Toxicity Report 2012- Damn You Nivea Soft

Time  Date Product Type Product Name Brand Name
5:35PM Tuesday Health Soap Dove Moisturizing Body Soap
5:37PM Tuesday Beauty Shampoo/Conditioner Pantene Pro-V 2in1 Shampoo and Conditioner
6:00PM Tuesday Beauty Lotion Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream
12:00PM Wednesday Health Soap Dove Moisturizing Body Soap
12:05PM Wednesday Health Toothpaste Crest Whitening Toothpaste
12:10PM Wednesday Beauty Deodorant Old Spice Sport Deodorant
1:15PM Thursday Health Soap Dove Moisturizing Body Soap
1:17PM Thursday Beauty Shampoo/Conditioner Pantene Pro-V 2in1 Shampoo and Conditioner
1:20PM Thursday Beauty Lotion Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream
1:22PM Thursday Health Toothpaste Crest Whitening Toothpaste
1:25PM Thursday Beauty Deodorant Old Spice Sport Deodorant
10:15PM Thursday Beauty Lotion Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream
10:30AM Friday Health Soap Dove Moisturizing Body Soap
10:33AM Friday Beauty Lotion Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream
10:40AM Friday Beauty Deodorant Old Spice Sport Deodorant










 I was surprised to see the types of products that I expose my body to in an attempt to adhere to society’s notion of “good hygiene”.  When the assignment was initially assigned, I thought that as a man, I would have a very short list of body work products because I do not have to use make-up or nail polish.  On a daily basis, however, I found that I use multiple products, sometimes multiple times!  I was unhappy to see that I fell short of my own expectations with regards to my impact on the environment through my use of bodywork products, but after research of the products’ ingredients and how/where they are produced, I see that I am putting myself and the environment at risk, as well as the people that help make the products I use. 

If a student from another culture was to compose a similar list for this assignment, I imagine it being very different from my own.  Not every culture has the same beauty standards as the U.S., and not every culture has the same standards of hygiene that the U.S. does.  For this reason, I think other cultures’ lists would not have as many chemically harmful products on their list because they would not be pursuing the same social standards that we are encouraged to pursue in the U.S.  Income and class also play a role in access to these goods.  I have the luxury of being able to afford these products, but someone with a more limited income may not have as easy of an access to purchasing body work products, so I imagine their lists looking different from mine.  When thinking about which of these products are truly necessary, I think that only the soap and toothpaste are crucial to my health.  The number of times I use them per week, however, may be excessive and may only be done to meet social standards of cleanliness.  Freshly smelling bodies and shimmering white teeth are social expectations that do not reflect health but a standard of beauty that has been set of society.  In many cases, the “experts” that influence our decisions to use these products are the industries that want us to buy their products.  By presenting us with commercials that contain ‘expert’ opinions, we are led to believe that these products are not only beneficial to our bodies, but are also necessary for our bodies if we wish to achieve the ultimate level of hygienic success.  By adhering to these social expectations and hygienic standards, I am putting my body at risk by exposing it to harmful chemicals that it would otherwise not be exposed to.  I will continue to use many of these products, except the lotion, but I will decrease the amount and the frequency that I use with regards to each product. 



Even as a young person, I was taught that to achieve "good" hygiene, I had to embrace certain practices, like applying deoderant regularly and frequently. Especially as I hit puberty, I was told by the media, my school and home that I should embrace to habits to be considered "clean"











I have very dry skin, especially in the fall and winter, so a product that I use very often is Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream for Men.  I love this product because each application lasts very long and also because I love how it smells.  I have two sisters who would always complain about the way I smelled growing up, so once I started using a lotion that made me smell better, I was hooked almost immediately.  After looking more in-depth into the complexities of this product and its chemical ingredients, I was shocked to see the dangerous amounts of chemicals that I was exposing my body to on a daily basis. 




