Remember the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz?" Buddy Ebsen was cast in the role, but he had to be replaced after the aluminum makeup used with his costume made him gravely ill. Jack Haley took the role. Haley's makeup was mixed into a creamy paste, which was then painted onto his skin. He also suffered illness, eye infections and missed work days.

Debra Lynn Dadd, author and consumer advocate, states, "The personal care products we apply to our skin create toxic exposure through skin absorption."

These include cosmetics, moisturizers, sunscreens, soaps and lotions. Out of 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products, 778 can cause acute toxicity, 146 cause tumors, 218 cause reproductive complications, 314 can cause biological mutation, 376 can cause skin/eye irritation and 884 were found to be toxic. These studies were done by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Like most consumers, I trusted that if a doctor recommended a product, or it was on a store shelf, it must be safe. I've since learned that nothing could be further from the truth. Some physicians continue to recommend Cetaphil, an over-the-counter face cleanser containing parabens - in spite of scientific studies confirming that parabens have the potential to cause cancer and have been directly linked to the development of some cancers including breast, prostate, ovarian, and uterine cancers.

Because the liver needs to work even harder to detoxify these estrogenic toxins, these chemicals may contribute to other health issues as well. The scientific name for parabens is Alkyl Hydroxy benzoate. They will be listed on the product label as Ethyl-Butyl-Propyl and Methylparabens.

Another harmful preservative in a sunscreen, "Suntegrity," is PHBM, Polyaminopropyl Biguamide. This substance has been banned by the FDA since 2015 yet is found in 36 cosmetic products, including facial wipes. PHBM is cancer-causing, an environmental hazard and a strong allergen. The wipes are currently clogging up our wastewater treatment plants, they do not break down, and the industry is attempting to work with the EPA to eliminate them.

Doctors are now discovering that many preservatives in cosmetics build up in our organs over time; our bodies cannot eliminate these toxins. The cosmetic manufacturers' response when questioned about suspect ingredients is, "Yes, they do use preservatives, however, it's only a small amount." What they fail to acknowledge or understand is that it takes years for these chemicals to break down when absorbed through the skin, similar to PCBs.

Reading product ingredient labels is as important as reading food labels. The fewer the ingredients, the more healthy a product will be for our skin and bodies. Less is best. Beware of skin-care products with water as an ingredient, as water rots botanicals, which requires the addition of preservatives to keep that product on a shelf for five years. Also, it means the product is highly diluted.

Myra Michelle Eby states in her book, "Skin Care Exposed": "Products using toxic ingredients will not fulfill their promise of keeping you looking beautiful and radiant, AND can have devastating long-term effects on your skin, your health and our environment." Eby created Mychelle Dermaceuticals, an organic skincare line, in 2000.

She points out the general misconception that if something is natural it's not effective, that it's not potent enough to obtain results. Research with a strong scientific background demonstrates just the opposite. The skin acts as a giant sponge, absorbing up to 60 percent of what it comes into contact with. Eby goes on to list the top ingredients that should be avoided in our skincare products:

1. EDTA.

2. Parabens.

3. Phthalates.

4. Proplylene glycol (commonly known as anti-freeze).

5. Synthetic colorings.

6. Ureas.

7. Non-cold-pressed vegetable oils.

Translating ingredient labels is not always easy. Both the active as well as the inactive ingredients should be taken into account. For a FREE, more comprehensive list of toxic preservatives commonly added to skincare products and their side effects visit Essentials Skin Care at 492 E. Main Ave. You can also pick up a free color brochure from pioneering consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd.