Toxin Alert: Moisturizers: More Harm Than Good?

By Rosemarie Colombraro

Winter weather can take a toll on your skin, especially if you spend time outdoors where wind and sun exposure can dry out your face. But a new study advises you to scrutinize before you moisturize, because what you put on your skin could make the damaging effects of sunlight worse.

The study subjected hairless mice to ultraviolet light for 20 weeks—which caused the mice to eventually
develop skin cancer. Then researchers applied four types of moisturizers to the animals’ skin for 17 weeks and found that the products increased the number of tumors from 24 percent to 95 percent.

Study leader Allan Conney, PhD, director of Susan Lehman Cullman Laboratory for Cancer Research, explains that two ingredients in the moisturizers—sodium lauryl sulfate and mineral oil (a petroleum derivative)—promote UVB-induced tumors. A custom-blended product without the two suspect ingredients did not increase the tumor growth in the test mice.