My Lotion Of Choice


–          Developmental/Reproductive Toxicity- BUTYLPARABEN, MYRISTYL MYRISTATE, PROPYLPARABEN

The short term effects of these chemicals include eye, lung and skin irritation, but also allergic reactions may develop from extended and frequent usage of the lotion.  The long term effects, however, are much more troubling.  Nivea Soft Moisturizing Cream for Men contains many chemicals that may potentially be harmful, but it also contains chemicals that are known to be harmful.  Certain ingredients, like MYRISTYL MYRISTATE and TOCOPHERYL ACETATE are known carcinogens that have been proven to develop tumor formation on animal test subjects.  The product also contains the chemicals PROPYLPARABEN and ETHYLPARABEN, both of which are accompanied by strong evidence that these chemicals lead to endocrine disruption. Nivea Soft also contains chemicals that are known to be toxic to human organs, like PETROLATUM, MYRISTYL MYRISTATE, MYRISTYL ALCOHOL, DIMETHICONE and MINERAL OIL.  What bothered me the most is that the producers of this product have the facts right in front of them that these chemical ingredients cause bodily harm to their customers, yet they continue to put the same ingredients into their products.


With regards to the relationship between exposure to the product and the analysis of risk involved, it is safe to say that there is a correlation between the amount and frequency of product used and the negative side-effects that result from use.  Parabens, for example, found in Nivea Soft, like ethylparaben, are known to bring about tumor growth with extended use, especially in breast tissue ( Also, the CIR found a strong correlation between frequent exposures to TOCOPHERYL ACETATE and human skin toxicity which leads to the development of cancer.  The more that someone is exposed to the dangerous ingredients in Nivea Soft, the more they are at risk for developing the negative side-effects that accompany the use of chemically harmful ingredients.   I think it is time to start looking for an alternative moisturizing product or do away with them altogether. 

Although Nivea has production plants all over the world, their biggest and most recent plant opening was in Shanghai, China.  A vast majority of the Nivea products sold in the Asian and American markets now come from this Shanghai location, including the Nivea Soft Moisturizing Lotion line.  Many of the workers at this location, along with Nivea workers in various locations worldwide, are exposed to chemicals that are known to be hazardous with regards to the workplace.   SODIUM HYDROXIDE and PHENOXYETHANOL have both been considered hazardous chemicals in the workplace, and Nivea’s workers, especially in countries with less worksite regulation that the U.S., are exposed to these chemicals frequently and in large amounts.  SODIUM HYDROXIDE is prevalent in production of most of Nivea’s product, and is an extremely corrosive chemical that is harmful to the body through both inhalation and dermal contact. 

When Nivea Soft is produced, three chemicals in particular are used which create emissions that are harmful to the environments that surround Nivea production plants.  TOCOPHERYL ACETATE, MYRISTYL MYRISTATE and DIMETHICONE have all been shown to be ecotoxic and all three are emitted into the air or into the environment as waste during the production process and disposal process of Nivea soft.  This danger to the environment is exemplified in the opening of Nivea’s newest plant in Shanghai which opened in 2009.  Since 2009, the air quality of Shanghai has been on a steady decline, reaching an all-time worst in 2012 (  I am not saying that this drastic decline in air quality is Nivea’s fault alone, but since it opened in 2009, many other similar factories followed that were members of the same industry, and eventually the air quality took a turn for the worst after Nivea and related companies began producing beauty care products in that region.  The emissions that are created as a result of the toxic chemicals used in the production of Nivea Soft products, especially Nivea Soft Moisturizing Lotion for Men, are detrimental to the environments in which these factories are producing. 

In terms of potential alternatives that may alleviate the environmental injustices brought upon by the production of many beauty products, I would like to take the social-change approach since I am a sociology major.  I believe that the high demand and prevalence of the beauty market is because of the unfair social standards that society sets us to adhere to.  The social exercisers of power (sociology terms!) generate these images of beauty that everyone is encouraged to pursue, and the heads of capitalist industry create the notion that these ideals of beauty can only be met through the use of certain products.  Thus, a cycle is perpetuated where newer and “better” products are released as new images of ideal beauty are produced for people to pursue.  This is where change has to occur.  We have to address these misconstrued ideals of beauty, and we need to re-analyze where they are coming from.  Are these ideas of beauty organic and internal?? Or are we just forcibly embracing notions of beauty that have been fed to us by social images and messages? 


Social movements that address social expectations of beauty are beginning to take shape, and I believe that these movements are the first step in ultimately minimizing the beauty industry's impact on the environment

There are some movements that are beginning to take shape that are starting to address these issues, like the Beauty Redefined Campaign,  but if any change is to occur, they need to become more widespread.  By addressing the social influences that make us believe we need these products, we can lower our dependence on them, which will hopefully lower demand for them.  Conceptually, if the demand for these products decreases, then the production of them will decrease, thus minimizing the negative environmental effects that the production of these products creates.

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