fattening us up and giving us cancer. And many of those estrogens and toxins we are smearing onto our skin, hair and underarms voluntarily.

Okay, everyone. Go into your bathroom and pull out your shampoos, conditioners, soaps, hand sanitizers, body wash, mouth wash, bubble baths, baby wipes, exfoliants, deodorants and/or antiperspirants, any lotions and creams including those for shaving, hair products, sun screens, perfumes and colognes, powders, toothpaste and cosmetics including nail polish and let’s see if any of these products might be implicated in stubborn fat on the thighs and hips for women, and man-boobs for men.

Too much estrogen is implicated in breast, cervical and uterine cancers not to mention PMS in women, and erectile dysfunction and low sperm counts in men. Even if you don’t have these problems, check your products because they might be carcinogenic.

Now that you have all these products on your coffee table, get your garbage container and put it next to you so you can chuck any offending products right away.

The quick and most effective test is to ask yourself if you would eat the product. If your immediate reaction is “no way”, then that tells you it is probably not healthy to put on your skin either.

At least our digestive tracts have some capacity to break down or eliminate toxins. Anything that is put on the skin goes straight into the blood stream and has access to every part of your body very quickly. In other words, it is safer to eat our toxins than to smear them on our skin.

Time for the "read and toss" exercise. If you see these ingredients in your product, toss the product into your garbage can.

  • Parabens – highly estrogenic endocrine disruptors
    • methyl paraben
    • ethyl paraben
    • propyl paraben
    • butyl paraben
    • isobutyl paraben
    • E216
  • Phthalates – potent endocrine disruptors especially effecting babies and children
    • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
    • DEP (diethyl phthalate)
    • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Aluminum salts – estrogenic and toxic, often found in deodorants/antiperspirants.
  • Sodium laureth / (Sodium) lauryl sulfate – skin irritant, potential carcinogen
    • SLS, SLES
    • Click here and view box on right to see how else this is listed.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA) – skin irritant, potential carcinogen
    • Cocamide DEA
    • Cocamide MEA
    • DEA-Cetyl Phosphate
    • DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate
    • Lauramide DEA
    • Linoleamide MEA
    • Myristamide DEA
    • Oleamide DEA
    • Stearamide MEA
    • TEA-Lauryl Sulfate
    • Triethanolamine
  • Hexachlorophene – highly toxic and banned in many jurisdictions
  • triclosan – thyroid endocrine disruptor, toxin that bioaccumulates

The personal care industry is very poorly regulated and very few ingredients have been thoroughly tested for safety. Choosing “natural” or “organic” products is no guarantee either, as there is no regulation as to what those labels mean when it comes to personal care products.

Do you have any products left on your coffee table? Probably not many. So, what CAN one use?

  • Soaps
  • Shampoos
    • Add rosemary oil to non-chemical soaps
  • Moisturizer, make-up remover
    • coconut oil, olive oil
  • Deodorant
    • soap and water
  • Toothpaste
  • Fragrances
    • Essential oils
  • Exfoliants
    • Mix coarse ingredients like coffee grounds or salt with moist ingredients like honey or yogurt

Often these fancy schmancy creams and lotions are very expensive considering the miniscule amount of product one gets for the price. Extra virgin coconut oil may seem expensive as a food, but as a moisturizer it is dirt cheap! And it has antibacterial and antifungal properties too.

So making the switch to safer products not only reduces the toxic and estrogenic body burden, but also reduces the strain on the wallet.

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Related tips:
Our toxic body burden
Which hormone is responsible for your fat distribution?
Which plastic water bottles don’t leach chemicals?
Chemicals in canned food liners
Breast and prostate cancer prevention
The soy controversy

Darbre PD et al. Concentrations of parabens in human breast tumours. J Appl Toxicol. 2004 Jan-Feb;24(1):5-13.

El Hussein S et al. Assessment of principal parabens used in cosmetics after their passage through human epidermis-dermis layers (ex-vivo study). Exp Dermatol. 2007 Oct;16(10):830-6.

Vo TT, Jeung EB. An evaluation of estrogenic activity of parabens using uterine calbindin-d9k gene in an immature rat model. Toxicol Sci. 2009 Nov;112(1):68-77. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Canadian Cancer Society Phthalates

CTV News Health Canada statement on phthalates

Schettler T. Human exposure to phthalates via consumer products. Int J Androl. 2006 Feb;29(1):134-9; discussion 181-5.

About phthalates Our stolen future

Main KM et al. Human breast milk contamination with phthalates and alterations of endogenous reproductive hormones in infants three months of age. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Feb;114(2):270-6.

López-Carrillo L et al. Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk in northern Mexico. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Apr;118(4):539-44.

Habert R et al. Adverse effects of endocrine disruptors on the foetal testis development: focus on the phthalates. Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2009;47(5):S67-74.

Potential Link Between Aluminum Salts In Deodorants And Breast Cancer Warrants Further Research Medical News Today, Mar. 2, 2006.

Darbre P D. Metalloestrogens: An Emerging Class of Inorganic Xenoestrogens with Potential to Add to the Oestrogenic Burden of the Human Breast. Journal of Applied Toxicology 2006; DOI:10.1002/jat.1135

Sodium Laureth Sulphate Cosmetic Database

Sodium Laureth Sulfate David Suzuki Foundation

Diethanolamine(DEA): A Carcinogenic Ingredient in Cosmetics & Personal Products Cancer Prevention Coalition

Diethanolamine FDA US Food and Drug Administration

Diethanolamine Cosmetic Database


Cosmetic Database

Pitman, Simon Potential dangers of Triclosan back under spotlight Cosmetics Design Europe, Dec. 5, 2008.

Bird, Katie, Triclosan included in NGO’s chemical risk list Cosmetics Design Europe, Sept. 18, 2008.

Triclosan Cosmetic Database

Stoker TE et al. Triclosan exposure modulates estrogen-dependent responses in the female Wistar rat Toxicol Sci. 2010 Jun 18. [Epub ahead of print]

Zorrilla LM et al. The effects of triclosan on puberty and thyroid hormones in male Wistar rats Toxicol Sci. 2009 Jan;107(1):56-64. Epub 2008 Oct 21

Copyright 2010 Vreni Gurd


  1. Rebecca Cody said,

    August 8, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

    First, the link above is to my blog. I’m at an alternative cancer healing center in Arizona and the blog is about my experiences, those of other patients who are healing from deadly cancers, and the therapies here.

    On the subject of beauty products, years ago I bought Lavilin deodorant, imported from Israel. At the time it had a simple list of ingredients, consisting of zinc oxide, a couple of essential oils (I think comfrey and something else), and potato starch. I never liked the potato starch, which made it thick and impossible to spread, but overall, it worked so well that it needed to be applied only weekly. Eventually the price went from expensive to outrageous (I think about $17 US for 1/2 oz in the mid-90s), so I decided to make my own and leave out the potato starch. (And by the way, Lavilin has now changed to a totally chemical deodorant that doesn’t resemble the old ingredient list at all.)

    I’m still using my homemade deodorant 15 years later and it works beautifully. I’d love a better solution than using zinc oxide ointment or another zinc ointment from the grocery store, but I haven’t found one yet. Here is what I do: Squirt one 2 oz tube of zinc oxide ointment or another zinc ointment (which won’t necessarily be white) into a small jar. Add one squirt from an eye dropper of calendula essential oil and one of comfrey essential oil. Then, if you want to scent it, add a dropperful of your favorite – lavender, rose, whatever essential oil you choose. Stir this up well. Then, after showering, use it daily for three days. Then you only need to use it weekly.

    The zinc and oils kill the bacteria on the skin that cause odor. It takes them about 10 days to grow back, so if you use it weekly you will never have to worry about odor.

    I’ve shared this with others and they all love it. In the future I’ll probably use the zinc ointment from the grocery store that isn’t white, as it works well and is less messy. I’m away from home now so I can’t check the ingredient list on the zinc. If you know a good zinc ointment without bad ingredients I’d love to hear about it.

  2. Sharon Hoehner said,

    August 9, 2010 @ 11:18 am

    I use certified organic personal care and cosmetic products and have for the last six years. Life is too busy to be playing around with making my own stuff at the moment. My hair is thicker, my skin is cleaner, my scalp detoxified for a month when I switched over and I don’t cough in the bathroom anymore.

    It’s incredible how we put these toxic products on our skin. I did for years before I learned not to. If you want to take a look at what I use my site is There are cheaper products out there but most are greenwashed or only partially organic.

  3. Paula K. Harney said,

    September 30, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

    I need recipes for all-natural, non-toxic skin moisturizing lotion or cream. Please help! I have celiac disease and can’t use gluten-containing substances, or soy-based stuff, or anything with alcohol.
    Paula K. Harney

  4. Reticuli said,

    December 24, 2011 @ 3:35 am

    The most powerful estrogens in most of the bath, hand, and body products in your home are not going to be even listed on the label. So looking on it won’t do you much good. You need to buy products that specifically say they’re not putting hidden estrogenic compounds in them, which is an industry trade secret that makes the skin younger and softer, at least in women.

  5. Veronica said,

    March 23, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

    My life changed the day I read the book Beauty To Die For. You should read it too and you will, without a second thought, discard all the chemical products in your life. The author of this book discovered that she had an ‘incurable’ disease that doctors had given up on and she was determined to heal herself if nobody else did. And it came about when she discovered the chemicals and poisons that lurked in everything she used from the toothpaste on waking each day to the toothpaste she used last thing at night. She counted thousands of different chemicals in her toiletry products and foods. Most of us use the same stuff. This is also the time I learned how to make my own soaps, lotions and potions for personal and home use. You should too. In addition to the health benefits the impact on your wallet is amazing. Those poisons that come in cleverly labelled plastic bottles Vs a baking soda + vinegar all purpose cleaner : which one would you choose?

  6. liz said,

    March 23, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

    Thank you once again Vreni for making a complex subject easy to understand and incorporate into real life. I’ve tackled environmental toxins in many other areas of my life, now I’m inspired (vs. overwhelmed) to tackle it in this department as well.

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